Friday, December 8, 2023


The readers write: Fun (or not so fun) and games


Edited by Russ and Tiña De Maris

We often get piles of mail regarding a particular article that sets readers’ mental wheels spinning. In this installment we’ve also had some thoughts come in, not based on any particular story, but which still caught our attention. Here are a few to start.

Volunteers – or slaves?

Arthur Jacobson wrote, “We were RVers from 2009 to November, 2016. In our seven years owning two different RVs we volunteered or workcamped six of those years. Our experience taught us that many, many full timer RVers are older folks without either the desire or means to own a stick and brick home.

“In our travels we did find a few true nomads, RVers traveling from place to place for sheer enjoyment. Most of those we encountered were searching for a cheap place to stay. Volunteering gave them such places. For a certain amount of hours these folks, many of whom lived in “jalopy” RVs, stayed for many months or even years if permitted, in state or federal parks.

“My wife and I now know that there is no such thing as being a volunteer at one of such places. You are WORKING almost full time for no pay other than your spot. It was our experience that in every park where we volunteered the full time paid employees seem to become very scare while we were on duty. In our last national park the employees seem to be on break during our entire shift and several times even forgot we were to be relieved for lunch. We decided after our last ‘adventure’ that at ages 70 and 68 we not longer had the desire to be indentured servants. We sold the RV and its tremendous upkeep along with the toad. We are very happy to be back in our spacious (for us) stick and brick where we can spread out and not be on top of each other. We also feel that many of these parks permit homesteading by their volunteers, something that denies other RVers of the opportunity to have that kind of experience.

“To me volunteering in a hospital, dog shelter, etc, is ‘true’ volunteering and not an unpaid position. I now equate RV volunteering the same as those standing on corners holding signs ‘will work for food’.”

The downside of Boondocking

Many of our readers have suggested boondocking as an answer to RV park crowding. Reader “Kayaklake” begs to differ. “If you enjoy showering each day, starting off clean and reborn, boondocking doesn’t do it. And if you do not want the worry of finding sewer dump facilities, and locating fresh water, an RV park beats all the BLMs, LTVAs and Walmart lots. Boondocking is oversold and fine if you’re desperate for minimal cost and prefer avoiding others. But there is safety in numbers, another factor in favor of nice parks.

“Last, the call for smaller rigs is great while traveling or looking for national or state park sites, but staying in tiny rigs for six months or more is akin to living in a small, stuffy closet. When a small rig owner makes reservations at campgrounds, they all ask for length of your RV. Small RVs get the smallest, least desirable spot despite paying the same rate as the 45-ft Prevost across the way which is enjoying 2 to 3 times as much space and 50-amp service. The trade-offs are hard ones. Small RVs are sold as weekend-only units, or short trip vehicles. [Fulltiming] in one loses its novelty and owners soon long for Fivers, 36+ foot motorhomes, park units, or sticks-n-bricks housing. All come — if in nice campgrounds — with more space, privacy, and few worries about dumping and finding fresh water.”

Leaving the RV road . . .

Pete Almasi tells us, “Sad to say we are giving up on RVing after this season. We purchased an old RV put some money and sweat into it to be road worthy only to find out that to be able to book a site that you would enjoy requires one to take a day off work on the day the bookings open. And then be ready all the way up to your last computer stroke at the booking site, and hope and pray that you can perform all your key strokes within sixty seconds, or all the sites at your pick will be booked for the season and perhaps beyond.

“Thanks, but no thanks.

“We have decided to donate our rig to a young couple who have the time and patience to do so. Not to mention all the regulations coming out against RVers in general every year (ie. no filling L.P. tanks over ten years old). It was great the first year when we didn’t know better. Hotels, motels and resorts in one place and just go to as many of them as you can that time allows you to.”

. . . and on the other hand

Karen observes, “I like reading about positive experiences as much as anyone, but I would also be interested in reading about not-so-great camping experiences. Not because I’m “negative” or get off on schadenfreude, but because–like in life–it’s the challenges that strengthen our resilience and grow our character.

“Some of our less than stellar experiences: Lovebugs splattered all over our windshield; mosquitoes attacking us; being shoe-horned into a site at a sad mobile home park with a website that had deceptive photos taken OUTSIDE of the campground. But the positives have outweighed the negatives, which is why we still enjoy it. Shows like ‘[Buying RV’ are fun, mindless entertainment that sell a fantasy lifestyle, and it could well-be misleading and enticing people to impulsively buy something that will give them buyer’s remorse.

“It really shocked me to learn many owners of beautiful Class As have a monthly payment. We will happily keep our paid-off 28 foot travel trailer, which Poli Glo is keeping shiny after five years. I would also enjoy reading about amazing wildlife encounters, like seeing both manatees (a salt water mammal) and alligators (a fresh water reptile) swimming in the same body of water, or the time a mullet jumped in our boat! Or how about an article on how some campgrounds will only allow motorhomes and fifth wheels… or only RVs longer than 25 feet long… or only RVs 10 years old or less? I would be interested to hear their rationale for those rules.”

Don’t drink the water?

Finally, lest you think we only got “random” feedback this time, here’s a sample of the thinking yielded from the story, Would you dare drink the water at these RV parks?

From his experience, Dennis wrote, “In addition to bad facilities, I also witnessed a person drag his sewer hose up to the water spigot to rinse it out. The facilities at this park were first class but you cannot count out Stupid. After seeing that I carry a squirt bottle of bleach and spray everything before I hook up. You never know if there was an idiot in the place before you.”


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Patrick Granahan (@guest_6271)
6 years ago

The television programs like “Going RV” do tend to misrepresent the actual real world environment when the rubber hits the road.
They always picture nearly empty campgrounds often with delightful lakefront sites….good luck finding one !

These programs are designed to sell RVs and ignore the problems facing the RV camping public. More and more it is necessary to reserve campsites up to a year in advance in popular destinations.

Even as far back as the mid 1980s I can remember having to reserve my Yellowstone National Park campsite at Fishing Bridge campground in Yellowstone a full year in advance . Back then I maintained a daily journal of our family’s six week “Western National Park Vacation”.
I recorded the name and cost of every campground…prices ranged from a low of $4.00 a night to a high of $10 a night at commercial campgrounds.
The cost for gas was so low I failed to record any of the gasoline costs.

Times have changed…the RV world has become overcrowded….”campers” have gotten bigger and bigger…roughing-it has been replaced by “Glamping” in luxury rigs often costing $100,000 or more. The new entry level camper might as well stay at a resort hotel….real campers are now known as “Boondockers”.

I predict that there will be a glut of slightly used RVs on the market in the near future as Glampers discover their ideal private lakefront campsite was just a television set designed for “Going RV” by the RVIA to sell high cost luxury RVs.

Happy Camping !

Bob Godfrey (@guest_6267)
6 years ago

I began my “camping” life as a Boy Scout and loved it when I was young. Then after almost a year of sleeping on the ground soaking wet many nights with nothing more than a poncho liner to keep me comfortable(?) in Vietnam when we decided to travel the US we bought a used Class A 40′ motorhome after we’d sold our house for the comfort it would afford. It was our 1st and only rig of any kind and will probably be our last. We have enjoyed many things about the lifestyle but grow weary of all the negative comments from folks who dislike “big rigs”. This is a free country and anyone should be able to live in anything they desire…’s all about choices. We have been to 45 states and 8 Canadian provinces in the 7 years we have “lived the dream”. Yes, it’s getting more difficult to find “nice” campgrounds but we do not regret having made the choice to see this great big magnificent country and I would encourage folks to get out there and really “see” it up close and personal as they say because it is well worth the effort. It was on my bucket list to set foot in all 50 states during my lifetime and I have done so…….we have only 4 states remaining to have had the RV in all 49 states that can be visited by RV and we’ll probably get that done this year.

Get out there and just do it…….it’s worth it.

PeteD (@guest_6262)
6 years ago

I think RVers have different objectives when they buy their RV. Some want a luxury unit with all the comforts of home. They are content to stay in crowded campgrounds where they are hooked up to all the modern conveniences. They use their toad to sightsee. They are gone much of the day so the campground surroundings don’t factor in as much.

Others like the experiences such as Calvin’s, seeing the Milky Way in a dark sky, hearing forest critters and the sound of the breeze rustling in the trees and so forth. You can get just as clean with a washcloth and a basin of water as you can with a shower. Some of us actually enjoy a bit of roughing it. That is the escape for us. Personally, I could never tent camp but we have met many people who would go no other way. They get to places we can never go with our RV. I’ve watched them eating breakfast out in the pouring rain laughing and enjoying life. Many aren’t doing it because they can’t afford an RV. They do it because it’s what they enjoy.

We all need to remember we are all looking for our own adventure. All of us are members of the same community. I enjoy visiting with the retired aerospace engineer in his luxury motorhome as much as a couple who love to hike and sleep in a tent. We all have a story.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_6260)
6 years ago

We occasionally watch “Going RV” and agree that it’s very misleading for those who know nothing about RV’ing. I think it gives the impression that you hit an RV dealer, look at a couple trailers (or whatever you think you want), buy one, and life is good, living happily ever after as you explore America.

No mention of how much it costs to stay at RV parks, National Parks, or campgrounds of any kind. Then there’s fuel costs, need for a tow vehicle in case you don’t already have one, licensing the vehicles (which on some states is INCREDIBLE), maintenance and upkeep, and on and on.

Then there’s storage. If you can’t park it at your house, it’s going to cost you every month to store it. The farther from your house you store it, the less you’re going use it.

It’s not as easy as they make it look. Ya gotta LOVE it, or you’re doomed.

Calvin Rittenhouse (@guest_6253)
6 years ago

I want to thank Karen for the balanced view. I share the mosquito experience, and I learned from those. Many of my “good side” camping times are difficult to put into words. “You had to be there” is all I can say about some of my early mornings, seeing the Milky Way for the first time in many years, and similar times.

As far as the person who doesn’t like boondocking or smaller rigs, all I can say is those are personal choices. We have happy full-timers on my tent camping groups. Others seem to need houses of their own to sleep well. Everyone else finds some level in between those that suits them.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.