Stories from eight years of living on the road in America
by Michael Boyink / firstname.lastname@example.org
Easy highway access. Paved sites. Full hookups. Campground stores. Pools. Hot tubs. Dog runs. Walking trails. Wifi.
RV parks, like hotels, like to advertise their amenities in hopes of enticing you to come stay with them.
It didn’t take us long, living on the road, to realize that an advertised amenity didn’t necessarily guarantee an available amenity.
Hot tubs were often long-since-closed. Wifi might be working, but not actually usable. Pools would only be open for six weeks out of the year.
And of course, the overnight rate would be the same, working amenity or not.
But most RVs are self-contained. Storage tanks for water. Batteries (or generators or solar) for power. RV owners don’t always need RV parks and their amenities.
If we were in travel mode, just making time to a new location, we’d often try to find ways to not spend $30 just to get a few hours sleep.
Maybe you’ve noticed RVs in Walmart parking lots at night. They’re doing the same thing – parking there overnight to save the cost of an RV park.
We stayed overnight – for free – in a number of places that weren’t RV parks.
Walmarts. Sam’s Clubs. Cabelas. Cracker Barrels. Churches. Truck stops.
If a free option wasn’t available, we’d look for something cheap instead.
Cheap options were casinos, county parks, and city parks.
Most fairgrounds have accommodations for RVs and, if no big events are going on, can be cheaper than an RV park.
While campsite at a fairground is usually just a parking space in a large field, the experience of staying at one can be more memorable than a RV park.
You probably wouldn’t encounter Crossfit Games, Gay Rodeos, or Biker Weeks at an RV park. But we did while staying at fairgrounds.
Our stay in Farmington, New Mexico was probably the most memorable of our fairground stays.
We were on our way to a camphosting job in Durango, Colorado. We were running ahead of schedule getting there, so just needed a place to be for a couple days.
Farmington is just an hour from Durango, and the fairgrounds had openings for RVs. We booked on the phone and headed that way.
Along with about half of the town, it seemed.
Traffic in and out of the fairgrounds was crazy. When we finally wove our way to the gate, we learned that, while the RV parking portion of the fairgrounds complex would be quiet, the rest would not be.
They were simultaneously hosting a horse race, car show, and wrestling tournament.
Oh, and that night would be a Beatles tribute band.
All of which we could enjoy at no additional cost. Unless we wanted to bet on a race.
We skipped the casino, but appreciated the cars, horses, athletes, and music much more than we would have any campground pool.
Farmington is located at the confluence of the San Juan, Animas, and La Plata rivers in the “Four Corners” region of New Mexico. Learn more at farmingtonnm.org.