Dear RV Shrink:
You said a couple of weeks ago you were headed home shortly. If you have already left, could you give us some idea of what you experienced travelling cross-country during this pandemic shutdown? We have been antsy to get on the road also but concerned it is not a smart time to travel. It has been so hot in the Southwest the last couple of weeks we are chomping at the bit to head north. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. —Itching to Move in Mojave
I assume it would be different for everyone, depending on how you like to travel in an RV. For us, it doesn’t seem all that different. Most towns we travel through seem almost “business as usual.” The biggest difference would be us. We have all the food we need, we only stop for fuel, and we mostly boondock, which is maybe the best way I can think of to social distance.
William Least Heat-Moon liked to travel the Blue Highways. According to my maps, those are actually today’s Interstates. We never use them. We drive the Red Arteries, the lifeblood of America’s Outback. Doing so we find wonderful places to camp that fit our lifestyle. We love nature, hiking, exploring and meeting lots of characters (except at this time we steer clear of them). We find all of these things in abundance along the Red Arteries.
One difference this year has been the campground closings – so it is really hit or miss. It differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Many Forest Service campgrounds have been closed and gated. Some BLM campgrounds we frequent have been closed while others were not. We call ahead if we can, but often we just get a recording and have to physically show up to discover the location’s status.
This situation has actually broadened our horizons. We have found some real gems that we have passed up during normal years because we’re forced to try a new compass setting.
From Arizona to Michigan we usually just zig-zag our way across America’s breadbasket. So many little towns have city, county and township parks that are beautiful, natural, welcoming and super reasonable. An average park with full hookups would be ten or fifteen dollars. They are all self-serve, and we are often the only guests. We are currently parked in Arapahoe, Nebraska, waiting out the Polar Vortex to the north and east of us to blow through. For $15 we have full hookups, a walking track, and our own family of foxes right out the motorhome window.
We also spent time in the National Grasslands in the Panhandle of Texas. Spring always offers so much wildlife, especially migration up the Central Flyway. If you use Campendium it is easy to find safe harbors to camp just off the beaten path.
We often use COE parks this time of year. Most are not officially opened early in the spring, but allow free camping with no facilities. This year we have found them gated and closed until further notice.
There is always Walmart if nothing else works out, but that is always a last resort for us. We use Walmart as a pit stop, but not during these times. It is our personal choice right now to not to go into stores. We have plenty of supplies and have decided to self-quarantine even during our travels.
We miss walking into all these cute, friendly towns we camp near and having breakfast in the morning with the locals, but this won’t last forever. Those days will return.
We haven’t noticed a huge difference in traffic flow. Our route exposes us to mostly farm traffic. Spring planting is gearing up, fences need mending, and the sap is rising.
I have always been afflicted with Spring Fever – this year has just added a whole new dimension.
Good luck and good travels. I think you will be fine with adequate planning and the ability to be flexible. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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