As I begin this post, it is August 29, 2017. Three years ago today we began a new journey, an adventure if you will, into a new lifestyle. We awoke that morning, back in 2014, nervous, excited and also a bit anxious. What would our future hold? We were entering completely uncharted territory.
The closing on our house was that day, scheduled for 11am. It would be the first time since 1986 that we would not own a house. It was a strange feeling, that much was clear.
The closing went off without a hitch and we walked away with our check – the largest check we’ve ever held! The largest check ever made out to us! We snapped a pic of it and then rushed to our bank to make the deposit! Afterward we celebrated by going to lunch; we had done it – fully committed to being full-time RVers!
Since that day, we have been to so many new places, spent so much time visiting with loved ones, met so many awesome people, and experienced so many new things! We are still going strong, learning new ways to tackle lifes challenges and walking through new doors, as other doors close! We are expanding our horizons – they sky is our limit!
As excited as we are about the future, this post is about summing up our past year. These type posts are always my favorite on other blogs because it is a quick look at how others are living this lifestyle and never fails to give me insight into ways we might improve our way of doing things. Lets dig in now!
First up is campgrounds. Seems almost impossible but we have only stayed at 12 different campgrounds this past year! Here’s the breakdown:
7 independent campgrounds for a total of nights.
Renfros Lakeside Retreat: 29 nights @ $0 per night (part of our workamping compensation). Alaska Recap
Oceanside RV Park: 3 nights @ 36 p/night (10% off w/Good Sam). Haines
Glowing Embers Campground: 1 night @ $34 p/night. Edmonton
Lake Haven Retreat Campground: 1 night @ $32 Heading East
Scottyland Camping Resort: 29 nights $13.62 p/night (monthly rate) Southwest PA
Clearwater Travel Resort: 34 nights (30 @ $28 p/night (monthly rate) 4 @ $27.50 Passport America rate) FL
Country Oaks Campground: 144 nights @ $0 (part of our workamping compensation) Country Oaks
Boulder County Fairgrounds Campground: 7 nights @ $20 p/night CO
COE (Corp of Engineer) Park:
Tuttle Creek Cove Park: 5 nights @ $18 p/night KS
Neuse River Flanners Beach Campground: 10 nights @ $11 p/night ($6 off p/night w/America the Beautiful) Flanners Beach
Myrtle Beach State Park: 7 nights @ $26 p/night Myrtle Beach
We did a fair amont of free boondocking this year. Staying with family or friends is such an awesome way to spend time together. We love it! We realize not everyone has a large enough area for us, but we appreciate those to extend invites when possible. We also appreciate Walmarts, Cracker Barrels and the assortment of other establishments that allow RVers to park overnight for free!
Walmarts: 10 nights
Cracker Barrel: 3 nights
Fred Meyer (grocery store): 1 night
Chevron (gas station):1 night
Casino: 1 night
Sam’s Club:1 night
Gravel pull-out: 2 nights
Michelle: 8 nights
John: 6 nights
Cindy: 4 nights
Infosino’s: 1 night
Helen & Pat: 1 night
Ken & Nancy: 13 nights
Total boondocking: 54 nights
We added a new list of places to stay to our arsenal this year – the Elks Lodges! Our friends, Linda & Steven, are Elks members and they told us all about becoming a member and saving money staying at their lodges. In Decemeber, Bill was inducted to the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks! Our “home” lodge is Ephrata Lodge #1933. Our yearly dues are $68 and that allows us to stay at any lodge around the country that allows it. We can also go in for drinks and food when its available. Each lodge has different a different set-up, some have full hook-ups, some have just electric, some water and electric, it all depends. Some have a “suggested” donation, some just say “donations accepted”, some have published rates. Those with published rates are significantly less than CG’s nearby. Here is a summary of Elks lodges we’ve stayed at so far:
Ephrata PA #1933: 10 nights – donation $100
Melbourne FL #1744: 6 nights – donation $60
Atlanta-Northlake GA #78: 5 nights – donation $50
Greenville SC #858: 9 nights – donation $90
As far as memberships go, we haven’t used them as much as we have previously, but they are still part of our overall saving strategy. Here’s how they helped us this year:
Passport America: cost per year: $44
Clearwater Travel Resort 4 nights saved/spent $27.50 p/night; total $110
America the Beautiful: cost $80 per year
Neuse River Flanners Beach 10 nights, saved $6 p/night; total $60
There you have it – our year of places we’ve stayed. We’ve had our least expensive, CG wise, which is awesome! When we spend less on CG’s – that’s more to spend on other things, right?
We have arrived at the section where I want to talk about our favorite campgrounds. This always proves to be difficult for me, let me tell you why. Every place we stay is unique and has different positives and negatives, and which list different amenities end up on are largely subjective, won’t always be the same for everyone. Granted, awesome views are usually a hit with everyone, but things like pools can be good or maybe just neutral. Dog parks are awesome for those with dogs, but some people don’t like dogs.
For Bill and I, we don’t generally need much. We like clean, well maintained and larger sites. We like a minimal amount of trees, especially near the road. Bill has gotten so good at backing in that pull-thru’s aren’t a big deal. If the weather is perfect, a pool is nice but we usually don’t use them. Most of the time, for us, its about location, location, location! We prefer a view vs the other more commercial type amenities.
With all these things in mind our favorite campgrounds this year have been:
Oceanside RV Park in Haines AK. We mentioned this one last year also, but since we stayed again, we wanted to add it again. The view cannot be beat. The CG is basically a parking lot with hook-ups, but its location cannot be beat! We liked it so much we returned for a second time, driving 300 miles out of the way to do it! If we every head back to AK, will do it again!
Mariner Park Campground in Homer AK. This is basically a parking lot, without any hookups, yes, dry camping. Paying to boondock – why? you ask – the VIEW! It is basically the beach right outside your door! Cook Inlet all around you! Amazing location!
Tuttle Creek Cove Park near Manhattan KS. This COE park has water and electric on-site, but we used the dump station on the way out. Another place where it was all about the view – it was wonderful! The sites were tiered so everyone had a view, no one blocked anyone. Perfect! Was well kept and beautiful! Considering my niece lives near there – there’s a better than average chance we will return to this park!
Our favorite based strictly on the campground itself would have to be, hands down, Country Oaks! I know – we are probably a bit biased, but even if we weren’t staying here we would love this place! The owners, Bob & Lynn are awesome, the CG is well-kept and beautiful and the pool (which I’m not normally into) is amazing! I’ll be doing another post about Country Oaks in the future – be on the look out in the coming weeks!
Our least favorite campground this past year is easy peezy! We weren’t very impressed with Scottyland Camping Resort. First, I have to preface my comments by telling you we were there off season, but I seriously don’t think a few months earlier would have made that big a difference. Frankly, there were lots of run down trailers all over the place. Like, a lot of them. The trailers I am referring to were in the seasonal section, while we stayed in the transient section, but it was just bad. There was difficulty in communication, we never got a key to the gate and every night it was anyones guess if we were locked out or not. We choose Scottyland because it was the only place open, but now that we know we can fit in our daughters driveway, if we ever stay past November 1, we will stay with Michelle.
Look in the upcoming days for the next installment of our year 3 summary! Thanks – as always for following along!
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