The Last Hurrah: Our Final Stay

When we would spend prolonged periods of time in the San Diego area, we preferred to stay at Surf & Turf RV Park in Del Mar. You can read about our previous stays there here and here. This is a barebones park that is essentially a gravel parking lot (though some trees are present) surrounded by a fence. Water and electric hookups are available and a pump truck comes around three times a week to empty your tanks. However, Surf & Turf decided to upgrade its hookups and install sewer connections this year, so our usual spot was out of commission temporarily. Our plan was to wait it out in the meantime across the street at the fairgrounds, where there are 58 RV sites with full hookups. They don’t take reservations, so after spending our one night in Temecula, we contacted the fairgrounds to make sure they had a spot for us before heading that way. The response: We’re closed until December 6th. A bit of a problem seeing as it was November 20th.

Surf & Turf is also owned by the fairgrounds, so I can only assume that both places are getting a little primping at the same time. We found ourselves in quite the predicament. After driving 750 miles from our condo in Bozeman to pick up our Airstream in Clackamas, Oregon where we had some work done, and then driving more than 1,250 miles to Southern California where we planned to spend the next four months, we appeared to be without a place to stay.

We both felt sick to our stomachs. How were we going to find a place to stay in San Diego County with no notice in late November? There are not many options for extended stays in an RV in the area and there are even fewer options that would be considered anything close to affordable. It might be possible to string together a few nights here and there at various regional parks and state beach campgrounds, but that wouldn’t work for us. We had very recently scrapped a lovely part of our route that would have taken us to a beautiful olive oil ranch in San Ardo, a week in Pismo Beach, a few nights in Ventura, and a few more nights in San Juan Capistrano, in order to arrive and get settled in San Diego earlier than originally planned in order to take care of some new work commitments and a personal commitment that required an airport. We needed to be able to stay in one place for the foreseeable future. We had ever only stayed at one other RV park in San Diego County for an extended period of time – Escondido RV Resort – and there were things about it that we didn’t care for. You can read about that stay here. However, we went back to our ‘it’s best to know what to expect then not’ school of thought, and decided to reach out to them first. Ultimately, thanks to a recent cancellation and moving a guest to a different site (you’re welcome for the upgrade!) they were able to get us in that day for a one-month stay. Phew! Our plan was to move to the fairgrounds after our month was up, and then hopefully Surf & Turf would be open.

At the time, we had no idea this would be our last time hitching up, our last travel day, and the last place we ever stayed with the Airstream — more about that shortly.

We had gotten lucky. We had never left such a long stretch of time to chance like that before, and this is why. Even though we had a plan that seemed like it would work, it didn’t. After almost four years of Airstreaming, mostly full time, we continued to learn lessons and experience things we hadn’t before. Some people are able to float from one place to the next without much of a plan in place and still sleep soundly at night – we are not those people.

We made the uneventful 33-minute drive down I-15 to where we’d be spending the next two months. (That’s right, TWO months — more about THAT shortly as well.) The RV park was everything we remembered it being: cramped, noisy from the nearby interstate, and with a cell signal that for some reason drops to sometimes unusable levels the moment you drive in. We wedged ourselves into our site with zero inches to spare and breathed a sigh of relief.

RV Park Stats

Name: Escondido RV Resort

Address: 1740 Seven Oaks Rd, Escondido, VA 92026

Website: www.escondidorv.com

Dates Stayed: November 20, 2021 – January 20, 2022

Site: 66

Rate: Whatever They Feel Like Charging + Electricity

Amenities:

  • Full Hookups
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Dog Run
  • Pool with Spa
  • Propane Fill
  • Wi-Fi
  • Cable TV
We just barely fit into our site. Actually, sometimes we hung over a few inches. The sites on the lower level of the park are small, with many people not able to fit their vehicles completely in their sites, making navigating with an RV and backing into sites more difficult than it should be.
We backed up as far as we possibly could while still having the steps over the concrete.

Oh, site 66. You are divine during the sunny hot days, with all the shade you provide. However, once winter hits and the rains come, your lack of sun makes for an incredibly damp, muddy stay, made worse by the sprinklers going off every night. Also, road noise, almost constant sewer smell, and not a whole lot of outdoor space — two thumbs waaaaay down from us.

A few more notes about the RV park:

(You may want to read about our previous stay to understand where some of these are coming from.)

  • The bulky cable boxes have been switched our for coaxial cable hookups at the pedestals. We use streaming services, so this was not a benefit to us, but at least they’ve upgraded this since our last stay.
  • The AT&T signal is still atrocious within the confines of the RV park.
  • They offer two levels of WIFI: 850kbps speed free for 3 days, meaning you have to sign in every 3 days; and 5mbps speed available for 1 day ($5.99), 1 week ($12.95), or 1 month ($39.99). We opted for the 1-month plan, as we needed to work and the speed of the free WIFI wasn’t going to cut it.
  • One load of laundry costs $7.00. And you can’t make it a full load, because if you do, it won’t dry completely, even on the highest setting.
  • Since our last stay, they’ve shifted from being just a short-term stay RV park to having many long-term residents, or people living there. This means that it’s difficult to get one of the nicer, larger sites in the upper part of the park, as many are occupied for the foreseeable future.
  • You may have noticed that I wrote ‘Whatever They Feel Like Charging’ for the rate. There is no rhyme or reason to their rates. They fluctuate, they surge, and two people in two identical sites may be charged drastically different amounts. We were at their mercy. And don’t get me started about what they charge for electricity. Again, whatever they feel like charging.

Anyway, a few days after getting all settled in, we ran a bunch of errands, which included Travis getting his booster shot. He felt fine for the first 24 hours, normal fever & exhaustion for the next 24, and then started having chest pains and shortness of breath. After 24 hours, we decided to go to the ER on Thanksgiving. He ended up being admitted due to an elevated troponin level. Troponin is a protein found in heart muscles that is typically only measurable after a cardiac event. Anything above 40 usually signifies a heart attack. Travis’s was 13,000. The staff at the hospital was very calm and professional, but it was clear this was unknown territory and serious. While it seemed the booster was the culprit, the cardiac team did their due diligence and investigated any possible causes as well as thoroughly examine his heart to make sure there was no permanent damage. He had x-rays, EKGs, an echocardiogram, an angiogram, and a cardiac MRI. Everything looked great, considering, and his troponin started to trend down. He was released a few days later as there really isn’t a treatment for his diagnosis, which was myocarditis. That means one of the layers of his heart was inflamed. They confirmed Travis was one of the few people to have myocarditis as a result of receiving an mRNA vaccine. But Travis went above and beyond by having an actually unheard of troponin level — his doctor said he was a 1 in 5 million case. The staff at the VA Hospital in La Jolla was great and we felt very fortunate to be somewhere that he was able to receive such incredible medical care. After being released, he was instructed to take it easy and not lift anything greater than 5lbs. Walking was fine, but no hiking or any other activity that would get his heart rate too elevated. It was because of this, that we decided to see if we could extend our stay at Escondido RV Resort to two months, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about the bit of stress that hitching up and towing can bring. They were able to extend our stay in our same site. While I’m not a fan of the RV resort’s billing practices, they were VERY accommodating.

In the following weeks, we kept a low profile so that Travis could recover, but we did get to spend some time with friends by way of lunch and dinner dates, as well as one of our favorite past times — trivia at the brewery. It was kind of a weird time. With Travis’s illness, the holidays, and COVID still hanging around, the lovely, eventful, social winter in San Diego that we had previously imagined was kind of anything but. We were somewhat detesting the RV park. The weather was crap. The annoyances of living in a small space were becoming overwhelming. We were missing our condo in Bozeman — the space, the king-size bed, the washer & dryer, the dishwasher, even the low humidity (seriously, it was SO damp in the Airstream). We had talked about selling the Airstream a number of times during the previous months, and maybe even year. There were a number of reasons discussed, and I plan to go into them in more detail in an upcoming post, but for now you can refer to this post for a few of them. But the time felt right. Like, really right. So, we listed it. And we sold it. To read more about the selling process, check out this post.

After selling the Airstream, we moved into a hotel. We weren’t ready to leave San Diego quite yet and Travis had a followup appointment with his cardiologist scheduled at the VA in La Jolla. However, after they called to change it to a virtual visit (because, COVID), we decided there was no reason to hang around any longer. We had just seen our friends again at trivia on Thursday night, the doctor called on Friday, and we bugged out Saturday morning. We spent Saturday night in St. George, Utah and made it back to Bozeman Sunday evening. We had rented out our condo for the months of November and December, so we spent many hours cleaning that night and unloading the truck. We finished getting things situated in the condo on Monday, as well as doing load after load of laundry, and then emptied out the Airstream’s storage unit.

We were officially no longer Airstreamers.

From Pinnacles to Pechanga – Two Days and Hundreds of Miles

After our stay at Anthony Chabot Regional Park in the Oakland area, we made the 3-hour drive to Pinnacles National Park in Central California. Pinnacles is definitely one of the lesser known parks in the national park system, with many Californians not even aware of its existence. Though one of the fairly newer parks receiving national park status (in 2013), Pinnacles obtained national monument status in 1908 from President Theodore Roosevelt under the Antiquities Act. Pinnacles is 16th on the list of least visited national parks (if you’re curious, find that list here) and is also one of the smallest national parks at just 26,685 acres. For reference, the 10 largest national parks all measure in at over 1.5 million acres.

Because of all this, we felt staying one night at Pinnacles Campground would be sufficient. And it would have been, if we had had a little more energy to hit the purported best trail in the park, but we didn’t — more on that later.

Pinnacles has two entrances, East and West, and they are not connected by a road (you must drive outside of the park to get from one side to the other — about 2 hours). The east side of the park finds the Pinnacles Visitor Center, Pinnacles Campground (with a decent camp store), and Bear Gulch, which has picnicking, trailheads, park headquarters, and Bear Gulch Nature Center. The west side has the West Visitor Contact Station with park information, exhibits, a film, and a small bookstore. There’s also the Chaparral Parking Area, with a trailhead, visitor contact station, restrooms, and water. I thought the road into the east side was curvy and narrow, but park information warns that most of CA 146 (the highway into the west entrance) is winding, steep, and one and half lanes wide (in some places only one lane wide) — and NOT recommended for RVs, large vehicles, or trailers.

The campground offers some sites with electric hookups, which is what I reserved. In mid-November, the average temps in Pinnacles are 70 for a high and 36 for a low, but the records are 94 and 15, so I wanted to make sure we had electricity in case we needed to run the air conditioning OR the space heater. The hookups section of the campground feels very much so like a parking lot, a description that is used regularly by RVers to describe some sites, though very much valid in this situation. Apparently, the non-hookup section of the campground, which we didn’t visit, is nicer. Two odd things about this particular national park campground: 1) There’s a swimming pool (not open during our visit); and 2) They charge more for weekend nights, which is the only time we’ve encountered a price surge at a national park campground based on the night of the week.

Campground Stats

Name: Pinnacles Campground

Address: Pinnacles National Park, Paicines, CA 95053

Website: www.recreation.gov

Dates Stayed: November 18, 2021 – November 19, 2021

Site: D113

Rate: $37 Nonelectric/$49 Electric (Add $6 if Fri or Sat); Half off with Access Pass or Golden Age Pass

Amenities:

  • Electric Hookups
  • Cabins
  • Dump Station
  • Water Fill
  • Restrooms
  • Coin-Operated Showers
  • Picnic Table
  • Fire Pit
  • Firewood for Sale ($12/bundle)
  • Camp Store
  • Gift Shop
  • Swimming Pool
  • WIFI for Purchase

I feel as though our site, D113, was the best site in the RV area. It was incredibly large, easy to back into, had trees behind us, and no one on the door side of our site.

As you can see below, the RV section of the campground is pretty low frills and definitely has a parking lot feel to it.

Pinnacles was national park number 20 for us!

The WIFI that was offered is actually pretty decent, so worth the purchase if you aren’t able to be completely disconnected.

As I stated earlier, we were lacking the energy to commit to the 5.5-mile Old Pinnacles Trail to Balconies Caves and Cliffs or the longer loop trail that would continue on to Juniper Canyon and Tunnel Trails, so we opted instead for Condor Gulch Trail and Moses Spring Trail to Bear Gulch Cave Trail. Condor Gulch Trail is a 3.4-mile out and back trail with a viewpoint at the 1-mile mark, which is where we turned around, covering a total distance of 2.15 miles with 543′ of elevation gain.

We then hiked the Moses Spring Trail to the Bear Gulch Cave Trail. We covered 1.2 miles round trip with 307′ of gain, but I think this can be made into a longer loop trail. This was actually a pretty cool cave trail (bring headlamps!) that also traversed some canyons where there’s a lot of climbing and bouldering opportunities available.

We wish we would’ve given Pinnacles a full day to experience, or at least checked in right at 1pm to give ourselves more time, but we didn’t. The park is a nesting area for the California condor and is one of few release sites in the United States and Mexico. An aggressive captive breeding program taking place at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park, as well as other locations, has allowed members of the endangered species to be released back into the wild. Pinnacles is home to 33 condors, and it would have been neat to see them in their natural habitat (we’ve seen them at the Safari Park), but we had no such luck. After a few hours of exploring, a camp fire with pricy firewood purchased at the camp store, and one night in one of the more expensive national park sites we’ve stayed in, we were off to our next destination the next morning.

The roads to enter and exit the park are narrow, curvy, and a bit bumpy, so that’s how our longer-than-usual drive started when we got underway at 7:30 that morning. Eventually, the narrowness subsided, but the bumpiness was fairly constant, even along some of California’s most traveled interstates. Though I rarely wear a bra, this was NOT the day to not wear one! Anytime we stopped to use the bathroom or grab a snack, we walked in the Airstream to what can only be described as a household explosion: couch cushions and pillows on the floor; bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom cabinets slid open, allowing for clothing to tumble onto the bed below; loose screws appearing from unknown hiding places that I hope were accidentally dropped during our recent modifications and not dislodged from somewhere of importance. Add in grades, traffic, and California’s speed limit of 55mph for any truck towing a trailer, and the six-hour-and-thirty-minute drive that Google Maps promised turned into nine mind (and butt) numbing hours. We both admitted to each other the next day that after lying down in bed that night, the room was spinning. The extended drive and less-than-ideal road conditions caused us both to experience something not unlike when you spend a day on a boat but still feel the rocking motion once you get back on solid ground. The infrequency of safe places to pull over for a brief rest and the absence of signage alerting to grades adds to the annoyance that is driving in the lower two-thirds of the Golden State.

I had called ahead to Pechanga RV Resort in Temecula to reserve a site for a night during one of our few stops. The $81 they charged for that Friday night (that’s with a 10% discount, no less) was much more than we care to spend, but we just needed a place to stay and were happy it would be somewhere we were familiar with. We have stayed at Pechanga a handful of times now due to its proximity to North County San Diego and you can read about those stays here. While Pechanga’s guests fall victim to the weekend surge pricing that many RV resorts employ, the cost is sometimes worth it when you know what to expect. And when it’s been a very long day. And when you know you’ll arrive at your less expensive (or so we thought) final destination the following day. And when you’re just kind of – done.

We almost broke one of our rules, which is to not arrive at our site after dark. After the 9-hour drive that day, we backed into our site as the sun was setting. We quickly got things set up, forgoing connecting the sewer hose as we would take care of emptying the tanks at our next location, and drove to In-N-Out to grab some dinner. Once we returned to the Airstream, we slipped into our swimsuits and ambled over to the hot tub for a much-needed soak. Thankfully, we had the entire pool area to ourselves and were able to relax a bit after what turned out to be a pretty strenuous day.

RV Park Stats

Name: Pechanga RV Resort

Address: 45000 Pechanga Pkwy, Temecula, CA 92592

Website: www.pechanga.com

Dates Stayed: November 19, 2021 – November 20, 2021

Site: D18

Rate: $81.00 (10% off with Good Sam; Part of Passport America – Weeknights Only)

Amenities:

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Buddy Sites
  • Cable TV
  • Wifi
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Pool with Two Spas
  • BBQ/Grill Areas
  • Community Firepits
  • Gas Station with Mini Mart, Diesel, Car Wash and Propane Fill
  • Horseshoe Pits
  • Fenced Dog Run
  • On-Property Shuttle Service
  • Security Patrol 24/7
  • Walking Distance to Casino and Restaurants

Even the least expensive sites are long and easy to back into — this is one RV park that is definitely built to accommodate even the largest of rigs!

For more information about Pechanga’s (very nice) casino and RV resort, as well as the Temecula area, make sure to check out the posts about our previous stays.

A Peaceful Stay at Anthony Chabot Regional Park in the East Bay

The campground at Anthony Chabot Regional Park in the East Bay’s Castro Valley, just outside Oakland, is a true gem. There are 12 full hookup sites and ~60 non-hookup/tent/group sites, some of them having views of Lake Chabot. The drive in is curvy and steep and narrow, and it’s not very easy to back into a lot of the FHU sites, but we were surrounded by bright, green grass and towering eucalyptus trees. It was crazy quiet and super peaceful, and about an hour drive into SF; 25-30 minutes to Oakland. Cell signal was good and we had no issue being able to work or stream.

Campground Stats

Name: Anthony Chabot Campground

Address: 9999 Redwood Rd, Castro Valley, CA 94605

Website: www.reserveamerica.com

Dates Stayed: November 14, 2021 – November 18, 2021

Site: 12

Rate: $45.00

Speed Test: AT&T – 31.9 Mbps down/6.54 Mbps up

Amenities:

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Through Sites
  • Tent Sites
  • Group Sites
  • Equestrian Sites
  • Picnic Table
  • Fire Pit
  • Firewood for Sale ($10/bundle)
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Hiking Trails
  • Biking Trails
  • Horse Trails
  • Fishing
  • Water Spigots
  • Dump Station
  • Gated from 10pm to 8am

I did a lot of research when reserving a site and feel we ended up with the best site in the full hookups area. The road through the campground is narrow and lined with trees, and the sites aren’t angled as much as they should be, so backing into our site was quite difficult and took a bit of time. Some of the other sites are much easier to get into, but are grouped fairly close together. Site 12 sits far enough away from the one neighboring site and has an abundance of green space around it as it sits at the end of the loop.

Some of the non-hookup sites have nice views of the lake, as seen in the pic below, and seem to be easier to get into than the sites in the FHU area. Only a couple of these sites were occupied during our stay, so the campground was very, very quiet while we were there. I do think weekends can be quite busy, but we stayed a Sunday to a Thursday and there were very few other campers during that time.

Anthony Chabot Regional Park has some nice hiking, biking, and horse trails throughout, with some leaving right from the campground.

From the campground, we took the Honker Bay Trail down to the lakeshore, walked along the lake for a little bit, and then took Huck’s Trail back up to the campground, which made for a nice 2.63-mile loop with 541′ of elevation gain.

The rangers were incredibly helpful during our stay, with one recommending the hike up Brandon Trail to get a view of the bay, downtown Oakland, downtown San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate, and the San Mateo Bridge. We walked out past the campground’s entrance along Towhee Trail until it intersected with Brandon Trail, and then followed Brandon Trail up to the viewpoint. While it may be hard to make out in the picture below, Oakland is to the right with San Francisco right in the middle and the Bay Bridge spanning the water between them. This hike was 2.12 miles roundtrip from our site with 337′ of elevation gain.

Did you know the proper collective term for a group of turkeys is a rafter? Well, you do now. This rafter of wild turkeys would stop by every day for a visit.

We went into San Francisco one day for a little sightseeing. Of course, we had to stop by for a view of the Golden Gate. The view below is near the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. When we pulled into the parking lot, there were signs posted everywhere about issues with smash and grabs and to not leave any valuables or luggage visible in your vehicle. While the parking lot at the visitor center is small, there’s a lot of traffic with plenty of people coming and going. We didn’t think too much about it, but did make sure there wasn’t anything of value in the truck. We stopped in the welcome center for a souvenir, got our shot of the bridge as seen directly below, and then followed the path along the batteries to another overlook where we got the second and third shots. We then walked back to the parking lot where we found three cars had had their windows smashed, one on either side of us. This took all of 30 minutes to happen. So, I would not recommend parking where we did. Or if you do, make sure absolutely nothing is in your car. Or have one person stay back at the car. We should have gone to a more scenic location to take in views of the bridge, but I didn’t really do any research of where to go and we weren’t really feeling driving across the bridge.

After that experience, we weren’t really in the mood to check out much else. We’ve been to San Francisco multiple times before pre-Airstream and stayed in lovely hotels in lovely neighborhoods and had a lovely time, so the smash and grabs didn’t sour us on the city — just that particular day. We then drove over to the Presidio area, picked up a quick lunch from a coffee shop, and sat by the Yoda Fountain outside Lucasfilm headquarters. The Presidio is gorgeous and wonderful and if we were in a better headspace, we would have explored it more.

On the way back to our little slice of peace and quiet at the campground, we got gas as we knew we wouldn’t be venturing out again, and stopped at the closest grocery store, which is 25 minutes away.

Anthony Chabot is a great place to stay in the Bay Area, especially the East Bay, and we would definitely stay here again. Next stop, Pinnacles National Park!

2021: A Year in Review

The beginning of 2021 found us in Bozeman, Montana, dealing with the first real winter we’ve experienced since we moved from Wisconsin to Southern California in 2011. Thanks to Covid, we decided to spend the winter in our condo that we purchased in July of 2020, instead of heading to warmer climes. Bozeman is as equally as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer, but after almost six months of cold and snow, we were ready to adventure again.

Our very first night back in the Airstream for the year was May 15th. We spent two nights at a nearby campground to get the rig de-winterized and to make sure everything was still functional after its long winter sleep. Besides needing to replace the propane tank hoses, all systems were a go! It was during this first outing that we started a new tradition we refer to as #CampfireSweatshirtSeries. Here’s a sneak peak, but I’ll share more about that later:

Without further ado, our year in numbers:

 

States Visited: 5 | Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and California – We weren’t able to add any new states to our Airstream travel map this year, so our total sits at 20. (And that’s where it will stay, but more on that later.)

Montana | Glacier National Park
Wyoming | Grand Teton National Park
Idaho | Craters of the Moon National Monument
Oregon | Silver Falls State Park – Sublimity, OR
California | Sue-Meg State Park – Trinidad, CA

Miles Traveled: 3,410 | We opted to stay mostly close to home this year and it really made for an enjoyable spring, summer, and fall to not be putting too many miles on.

Gallatin Gateway, MT | May 23

Nights on the Road: 100 | I’m actually pretty happy with this number, seeing as we spent almost the entire first half of the year in our condo.

Anthony Chabot Regional Park – Castro Valley, CA | November 15

Different Overnight Locations: 24 | We had a good mix of site types this year, with a fifth of our nights being spent in national park campgrounds; a healthy blend of city, county, & regional parks; four state parks, all in Oregon; a sprinkle of casino, Harvest Host, & fairgrounds stays; two different KOAs; and the remaining nights being spent in private RV parks/campgrounds.

Millsite Park RV Park – Myrtle Creek, OR | November 5 – 6
Emigrant Springs State Park – Meacham, OR | September 30 – October 2
Azalea Glen RV Park – Trinidad, CA | November 11 – 13

Total Site Fees: $4017.79 | That number is a combination of nightly/weekly/monthly rates, tax, reservation fees, and electricity. It comes out to an average of $42.72/night, which is much higher than we like to spend. However, our not-too-ridiculously-priced place where we usually spend the winter in San Diego County was closed for maintenance and the also-not-too-spendy backup wasn’t available when we first arrived, so we had to settle for one of the holy-crap-this-is-stupid-money RV parks for the last month and a half of the year.

Cheapest Site – $0.00 | Harvest Hosts at Milano Family Winery in Hopland, CA — November 13
Most Expensive Site – $86.15 | West Glacier KOA — July 12 – 15

National Park Service Sites: 6 (Officially) | We revisited a few of our favorite national parks – Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier and Redwood. We also added a new one in Pinnacles. We visited Crater of the Moon National Monument as well, and minus Redwood, our 20 nights in national parks campgrounds were spread across those 5 parks. We also made it to see the Golden Gate Bridge, but didn’t officially cross the bay to Golden Gate National Recreation Area. And one of our favorite places to visit this year was the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which is actually managed by the U.S. Forest Service as opposed to the National Park Service.

Grand Teton National Park (Stayed at Colter Bay Campground) | May 24 – June 4
Yellowstone National Park (Stayed at Mammoth Campground) | June 29 – July 2
Glacier National Park (Stayed at Fish Creek Campground) | July 8 – 12
Redwood National and State Parks (Stayed at Azalea Glen RV Park) | November 11 – 13
Pinnacles National Park (Stayed at Pinnacles Campground) | November 18 – 19
Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (Stayed at Lava Flow Campground) | October 27 – 28
Golden Gate Bridge (Stayed at Anthony Chabot Regional Park) | November 14 – 18
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (Stayed at Ainsworth State Park) | October 2 – 4

You can find information about all of the places we’ve stayed and traveled to in previous blog posts.

You can find wrap ups for previous years here: 2018, 2019, and 2020.

As I mentioned earlier, we started a new thing we refer to as the #CampfireSweatshirtSeries. For some reason, we decided to start taking campfire photos at every place we stayed (with a fire pit) while I sported a ‘Campfire Sweatshirt’. Are we weird? Yes. Do these pics bring me joy when I look back at them? Also yes. We have never shared these publicly before, so enjoy!

Cheers to us! at Colter Bay Campground | Grand Teton NP – May 28
Taking in the sights at Mammoth Campground | Yellowstone NP – July 2 (It was too hot for an actual fire.)
Bucks game at Fish Creek Campground | Glacier NP – July 8 (It was still too hot for an actual fire.)
#instahusband at West Glacier KOA | Coram, MT – July 13
Scrabbling at Emigrant Springs State Park | Meacham, OR – September 30
Fireside tea time at Ainsworth State Park | Corbett, OR – October 3
High five for starting a fire in what is essentially a rain forest! at Silver Falls State Park | Sublimity, OR – November 3
“There’s no one else I’d want to live in a 200sqft aluminum can with” at Harris Beach State Park | Brookings, OR – November 7
Caution: Hot at Anthony Chabot Regional Park | Castro Valley, CA – November 15
Our 20th national park at Pinnacles Campground | Pinnacles NP – November 18

We also did a Phase 2 of modifications at Ultimate Airstreams. You can read all about that here, but here are a few pics of what we had done:

We replaced the rounded sink and cabinet with a straight cabinet with new square sink.
This gave us much more room, especially in the area between the sink and the desk.
This of course required a new countertop, so we chose Corian’s rice paper color.
We also replaced the old Atwood stove/oven with a the new Furrion model. We love its look AND functionality!

On the personal front, we got on a plane in July for the first time in a long time to fly to Wisconsin to visit and spend time with family. We explored a lot of things we never got around to while living there, such as:

Lambeau Field Tour and Packers Hall of Fame – Green Bay | We’ve been to plenty of games and we’re even Packers shareholders, but Travis hadn’t done the tour since he was a kid and I had never done it, and neither of us had ever been to the Hall of Fame.

Harley Davidson Museum – Milwaukee | The museum is pretty great and has an onsite restaurant.

Lakeshore State Park – Milwaukee | This is a smaller, urban state park, but is nice for a walk along Lake Michigan.

While in Milwaukee, we were also able to catch the traveling Beyond Van Gogh exhibit…

…and check out Fiserv Forum a few hours before the Bucks won the championship!

Summer in Wisconsin can be pretty great!

We also flew to San Diego in September for our friends’ wedding. This trip actually felt like the kind of vacation we would take pre-Airstream life…

Speaking of pre-Airstream life…

While we didn’t put on a lot of miles this year and most of the places we spent the bulk of our time we had been to before, we really enjoyed our travels this year. However, towards the end of the year we officially decided to do something that we’ve been discussing for a looooong time — we’re selling the Airstream. There are many reasons that go into this decision and I’ll share them at some point, but for now, you can find more information regarding our rig at the blog post here, the RV Trader link here, the Airstream Marketplace link here, or the Airstream Hunter link here. If you are interested, please reach out. If you know someone who may be interested, please pass along our info.

 

All About Harvest Hosts

As we continued to make our way south in California, we stopped at Harvest Hosts site Milano Family Winery in Hopland, California for the night.

If you are unfamiliar with Harvest Hosts, you can visit their website for more information here. That link will also give you 20% off the annual fee for the life of your membership. The gist is that for one low annual membership fee, you get access to over 2,500 locations throughout the country that allow you to spend the night in your RV on their property for free. These locations can include wineries, breweries, farms, museums, golf courses, etc. You are expected to purchase something from the host, whether it be a bottle of wine, cheese, wool socks, admission tickets to the museum, etc. As the Harvest Hosts network continues to expand each month, some hosts are starting to offer amenities not seen in the past, such as longer stays or options for partial or full hookups. However, it’s a good rule of thumb to assume that you need to be a fully self-contained vehicle that does not need access to water, electricity, or sewer, as well as that your stay will consist of just one night. It seems many hosts have signed onto the reservation system available through the Harvest Hosts app or website, but some still prefer to be contacted via phone or email to arrange your stay. It’s important to keep in mind that these hosts are business owners whose first responsibility is their business and customers. They are not campground or RV park managers and these are not campgrounds or RV parks. Make sure to thoroughly read the instructions and rules of each host both on the Harvest Hosts website/app and whatever information the host gives you directly.

The two RV spots at Milano were located right off the highway in a gravel parking lot. There was plenty of room to maneuver, but they were a bit unlevel and had consistent road noise. We knew what to expect, though, as I had read a number of reviews in the Harvest Hosts app. After getting parked, we went in and did a wine tasting and purchased two bottles of wine. We sat at a picnic table while sipping our wine and enjoyed the menagerie of animals that call the winery home.

Back at the Airstream, we chatted with our neighbors for a while, who were also Airstreamers, albeit an Interstate van as opposed to a trailer.

Some of our favorite stays have been at Harvest Hosts, which are such a great option when you just a need a place to park for a night as you travel one place to the next:

Sanders Family Winery – Pahrump, NV – January 2019

Our very first Harvest Hosts stay was on January 1, 2019 at a beautiful and quiet winery located in Pahrump, NV. It was FREEZING, but our gracious hosts let us run our generator as the temp dipped down to 22 degrees that night. It may have been cold, but the views were beautiful!

Emerson Vineyards – Monmouth, OR – October 2019

According to the reviews, this is a popular stop that features live entertainment on Friday nights, though we were the sole RV on the Monday night that we stayed. We didn’t do any wine tasting, but did purchase a bottle of their award-winning Brother Red. Minus the sporadic distant gunshots, this was a peaceful, private stay where we were able to test our newly installed solar and lithium batteries.

Sentinel Ranch Alpacas – Belgrade, MT – August 2020

The alpaca ranch is located just outside Bozeman, Montana and is a very popular Harvest Hosts location. They graciously allowed us to film part of our House Hunters episode there that highlighted our transition from full-time Airstream living to part-time condo living. You can also visit the ranch sans RV, as they have a nice little gift shop and an area to pet and feed the alpacas.

Garvin Heights Vineyard – Winona, MN – September 2020

This was a lovely little winery that set us up in their parking lot. The weather was absolutely perfect, allowing us to leave our windows open all night to listen to the summery midwest sounds and get one of the best nights of sleep both Travis and I had had in a very long time.

Big Snow Resort – Wakefield, MI – September 2020

This was one of our favorite Harvest Hosts stays. The Sky Bar and Grille atop Big Snow’s Indianhead Mountain is open for most of the year, offering food and drink to be enjoyed on their expansive outdoor deck. Once we parked, we grabbed some drinks and a basket of fries and took in the view. We also enjoyed walking up and down the ski runs, enjoying the beautiful fall colors that started to settle in.

4e Winery – Mapleton, ND – September 2020

Another lovely winery setting with the nicest people! This Harvest Hosts is a particularly popular one, and we were thankful they had room for us. Even though the winery was closed on the day of our stay, Lisa allowed us, along with three other RVs, to stay and opened the tasting room for us. We made sure to thank her for her hospitality by purchasing a bottle of wine. They have a large, level open field for RVs to park in, and besides the hundreds (thousands?) of crickets jumping around, it was a very peaceful evening.

That’s a wrap on some of the great places we’ve stayed through Harvest Hosts! It’s a great program that we love to utilize whenever we can.

Redwoods and Rocky Shores on the NorCal Coast

As we made our way south to our winter destination of San Diego County, we spent two nights at Azalea Glen RV Park in Trinidad, California. While it was a fairly short drive from Harris Beach State Park, the 101 along this stretch is known to have regular closures. There were multiple points where the road was only one lane due to road construction. It seems the highway isn’t the only road that’s prone to closure in this area. When I called Azalea Glen a few weeks earlier to make the reservation, they didn’t require a deposit because during this time of year, the weather can be unruly, causing downed trees, rock slides, flooding, and other issues that may close roads immediately around Azalea Glen or on the way to Azalea Glen. The woman on the phone just said to call to let them know if we couldn’t make it. Luckily, during our 2-night stay, the weather was pretty spectacular for this time of year — no rain, sunny-ish skies, and warm-ish temps.

RV Park Stats

Name: Azalea Glen RV Park

Address: 3883 Patricks Point Dr, Trinidad, CA 95570

Website: www.azaleaglen.com

Dates Stayed: November 11, 2021 – November 13, 2021

Site: 5

Rate: $50.00

Speed Test: AT&T – 176 Mbps down/10.3 Mbps up; Verizon – 18.1 Mbps down/5.46 Mbps up

Amenities:

  • Full Hookup Sites
  • Pull-Through Sites
  • One Tent Site
  • Deck with Chairs, Picnic Table, & Fire Pit
  • Laundry
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Cable
  • Wifi
  • Swing Set
  • Enclosed Off-Leash Dog Are
  • Smoke-Free Property
  • Recycling

Our site was a back-in, full hookup site that backs up to a pond. We had a wooden deck complete with chairs, fire pit, and picnic table. Fences topped with out-of-control vines gave us privacy from the sites on either side of us. There are only a handful of sites that have a deck, which was a welcome amenity considering the sites are all grass. Normally grass sites aren’t a big issue, but it’s very damp in this area, and even with the no rain and sunnier days we experienced, the grass just never dried up. So, while the deck caused our site to be much shorter than the sites without decks as we could only back up so far, it was nice to not have to deal with wet grass and mud at our doorstep. There are four pull-through sites that can accommodate any size rig, but the remaining sites are back-ins positioned at 90 degrees. We stayed at Azalea Glen a little over three years prior, and while that site was the same level of difficulty to back into, there was at least more room for our truck as it was a much longer site. My recommendation for a site here is one of the sites in the 20’s; however, many of the people staying here are permanent, or at least long-term, residents and beggars can’t be choosers.

We packed a lot into our 2-night stay: Laundry (the dryers aren’t very hot, so use extra high heat); Grocery shopping; Exploring Sue-Meg State Park (fka Patrick’s Point State Park), which is located directly across the street from Azalea Glen; Hiking the Cathedral Trees Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park; and spending a few hours chatting next to the fire with fellow Airstreamers Dirk & Kat (in the middle in the above pic) and Stuart & Brittany (on the right above).

To read about our previous stay, a little bit more about the city of Trinidad, and other locations to visit in Redwood National and State Parks, click here.

I’m Not Even Sure What to Say About 2020

Where to begin?

Every year I like to write a post that wraps up the previous year’s travels with a proverbial bow, reliving all of the joy and wonderment we experienced. You can see how this is usually a fun little project by checking out the posts for 2018 and 2019. Obviously, this year is different. Like, so, so different.

We started the year spending the winter in the San Diego area as full-time Airstreamers and ended the year living in a condo in Bozeman, Montana. To say things took an unexpected turn is a bit of an understatement. I know that COVID-19 affected the life of pretty much every one on the planet, in a wide range of ways. We are so very grateful to be able to say that, as of this post, we have not personally experienced the virus, or lost loved ones to it. We know there are so many that can’t say the same, and our hearts hurt for the pain and loss others have experienced during this time. We know it’s still going to be a long road for our community, our country, and our planet, but we’re hopeful and optimistic that 2021 will eventually bring some health and happiness.

Besides the isolation, frustration, and disappointment that the pandemic brought to our lives, we also had to deal with the loss of our third amigo, our travel buddy, our faithful canine companion — Max. We said goodbye to Max on February 25th, just two days shy of his 15th birthday. When we first started our full-time travel life, we were so unsure how well Max would adapt. It turns out there was no need to worry, because he was the BEST Airstream dog. He slept through travel days like a champ and preferred so stay ‘home’ whenever Travis and I would venture out. The strangeness of not having a dog around after 15 years was compounded by the weirdness of the early days of the pandemic. Ten months later, and we still miss him dearly, but the thought of him no longer triggers a twinge in the heart.

So, yeah, 2020 hasn’t been the most enjoyable year, but we did have some good times and we were able to travel to some great places. Let’s look at some of that joy and wonderment we DID get to experience.

We travelled 4,608 miles across nine states — California, Nevada, Utah, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Dakota. Our longest travel day (which we’ll never do again) was 738 miles (you can read about that here) and our shortest travel day was 19 miles. We averaged $36.78/night for site fees, which is almost $10 less per night than 2019, so, yay us!

Michigan was the only new state we added to our travel map this year, making it our 20th state that we’ve ventured to with the Airstream. We were very happy to be able to spend some time in Michigan in fall — such a great time to be in the area!

While we had originally planned to visit a number of new National Park Service sites this year, we were able to make it to only eight, with four being new and four being return visits.

The four new sites were:

Capitol Reef National Park

Check out more from our visit to Capitol Reef here.

Voyageurs National Park

Our visit to Voyageurs makes 19 national parks visited thus far! Check out more from our visit to Voyageurs here.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Check out more from our visit to Pictured Rocks here.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Check out more from our visit to Apostle Islands here.

The other four sites we were able to revisit were:

Zion National Park

Due to the pandemic, the only exploring we did of Zion during this time was to take a drive up the canyon, which is usually closed to vehicles, but was open because the shuttles weren’t running.

Check out more about our visit to Zion here. Read more about our previous visit here and here.

Yellowstone National Park

Check out more from our visit to Yellowstone here. Read more about our previous visit here.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Check out more about our visit to Roosevelt NP here. Read about our previous visit here.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument 

Check out more about our visit to Little Bighorn here. Read about our previous visit here.

But our year wasn’t just about the parks! Take a look at some of the other things that brought us joy this year ->

We visited some of the ‘World’s Largest’ statues:

We ran into some interesting creatures in the Anza-Borrego Desert:

We tried a new sport:

We were able to meet up with a handful of other full timers:

We enjoyed some beach days and amazing sunsets:

Pre-pandemic, we were able to spend time with some of our favorite people:

And when we didn’t think it was going to happen, we ended up being able to spend some safe, socially distanced time with family:

The pandemic forced us to change our travel plans for 2020 (goodbye, hard-earned FL state park reservations!), so we made a decision. A big one. Even though the RV lifestyle somewhat prepared us for pandemic life (you can read about that here), it didn’t make sense for us to stay on the road. After dealing with multiple reservation cancellations and watching things close as the case numbers rose, we decided that the best thing for us was to get off the road and settle down for the time being. One of the best parts of full timing is not only exploring the natural wonders of our country, but also meeting new people along the way and checking out things in each city we visit — restaurants, museums, community events, etc. With all of these things closed, traveling just wasn’t that enjoyable. And we wanted to make sure we stayed healthy. So, we purchased a condo in Bozeman, Montana in July. Read more about what led to that decision here.

We’ve been enjoying safely exploring our new city:

And we’re learning to embrace winter (kind of):

But probably the weirdest thing to happen to us personally in 2020, is our appearance on HGTV’s House Hunters!

We filmed the episode in August and it aired in December. It highlighted our transition from full-time travel to part-time condo living. It was an interesting and tiring experience!

Which brings me to what’s next for us:

We plan to continue to travel in the Airstream — A LOT. It’s nice to have a home base to return to when we need a break or something comes up, but we miss being on the road. We’ll get back out there once we feel comfortable doing so, which for us means when we’re both vaccinated. It’s been nice to take a pause and enjoy some of the things you give up when you live tiny, such as a king-size bed, a dishwasher, a washer & dryer, and easy access to our mail, medical care, and good grocery stores. There’s still so much left to explore! And we aren’t really cold weather people, so we’re looking forward to seeking out warmth in the coming winters.

We’re wishing everyone a safe and healthy 2021! Hopefully, we’ll see you somewhere out there!

 

A Few Days in the Desert: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The drive from Temecula to Anza-Borrego is a bit curvy with grades, so our short drive day took a little longer than expected, but it was worth it! As previous San Diego residents, we had never been here before, which feels a bit blasphemous now. The nights are quiet, the sky is huge, and the stars shine bright — all things everyone could use a little bit more of in their life, I believe.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the lower 48 and lies in three Southern California counties, making up one-fifth of San Diego County with its 600,000 acres. It’s also a certified International Dark Sky Park, which is “a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.”

There are multiple campgrounds throughout the park ranging from no reservation, dry camping to reservation needed, full hookups. As with many California State Parks, and state parks in general, getting a reservation isn’t the easiest and does require some planning. We were able to reserve two nights in the no hookup section of Borrego-Palm Canyon Campground a few months ago, and at a later date, after a cancellation, were able to reserve two more nights in the full hookup section.

NOTE: Check in time is 2pm with no exceptions, and they definitely adhere to it. We arrived at 1:38 and they let us preregister, but would not allow us to go to our site. We drove over to the Visitor Center where there is RV parking, and bought some souvenirs and picked up all of the literature we would need for our visit, before heading back to the campground.

Borrego-Palm Canyon Campground

200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs, CA

www.reservecalifornia.com

  • Dry Camping Sites (Max Length 25′)
  • Full Hookup Sites (Max Length 35′)
  • Dump Station
  • Restrooms with Flush Toilets
  • Token-Operated Showers
  • Water Spigots
  • Fire Pits
  • Picnic Tables
  • Shade Structures in Dry Camping Sites
  • Firewood for Sale

Our first two nights were spent in Site 72 in the dry camping section of the campground. The literature for the campground states that the max length of these sites is 25′. However, our trailer is 28′ from hitch to bumper, and we were able to squeeze in while still being able to park our truck at the front of the site. When reserving a site here, I looked at not only the listed length on the website, but also the Google Map satellite image where I could see that we’d be able to back up quite a bit further than the length of the pad. Not all of the sites would have fit us, so do your research if you have a longer rig — we were definitely the longest trailer in this section of the campground! The sites in this section are sporadically placed and offer more distance from your neighbor than the sites in the full hookup section.  The sites with the best views are 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, 83, 84, 85, and 87. The restrooms and showers aren’t anything special, but they are clean and all individual, so you have privacy and safety.

An iPhone photo in no ways does the night sky any justice, but as you can see, even with bright moonlight and campfires burning, the stars were out in force.
We just fit into our site!
We backed up as far as we could without hitting the shade structure and still being able to deploy our awnings — which is key in the desert without A/C.
Our site was a little odd in that the fire pit and picnic table were opposite the door side of our trailer, but the site itself is spacious with nice views.

We spent the next two nights in site 33 in the full hookups section. All of the sites here are pull throughs and the sites with the best views are 50 and 51. The sites here are definitely longer, with us being able to park our truck in the same direction as the trailer, as opposed to perpendicular to it. Also, when friends visited, they were able to park their car at an angle behind the Airstream.

At site 33, there is shrubbery and a palm tree to give some separation from the neighboring site.

Borrego Palm Canyon is one of the quietest places we’ve ever stayed. People seemed to go to bed pretty early, but especially in the dry camping section, where there are a lot of tents and vans.

There are about 110 miles of hiking trails throughout Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and there are three trails that leave right from Borrego Palm Canyon Campground:

  • Trail to Visitor Center — Dog and bike friendly; Flat; Easy; Paved; .7 mile one way.
  • Panoramic Overlook Trail — Moderate with loose rock and 300′ of elevation gain; 1.6 mile roundtrip.
The wildflowers are out in force!
View of Borrego Palm Canyon Campground from the overlook.
  • Borrego Palm Canyon Trail — Fairly flat with loose rock and some scrambling; 375′ of elevation gain; Currently open portion is about a 2.25-mile loop.
The landscape along the trail is absolutely beautiful!
We were lucky to see at least a half dozen endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep.
Friends from Oceanside drove out to spend the day with us and the Ocotillo.
Due to a fire, the portion of the trail that leads to the palm oasis and waterfall was closed, but there was still a lot of beauty to see along the way, like these beavertail cactus.

Another fun hike that’s about a 25-minute drive from the campground is The Slot, which, in cased you haven’t guessed, is a slot canyon. The road to the trailhead, where you’ll find pit toilets and a parking lot, is about 2 miles of washboard gravel, but not awful. It’s an easy, 1.6-mile out and back hike through a narrow slot. There’s an option to make it a loop if you continue past the end of the slot, but as we didn’t have the AllTrails app open to follow the correct route (there’s no defined trail) we turned back after a bit because we didn’t really feel like getting lost in the desert that day.

This is what it looks like when you exit the end of the slot canyon — it’s pretty wide open and difficult to tell what direction to go, so make sure to have a map!

Galleta Meadows is privately owned land in Borrego Springs that’s home to over 130 metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda. The Meadows are unfenced and open to the public — and definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the area!

Our stay in Anza-Borrego was our last stop before wrapping up our winter in California and it was definitely a highlight! There’s a lot of boondocking to be had in this area, but seeing as this was our first time here, we took the safe route and stayed in a developed campground. And as it got really hot on Friday of our stay, we were glad to have an electric hookup to use A/C. Of note, gas is extremely expensive out here. Make sure to fill up before the trip out and search for gas stations a bit removed from Borrego Springs if you need to fill up again. About 45 minutes outside of Borrego Springs, we passed a gas station that was at least $1.50 less per gallon. Also, there’s a small market in town that is a catchall type of store and has the necessities — but I would not call it a grocery store. If you need specific items, bring them with you.

A Couple Days in Temecula

After leaving San Diego on March 1, we drove all of 55 miles to spend a couple of nights in Temecula. The main purpose of this pitstop was so that we could drop the Airstream off at Airstream Inland Empire and have the brakes checked. You may recall, back in September we had an issue where one of our brakes needed to be replaced fairly emergently. Before heading back on the road, we wanted to make sure everything was copacetic. And it was. While in San Diego, we also had the brakes checked on the truck and the rear brakes replaced, so now we can continue our travels with one less thing to worry about.

We spent one night at the RV park at Pechanga Resort and Casino, one night in the hotel of the resort while the Airstream was getting looked at, and then another night at the RV park in order to get the fridge back up to temp after being shut off and to stock up on groceries as we’d next be heading to areas without real grocery stores.

For more about this RV park, read about our previous stays here and here. Of note, the Pechanga RV park is a part of Passport America and offers half off of the deluxe site rate Sunday through Wednesday night, making the stay very affordable at $30/night.

The Deluxe sites at Pechanga are the lowest level site, but they’re super nice and huge — and the only sites you can use Passport America on.

San Diego’s Best Kept RV Park Secret – Surf and Turf Del Mar

We decided to slow things down a bit this winter and spend four months in San Diego. This gave us the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time with friends; take care of doctor, dentist, eye, and vet appointments; join a gym; eat some good, healthy food; order all the things we couldn’t while on the road (big thanks to our friends that let us have packages sent to their houses); go on a few hikes; and Travis even got a trip with friends to Germany in. As we had lived in San Diego before Airstream life, we didn’t really do any touristy things during our stay. If you need recommendations for anything, send me a message and I can help you out.

We also had ample opportunity to clean out the truck and Airstream to get rid of junk, give away things we didn’t need anymore, and transfer stuff we wanted to keep to our storage unit. Even though we live pretty minimally, we still clean our cabinets, closets, and storage compartments on a quarterly basis, and there is ALWAYS stuff we aren’t using.

Surf & 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
  • Nightly, Weekly, & Monthly Rates

This was our second stay at Del Mar’s Surf & Turf RV Park. Read about our previous stay here.

We spent all four months at Surf & Turf in Del Mar. At $650/month (including electricity), I don’t think any other RV park or campground in the San Diego area comes close to being this affordable. The bonus is that the location is perfect – you can get anywhere in coastal San Diego County in about 30 minutes (without traffic, of course).

As stated in our previous post, Surf & Turf is a pretty barebones RV park. With wide gravel sites, you park your tow vehicle next to your trailer, instead of in front of it. The electric could use some updating. They currently only offer 30 amp, which is fine for us. However, when we first pulled in and hooked up, our power kept tripping at the box. An electrician came to check it out and found a loose connection. After tightening everything up, we had no more issues, but it sounded as though it was not an uncommon occurrence. The pump truck comes around on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday – which generally works fine for two people, but you do need to keep an eye on your water usage. A propane fill truck comes through every Wednesday. Four months of having to go to a laundromat to do laundry got a little old, but the laundromat (Beachside Del Mar Laundromat) was very nice and it’s always great to get all of the laundry done in an hour and a half.

Del Mar’s Dog Beach is a short drive and a great place to take doggos to run around and get some exercise.

Surf & Turf is within walking distance of the Coast to Crest Trail at the San Dieguito Lagoon, which is a flat, 4.8-mile out and back trail. It’s a great trail for walking, running, and biking and is dog friendly.

I should also note that if you need full hookups, the Del Mar Fairgrounds (who owns Surf & Turf) has about 50 full hookup sites for $38/night. There are also restrooms with showers and laundry. We visited some other full-time Airstreamers that stayed there, and it’s definitely an acceptable place to stay for a bit — if you don’t mind being right next to the train tracks.

Food/Drink Places Nearby

There are a never-ending amount of food and drink options throughout San Diego, but our favorite restaurant in this particular area is Jake’s Del Mar. It’s one of those rare places that hits the restaurant trifecta – great food, great service, and great views. Make a reservation for about a half hour before sunset and request a table by the window – you won’t be disappointed!

When we’re traveling in more remote places, we REALLY miss having healthy food options. Thankfully, San Diego, and Southern California in general, does not disappoint on this front. Within a few minutes’ drive from Surf & Turf, you’ll find some great, healthy, fast-casual options in Mendocino Farms, Flower Child, and Urban Plates.

The Taco Stand has multiple locations throughout San Diego, but the closest one to Surf & Turf is a short drive up the 101 in Encinitas. If you’re not in the mood for one of the many taco options offered, get one of San Diego’s most popular eats — a California burrito.

For beer, check out Bottlecraft in Solana Beach. It’s a bit different than your average tasting room, as it’s part beer shop, part tasting room. They sell hundreds of bottled beers from multiple brewers that you’re able to carry out or drink in house. They also have about 20 beers on draft that are regularly rotated. Not a beer fan? They also sell wine, cider, and kombucha, as well as offer a menu of tasty sandwiches. If you’re in the mood for beer AND pizza, head to Pizza Port in Solana Beach. Bottlecraft is dog friendly, but 21+ only. Pizza Port is family friendly, with seating outside for your pups.

And of course, ice cream. Portland’s famous Salt & Straw recently opened a second San Diego location in Del Mar at the One Paseo shopping & dining complex. It is seriously the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Semi-national chain Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream recently opened its third San Diego location at the Del Mar Highlands shopping center. And if you want something a bit healthier, Yogurtland frozen yogurt is right up the street at the Del Mar Flower Hill Promenade.