USA RV Park – Gallup, NM

We stayed in Gallup for one night as we drove from Albuquerque to Moab. The park is clean, the people are nice, and it seems to be a place where people stop for a night or two as they’re making their way somewhere else. It looks like it was once a KOA, so it offers everything that a KOA Journey would. We were in site 1, a very spacious end site.

USA RV Park

2925 W Historic Hwy 66, Gallup, NM 87301

www.usarvpark.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Laundry
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Cabins
  • Store
  • Dump Station
  • Playground
  • Pool
  • Propane
  • Cable TV
  • Wifi
  • Pet Run

The city of Gallup is a decent size, with a Walmart, a Home Depot, and plenty of places to eat. There’s a municipal airport not far up the road from the RV park that receives flights around the clock. It’s so close and loud that planes coming in for a landing set our truck alarm off a couple of times, including in the middle of the night. I’m not sure why planes are landing at this tiny airport in the middle of the night, but between that and a nearby train track, we didn’t have the most restful night of sleep. After getting set up, we went into town for lunch and ate at Jerry’s Cafe, a Mexican restaurant that seems to be pretty popular with the locals. We also drove past the Hotel el Rancho, a hotel on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built by film director D.W. Griffith’s brother in 1937 on Route 66 and served as a temporary home for many movie stars that filmed Western movies in the area. Ronald Reagan, Spencer Tracy, Kirk Douglas, Katherine Hepburn and John Wayne all spent time there, and now each room in the hotel is named after a previous famous guest.

 

Albuquerque: The KOA, a Bad Converter, and a Long Hotel Stay

Where to begin? I guess I’ll begin with how we ended up in Albuquerque when it wasn’t part of the plan.

We were in Hurricane, Utah and were supposed to be moving on to spending the weekend in Zion National Park at Watchman Campground. We drove through the campground a week before when we visited Zion and we weren’t super impressed. Due to the crazy winter the area had been having, there were parts of the campground that were under water. The original loop that we had reserved our site in was all torn up and closed. There was also a lot of work being done in the area surrounding the campground and nearby visitor center. I don’t know if this was due to weather-related issues or planned. Regardless, we weren’t super pumped about the current conditions of the campground, but we would deal with it. As the weekend approached, the weather outlook was not so great, adding to our apprehension. We made the decision to cancel our two nights, which would’ve been Friday to Sunday, and start driving towards our next destination, Santa Fe. We didn’t want to stay in Zion just for the sake of staying in Zion — we wanted to enjoy it, including the site and the weather. Besides, we’d be back in Hurricane in a month, staying at a place a little closer to Zion than Sand Hollow State Park is, and we’d make sure to explore the Park more then.

We found Valles RV Park in Mexican Hat, Utah on Campendium. Mexican Hat is home to Monument Valley and the Valley of the Gods. I had seem so many pictures of the area and wanted to see it for myself. We decided to spend two nights here, Friday and Saturday, before we moved on to Santa Fe. After spending one night, we decided to leave Mexican Hat early Saturday morning. You can read more about why here.

I know, I know. We’re starting to sound super picky about the places we stay. We really aren’t, but when something doesn’t feel right for whatever reason, we listen to our instincts. It’s done well for us so far, and as you’ll soon read, our instincts didn’t fail us here.

While we were still in Mexican Hat Friday night, we had already decided we were leaving in the morning; therefore, we needed to figure out where we were going. We had a reservation for one night in Kirtland, New Mexico on Sunday, as our original plan had been Zion –> Kirtland –> Santa Fe. We decided our new route would take us from Mexican Hat –> Albuquerque –> Santa Fe, with two nights (Saturday and Sunday) at the Albuquerque KOA. Yay, we had a plan!

When we arrived in Albuquerque Saturday afternoon after six rough hours of driving on Northern New Mexico’s lovely highways, we pulled into what is the nicest KOA Journey that we’ve stayed at. As we were getting set up, I noticed an issue with the converter fan. The converter is what converts the 120 volts of AC shore power to 12 volts of DC to supply power to all of the 12 volt appliances and accessories in the trailer. The converter basically prevents the batteries from draining when you’re plugged in. The converter fan helps to cool the converter unit down when needed. There was no need for the fan to be kicking in, yet it was — very, very often. We also noticed that any time the fan kicked in, the battery voltage would drop from the usual 13.6 to as low as 12.3, which is pretty low but not quite in the danger zone yet. By danger zone, I mean so low that the batteries won’t recover and recharge and are basically dead.

We had no idea what was going on so we got on the Google and various Airstream forums. From everything we read, it seemed as though our batteries were on their way out. This made sense, as the batteries were still the factory installed batteries which are not known to have the best longevity. We looked online to find a place nearby that we could get new batteries and low and behold — Airstream of New Mexico was only a half mile away! We drove over to Airstream and explained what was happening and they agreed with us; it sounded like the batteries. We bought two new ones and made our way back to the KOA where we figured out how to swap them out.

Here’s the thing, neither one of us is very mechanically inclined. Anything electrical is foreign to us and the idea of having to fix something electrical is a bit terrifying. This is a good time to mention that I have no idea if I’m using the proper terms for everything. Please do not take anything I’ve typed here as sacred, legit information. Before pulling the old batteries, we took pictures and notes. We successfully removed the old and installed the new! We were so proud of ourselves that we fixed our issue. That is, until we plugged back in and realized that, in fact, the issue had not been fixed. The converter fan still kept running for seemingly no reason and the battery voltage still kept decreasing when the fan kicked in. We started to notice exactly WHEN the fan would kick on, and it seemed to be whenever there was a certain level of movement in the trailer. Whenever the door was slammed or a cabinet or drawer was closed, it would kick on. So this changed our course of thinking. By this time, Airstream of New Mexico was closed for the day, so we weren’t able to get their input. We eventually figured out that if the fan kicked on, we could get it to kick off by pressing on the metal panel that is in front of it. This made us think that something was loose, so Travis removed the metal panel and removed the circuit board. He sprayed the area with air and made sure all of the connections were tight. He put everything back together and it seemed to work for a while. The fan didn’t kick in and the batteries stayed at their normal level — until they didn’t.

Just a reminder, this was on Saturday. Not only was Airstream of New Mexico closed for the day, but they were closed until Tuesday — they aren’t open Sundays and Mondays. We were supposed to be driving to Santa Fe on Monday where we would be spending two weeks. And to make things more complex, Travis was supposed to fly out of Santa Fe on Friday for a week-long business trip to Minnesota. We decided that we would definitely need to book a third night, Monday, at the KOA so that we could call Airstream Tuesday morning and try to get the trailer in to get looked at. We made it through the weekend by being careful about making the fan kick in, pulling the panel off for a second time to make sure everything was connected tight, and unplugging the trailer whenever we left just to be on the safe side.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning. We called Airstream and….

….they told us they had no service appointments available until May, a good five or six weeks away. Well, crap.

Due to Travis’s impending business trip, we needed to make some decisions. We felt that no matter what, we would be staying in Albuquerque and not going to Santa Fe. This meant we needed to change his flight. We wouldn’t be able to stay in the trailer in its current state, so we booked a room at the Homewood Suites for the next week and a half. This still didn’t take care of what to do with the trailer, so we decided to go in to Airstream to plead our case. We explained our situation. We explained that we’re full timers so unfortunately, this wasn’t as easy as just not using the trailer until it could get fixed. Even though they weren’t able to look at it, they did have a solution. They recommended another RV service center (Tom’s) down the street from them that they do work with often. Airstream called Tom’s and they said if we could bring it in right now, they could fix it. Yay! We hurried back to the KOA and quickly got the Airstream hitched up to take over to Tom’s.

For those of you that aren’t RVers, let me explain what ‘quickly’ means. We had to disconnect the sewer hose, water hose, cable cord, and electric cord. We had to raise the stabilizers. We had to put the hitch on the truck and back it up to hitch up the trailer. We had to remove the chocks and roll off the levelers. As we weren’t getting on the highway, we didn’t hook up our sway control bars, which saved us a step. Inside, we had to get everything off the kitchen and bathroom counters and secure them for towing. Thankfully, the night before we had proactively taken everything out of the fridge and freezer and shut it off, thinking we would be dropping the trailer off at Airstream in the morning. I then ran into the KOA office and extended our stay again, as we were supposed to check out and leave by noon. We extended our stay for a week and a half, thinking we could just cancel the hotel. After all that, we got it over to Tom’s and they started working on it immediately. After checking things out, they agreed that the converter needed to be replaced. Only one problem — they didn’t have one to replace it. The parts supplier in town that they usually get their parts from didn’t have one. Airstream didn’t have one. It was determined that they would order one, receive it the next day, and then install it, meaning we were taking the Airstream back to the KOA for the night and would bring it back again the next day.

Fast forward a few hours and we receive a call from Airstream. I don’t know what was discussed between Tom’s and Airstream, but all of a sudden Airstream was like, bring it in so our certified Airstream technician can take a look at it and we can see if it’s covered by warranty. So, we did. We hadn’t hooked anything back up again when we returned from Tom’s, so we were able to get it over to Airstream pretty quickly.

Also, please keep in mind that we have a small, 14-year-old, grumpy dog that usually gets a bit anxious on travel days. He had no clue what was going on and his anxiety added to our stress as well.

We got the trailer to Airstream, the technician inspected it, confirmed there was an issue with the converter, and they submitted it to Airstream (corporate) to make sure it would be covered under warranty (we’re still under our two-year warranty). Thankfully, it was. But again, the issue arose that they didn’t have the part to replace and would have to order it.

At this point, Travis and I decided that we just wanted to leave the trailer with them and stay in the hotel. He would be leaving on his trip in three days and felt more comfortable with us being in a hotel rather than the trailer. The other issue is that I don’t tow the trailer, so it wouldn’t have been possible for us to go back to the KOA and for me to bring the trailer to Airstream when the part came in. They were 100% fine with that, so then the process of packing everything we needed to take with us began. Sounds easy, right? Well….

Again, we had already assumed we weren’t going to be in the trailer for a few days, so we had packed some stuff. It was Tuesday. Travis was leaving on Friday and would return the following Friday. We wouldn’t be able to pick the Airstream up until Saturday after he got back, so this meant we’d (me & the dog) would be in the hotel for 11 nights. Travis needed to pack everything he needed for his business trip. We needed everything necessary in order for us to work. We needed clothes and dog stuff and bathroom stuff and we packed up all the dry food too, not knowing what we would need. After getting everything we needed loaded into the truck (though I did make another run to the Airstream after realizing we forgot some things) we handed the keys off, stopped at the KOA to cancel our remaining stay, and made our way to the hotel.

The next ten days were pretty uneventful. Airstream called to say they’d be receiving the part on Tuesday. Travis went on his business trip. When Airstream received the part, they called to say that they put us on the schedule for Thursday morning. Travis was able to shorten his trip by a day and fly back Thursday night. This allowed us to pick the Airstream up Friday and stay one more night at the KOA to make sure everything was working properly before we left town on Saturday. We were able to get everything moved back into the trailer, do laundry, clean, and get the fridge turned back on to get it ready for food.

For some reason I did something that I never do the day before we tow — I turned the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) on to make sure the tire pressure was good. It wasn’t. One of our tires was reading at 33psi when it should be about 65psi. We inspected the tire and didn’t see anything wrong with it. We measured the pressure with both a tire pressure gauge and the air compressor to make sure the tire pressure monitoring system wasn’t acting up. Everything showed around 33psi. There were only really two explanations. One, someone let air out. Two, the tire was punctured. The first option didn’t make sense so we had to assume that it was the second. While you can pick up a nail or some other sharp object anywhere, the only thing we can figure is that something happened to the tire when the trailer was at Airstream. Seeing as anywhere that could help us was closed for the day, we filled the tire and waited until the next morning to make phone calls. Even though we didn’t think they did, we called Airstream to see if they sold tires. They do not, but said they use Discount Tire for all their tire needs, which was going to be our next call anyway. We called Discount Tire and they said all of their appointments were booked, but they weren’t busy yet, so if we could get there soon, they could take care of us. We had already prepped the Airstream for towing that morning as we waited for Airstream and Discount Tire to open, so we were able to hitch up and get there pretty quickly. They had us checked in even before we pulled in the driveway and they changed out all four tires in about 45 minutes. We decided to buy four new tires because the tires that come on an Airstream aren’t the best quality. We upgraded to Goodyear Endurance, which can carry more weight, have a higher speed rating, and just seem to more durable all around. We didn’t even have them look at the flat tire to see what was wrong with it, because it didn’t matter to us at this point.

So, after new batteries, a new converter, and new tires — we were finally on our way! If you’re ever in the Albuquerque area and are need in of assistance, I cannot praise these businesses enough: Airstream of New Mexico, Albuquerque KOA Journey, Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown, and Discount Tire located at 1119 Juan Tablo Blvd. Everyone was so nice and helpful and understanding and they all provided excellent service on a moment’s notice.

As you can see, a few of the gut decisions we made brought us to Albuquerque which brought us to Airstream of New Mexico. If we hadn’t cancelled our weekend in Zion and instead booked in Mexican Hat, where we then left a night early and skipped Kirtland, heading straight for Albuquerque instead, we probably would have been in Santa Fe when our issue with the converter started. Santa Fe is only an hour drive from Albuquerque, but we wouldn’t have been able to just stop into Airstream and plead our case face to face. For some reason, we ended up in the right place at the right time!

Now, about the places we stayed…

Albuquerque KOA

12400 Skyline Road NE, Albuquerque, NM 87123

www.albuquerquekoa.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Cable TV
  • Wifi
  • Picnic Table
  • Cabins
  • Tent Sites
  • Dump Station
  • Dog Runs
  • Pool with Hot Tub
  • Playground
  • Propane Fill
  • Mini Golf
  • Horseshoes
  • Community Fire Pit
  • Camp Store

As I stated above, this is a very nice KOA Journey. Like most Journeys, the sites are close together, but our site (128) was was plenty long. The people that work here are so nice and were super flexible when we added a third day, and then added a week and a half, and then cancelled a week and a half. The location is pretty decent to everything Albuquerque has to offer and we would definitely stay here again if we were to return to the area.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Albuquerque Uptown

7101 Arvada Avenue NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110

www.homewoodsuites3.hilton.com

  • 1 or 2-Bedroom Suites with Kitchenette and Living Room
  • Dog Friendly
  • Free Breakfast
  • Social Hour with Snacks Monday – Thursday Evening
  • Accepts Mail Delivery
  • Swimming Pool
  • Guest Laundry
  • Fitness Center
  • Wifi
  • Business Center
  • Snack Shop

The Homewood Suites in Uptown was a great place to stay for a week and a half. The room was nice, the breakfast was decent, and the social hours with food during the week were a nice perk. Not only does the hotel allow dogs, but they also have a grassy area outside complete with dog waste bag station. The location is absolutely fantastic — the Uptown area of Albuquerque offers great restaurants, shopping, grocery stores, fitness centers and every possible service needed, all within walking distance. Travis was in Minnesota for work during most of our stay, but Max and I enjoyed sleeping in a king size bed, lounging on the couch, and generally just taking advantage of having more space. Personally, I enjoyed the long, hot showers and having dry towels of my very own every day. One of our favorite places to eat nearby is Fork & Fig, but there are so many options. And by the way, Uptown is only a 10-minute drive from the KOA and Airstream dealership, so it was also convenient to drive back and forth.

With all of the ‘excitement’ we had in Albuquerque, we didn’t get out to explore too much. We did a very brief, self-led Breaking Bad tour one evening and visited one of the sites of Petroglyph National Monument one afternoon.

Breaking Bad’s Walter and Skyler White’s House
Breaking Bad’s Walter and Skyler White’s Car Wash
There are five locations for Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque: the Visitor Center, Volcanoes Day Use Area, Boca Negra Canyon, Rinconada Canyon, and Piedras Marcadas Canyon.
Dogs are allowed at three locations, including Piedras Marcadas, which is where Max & I visited. The trail is an easy 1.5 miles round trip, level, sandy and, has dog waste bags with a trash an at the trailhead.

 

 

Valles RV Park – Mexican Hat, UT

Valles RV Park

US 163, Mexican Hat, UT 84531

  • Full Hookups
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Store w/ Restaurant

There have been very few places that we’ve felt uncomfortable leaving the Airstream to go out exploring. This is one of the few. Possibly because no one else was staying in the ‘RV Park’ the same time as us. Possibly because there were rows of vehicles parked just 30 yards from us that didn’t seem to belong to anybody in the vicinity. Possibly because the owner is a tad creepy and his father (they both live above the office/store/restaurant) was apparently watching our every move – he didn’t like the way we parked in our spot and called down to his son to let him know. Whatever the reason, even though we paid for two nights, we decided to bug out early after just one night. We also learned the lesson to pay day by day at places that allow it; places like this that don’t take reservations or even write your name down – just take your money.

There are 11 or 12 sites with full hookups. See the random rows of vehicles parked behind us? Yeah, that was a little weird.
This building houses the office, restaurant, restrooms, laundry and the owner’s apartment.

Why would we have chosen to stay at a place like this, you might ask? We needed a place along our route (there wasn’t much to pick from) and this place actually had a few decent reviews on Campendium. RV park reviews are so incredibly subjective and it can be difficult at times to glean the important facts.

Regardless of where you stay, this part of the country is incredibly beautiful, which is why we wanted to visit. Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods made for some fantastic views during our drive.

The infamous Forrest Gump Point — watch for people in the middle of the road!
“Forrest Gump ended his cross-country run at this spot (1980)”
A very over exposed pic of Mexican Hat Rock. We drove past it as the sun was rising when we ducked out of Mexican Hat early. There was an Airstream boondocking right next to it — they had the right idea!

Sand Hollow State Park – Hurricane, UT

Sand Hollow State Park – Westside Campground

3351 South Sand Hollow Road, Hurricane, UT 84737

www.stateparks.utah.gov

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Fire Pit
  • Dump Station
  • Firewood
  • Picnic Table with Shade Structure
  • Reservoir with Boating & Fishing
  • Sand Mountain with OHV Access
  • Restaurant
  • Rentals (ATVs, UTVs, Paddle Boards, Kayaks)
  • Dive Shack (During Summer Months)

We spent two weeks in the Westside Campground at Sand Hollow State Park. When I made the reservation, I made sure to research the best sites in the campground and I feel pretty confident in saying that I booked one of, if not, the best. During this time of year (March 9-22), you probably don’t need to book a site right when they become available, which I believe is four months in advance, unless you’re staying for a few weeks like we did or you want to have a choice of spots, also like we did. We were in site 18, which is on the edge of the campground with a nice view of the mountains. I would recommend this site as well as 20, 22, 23 and 26. Our site was a super long pull through with full hookups, a picnic table with shade structure, and a fire pit. There are two other campgrounds in Sand Hollow State Park — Sandpit Campground and the Primitive Camping area that is tent only along the shore of the reservoir.

A major draw for this park is the OHV area on Sand Mountain. Even with OHVs, the Westside Campground is still pretty quiet as all OHVs must be trailered in and out of the campground unless they have current street legal registration and plates. Even then, they can drive on the asphalt only and only at 10mph.

While we didn’t use the restrooms, they were nice and clean and the separate, individual showers were as well. Also of note is that we had great cell signal on both AT&T and Verizon here.

The view from site 18 is fantastic!
Sand Hollow Reservoir offers boating, fishing and personal watercraft use.

Things To Do

While at Sand Hollow, we used our Kokopelli Packrafts for the first time. When the wind is calm, the reservoir is great for personal watercraft.

Zion National Park is a 45-minute drive from Sand Hollow. We only went into Zion once during our stay as we’ll be returning to Hurricane soon and will be staying a little bit closer. We took Max with us and walked along the Pa’ Rus Trail, the only trail in Zion that allows dogs. We also drove the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway to the east entrance and back. The main route through the park is Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and is only accessible by park shuttle.

There are many hikes in the area but the only trail we made it to was Mollies Nipple Trail. It’s a VERY steep trail of clay soil and loose rock that is, according to my AppleWatch, 2.75 miles and has 1,277 feet of elevation gain. While the hike is tough, the views at the top are amazing and totally worth it!

After many months of being in RV parks, our two weeks at Sand Hollow was just what we needed. While we enjoyed it, if we were to stay at a state park in this area again, we would probably go back to Snow Canyon State Park in Ivins, Utah. The terrain there is more interesting and the park offers a number of great trails. However, Sand Hollow does make a long stay easier due to the full hookups, whereas the sites at Snow Canyon are water and electric or electric only.

Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort

Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort

2711 W. Windmill Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89123

www.oasislasvegasrvresort.com

Oasis RV Resort has every amenity you would expect from an RV resort, and some that you wouldn’t — an adults only pool, an onsite RV wash company, and a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch, to name a few.

We stayed here for a week, trying to kill a little time between Desert Hot Springs and Hurricane, waiting for the weather to improve a bit in other parts of the Southwest before we moved on. Oasis is the largest RV park we’ve stayed in with 935 sites. As you’d expect, there are both positives and negatives to staying in such a large RV park in Las Vegas:

The Good

  • Pull-Thrus
  • Full Hookups
  • Adult Pool and Hot Tub
  • Family Pool
  • Large Convenience Store
  • Restaurant
  • Exercise Room
  • 18-Hole Putting Course
  • Horseshoe Pits and Bocce Ball
  • Recycling
  • Laundry
  • Individual Restrooms with Showers
  • Propane Fill
  • Security Guard at Entrance
  • Mail Service
  • Cable TV
  • Dog Park and Individual Dog Runs
  • Great Location to Las Vegas Strip and Airport

The Bad

  • Sites Close Together
  • Lots of Lights at Night
  • Noise from I-15 and Overhead Planes
  • Crowded

The location to everything Vegas can’t be beat! Depending on where you’re headed, you can be on the Strip in 10-20 minutes. (Just a tip, we found that The Venetian has oversized vehicle parking on the first level of their parking structure and it’s free, which has to be one of the only hotels on the Strip that doesn’t yet charge for parking.) My mom and sister flew out from Wisconsin during our week in Vegas, and Oasis’s location made it very easy and not too annoying to drive back and forth to their hotel on the Strip. Also in the vicinity of the RV resort is the very nice Town Square mall with restaurants and movie theatre. Any service or store that you’d need is within a reasonable distance from Oasis.

The biggest drawback to this park is how bright it is at night. There are so many lights that, unless you have blackout curtains, they may keep you up at night. I guess a benefit to how bright it is is that it’d be pretty easy to pull in after dark and set up.

Site 131
The Family Pool

If we needed to be in Vegas again in the future, we would definitely stay here again, but a week is probably our limit due to all the people and noise and lights — though, I guess that’s what Vegas is all about.

Besides all of the Vegasy things to do, Seven Magic Mountains is a 20-minute drive down the I-15.

 

Catalina Spa and RV Resort – Desert Hot Springs, CA

We spent one month at Catalina Spa and RV Resort in Desert Hot Springs, California. We really enjoyed this property as well as exploring the Palm Springs area. CatSpa, as it’s referred to, is a mineral hot springs resort with five different pools of varying temperatures. They’ve recently undergone some renovations including new restrooms, a new clubhouse and store, a new fitness center, a new dog park, and a new office. Many of the guests are snowbirds, retreating from the cold winters of Canada and the Northern U.S., but there are a few full time residents. While most stays are long term, we were in an area that seems to be for shorter term stays, with neighbors coming and going fairly often. All the sites are back in and some can be tight, but the staff helps direct you in to your spot, which was much appreciated. We were in site 6, which is on the smaller side of their sites, though we fit fine with our truck parked parallel in front of the trailer. We backed up to a tree line along the front of the property, which meant we had a little road noise, though not bad, but we also didn’t have neighbors behind us, which was quite nice.

Catalina Spa and RV Resort

18800 Corkill Road, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92241

www.catalinasparvresort.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Daily, Weekly, & Monthly Rates
  • Propane Fill
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Fitness Center
  • Pickle Ball
  • Horseshoes
  • Cornhole
  • Bocci Ball
  • Mini Golf
  • Multiple Pools & Spas
  • Cottages
  • Mail Service
  • Store
  • Activities including live music, water volleyball, water aerobics, and food nights
Site 6
We spent many days in the the mineral hot springs pools!
This was the view on the other side of the trees at the back of our site. Note the wind turbines in the lower right corner. This area is VERY windy often.

 

There are a lot of things to do and places to explore in the Palm Springs/Desert Hot Springs area:

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The tramway is used to access Mt. San Jacinto State Park, which offers hiking and primitive camping, as well as some great snowshoeing during the colder months. We were lucky enough to be able to visit after a recent snowfall. If nature isn’t your thing, the ride up is still beautiful, as well as the sights. Between the Valley Station at the bottom of the tram and the Mountain Station at the top, there is a museum, theaters, nature exhibits, visitors center, gift shops, and cafes & restaurants.

The tram rotates as it travels the 2.5 miles from the Valley Station (at 2,643 feet) to the Mountain Station (at 8,516 feet).
The park encompasses over 50 miles of hiking trails, primitive campgrounds, a ranger station, and an adventure center for winter activities.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day when we visited! You should expect the temperature to be at least 20 degrees cooler up top than it is in Palm Springs.
Snow is fun when you can ‘visit’ it and then quickly return to warmer temps!
On the lookout for wildlife, which can include bighorn sheep, coyote, fox, mountain lion, bobcat, mule deer, and much more!
The best!

Unfortunately, not long after our visit, Palm Springs experienced a once-in-a-century rain storm that washed out the road that leads to the tram. It is currently closed indefinitely.

Palm Springs Air Museum

CNN Travel rates the Palm Springs Air Museum as one of the top 14 air museums in the world. Its collection is largely aircraft from World War II, but also contains some planes from Korea and Vietnam. Sorry, I don’t know any of the details of the aircraft, but there were some beauties!

If you’re interested in planes or are a WWII history buff, then you’d probably really enjoy this museum. If you’re not, then you probably won’t. We were disappointed that the only plane, besides the cockpit pictured in the first and second pictures, that you are able to go inside is an additional $10 fee.

Palm Springs Art Museum

Located in downtown Palm Springs, the art museum is a nice little museum with an impressive collection. In addition to the artwork, there’s also a museum store, a small bistro to grab a bite to eat, two outdoor courtyards, and a theatre. If you enjoy art, I would definitely recommend a visit; I especially enjoyed the modern art wing.

Desert Adventure Red Jeep Tour

We did the San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour with Red Jeep Tours. It’s a three-hour tour on the company’s private preserve along the San Andreas Fault zone. There are six people per Jeep, and the other four in our group was a family — a grandma, mom, uncle and son. I fee like we missed out exploring a bit because the grandma had a hard time getting in and out the Jeep. The tour was just okay and I wouldn’t recommend it, but we did learn some things about the fault that we didn’t know before.

Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve

Thousand Palms Oasis is located in the Coachella Valley Preserve and has 30 miles of trails, multiple picnic areas, wildlife, oases, and if you time it right, wild flowers.  There’s a parking lot, pit toilets, and a visitor center housed in a 1930s palm log cabin. We followed the McCallum Trail to McCallum Pond, which is a pretty little oasis with picnic tables. We then continued on the Moon Country Trail, which is a 4.1-loop trail that’s not too strenuous, but gave us some great views of the recent wildflower super bloom.

Vintage Trailer Show During Modernism Week

Every year, Palm Springs hosts Modernism Week which celebrates midcentury architecture and design. There are a lot of different events, ranging from home tours, to films, to lectures, to bus tours, to the Vintage Trailer Show, which is the event that piqued our interest. The show displays vintage trailers, campers, buses, and motorhomes — some restored, some original. One trailer in particular stood out to us — the 1959 Airstream Traveler that was painstakingly restored into a masterpiece:

Of course, there were also a number of other beautiful, interesting, and quaint trailers:

 

We really enjoyed our time in Desert Hot Springs and would definitely stay at CatSpa again. There is so much to do in the area in addition to things we’ve already done, so it’d be great to be able to explore some more!

Wine Ridge RV Resort – Pahrump, NV

This was our second stay at Wine Ridge RV Resort. Follow this link to read about our first stay. We stayed for one month in order to take advantage of their great monthly rate — we paid $370 total including electricity. This time around, we requested one of the sites in the 900 row which, besides being pull throughs, offer great views of Mt. Charleston (see above pic).

During our stay, we spent a little time in Las Vegas. Travis’s sister and her boyfriend came to town to celebrate her birthday, so we were able to hang out with them a bit. I also was able to catch the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, which played at The Smith Center in Vegas. And Travis had two business trips to the Midwest while we were in Pahrump, which is one of the reasons we decided to stay there for a month.

We explored a few new places that we didn’t get around to the last time we were there. We took a day trip to Goldwell Open Air Museum in Rhyolite, as well as the neighboring ghost town. Next, we headed into Beatty for lunch, where we met some of the locals (see pic below). Finally, we drove through Death Valley, making stops at Badwater Basin, Furnace Creek, and Artist’s Drive, then headed back to Pahrump.

Goldwell Open Air Museum – Began in 1984 by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski

The Entrance to the Goldwell Open Air Museum
The Last Supper by Albert Szukalski
1,000 in 1 by Cierra Pedro
Site Here! by Sofie Siegmann
Ghost Rider by Albert Szukalski

Rhyolite Ghost Town – Historic gold mining town of the early 1900s. The population in 1908 was estimated to be 5,000 to 8,000; by 1920 just 14.

Cook Bank Building Ruins
This Union Pacific Caboose sits across from the former train station.
The Las Vegas & Tonopah Depot is visible through the door of the caboose. Compared to the rest of the buildings in Rhyolite, it’s very well preserved.

Beatty, Nevada – The Gateway to Death Valley!

Some of the locals came out to say hello!

Death Valley National Park – Established as a National Monument in 1933; Redesignated a National Park in 1994.

This guy approached us looking for food — DON’T FEED WILDLIFE!
The Salt Flats of Badwater Basin

 

Surf and Turf RV Park – Del Mar, CA

Surf and Turf RV Park is a bare bones park located in a prime location in Del Mar, California. It consists of a large, gravel parking lot with water and electric hookups, surrounded by a wall. It’s so inconspicuous that people that have lived in the area for years have no idea it’s there. It’s surrounded by a Hilton Hotel, the Surf and Turf Tennis Club, an indoor volleyball club, mini golf, a driving range, a swim school, and the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Race Track. It’s a mile from Del Mar’s off-leash dog beach and within a few minutes drive of everything Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas have to offer. There are no restrooms, no showers, no laundry and no dump station. If you’re looking for an RV resort — this isn’t it. However, it was perfect for us, and at $45/night, $230/week, and $650/month, it’s the cheapest place to stay in the San Diego area with hookups. Due to events held at the fairgrounds and race track (San Diego County Fair, horse racing season, Kabboo Music Festival), the RV park is closed to the public from mid-May to mid-September. Any stays longer than three weeks need to have a long-term application filled out.

Surf and Turf RV Park

15555 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014

www.surfandturfrvpark.com

  • Water & Electric (30 amp only)
  • Three Sewer Pumps per Week
  • Propane Fill Once per Week
  • Daily, Weekly & Monthly Rates

We lived in San Diego for the seven years prior to hitting the road full time, so most of our time was spent with friends. However, we did visit a few points of interest:

Cabrillo National Monument

San Diego Zoo

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Annie’s Slot Canyon Trail

And lots of time at Del Mar’s Dog Beach

 

Moisture, Mold, and the Froli Sleep System

We’ve had to deal with something this winter that was not an issue for us last winter, even though we’re staying at the exact same place — moisture under the mattresses. It’s not unheard of to have moisture on the windows when it’s chilly outside and cozy, warm inside. I mean, that’s just science. However, I think our particular Airstream layout (27fb Twin) contributes to the moisture issue. There are two storage areas under each twin bed — one is interior where we store clothes and one is exterior where we store various outside things. I think that because half of what’s under each bed is an external compartment with no heat, it causes moisture when a warm body lies on the bed all night.

At first, we tried to remedy the moisture issue by lining the exterior storage compartments with Reflectix insulation and putting Reflectix under each mattress. That may have helped, but one morning while making the bed, I noticed a considerable amount of moisture on the interior walls of the Airstream. I checked under the mattress for moisture and found that not only was the underside of the mattress damp, but a small amount of mold started to grow.

Yuck.

Operation Decontamination began. We stripped all bedding from the mattresses and everything was laundered. For the mattresses, we mixed equal parts isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and warm water in a bucket, dampened a cloth, and scrubbed the areas where mold had started to grow. Next, we (sparingly) sprayed Lysol across the bottom of the mattresses to kill any bacteria that may be present. Luckily for us, it was a sunny day, so we moved the mattresses outside to dry and allow the sun to inhibit mold growth (sunlight is harmful to the growth of mold).

In the picture below, the discolored part of the plywood in the center is where the dampness occurred — clearly a result of body heat on top of the mattress and cold temps right under the plywood.

Then we Googled. We searched what options were available to prevent something like this from happening again and we landed on the Froli Sleep System. Originally manufactured for use on boats — you know, where there’s lots of moisture — they now market it to be used on boats, in RVs and at home. It’s a modular system that’s components snap together to fit any size and shape bed. It functions like a box spring mattress in that it creates a more comfortable and orthopedically correct sleeping surface, but it also elevates the mattress about an inch off of (in our case) the plywood, which allows for proper airflow under the mattress, meaning no more mold.

If you visit the Froli website, you’ll find a number of different options. We purchased the Froli Travel System in Queen. The Queen has exactly double the number of components of the Basic size and is exactly double the price, so we could have purchase two Basics and they would have worked equally as well. It took six days for it to be shipped from Lexington, KY to our location in Pahrump, NV.

Our package contained two boxes that looked like this:

The first step was to lay out the gray base elements and determine which of the three holes we wanted to use to snap them together. According to the installation instructions, the wider the setting, the softer the feel.

We ended up using a combination of medium and wide hole spacing in order to get the coverage we were looking for.

Next, we trimmed off the excess bits at the rounded corner. Froli does offer expansion packs that consist of smaller elements to use along edges or curves so you don’t have to make cuts, but seeing as we didn’t know how many, or even if we would need them, we didn’t order them.

Next, we added the dark and light blue spring elements to the base elements. The light blue are softer springs that are recommended for use in the shoulder area, which are the third and fourth rows.

These too had to be cut, and were a little more difficult to get through than the base elements, but it was manageable.

After attempting to put the mattress on and realizing that the Froli System would move around anytime we made the bed, we decided it needed to be secured a bit. Froli doesn’t offer anything to secure it, probably because the main use is in boats where it’s installed in a sleeping berth that has a lip on it and the Froli System won’t move around. I picked up these wood staples from Home Depot that are fairly easily installed with a few taps of a hammer.

I didn’t place many, but just enough to keep things from moving around. It should be noted to be aware of placement. The first one I hammered in is over the interior storage compartment where I keep my clothes and the staples are long enough that they went all the way through the plywood and are poking through the other side. I’ll have to be careful when digging around in that compartment so that I don’t poke myself. After installing the first one, I made sure that the rest were installed in safer locations.

After everything was secure, we put the mattress back in place. It’s difficult to get a great shot of how the mattress sits, but it definitely raises it up quite a bit, at least an inch.

Conclusion: The Froli System is a life safer! While expensive ($378 for the Queen), it would be even more expensive to have to replace our mattresses and the plywood if the mold had gotten out of hand. We’ve only had it installed for two days and it does seem to add some comfort, but the biggest payoff is the peace of mind that there will be no more moisture.

Our First Harvest Hosts Stay

We were supposed to spend four nights at Death Valley over the New Year holiday, but due to a government shutdown, we had to change our plans. We were able to stay an additional three days at the RV park that we were at in Del Mar, CA, but had to find someplace to move to for the fourth night. We called ahead to Wine Ridge Resort, which was to be our next stop, to see if we could check in a day early. They were fully booked, so we looked to Harvest Hosts for a place to stay.

Harvest Hosts is a collection of wineries, breweries, museums, farms, golf courses, and other such locations that allow RVers to stay for free on their property for one night or more. The only thing that is asked is that you patronize the establishment in some way, whether it’s buying a bottle of wine or touring the museum or something similar.

We found a second winery in Pahrump, where Wine Ridge is located, that is a Harvest Hosts property — Sanders Family Winery — and made arrangements to stay there for the night. The winery is a beautiful, quiet property and seeing as it was New Year’s Day, it was closed and we were the only ones around. The owners, Jack and his wife, live on property. Jack stopped out to meet us, and seeing as it was super cold (low of 22 that night), said that we could use our generator.

We made it through the night without anything freezing (yay!) and stopped in to the tasting room for some free wine tasting the next day. The wine was delicious and we ended up purchasing three bottles. I’d also like to note that they are very dog friendly, and invited Max into the tasting room (which we did) and said we could let him run around off leash on property (we didn’t do that, but it was a nice offer). After the tasting, we hooked up and moved on to Wine Ridge Resort. We stayed at Wine Ridge in February 2018, and you can read about that stay here.

It was a very cold night, but the setting with Mt. Charleston, agaves, and grape vines was very peaceful.

If you’re interested in signing up for Harvest Hosts, get 15% off with this link here. Harvest Hosts Classics, with 600+ locations, is $79/year. Harvest Hosts + Golf, with over 1000+ locations, is $119/year.