By Kasey Yanna
SPECIAL TO RVtravel.com
My husband and I decided to sell our home, buy an RV, and travel full-time. I had my fears. But I didn’t imagine something like the Coronavirus pandemic would cause a series of events that would leave us feeling abandoned and homeless three months later.
But two days ago, we were kicked out of an Army Corps of Engineers campground in California. We picked the campsite in a small town to stay away from the more populated cities and practice social distancing while the virus was spreading through California. But when the shelter-in-place order was handed down by the governor, the order didn’t accommodate full-time travelers staying at state and federal parks or campsites.
When a park ranger first knocked on our RV door to tell us about the possibility of the park closing, my husband explained that we, plus our toddler and two dogs, live in our RV full-time and were trying to shelter in place, where should we go? Her response: “The Flying J allows RVs overnight.” The Flying J. A gas station? Driving from a secluded park in the hillside to sleep at a gas station with frequent visitors doesn’t sound like the responsible (or safe) thing to do in the midst of a pandemic, but okay. Thanks for that.
So I began searching for nearby BLM lands, which often offer free camping, but didn’t find a spot close to us that could fit the length of our RV (32 ft.). That’s when I turned to RV parks, which we typically avoid because we prefer staying closer to nature. I, along with my husband and brother-in-law, called more than a dozen RV parks, only to hear “We’re all booked” more than a dozen times. When I finally reached a park that had availability, a rush of relief ran through my body.
But the relief was short-lived. While completing my reservation over the phone, the RV park employee put me on hold to answer another line. When she hopped back on my line, she had her boss on speakerphone. He proceeded to share that due to an email he had just received regarding the shelter-in-place order, they could no longer accept new reservations. The efforts to make people stay home and flatten the curve were kicking us out of one park and causing us to be turned away from another. My heart sank.
Will we be forced to sleep at a rest stop until we find a place to stay? Should we leave California and head to a state with fewer restrictions? Do we need to travel back to Texas to stay with family? We considered our options and the fact that our heater had just broken and needed to be repaired. Our solar panel system was also not working properly but the rain (and assumption that we wouldn’t be forced to leave our campsite) had kept us from troubleshooting that issue.
Thankfully, another RV park took us in. I sound like a desolate orphan that received charity, but this park actually charges 3–4 times the rate of the other parks that were all booked, plus the one that turned us away. And still, in this situation, money was almost useless. We were almost without a place to park our home.
During these unsettling times and despite our struggles to find a place to park our home, I know how fortunate we are to have food, shelter, and other necessities. Still, this is the first time I missed our old house — the one that was stationary, survived a tornado and offered a type of security that our RV does not.