At one point, Sash asked me why I wanted to move out of a building and live on the road. I answered that I liked the feeling of running away. Her response suggested she was puzzled, and went on to say that she wanted to do this to see America.
I guess, I was left feeling defective. Somehow, her reason for wanting to live mobile seemed more psychologically healthy than mine.
Like in most such situations, it caused me reflect.
When I was 16, I ran away from home.
It was short-lived however. I returned home late that night and sat on the front porch of our home. I hadn’t even went inside. At some point, my mom went outside and saw me sitting there.
She recognized what had happened because she ran away from home at 16 too. Except, she never looked back, just kept on running.
I remember the feelings in me when I decided to leave home: isolated, unwanted, untrusted, unworthy. In an earlier point of my life, I brought joy to my mother and father. Yet now, I felt like old baggage they were burdened with carrying. They were now remarried to new spouses, and had new sons. I had become a step-child. Everything felt past-tense now.
And I recognize that most step-children are able to put aside the demons that whisper words of resentment. Yet somehow, I have not been able to. Well, not totally true. For much of my adult life I have been able to reign in my emotions despite hearing those voices. But after having spent a few years with a therapist, I lost that ability.
Somehow, therapy made it all worse. It stirred up a lot of painful memories that had actually laid repressed in me. Some of these memories I had always known, but had repressed the details. I also had other very troubling memories come after I ate some marijuana cookies. These cookies contained a high level of THC, and I was someone who hadn’t experienced THC before. It made me relive an entire frightening scene in my childhood that my brain had shut off.
After reliving that, and after opening up so many feelings and memories to my therapist, I feel fearful and unwilling to trust. My brain will identify patterns evolving during daily activities and interactions with people that cause me to become anxious and defensive. Now, I overreact to things. I wasn’t like this before therapy. I used to be able to control my reactions.
Earlier in my motorcycling life, I discovered there’s a certain genre of motorcycle riders who ride their entire lives because it brings out this sense of independence and escapism. I’ve met some of these riders before, and one thing they have in common is that they are very difficult to get to know.
I’ve come to realize that I’m very difficult to get to know too.
I’m going through this period right now where I don’t ride my motorcycle much. I think its because my emotional state has become highly sensitized. I’d rather just stay inside the RV and immerse myself with work. Work, by the way, is developing websites, administering the websites I own, and writing new content. It’s all very cerebral, which is great for keeping me disconnected from my anxieties.
I’m also more anxious around people now these emotions are more huge. That tends to keep me indoors too.
I remember this motorcycle rider in San Diego who went by the nickname “Slomo”. He rode an old Kawasaki Concours. He was retired. Slomo would leave home in the morning and ride out to Tombstone, AZ, about a 480 mile ride each way, just to get lunch, and then ride back home. But that was just when he was in town. Usually, he spent weeks and months touring across the country.
He said the sense of constantly moving relaxed him.
I feel the same way. Though I’m now parked in a campground, in the California desert, in an RV, I still feel mobile. Albeit, going on two months of being camped in the same place is probably pushing my limits, the cost savings of not having to tow this trailer, and being able to live dirt cheap, is helping a lot.
My belief is that there are full time RVers like me as well. Well, back up a bit. I’m not really sure I’m a full time RVer just yet. Rather, I’m a lifelong motorcyclist who camps in an RV instead of a tent. At least, that’s still where my head is. The full time RVers I’ve met are different animals.
I still have that yearning to jump on Blackbird and head out across the country for a few months. And sure, full time RVers will say they have that same yearning too. But RVers still want the sense of owning their home, albeit a home on wheels. By contrast, when Sash and I moved out of a home, and lived on our motorcycles for 2 1/2 years, we didn’t have a sense of home other than the home we have in each other.
The sense of being homeless, yet still self-supporting, feels amazing! It’s the closest to real freedom you can get, knowing you don’t have to be anywhere, you don’t have any place to return to, and you can still work and have money.
Intellectually, that’s what I call running away.
Emotionally, it’s this whole other story I’ve written about above.
I’ve asked myself how long will I live in this RV. I have two possible answers to that. One, I won’t make any plans because I just don’t believe in long term plans anymore. Two, I want to get at least five years out of it.
But more than likely, it’ll probably just be until I die.
I looked back on 2017, not just my personal life, but everything I experienced in the places I visited, the people I met, even the articles I read and the videos I watched. I came away with two things…
I really love being back on the road, and
I question the authenticity of things a lot more.
Suffice it to say, I’ve become less naive the older I’ve become, and I don’t think it’s unique of me to do so. That is, I think everyone learns to listen with doubt as they grow older.
I sit here right now in the middle of the desert, inside of an RV, completely off the grid. I think part of the reason why I’ve done so is because I felt this need to symbolically run away from external forces. Perhaps there’s this alter ego in me trying to protect a naive little boy from being lured into a stranger’s car, and sitting out in the middle of the desert is the safest place I can get to.
Meanwhile, the anger on social media is ruining me.
I cannot remember a time when people in general were so pissed off at each other. But then again, has there ever been a time when people could safely vent their ire from behind the safety of a computer keyboard?
Now that Sash and I have become full time RVers, we’ve met other people who have taken up abode within mobile confines. And there’s this common denominator of self-reliance and distrust in government oversight.
I remember when “big brother” was a scary idea. Today, it seems like that’s what millennials want. Do they fully understand the implications of what that brings?
It has caused me to take a more proactive approach in securing my independence. I don’t want to become a cog in some greater monkey-works that switches hands from one political party to the next. I want to remain free from government oversight. I want to remain that small, one-tenth of one-percent that’s allowed to run around unaccounted for. I don’t want to be that hamster in an exercise wheel who runs itself to death creating power for the bureaucracy.
That stuff’s for the stupid.
I reminds me of Hurricane Katrina, when FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) came in and took over as the local law enforcement, creating refugee camps, and preventing people from going back home. I do not want to be corralled like cattle.
Yes, maybe I’m eccentric. But I think you have to take responsibility if you want to remain free. No one is just going to hand you freedom.
So, moving into 2018, there’s this fog, unclear picture, or sense of uncertainty of where totally free, untethered living will take us. Democrats want to make it more illegal to live off-grid. Republicans want to control morality even more. Will I be able to move further and further away from from this control?
Now that I’m 51 years old, I see myself as wanting only 30 years of living, and then I think I’m OK with just dying. Well OK, I really am not OK with just dying. But what I’m trying to say is that once I’m in my 80s, I won’t feel cheated if I died. If I can make it to my 80s, I think I got as much life as I could realistically expect as an American.
I just want to spend the next 30 years without having to “contribute to society” because trust me, I’ve already given more than my fair share to state and federal government in the form of self-employment and corporate taxes. I did what I was supposed to do, create a business, employ people, and pay taxes. Now, all I want to do is be left alone and live on my own terms.
Sunbeam Lake RV Resort, which is located in Seeley, CA, just off Interstate 8, was the place Sash and I had chosen for a two-month stay to sit out of the rest of 2017.
The price seemed right, $520.00 a month, with electricity extra, and plenty of space at each site. It also put us close to the Mexican border so that we could hop over and get us cheap medication that would have otherwise required doctor’s visits, medical tests, and grossly-inflated prices in the States.
Finally, a break from all the 90-100 degree F heat that California experiences during the summer, helped us feel more relaxed, though for the first couple weeks here, temps started creeping back up. Otherwise, it has tailed off and we are enjoying mild weather now.
And somehow, we’re getting really strong Verizon 4G LTE connection. Interestingly, we’re also getting strong Wi-Fi signal from the resort, except they limit people to one connected device per site, and if you stream movies or download big files, they kick you off.
Don’t you just hate rules?
We hate to say it, but it looks like Sash and I are getting old.
Sash is going through this thing where many of her high school classmates have died over the years, and it seems like more and more keep dying. I guess that what happens when you get older. For me, I somehow can’t help notice that I spend more time in places where other 50+ year old people are. I mean, I now tend to prefer bars where there are folks in my age range, and look, we’re currently staying in a snow bird RV resort.
If anything, the fact that we’re staying in a snow bird park has only led to us feeling self-conscious. Yes, it is an RV resort, technically, but everyone else here is largely permanent. Many do spend six months here and go back north for the summer, but that doesn’t make them travelers, does it? Many here have converted their spaces into park models, effectively mobile homes. It’s not really a place of vagabonds and road gypsies, it feels more like a mobile home park.
And I guess that’s something we are taking notice of as we travel around. There are parks and campgrounds where folks are mostly transitory, and others where they are mostly permanent. But frustratingly, the places where they are mostly transitory are a lot more expensive, and filled with families with terrorist kids. So, Sash and I find that we either have to pay a lot of money to stay, or find a park that makes us feel old.
But while we’ve been here, I’ve come discover that our toy hauler doesn’t have any kind of heat-reflecting barrier in its ramp door. This is apparently, why it gets so hot inside. When the sun shines on the ramp door, all that heat transfers through and radiates the inside. Our air conditioner just can’t fight that heat well enough to keep us comfortable.
The reason why the ramp door has no insulation is because it was built to be extra strong. It has a 4,000 pound weight limit whereas other toy hauler brands have a 3,000 pound limit. There just isn’t enough space in the ramp door for insulation or barrier.
So, I purchased some Reflectix radiant barrier. It’s like a bubble-wrap lined with aluminum. I draped it on the outside of the ramp door, and now absolutely no heat comes through. Our air conditioner actually is able to cool things down.
One nice that happened while we’ve been here in Seeley is that I found a local brewery that I really like. It’s actually located in Imperial, about 10 miles north east. Humble Farmer Brewing is a local favorite among farmers and hunters, the kind of people you’d normally assume gulps down the cheap, fizzy yellow water stuff. But nope, somehow Humble Farmer is slowly turning this part of California’s grain belt into discriminating craft beer aficionados, albeit ones that wear John Deere caps and Carhart shirts.
Thanksgiving came and went for us, but unfortunately for Sash, she fell pretty ill. She needed a lot of rest, so there was no cooking, no going out, no hanging out with friends for her. She just slept all day. Meanwhile, I took Mia with me and drove to San Diego, to our old apartment building, and hung out there for their annual, “Friendsgiving”, which is a Thanksgiving for people who don’t have any family to go to. I brought back plenty of eats for Sash.
But back to the subject.
We’ve decided that boondocking is really what we want to do. We’d rather find obscure plots of BLM or National Forest land, and just set up there for two or three weeks at a time.
As a result, I’m doing more research on getting our toy hauler geared up for some long term boondocking.
Actually, this trailer is pretty well set up as it is. We have a 5,500 watt generator and a 36 gallon fuel tank to go along with it. We have a 100 gallon fresh water tank, a few propane tanks, and our trusty little charcoal grill. What we don’t have are solar panels.
We don’t technically need solar since we have a generator and fuel supply to power everything for a couple weeks. But, I just don’t want to fire it up every time I want a cup of coffee.
However, I’ve begrudgingly arrived at the conclusion that a solar solution is only feasible and economical for light 12 volt applications, like running LEDs, powering a water pump, or charging batteries on our electronics. But to run a toaster oven, brew some coffee, slow cook a roast, blow dry hair, is just not going to happen without a lot of expense on big batteries, a big inverter, and lots of solar panels. It would take several years to pay for itself, and even at that, it’s still dependent on bright, sunny weather to make it work.
Well, I’m still going for a solar set up, just not a big one. Maybe like, one roof-mounted panel and maybe double the battery capacity that I currently have.
It will likely be next April or May when we get that done.
So, to finish up on that thought, I want to say that staying in RV parks is probably coming to an end for Sash and I. We may still stay in them now and then, but otherwise they are getting expensive, and tough to feel comfortable in. Sometimes it’s tough to find one with availability space for the time frame we need and good Verizon 4G signal.
I guess when we spent a week boondocking at Rockhouse Campground, it really opened our eyes on what we were missing out on. Perhaps, all the months we’ve spent thus far in RV parks was needed to help us transition from apartment living to RV living, and now we’re ready to live off-grid.
I’m actually really excited to start boondocking again.
Rockhouse Campground actually shows up on Google Maps, located northwest of Borrego Springs, CA. It lies right on the border with Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and there are parts of its that actually cross over the park boundary.
However, all of the camping spots are located outside of the park.
I’m not actually sure who owns this area of land. The online BLM maps shows no governmental jurisdiction of this area. It’s not owned by the City of Borrego Springs. Perhaps it’s owned by the County of San Diego? Either way, there are no signs posted, nothing blocking your entry, and no one coming around to kick you out.
If you’re hoping to enjoy a free stay with the desert flora and fauna of Anza Borrego, you’re out of luck. Rockhouse Campground offers very little of the park’s Octotillo, cactus, wildflowers, song birds, and other wildlife. I had at least hoped for the midnight cry of a coyote, but came up empty each night. It’s mostly rocks and creosote bush here. However, this area offers great staging for excursions into the many features of Anza Borrego and also gives you proximity to the City of Borrego Springs for supplies and dining.
Sash and I felt quite safe here. On several occasions, we felt good about unhooking our trailer and driving the truck into town. We never noticed anyone snooping around our camp, nor discovered anything touched or moved out of place. Much of this campground sits out of view from the S-22 highway.
Perhaps the biggest negative about Rockhouse Campground is the lack of Verizon 4G LTE coverage. Data signal came in fairly good (-82 db) with a MIMO antenna, however offered very slow upload/download speed. It was so slow, it was barely usable. Verizon Voice was a little better, but required having to step outside the RV to prevent dropped calls.
Both Sash and I really want to camp here again, but the poor Verizon connectivity makes us balk at a return. We did test our signal at various places around Rockhouse Campground, and did find some places a little bit better, but it’s hard to say that it’s better enough to warrant a longer stay.
Every trailer owner is going to need service on their rig at some point, and so begs the question, “Where’s a good trailer shop?”
In the Pacific Northwest region, 99 West Trailers is definitely the place to go.
Based in Sherwood, Oregon, 99 West offers full trailer service, repair, customization, and sales.
We needed to get some extra pieces (cabinet, two desks, ramp door cables, and a new step system) added to our toy hauler, and these were items requiring a fair amount of cutting, drilling, and fabricating, just to get them to fit properly and securely. And because we live full time in our toy hauler, we needed to find a trailer shop capable of getting the job done in a day so that we wouldn’t have to hotel for a night.
The service staff at 99 West seemed to understand our needs and got right to work. All I had to do was unhitch the trailer from my pickup, and they took over. Rob, the guy assigned to our project, handled our trailer carefully, and took the extra steps in making sure the new pieces were mounted and fitted securely.
While they worked on our trailer, they let us store our furniture and motorcycles in their shop.
What we really liked is that Rob and the crew at 99 West welcomed us to watch as he worked. He even talked with us during the process, which was cool because other shops we’ve been to seem annoyed at having customers watch as they work.
But then again, this is our trailer, our full time home, and it’s awesome that 99 West understands that.
John Bender and Patty Walker are the owners. They actually took the time to introduce themselves to us while we were there. It’s a family-owned business that leverages its focus on outstanding customer service to compete with other shops.
They work on all trailers, be it toy haulers, travel-trailers, car haulers, boat trailers, livestock trailers. They also sell trailers and are authorized dealers and service centers for a long list of manufacturers.
I left 99 West feeling happy and taken care of.
Our lives as digital nomads and website developers depend on this trailer being capable of supporting our needs, and thus we need a trailer shop that can equally support our service needs. 99 West Trailers is it.
I think Sash and I will look at making a return trip to the Pacific Northwest each summer just to keep our toy hauler up to snuff in terms of maintenance now that we’ve found a place we can trust.
When it comes to improving your 4G LTE signal, you have two choices: use an antenna, or use an amplifier.
A 4G LTE antenna is not the same as an amplifying device such as those made by WeBoost, HiBoost, and SureCall. Those devices pick up faint 4G LTE signals and make them louder so that your cellphone, router, or hotspot device can “hear” them better.
An antenna doesn’t boost a signal, but rather, it casts out a wide net to “scoop up” as much signal as it can, and then channels it down to your cellphone, router, or hotspot.
Amplifiers have a huge downside. They also boost the noise. Hence, if you are already getting fair to moderate signal, an amplifier will actually make things worse due to a higher signal-to-noise ratio. On the other hand, an antenna does not increase noise; it just catches more signal.
As a result, amplifiers work best when you have a very faint signal (no bars to 1 bar), while antennas work best when you have fair to moderate signal (2 bars to 4 bars). If you want to cover every scenario, you’d can set up both antenna and amplifier, and be able to switch between the two depending on your location situation.
Amplifiers tend to outperform antennas when you are moving down the road. Antennas only work better when stationary and pointed directly at the signal source. Truckers prefer amplifiers because it lets them use their cellphones while traveling.
I chose to set up an antenna because it’s lot cheaper than buying an amplifier. A good amplifier may cost up to $500.00, whereas an antenna will run between $50.00 to $100.00. Also, I don’t need my 4G LTE signal when I’m driving; I only need it when I’m sitting down doing my website development work. Hence, getting a directional antenna, seemed the better choice.
Before Buying an Antenna
You will need a router or hotspot device, designed for 4G LTE use, with two antenna ports. Currently, both Verizon and AT&T are selling these devices. However, hotspots offered by T-Mobile and Sprint do not.
Note that you need a hotspot with TWO antenna ports. This is because 4G LTE technology was designed to use two separate antennas for input and output. Many older 4G LTE hotspots came with just one antenna port for both input and output, which prevented users from getting the most out of an antenna.
We are using Verizon’s 7730l Mifi device.
Interestingly, amplifiers perform better when plugged into only one antenna port, even if your hotspot has two. So, if your hotspot has only one port, you may as well pony up the extra dough for an amplifier.
What Kind of Antenna to Buy
Make sure it’s a MIMO antenna (multi-in, multi-out). This means it contains two separate antennas, one positioned horizontally, the other vertically. There should be two separate antenna output jacks. It should also be labeled “4G LTE”. Most of them will actually say that it’s compatible with Verizon, AT&T, etc.
You can also buy Yagi antennas, which are designed for 4G LTE use. These are awesome antennas. However, these typically are sold as one single antenna, meaning you have to buy two. You will then need to mount them together, but one positioned horizontally (flat) and the other vertically (up), in order to prevent them from interfering with each other. Or, you can just buy what I bought.
You will also need to buy extension cables, one for the horizontal and one for the vertical. These must be shielded cables, because the longer the cable, the more signal you will lose. Make sure this cable is labeled for Radio/RF use, and not for Wi-Fi or television use.
The antenna I bought comes with a bracket that will hold it a pole. So, I went to a home improvement store and bought a 10 foot grey PVC pipe (I didn’t want white PVC). I also bought two steel ribbon clamps (screw clamps) to hold the pipe to my toy hauler’s ramp door latch.
Positioning the Antenna
4G LTE antennas like the one I installed are directional. That is, they have to be pointed in the direction of the nearest cell tower. As a result, they only work when you are stationary, like parked at a campground, or on the roof of your house. There are, however, omni-directional antennas designed to be used while moving. These are not as effective as directional antennas. Don’t buy those.
Download and install the “Open Signal” app on your phone or tablet. It will show you which direction your current signal is coming from.
Now, point the antenna in that direction, then secure it tightly so that it doesn’t move.
The Total Cost
All together, this set up cost me about $250.00. That’s still half the price of a WeBoost unit ($500.00). Had I bought the WeBoost, I might have had to spend more money for additional parts to make it work in my rig.
I was able to increase signal strength (decibel gain) by about +20 db.
Interestingly, the manufacturer of my antenna advertised a gain of between +7 db to +10. Yet, we were getting far more than that.
At the RV Park in Crescent City, CA, where I set this all up, we could not get a good enough signal to connect and remain connected. Our signal strength would waver between -116 db to -120 db. Keep in mind that -120 is the weakest signal possible.
But with the antenna, I was getting signal strength of -95 db to -97 db, and was good enough to let me do my website development work.
Also note that a -95 db signal, running on slower 3G speeds (which I am often on due to Verizon’s 10 gb throttling limit) is still plenty fast for FTP use, and still fast enough to stream video.
How Does That Compare to an Amplifier?
WeBoost typically advertises a gain of +55 db to +70 db on the use of its amplifiers. Of course, that’s way better than the +20 db I’m getting. However, remember that an amplifier only works in cases like what we had in Crescent City, where there was practically no signal.
On the flip side, in areas where you have fair to moderate signal, an amplifier will actually make it worse.
And because Sash and I plan to stay in RV Parks and campgrounds where there is at least a fair to moderate 4G LTE signal, I don’t think we will ever need an amplifier.
What I Would Do Differently Now
After using this antenna set up for a few weeks now, I would definitely get shorter extension cable. The 25ft cable is way too long. Remember that signal will actually weaken as it passes along the cable. Albeit the cable I bought is shielded for low-loss, there is no such thing as zero-loss cable.
I could probably do better with just 10 to 12 feet of cable.
The Walmart in Yreka, CA is a popular place for RVers to spend the night, and by the looks of it, some of them spend several nights here.
Believe it or not, but spending nights in Walmart parking lots is actually a strategy that Sash and I incorporated into our budget, mostly to offset expenditures. We try to spend a few nights each month mooching off of big-box retailers for their expansive spreads of asphalt and turn just a tiny patch into our bedroom digs.
This particular Walmart parking lot seems better than other Walmarts we’ve stayed at. It’s for the most part, quiet over night. No screaming kids, no cars roaring by.
While we did not ask the Walmart manager to let us park our truck and trailer there overnight, we read reviews on Allstays.com that dozens of people have stayed there overnight with no issues. I’d say about 6 or 7 other RVers were there when we stayed there.
It’s not easy to switch into my coding/webdev brain after an afternoon of towing trailer up and down mountain roads. And it’s not convenient to set up my laptop and hard drive on a futon with motorcycles inside the trailer. But I was able to get some minor work done for a client that night.
Sometimes it’s crazy to think that we’re sleeping on a mattress at the edge of a parking lot, with only aluminum framing and composite panels concealing us.
After so many days of hiding behind my keyboard inside our RV, tagging up text, marking up code, and whatever else I need to do to keep my half of our marketing business going, I needed to get outside.
Stout Grove Trailhead is located inside Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, just outside of Crescent City, CA. It’s been described as a breathtaking wonder of skyscraping Redwoods laden with moss and ferns. It was actually Sash that recommended we go there.
So we hopped on our motorcycles and headed over.
The ride along CA 199 is quite a thrilling ride for its twisting asphalt meandering between hulking tree trunks that effectively block out the sun. The route, however, also took us along a bumpy, dusty, dirt road for another 10 miles until we reached the trailhead.
We were advised to bring mosquito repellent, but somehow, we left it behind.
Sure enough, just a few hundred feet along the trail, were inundated by swarms of blood-thirty needle-nosers. Each time I stopped to take a photo, there were all over me. The best I could do was keep walking briskly just to prevent 99% of them from landing on me.
Strangely, mosquitoes are not at all interested in Sash. It’s always me they’re after.
Stout Grove Trail is indeed a beautiful place to get lost in. Once fully basked in the darkness of Redwood canopy, there’s an eerie still. You could hear a twig creak hundreds of feet away. At any moment, you expect to find a deer, a bear, (or even Sasquatch) peeking its head from behind a trunk.
Instead, you mostly find other people.
It’s a popular place for tourists.
The trail itself is a loop that runs about half-mile total. There are other trails that shoot of it, and in fact Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park is filled with trails that go everywhere. If you wanted to, you could spend days, weeks, exploring them all (provided you have enough mosquito repellent).
Make sure to bring bottled water and snacks because there are no vendors. There is a restroom at the trailhead and a small parking lot.
Village Camper Inn RV Park turned out to be such a great place to stay during the Summer that Sash and I decided to stay there a little longer than we had originally planned.
Arriving there on June 19, we had initially paid up for a month, but then decided to stay another month.
Monthly price is cheap ($459.00, electricity extra), and the temperature is cool. I mean, where the rest of California is baking in the 100+ degree range, Crescent City, CA stays in the mid-60s. So, cool weather, low prices, and decent shopping around town, equated to an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.
But another reason why we chose to stay there is because one of Sash’s friends lives in nearby Brookings, OR.
But making things difficult is poor Verizon 4G coverage within the park. We couldn’t get online via our Mifi device as it was. However, we were able to order parts for our 4G LTE antenna, and was able to pick up enough signal to get online and get work done, albeit slowly. Otherwise, the Starbucks in town has good Wi-Fi.
Crescent City itself is by no means a romantic getaway. However, it’s coastline is just as spectacular as that found along California’s Central Coast. The sunsets are amazing. The beaches are not crowded; always plenty of parking right along the sand. Also, don’t forget the amazing views along the city’s “Pebble Beach Drive”.
While there are a few other options for RV Parks in Crescent City, Village Camper Inn seems to offer the best combination of peace and quiet, the Redwood Forest, proximity to the ocean and town, and low price. A couple of sections of the park are dominated by year-round residents and monthlies, while other sections reserved for weekenders and overnighters. Otherwise, many of the folks are here for the fishing, and there’s many boats to be found parked in the campground.
Village Camper Inn seems pretty liberal on the rules. For the most part, they don’t seem to mind what you do, as long as its respectful and doesn’t get out of hand.
While Sash and I were there, we got to know our neighbors fairly well. They were generous with giving us free rock fish, freshly caught, cleaned and filleted. In return, Sash made cookies for them.
Tuttletown Recreation Area sits on the banks of New Melones Lake, just outside of Sonora, CA. The park is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation.
New Melones Lake is the fifth largest lake in California, at 12,500 surface-acres, and is situated along the edge of the Mother Lode, the rich gold vein that prompted the California Gold Rush of 1849. At an elevation of 1100 feet, the Foothill Oak Woodlands hug the 100 miles of shoreline.
But Tuttletown Recreation Area is mostly a campground for boaters. Even though there are spaces where RVs can park, expect to find awkward parking, tight curves, and narrow roads. Pulling a long trailer is going to be tough through Tuttletown. Many of the roads are one-way.
Our 28 foot toy hauler, pulled by the bumper, along with our pickup truck, had a heck of a time getting situated into a space, which happened to be a handicapped space. There was no room left for the pickup truck, and we had to leave it in an area that was not-designated for parking. A park ranger pointed it out to us. When we explained there was no other place to put the truck, she relented.
Otherwise, class A, B, and C vehicles are best suited for Tuttletown. Small trailers under 20 feet could probably get by here. Beyond that, it’s going to be tough going trying to get situated.
Like most state and federal campgrounds, there are no hookups here. There are restrooms and shower facilities, but we found them dirty with lots of loiterers hanging about.
There is an RV dump station in the middle of the campground, but it’s not free. You’re expected to pony up $8.00 on the honor system, even if you’ve already paid to camp here.
As usual, running your generator is not allowed after 10:00 PM, which made it tough for us because summer temperatures remained in the 90s up until midnight.
During the weekend we were here, Tuttletown was jam packed. Even with day time temperatures going over 100 degrees F, it didn’t stop folks from taking up every available camp spot. But from Monday to Thursday, this place gets empty.
Expect to find lots of kids running around here on weekends, and lots of partiers. There were people driving their pickup trucks rather fast through here, with park rangers running their sirens through the evening trying to stop them.
In short, Tuttletown Recreation Area is not advised if you’re looking for tranquil peace. It’s really a place for boaters and weekend revelers.