September 23

Contact

I had a few frustrating days last week. I had gone online to update a few things on WordPress and my domain, and for some reason my credit card was declined.

I went over to my credit card billing page and it said I’d called in “a lost or stolen card.” I hadn’t called in at all. In fact, I had no phone service the whole time I was at Heron Lake. I found I didn’t have coverage from Chama down to Tierra Amarilla.

At first I thought my phone got cut off until I found it was on another credit card. It wasn’t until I left and hit the US 550 corridor that I had cell service. Then it wasn’t until I camped my second night that I found voice mails from my card company asking to verify purchases.

I was able to use the Heron Lake State Park office phone before I left and learned it was a precautionary move by the credit card company that my card was cut off and I was to receive a new card.

What a pain in the backside!

I’ve traveled further south, after I had stayed a couple of more days  at Heron to cool off from the chaos. I camped up NM 4 at Vista Linda campground north of San Ysidro, NM. It’s a pretty campground in the canyon. There were only about 12 campsites. It might have been more quiet had it been further from the road. Still it was nice enough for $10.00.

The rough part of heading south is there are no other routes around Albuquerque from that direction. I did eliminate going through Espanola and Santa Fe by heading to US 550.

It seems I hit I-25 at the right time of 9:30AM, as the traffic was not too heavy.

It was a long day to get down to Socorro, NM and west to the small (tiny) town of Datil. I had planned on a stop just west of Socorro but I found Water Canyon campground a little lacking. Sometimes I have a weird feeling about camps and that was one of them for me.

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The two draws to this area are the Very Large Array radio telescopes between Datil and Magdalena, NM. I went over this morning to the visitor’s center. I have to say it was a very impressive self-tour. The visitor’s center has a really good video to watch and narrated by non other than Jodie Foster. If you remember the movie “Contact,” it was here that they filmed. For a virtual tour you can go to https://public.nrao.edu. On the tour I walked right up to a dish. I decided to take an Instagram shot with my phone and turned it on. ( You must turn your phone off or to airplane mode at the VLA. Turns out that a cell signal is something like billions and billions times stronger than the radio signals they detect from space.) When I turned my phone on, still in airplane mode, the dish moved. All the dishes moved. I thought I had done it and I was going to be arrested. Freak out! No one came and cussed me out or hauled me off. I took the shot and turned off the phone.

I moved that with my phone...I think, maybe not.
I moved that with my phone…I think, maybe not.
One arm of the Y shaped axis of the array.
One arm of the Y shaped axis of the array.

The other attraction in the region is Pie Town just west from Datil. The Pie-o-neer cafe serves pie, lots of pie. Go figure! After my tour of the VLA, I drove over and picked up a cherry, cherry pie and a blueberry. Oh, so, good!

You just gotta' go
You just gotta’ go

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Blueberry and Cherry, Cherry pie. Sometimes you jus have to have a couple of slices for lunch!
Blueberry and Cherry, Cherry pie. Sometimes you just have to have a couple of slices for lunch!

The campground I’m in is Datil Well. It’s a BLM campground with water spigots around the campground. At $5.00 a night it can’t be beat.

Really glad I came this way. Now I have to find “Contact” and watch it again.

Thanks for reading.

Rob

September 16

The Low Down

We took a drive by Heron Lake on Saturday, and to say the lake is low is like a bath tub with three inches of water. We drove south and found the only boat launch open near the end of the lake near the dam.There weren’t more than six vehicles there with boat trailers parked.

Heron Lake
Heron Lake

I let Geordie out and threw the float out for him a dozen times. Afterwards we drove further south to find El Vado Lake just as empty. These lakes are more than half empty as opposed to half full!

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No sailing today!
No sailing today!

I’m finding this campground (‘Blanco’ with water and electric) pretty nice. There is a path that runs all the way down to the dam and is called “Salmon Run.” Geordie and I have walked a good portion of it.

The campground is really quite this time of year. On Monday this loop was about 20% occupied. As of next week, all the sites are “Walk up.” Meaning no more reservations are taken for the season.

Monday morning, I took a drive up U.S. 64 up to Hopewell Lake, which is on the way towards Taos. Hopewell Lake is at 9,500 feet and it was windy and cold up there. We had a good rain overnight Sunday night. That, I’m sure, added to the damp, chilly temperatures at that elevation. I had expected snow that high, but none seen…yet.

Brazos Cliffs
Brazos Cliffs

I’m debating where to go next week. My prepaid time is up on Sunday and I think I’ll pay for a couple more days and leave on Tuesday. I’ve thought of going up to an area north of Chama. Another plan is to head south and get past Albuquerque by Thursday and head into the Gila National Forest. I’ve never seen that area and I would drop down in elevation.

It got cold this morning at 34º, so I may head south. I’ll see how the weekend temperatures look.

I read a blog post from Sebastian at “Simple Living and Simple Travel” yesterday. Sebastian is the person I learned of the Nash line of trailers.

Sebastian noticed a pain and redness in his arm and chest and went to the hospital. It was discovered he had flesh eating bacteria and was airlifted from Kanab, Ut to Salt Lake.

If you go to his site, be warned it has some disturbing photos and text.

On a lighter note, I was sitting at the dinette reading early in the morning last weekend and noticed a movement. I looked out to see a coyote walking through the trees in back of camp. With Geordie tied up and sleeping under the trailer, I immediately jumped up and opened the door. The coyote noticed me and trotted off.

I’ve also been hearing bull elks bugling in the distance. Fall is here and the elk are starting the rut.

I really enjoy experiencing the changes in seasons by what’s outside, rather than looking at the calendar.

Ripening acorns means fall
Ripening acorns means fall

I took Geordie out for a walk on Wednesday evening a saw the moon rising. The full Harvest Moon comes up tonight. Go out tonight and take a look, and notice the season changing.

Geordie's new spot
Geordie’s new spot

Have a great fall weekend, and thank you for joining my journey.

Rob

September 9

Heron Lake State Park

Sorry about last week’s missing post, folks. Something weird happened when I returned after making a quick town trip last Friday. I came back and came down with uncontrollable chills and shivering, and a headache. I just couldn’t get warm.

After an eleven hour sleep, I was still a little foggy in the brain, so I skipped posting.

I had been tucked up in the mountains north of Pagosa Springs, Co. over the Labor Day weekend.

It was a nice camp until I discovered I was on a hiking trail and ATV trail. I guess that was better than being closer to town with the Four Corners Folk Festival going on over the weekend.

I found a road off Turkey Springs Road (FR 629). To reach that you have to go up Piedra Road from Highway 160. The road I camped on was FR 923 almost to the end. The road had a few tough sections and I was glad I had higher clearance on both the truck and trailer. I did hear a scrap on the truck on the way in, but on a few trips out I found the other side of the rocky section better.

Today you find me down at Heron Lake State Park in New Mexico, just south of Chama, NM. I have to keep using that pass I purchased. I also thought with the forecast with rain this next week, I’d like electric. I can even listen to the Cubs on Sirius radio.

Another reason for moving is hunting season. I saw many hunters (bow), hunting by truck and ATV near camp. A hiker had reminded me to put some ‘orange’ on Geordie. I put some orange  flagging around his neck. Rifle season is also a few weeks away.

Haven’t yet gone down to the lake here, but I did notice driving in it was very low. I’ll let Geordie go swimming a bunch and I’d like to take a few paddles.

There are two lakes here, Heron Lake and El Vado. Heron is a “no wake” lake, so only electric motors. Also paddle and sail is allowed. El Vado is a motor lake.

The campground here is pretty nice. Lots of Juniper and Pinon trees separate sites. I’m in the ‘Blanco’ electric/water section.

The one negative is the limited internet signal. I’m on an”Extended” signal or one bar 4G on my Verizon Jetpack. I have no signal on my Straight Talk phone in camp.

More as I explore this state park, plus photos.

Thanks for following and using my Amazon links.

Rob

August 26

The Feeling of Fall

Today there was a distinct feeling of fall. When I woke, there was no sunshine streaming through the windows. No sounds of birds, happy and chirping. Taking Geordie out, the sky was grey from horizon to horizon, north to south, east to west. It reminded me of Midwestern late falls and winters. The year of the sun is sinking south, with shortening days.

While most of the week was sunny in the morning. Mid-afternoons the dark clouds filled the sky. Tuesday there was a very heavy rain, with flood warnings for the area. On Wednesday morning, the local radio station mentioned the mountains around Silverton received four to five inches of snow on the peaks.

I celebrated my two year “on the road” anniversary last Monday. Hearing about the snow reminded me of my first camp. It rained and snowed on the mountain peaks back then too. I’ve enjoyed the last two years. Most of the 730 nights, I’ve spent it out in nature. Nothing better than seeing elk, wild burros, coyotes, and moose. I’ve watched meteors, sunsets, lightning,  rain on the horizon, and overhead. I’ve even been near a flooding river and driven around fires.

I never got fished my favorite mountain stream, with all the rain. While fish don’t care if it’s raining, I don’t care for getting stuck in a small canyon, with lightning all around.

That’s about all the words I have for this week. I’ll leave you with some photos of the high country.

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Fireweek
Fireweed

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As you can see, summer is coming to a close.

Thanks for stopping by.

Rob

August 19

New Things and Old Things

New things are always great. The one great new thing is a new title, I am now a great uncle. I mentioned Geordie’s birthday on the 11Th, well my great niece shares the same birthday. Caedyn is her name. Of course, as you can imagine, the whole family is pleased we have new addition.

My new great niece.
My new great niece.

I’ve moved off the mountain on Monday and stayed one night at the KOA in Durango. I was clean out of water and it was a pleasant stay, except for the noise. This KOA is right on U.S. highway 160 and is a major artery for folks going into and leaving Durango. That said, the host there are very friendly and helpful. The grounds are loaded with flowers and they even have a garden with herbs. Guests are welcome to cut herbs for their own use. They even have a couple of pizza ovens and you can order by phone and they’ll deliver to your site. Pretty good pizza too.

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I loaded the water tank and now you find me back at my old camp in the Sauls Creek area. I camped here back in May, of this year.

Aspen understory
Aspen understory

I’ve been thinking of checking my glasses prescription over the last month, and I thought I should get it done with the old optometrist.

Another reason for staying here again is, I want to head up to one of my favorite mountain streams and cast a few flies. It’s a pretty little stream maybe ten feet across in most areas. I’ve caught lots of fish on this stream. Not trophy sized by any means, but beautiful Brook, Rainbow, and a few Cutthroat Trout. Biggest might be in the 10-12” range, but it’s a whole lot of fun catching 20-30 fish in a quarter mile stretch.

Another reason for coming back, is to stock the freezer with a bunch of green chiles. There are so many ways to incorporate green chiles into your food. Scrambled eggs, chicken and chile stew, I even put them into Charleston Crab soup, a recipe I found in the Joy of Cooking. Of course there is nothing better than a green chile on a burger. Just slap on a whole chile on top of the burger with melted cheddar. Is your mouth watering? Yep, mine too!

Playing around with old photo from Utah, with Photoshop
Playing around with an old photo from Utah, with Photoshop

While you can get cans of chiles in the market, you are limited to “mild” and “hot.” Honestly, the “hot” is not. The hot you get from at the farmers market is one you keep your hat on for. It will blow your brains out. At least it did for me. I get the medium chiles. Just the right amount of heat.

After the eye appointment this morning, I went to the natural food market for the Reed’s Ginger Beer I like. They’re the only one that carries it in town. There out front was a chile roaster. I got my chiles!

Now I wait for the new glasses, and I’m set to see the world.

Until next week,

Rob

August 12

Fire In The Sky

I told you last week it rained like h-e-double hockey sticks. Of course with rain in the mountains, that also means thunder and lightning.

Rain on the horizon
Rain on the horizon

Wednesday night, a week ago, it got particularly loud and bright as I went to bed. I’ve said before Geordie has tended to get low and close to me. That night Geordie began to move closer to my pillow, so I put the other pillow over his head. Then a big clap of thunder hit. Geordie found it wasn’t enough so he moved down under the covers and blanket with me, a first for him. I can’t tell you how funny I found this as he moved towards my feet. I just laughed the whole time. It was a long night of rain, thunder, and lightning, and I didn’t get much sleep as he moved around a lot trying to find the furthest point away from the thunder.

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As you can see we both made it, but Geordie is now apprehensive about storms.

I made a decision on Sunday morning. I woke to the worst back ache I’ve had in a long time. “Ding, dong, the bed is gone.” On Tuesday, I got rid of the mattress. Then it was off to the Durango.  I turned into the Mall to check Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Bingo!

What a good morning it was when I woke to a happy lower back. It’s a three inch memory foam pad and is on the firm side which is what works for me.

I found the sky "Nessie"!
I found the sky “Nessie”!

As you’ve seen on my page, I’ve taken to Instagram. It was my niece’s suggestion. So, I added the link on my WordPress page. Hope you like it while you’re waiting for Fridays.

It's round-up time in the high country
It’s round-up time in the high country

This week marked a few dates on the calendar. The 9th would have been my father’s 96th birthday. On the 11th Geordie turned 4. Can’t believe it’s been that long. He’s been a great traveler and he’s visited 11 states so far, and many more to come.

What to do with a 4 year old dog on his birthday? Take him swimming, his favorite activity! We drove down to Summit Reservoir and I threw out his float dozens of times. He was a happy camper! When we got back I gave him a marrow bone. Double happiness!

The birthday dog
The birthday dog

I hope some of you have been looking out for the Perseid Meteor showers. I popped out on Wednesday night. I looked for a few seconds. Those little grains of sand sent out a couple of blazing streaks across the sky. There will be more in the nights to come, but tonight is to be the peak. A good night to head to a dark sky area.

“I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky,” John Denver “Rocky Mountain High.”

Have a great week and thanks for following,

Rob

August 5

More Stuff Falling From the Sky

I have to say this new camp is pretty at different times of the day. Sometimes dappled sun, clouds, and rain, you can see in the distance, or right over head.

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While camp is a bit off the road, I can see the road and the traffic on it. Weekends are the busiest, with all the AVTers, lots of ATVers. Sometimes I wonder about them. A whole caravan comes by with two-seaters and one person, and there are three of them. Why not just hop in a Jeep with the top down? They can swap driving. Humans, sometimes you can’t figure them out.

Sleeping Ute Mountain. The head it on the right, crossed arms over chest to the left, further left the knees, then the toes.
Sleeping Ute Mountain. The head is on the right, crossed arms over chest to the left, further left the knees, then the toes.

I looked at the weather for the week and ran down ( OK drove down) to Cortez on Tuesday to stock up on food, gas, and water. Rain was due on Wednesday at 60% on up through the weekend. Then I saw a flash flood warning.

Here comes more rain clouds
Here comes more rain clouds

Almost finished with H. E. Bates’s ‘Flying Officer X’ stories. A couple of them are broken into parts and both are about downed pilots floating on rafts in the Channel. When you read in one story, that they figured they’d been in the water for more than 60 hours, before they landed successfully back on the English shore. Then they he says they’ll get a few days leave and then back in the air. That left me feeling like I’d never go back up if that happened to me!

The high country wildflowers
The high country wildflowers

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I’ve been looking at the website, Campendium, for a while now. Campers list and rate campsites. I decided I’d write up this site in the ‘Free’ area. I find there is more information about the camps than the other, Freecampsites.net, website. On Campendium, there is a form to fill out, so you get the important information you need. I like that folks can add the cell signal strength for a site, if there is one, for each cell company.

You can look up this camp I named ‘West La Plata Mts.

I’ve been looking at ‘Harvest Hosts’ for next year. I’ve not camped at a host yet, but I had joined last year. I thought I’d use them last summer but never did. Some of the hosts will allow you to stay a couple of nights if you ask and they have no one coming in, otherwise it’s just used as an overnight stop. I’ve even looked at a few in Canada.

Can you spot the 'Flower Pup'?
Can you spot the ‘Flower Pup’?

I suppose I should describe ‘Harvest Hosts’ again. It’s a listing of farms, wineries, museums, that will allow you to camp on their property for free. All that is asked is you purchase some wine or produce from the hosts. The fee for a year is $44.00 or a yearly renewal for $40.00. That’s a night with full-hook ups or two to three forest camps. Some hosts do have hook ups, but most do not. This is for self-contained units (RVs, trailers, truck campers, with bathrooms) only.

On clear days I can see Shiprock in New Mexico.
On clear days I can see Shiprock in New Mexico.

Since I’ll be, for the most part, flying across the country heading to Nova Scotia next year, Harvest Hosts will be a great convenience.

I saw another great sighting last week. While elk are a pretty common sight, I just found this bull elk spectacular. On a drive to look for new camps, I took a curve and there standing in the road was this magnificent bull with a tall rack of antlers all covered in velvet. I can’t remember ever seeing an elk in velvet. He was a very healthy elk as well. Shiny smooth coat. Then off he went, into the aspens.

Nice camp when the sunshines
Nice camp when the sunshines

Someone needs to develop a camera stuck to your forehead that you can mentally use your brain to capture the shot. All this picking up of a camera or fumbling around in your pocket for your phone won’t cut it. Animals don’t wait for you to get ready!

Thanks for reading,

Rob

July 29

Staying Cool in the High Country

I’ve been up in the mountains north of Mancos, Co. for almost two weeks now. It’s been a mix of weather here. Actually, it’s been more rain than sun, but it’s nice to see the rain.

Geordie has had a little trouble with the thunder. He tends to stand under the dinette table. He doesn’t shiver from fear, but likes the den-like cover and having me close by.

One of the draws to this area is the old fire tower “Jersey Jim”. You can now spend the night in the tower, and if it has the views I’ve seen driving around, it would be a nice, memorable, overnight stay. Of course the outhouse is down the steps, and when I took this photo, it was seven AM. They must see the sun very early, being so high, and no shade until sundown.

Early morning at Jersey Jim Fire Tower
Early morning at Jersey Jim Fire Tower

With the rain, I’ve been going back and forth reading two H. E. Bates books. H. E. Bates was a prolific English writer, both of short stories and novels from the 1920’s through the 1970’s.

If you’re not familiar with H. E. Bates, you may have seen British shows based on his writings. “The Complete Uncle Silas Stories” is one of the books I’m reading, and was made into a TV show in Britain, and also aired on PBS under “My Uncle Silas.”

I’ve read it was based on his great grandfather. Silas is what you’d call a bit of a rogue, and a tall-tale story teller. The stories are in the voice of his great nephew. I’ve seen the TV series and own the DVDs. Silas is played by the great Albert Finney, the perfect actor for Silas. The episodes are almost spot on. Sometimes they have blended the stories together.

The other book I’m reading is a compilation of stories Bates wrote for a newspaper. He wrote  under the pseudonym, “Flying Officer X,” during WWII. He was commissioned by the R.A.F. to write about the men flying bombers and Spitfires, and was moved around the different aerodromes. He would get to know the pilots and write about the boys and their experiences. It was put into a book called, “The Complete Flying Officer X Stories.”

Another well known Bates TV adaptation was, “The Darling Buds of May” based on “The Pop Larkin Chronicles.” A young Catherine Zeta Jones played the eldest daughter. I’ve only found the stories in audiobook form and the show is on DVD.

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Many of H. E. Bates books are on Amazon in Kindle form and range from $4.00 on down. His other books are available used.

They’ve been good reading during the rains.

I moved camp this morning higher up with a great view of the lower elevations near Cortez and Mesa Verde.

Looking down from the high country
Looking down from the high country

Thanks for following my wanderings.

Rob

July 22

Moved South

Not a lot to write this post.

Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird

I took a few days moving south, and now am down near Mancos, Colorado, not far from Mesa Verde National Park.

I’m glad to be a 9,500 feet with the weather heating up around the country. It’s rained here for the past few nights. Big thunder and lightning.

Happy to say that other than the thunder, it’s been ‘all quiet on the (South)western front.’ The odd ATV and motorcycle, but no guns going off.

I’m a bit under the weather myself today. I don’t normally have allergies, but I woke this morning to my sinuses giving me trouble.

Next week I’ll tell you about the area I’m camped.

Found this at one camp. Someone has talent and a sense of humor
Found this at one camp. Someone has talent and a sense of humor

Thanks, as always, for reading and using my Amazon link.

Rob

July 14

Nash 17K Review

This will be a four month review of living in the Nash 17K.

First of all is the ride. Driving with a trailer that has suspension is a real dream. It doesn’t knock you around if you hit a big bump. Because of the suspension, inside is the big change. I bought those 3M Command hooks, the ones you can stretch the plastic tab to release it. I hung up two kitchen towels, and not once have they fallen down. No holes in them or rubber bands around them!

Storage is just right. The back dinette benches have a lot of space for books and other gear. The storage in the cabinets above the bed are great for more books and clothes. I have Geordie’s stuff in the little cubbies at the end of the bed. Food storage is great. The cabinet beside the fridge can hold a month or more of food.

Photo by Northwood
Photo by Northwood

I think the 6 cubic foot refrigerator is the only way to go for long stays. Having the freezer is a great way to keep extra perishable foods like breads and meats or seafoods.

Outside, the pass-through compartment is great for the camp chairs, tables, water hose, chocks, and levelers. There is a side, rear compartment that can be for a generator. I only have a few things inside there.

Back inside, of course the great thing is the back window. I measured it and it’s three feet high and five feet wide. While I try and face the back to the East for the early morning sun, sometimes you just have to point it to the best view.

Mount Elbert
Mount Elbert

The kitchen really does have great counter space. I often use the six inches in front of the sink to make sandwiches. It’s the perfect space. The right side is good for a drain rack for dishes.

Photo by Northwood
Photo by Northwood

While I know one person who doesn’t use the oven, I do. It’s great for pizzas and the few frozen dinners I’ve eaten. I’d like to bake bread, but it’s too small, and I rather not use the propane for an hour.

I really appreciate the “dry bath.” In many RVs, a shower in the bathroom means the whole room is a shower, so  everything gets wet. That means you have to remove things from the bathroom you don’t want soaked. The Nash has a separate shower from the rest of the bathroom. Nothing needs to be moved!

Photo by Northwood
Photo by Northwood

Comfort is the key to this trailer. I thing a couple would find this the perfect size. This solo traveler also  finds it just right. If there was a third person, that would be the only time you’d need to assemble or disassemble the dinette/bed combo. Nothing else needs to be converted.

The Nash has a 50 gallon fresh water tank. I’ve often fill it to just over 1/3 and it seems to take me two to three weeks to empty it. I’ve never filled it for the weight factor. I don’t want to drive over the Continental Divide with a full tank! I really could stay out for a month or more with a full tank of water.

Setting up the trailer is as easy as any other trailer. Level side to side, pull it off the hitch and level front to back. Drop the stabilizers, then turn on the propane and the refrigerator and your done.  Oh yeah, lift the shades to your view!

What would I change?

I would like Northwood to offer a better mattress. The “camper’s mattress” looks great at the start but the mattress is a lot of fluff. I have two body size divots and they don’t spring back.

I’m contemplating one of the new foam mattresses, but the cheapest is $600.00. I’ve slept on a futon for most of my adult life and may look at those again for the Nash.

My other pet-peeve is the cabinet knobs. While I like the strength of the latch system, pulling on the knobs and getting my fingers stuck and pinched is a rude awakening in the morning.

The customizing it did.

I’m glad I added the two extra “charging centers” (two USB ports and one 12 volt outlet). One is in the small night table, the other on the front face of the dinette bench.

One thing another Nash owner did was add a propane line for a ventless heater. I’m going to add a Camco Wave 6 heater. I found a blog that talks about how to install a line for one.

http://roadslesstraveled.us/rv-heater/

As you can tell, I’m very happy I upgraded to the Nash.

RVers are interesting folks. I’ve read blogs where some folks have started very large then went very small and finally found the right size. Then others find the right size and trade in every five to seven years.

As for me I went small, and it was great on the short trips. When I went to full-time, I needed a little bit bigger and more rugged. This will be my trailer for years to come.

Some folks are fine with campgrounds. Others want full hook-up RV parks. Then some, like myself, want farther out camps. RVing can be anything you want it to be.

This is an early post because I know I’ll be without internet for a few days.

Thanks for reading and using my Amazon link.

Rob