August 19, 2018
Park Review - Silver Spur RV Park Silverton, OR
We camped at Silver Spurs RV Resort in mid July. We chose to visit this area for a few reasons. First, I wanted to see Silver Falls State Park with its many water falls. And secondly, because our financial advisor has his office in Silverton. So, here’s a shout out to Tim Yount of Edward Jones. And then I found some other things to see and do.
This is a very well run park. The nightly rate was about $50, with a discount for weekly and monthly rates. Each site had full hook-ups and 50 amp power. They had a very nice office, gathering/social room and game room. They are finishing up with an expansion of RV sites and the addition of a swimming pool. About one third of the sites appeared to be well kept monthly/annual renters. The voltage was good. The water pressure was good. We had good Verizon and ATT signals, plus good Direct TV satellite reception.
Silverton is a suburb/bedroom community for Salem. It is a lovely area, and worth the 10+ mile drive to an RV park outside of Salem. There are many restaurants in town.We shopped at Safeway and the local Roth’s Fresh Market, plus you are close enough to Salem to find a Fred Meyer (Kroeger), Walmart, Costco or anything else you could want.
In addition to hiking at Silver Falls State Park, we also visited the Oregon Gardens and Mount Angels Abbey. The Willamette Valley was having a heat wave while we were there in mid-July, with temperatures in the high 90s, and not much cooling at night. I imagine the Oregon Gardens were much more spectacular in the late spring and early summer, but we did enjoy our early morning stroll just the same. We visited Mount Angels Abbey primarily to see their quirky little museum with the world’s largest porcine hairball and the six legged calf. I’m not much of a tourist type person, but I love these little local oddities.
I would definitely come back to this park if I were in the area. I’d probably time my visit for June or late September, hoping to avoid the heat. The new swimming pool at the park is a welcomed addition. There were plenty of wineries, breweries and galleries I’d like to visit.
Apparently I forgot to take pictures of the rv park.
Park Review - South Jetty Thousand Trails Campground in Florence, OR
We spent two weeks at the South Jetty park in Florence, OR at the end of
June and early July. I think this is a great Thousand Trails Campground. If
you like an RV park that feels like camping - you will like it here. The
biggest thing I think it has going for it is big sites and privacy.
We had good Verizon cell service, and our ATT Mobley worked great for streaming and all of our internet needs. It is the luck of the draw to get a site where you can get a satellite signal as this park is a first come, first serve for site selection. The trade off is that with a break in the trees for the signal, you also get wind. Because our streaming signal was so strong, we opted for being out of the wind with no satellite. I believe the majority of sites are back-in, and we are backed into what looks like a fairy wonderland. It is very quiet at night. You do hear the dune buggies during the day. It is mostly 30 amp service here but a number of sites are roped off for "pedestal replacement" so I'm wondering if they are upgrading to 50 amps. There are 51 sites with sewer hook ups, out of 202 sites total. There are multiple french drains/cisterns for gray water disposal spread throughout the park. There is a pump out service by an outside provider twice a week - I think it is $50 a shot.
For “amenities”, there is a nice pool and hot tub, which were getting plenty of use, even though the average temperature was in the high 60s since we arrived. If you are a kid, growing up in the PNW, this IS swimming weather. Both lodges (the family and the adult or "quiet" lodge) were nice. Not a ton of activities, but there was a movie night and at least one craft thing per weekend. The bathrooms are dated, but kept clean. The laundry was great. $1.50 to wash, and dryers that operate for 10 minutes per quarter. They have a change machine and a vending machine for detergent, etc. Coffee, tea and water were available, along with a TV in the laundromat.
Shopping in Florence is okay. We used both Safeway and Fred Meyer. Each of them had a decent organic section, and there is a Natural Foods store 50 miles south in Coos Bay. There is an Ace Hardware and a couple of thrift shops, along with movie theaters, a hospital, a casino and plenty of restaurants. There are lots of state parks with hiking opportunities in the area, but of course the main attraction here are the Oregon Sand Dunes......at least if you are much younger and more active than I am. We ate out twice while we were here. Once at Mo’s which gets tremendous reviews. It was just okay as far as I was concerned, but I am very picky about my seafood. We also ate at the buffet at the casino. Most of the food was traditional casino buffet options, but kudos to the chef who prepared the salmon. It was cooked perfectly! And my favorite discovery of the trip was to the Florence Farmer’s Market in Old Town Florence. The farmers market is primarily on Tuesdays, but there is one stand that is there seven days a week. I think it is the Ambrosia Farms. They have the best pico de gallo I have ever had! This is a “have to” stop while in Florence.
If you want a place to kick back and just enjoy nature, yet have amenities and services nearby, this is a great campground. I personally prefer Seaside, but if you are a Thousand Trails member and need to be out of Seaside for a week, and need to have cell service, that you may not get in Pacific City or Whaler's Rest, this park is great (and far better than Long Beach if you enjoy your privacy and space). Staff has been great and there are improvements going on throughout the park. Definitely 2 thumbs up for this Thousand Trails park.
August 17, 2018
Park Review - Seaside, Oregon Thousand Trails
We enjoyed a week at the Thousand Trails park in Seaside, OR in late
June. I think I found a park where I would consider trying for a seasonal or
annual site! We loved this park. It is conveniently located off of Highway
101, far enough that road noise is not a problem.
We had great Verizon cell, ATT Mobley for our internet, and a good Direct TV signal. The park is divided into two sections. The sites were big on the north side, with 50 amps. Our voltage stayed pretty consistent at 120. The sites on the south side are 30 amps, and of decent size. All sites are FHUs.
I'm not a "lodge" person, but the family lodge was wonderful, and in the PNW - an indoor pool is fabulous. The adult lodge has a small exercise room with decent equipment, and had I explored it prior to our last full day there, I would have used it every morning. There was a good sized laundromat with lots of room for folding clothes. $2 wash and $2 dry. I didn't use them because with the FHU, I use my own unit in my rig. When I peeked in the laundromat, there was a woman teaching what I assumed was her granddaughter how to make a quilt. I love the family oriented aspect of this park. All the kids we saw were respectful and well behaved. Lots of bike riding and just out having fun. The staff was great, although we didn't have much interaction with them other than at the gate.
There is a Safeway in Seaside for shopping, but I preferred to go up to Warrenton to Fred Meyer, Costco or the new Walmart. And there is a great Natural Foods store across from Fred Meyer as well. All these stores are right on (or visible from) Highway 101 and about 10 miles from Seaside. We also stopped at a road side fruit stand and had some wonderful local strawberries and artichokes.
There is lots to do in the area, but other than a few "Sunday drives", we didn't do much. (Many years living in a coastal beach community kind of dulls your senses to walking around similar towns and shops.) On one of our exploration drives, we found Youngs River Falls, about a 30 minute drive from the park. Also, there is a great water/sunset view from behind the high school, probably less crowded that the turnaround at the promenade.
My last shout-out is to Dooger’s Seafood Restaurant, where I had some of the best seafood I have had in years. This is a high compliment from the wife of a retired commercial fisherman. I may not be the best cook, but I do know good seafood, properly cooked, when I taste it. There is a Dooger’s in Seaside, but we ate at the one in Warrenton.
My only disappointment about Seaside Thousand Trails Park is that I only booked it for one week to try it out. Next year, it will definitely be 2-3 weeks!
August 16, 2018
Park Review - Long Beach, WA Thousand Trails
We stayed at the Long Beach Thousand Trails RV Resort in Seaview, WA in
June 2018. I find this park hard to review, and not really for any specific
reason. I lived for 10+ years in a small coastal fishing community not far
from this park, so the whole "beach" thing is not particularly attractive to
me. But that is just me. We came here because our son and his family
were going to be vacationing in Long Beach for Father's Day weekend,
and it gave us a chance to spend some time with the grandkids.
I'm going to start with my one and only complaint about this park. There is no privacy whatsoever. Sites are back to back. If you are lucky to get a good site, there may be some trees, but they are well trimmed and don't provide much of a sense of privacy. If you are the type of camper that is off doing stuff all day, and doesn't mind having close neighbors, this may not be an issue for you.
Now for the good stuff - everything else. Good Verizon coverage for cell service. Good AT&T Mobley for our own internet. Good Direct TV satellite service. The staff is great. There were activities for Father's Day but not much else - however, it is early in the season for WA and OR. It is very quiet here. You can hear the surf and the birds, but not much else. Water pressure was good. Our EMS showed 50Amp voltage at 120 - 123 volts most of the time we have been here.
There is just one pool but it looked inviting. There were people swimming (mostly kids) even though it was only in the high 60s most of the weekend. The laundromat had 4 washers and 6 dryers. Cost $1.75 each. They were older machines but well cleaned, considering sand is probably an issue here. They have a nice playground. There are two lodges, but both are small (the size of a large bedroom or small living room). There is a path to the beach (about a 5 minute walk) and a great paved trail that parallels the beach from one community to the others for walking or biking.
If you like cutesy beach communities, you will like Seaview and Long Beach. Take the short drive to Oysterville, Ocean City and Illwaco as well as visiting the WA State Parks and Forts in the area. Grocery shopping is limited in the immediate area, but 20 miles down into Warrenton, OR, there is a great Fred Meyer/Kroeger store, a new Walmart, a Costco and a Natural Foods Market.
One of the things you will hear most about this campground is the weird hookups. It is a full hook up campground. For every 4 sites (2 rigs side by side, and 2 back to back), there is a hook-up area with 4 sewer connections and 4 water hook ups. See the pictures below. Each electric pole has 2 or 3 plugs ins, of which at least one is 50 amp. Who ever plugs into the 50 amp first, gets it. I find it weird, but I'm not the one in the family that does the outside stuff, so if my husband doesn't care, I don't either. I only mention it because if you are in an odd numbered site, all the hookups will be on the wrong side of your rig, so you will need extra lengths for your hoses.
The other thing I wanted to mention that this park has the best tent camping sites I've seen. Again no sense of privacy because they are wide open spaces, but lots of room, and great for group camping!
Did we like it enough to come back again? Hard to tell. Like I said, my only complaint is the lack of privacy. I like to sit outside and read or paint or have an adult beverage, and I don't want to be looking at my neighbors or feeling I have to make conversation, etc. I'd probably come back if my kids and grandkids were in the area, but otherwise, I prefer the Seaside, OR Thousand Trails park. Please don't consider this a negative review. This park ticked off most everything on my really, really want list. I guess I didn't realize how important privacy is to me.
July 20, 2018
BUDGETING AND AFFORDABILITY
There are multiple websites, blogs, Facebook pages, etc., devoted to full-time RVing. One of the questions that comes up often is "How much does it cost?", and the basic answer is,
If you are retired, your day to day life will not change much, except for the scenery. Most people will tell you that if you were a couch potato (such as me) before you started on your journey, you will pretty much stay a couch potato. If you are a "Let's do something" person, you will be finding things to do. If you are a hiker, you will look for places to hike. If you like to shoot pool (like my DH), you will find places that have pool tournaments or at least a decent pool table. If you like to eat out a lot, you will eat out a lot. Not much really changes, once you've eased yourself into the lifestyle. Most full-timers eventually have an A-HA moment where they realize they are not on vacation. You don't have to stay busy all the time. You dont have to see everything there is to see, do everything there is to do, experience everything there is to experience the first time you visit someplace new. It's nice to save a little something to do next time you travel through.
Some expenses never change. You still will have to pay for your vehicle insurance. If you have given up your home/condo/apartment, and live only in your RV, you will need "full-timer's insurance" as well. It may require that you do some investigation into companies that offer this option. We use Progressive, but I think Geico, The Hartford, USAA, and Good Sam are a few of the others that offer this coverage. You will want coverage for personal liability (if someone slips on your stairs, whacks their head on your slide, trips over your sewer hose, etc), replacement costs, personal property, etc. All this will replace your basic "homeowner's insurance".
You still have your medical insurance to pay for. This has become a big research project (and headache) for those of us who retired before we turned Medicare age, and even beyond. Things to keep in mind are monthly premium costs vs the likelihood that you need to see a doctor on a regular basis. We've been lucky in that we are both relatively healthy, and only require doctor visits twice a year. So far, no emergencies have arisen, but we have coverage should that happen. Don't forget to think about dental expenses as well. We have a separate fund set aside for medical/dental expenses on the road. It pays to be prepared because you just never know.
You need to factor in whether or not you have loans for your RV, truck, car, etc. Is there credit card debt? Most retired full-timers will recommend that you do your best to be debt-free prior to undertaking this lifestyle. It just makes things easier in the long run.
Other cost considerations include cell phone expenses (if you travel a lot, you will want to stick with Verizon or AT&T or both), internet coverage with your own wifi and router (it is rare that the coverage provided by RV parks, either free or for a fee, will come anywhere near your expectations based on what most people are used to), and satellite TV. How often do you plan to eat out? Are you particular about the type of food you eat?, (sometimes finding good or even decent organic foods on the road can be a challenge - expect to pay more than you would if you currently live in a large metropolitan area that offers these choices). Be sure to include in your budget for entertainment and clothing costs.
The two big expenses that will change with this new lifestyle are fuel costs and RV Park expenses. These costs change for everyone, depending on whether or not you have a gas or diesel vehicle. Do you want 5 star resort type RV parks, state or federal campgrounds, membership campgrounds? Will you boon-dock/dry camp in free areas such as BLM land? Again, it is research, research, research.
The other given is that once you make all these plans and budgets, as you get more experience and learn what you like or don't like, things will change. I personally prefer to over-estimate my expenses, and be surprised when I have money left over. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that this is a cheap lifestyle. Shit happens. Things break down and need repairing. Remember, you are living in a house on wheels, built on an assembly line, by who knows who. You are pulling or driving your home down bumpy roads, over mountain passes, on freeways and country lanes. Things will come loose, get broken, spill, etc.
So back to the original question. How much does it cost to full-time in an RV? It depends on you and your needs and desires. Just for reference sake, I would guess the average full-time RVer who travels to new spots two to three times a month spends between $2000 - $4000. This would not include the costs if you are paying back loans on your vehicles or rig. I can't say it often enough - DO YOUR RESEARCH! We spent a few years investigating the lifestyle, including practice months, before we jumped in and committed. As of this writing, we are eight months into the lifestyle and loving it.
Here are a few websites and blogs I used in my research:
Wheeling It (although this couple has sold their RV and are currently living in Europe, their blog has some really great information.)
Technomadia - (This couple enjoys life in their RV and on their boat.)
We're The Russos - (A third young couple who are full time RVers. They started out with a MH and have recently downsized to a camper van. I enjoy their blog and their You Tube Channel.)
Hitch Itch - This website lists many blogs and websites geared toward the RVing life style. Go and browse and see what you learn from all sorts of folks!
Don't forget to search You Tube! There is just a ton of research opportunities for your perusal.
And my last piece of advice, talk about contingency plans. What happens if you get out there, and just hate it? What happens if you (or your partner/travel companion) get sick? Talk all this stuff through. Although I'm not a fan of worrying or spending a lot of time thinking about "what if" stuff, a discussion about worst case scenarios isn't necessarily a bad thing.