Where to Next? The Challenges we often FACE
That is always the question — where to next?
Many of us dream of this lifestyle, where we can go wherever the whim takes us. The reality is — you often have to make a PLAN. If you want to visit a National Park you have to be ready the minute they open them up. If you want to winter in Florida, plan in advance. Most state parks fill up as fast as they are released for availability. Some locations are available during the week but filled up on the weekends. Even pullover spots are filling up.
They say there are over a million RVers out there. Granted most of them are not on the road at the same time. But, during peak seasons it sure feels like it. This makes it challenging to find somewhere to stay. Even when it is not peak season, it can be challenging.
Right now, our INTENTIONS (as my husband calls them) is to take Route 66 (Hwy 40) from outside of St Louis, MO to Barstow, CA, then up Hwy 395 in CA to Oregon, then over to HWY 97 up through Oregon into Washington. We have a deadline date, we are scheduled at Wanapaum State Park in Vantage, WA from May 22–25. This is a popular state park, so I had to plan early to find available dates, and I wanted to go before it got too hot.
Currently, we are in Charleston, SC until February 17th. We have approximately thirteen weeks to go from Charleston to Wanapaum state park and so much to see. But, there are some challenges we have to consider — the biggest one being WEATHER, the other being TIMING.
We want to start Route 66 outside of St Louis around the first part of March, weather permitting. The weather this past year has been all over the place, and often it is extreme. Winter is still here, and severe weather season soon starts. Parts of Route 66 is included in the Severe Weather Alley. This makes planning sketchy and unpredictable.
Which direction to Route 66?
As part of our route to St Louis, we are looking at staying about five days at the Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas. We had tried for this park back in September but it was full for weeks.
At first, we debated if we would head south to Florida and kill some time down there and then head north. Our route would have been— St Augustine to a Corp of Engineer park in Georgia by the Florida border, to a Corp of Engineer in Alabama, then Tom Sawyer RV Park, then St Louis. This would buy us a little more time of getting through the winter season. But it also would add an extra week, so that could mean a late start.
Instead, we decided to stay a little longer in Charleston. We wanted to stay until the 21st because another storm was expected around the 18th, but all of the parks in this area are booked for the weekend of the 19th. So, we are going to head west from here and our route is: 1. Augusta, GA 2. Stone Mountain,GA 3. somewhere west of Atlanta (TBD), 4. Tupelo, Mississippi, 5. stop somewhere for the night after Tupelo. 6. then outside of St Louis.
The plan is to arrive around the 5th of March in the St Louis area, or should I say, “the intention.”
Where to Stay?
Now that we have determined a route, the next challenge is finding RV parks or places to stay along our route. This can be so time-consuming. I use RV Trip Wizard to start our planning. I then follow the route and investigate places along the way. We don’t like to travel too far in a day so I try to keep it around 150–250 miles in a day.
Depending on the location and the length of our stay, I will look for FHU (Full hook-up) sites. Since it is still cold at night, we will want the power to run our furnace or electric heater. If the weather turns ugly, we will definitely want to have FHU.
I will sometimes decide where we stay on a route based on the review of an RV park/campground. I am often surprised at how many parks along a route have such bad reviews, this limits my choices of where to stay. I look for BIG RIG friendly parks, as they are often easier to navigate.
I would prefer to just wing our Route 66 trip, but the reality is I am one of those people that has to know where we are sleeping. And, since RV parks/campgrounds fill up fast, I need to plan ahead. The challenge is determining when we will be an area.
I don’t want to regiment our trip so strictly that we have no flexibility. Finding balance between places to stay and just winging it, is hard. Seasoned RVers understand more about how to do this, but for us newbies, it is still a challenge — and a skill to learn.
I have found it easier if I pick a location along our route to spend time, then find a place to land and reserve it in advance. This is comforting, but also a bit aggravating, because now we have to be somewhere by a specific date. The majority of RV parks do not give your deposit back when you cancel, so you lose that money, or they can’t be flexible and find you a site if you miss your dates — this adds to the stress of traveling.
Where to next? I would like to say, “wherever the road takes us.” But, if you are a Type A personality, when finding places to stay is challenging, and weather affects where to, add that you are still learning…Where to Next — needs to be planned out a little ahead of time.