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Eleanor’s view on “full hookup camping”

I have to tell you, I absolutely LOVE having a full hookup camp site. It means I don’t have to worry about things like taking a shower and washing the dinner dishes in the same evening because of the grey tank capacity. With water & electric only sites, we will use the showers at the park – if provided. I also tend to prepare “one pot” meals and use paper plates & bowls to minimize the dirty dish load. But with W/E/S I can let my culinary skills loose. Not just because I don’t need to be concerned about the number of dirty pots, pans, & dishes, but because campgrounds that offer W/E/S are usually within or just on the outskirts of a major city. That means I can purchase local specialty foods and have a grand time cooking in the kitchen. With full hookup the Airstream truly is a house. (It’s always a home.)

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“Campsites” at Bolsa Chica State Beach, near Los Angeles

What I don’t like are those “RV Resorts” (and I use this term as loosely as the proprietors of said places) that offer the amenities of full hookup at the expense of nature. There isn’t a tree or shrub to be found and the closest thing to wildlife is the dog in the Class A 10 feet to the right. The goal of these “parks” is to cram as many RV’s as possible onto an expanse of asphalt next to a major highway near a major city and then throw in a laundry and club house so it can be called a resort.

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Is this a camping experience, or a resort? Neither.

Don’t take what you just read in the wrong way. Some – albeit, too few – RV Resorts are what they claim to be – resorts. They offer restaurants, heated pools and spas, play areas for the children, some natural shade (though manicured and manipulated), a guest laundry, fitness center, gift shop and general store. They are basically a high end hotel where you provide your own “guest room”.

The one we are at in Tucson offers all of the above plus patio furniture and a fruit bearing citrus tree at each of its 384 sites. Also a library, public restrooms & showers, propane grills, meeting rooms and a convention hall. The RV Resort we stayed at in Benbow, CA for Thanksgiving offered free WiFi, and its own 18 hole golf course. These are but two great places to stay with your Airstream if you desire what I call “the Ritz experience”. It’s obvious that for a lot of folks, this is exactly what they are looking for. But I don’t need or want all that these real resorts have to offer.

What I desire is the convenience of W/E/S with the advantages of being in a natural setting. We have been to such places! There are some very lovely camping spots that offer full hookups and not at the expense of the trees. (not to sound like the Lorax) 🙂

Cherry Creek SP, CO offers full hookup and maintains an air of dignity. It is a great place to camp, with a huge playground, and a reservoir that allows swimming and boating. It has miles of walking and biking trails. Wildlife is abundant – we saw great horned owls, jack rabbits, mule deer, coyote, and magpie. All this in Denver!

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Full hookups at Cherry Creek State Park, Aurora CO

When we camped near Santa Barbara, CA at Carpinteria State Beach, our full hookup site was less than 50 feet from the ocean and even though we were parked on asphalt, we were also parked under trees. We had shade, the sound of the waves and a view of the water.

In Anza-Borrego Desert SP, CA the Palm Canyon campground is in the desert. There we had the benefit of evening Ranger talks, fabulous hiking, tons of wildlife including Big Horn Sheep and hummingbirds, and our full hookup site had palm trees, desert flowers, cactus and an incredible 360 degree view.

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Full hookups at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Unfortunately, these fabulous campgrounds are few and far between. It is painful to acknowledge that more than not, the only full hookup campgrounds available are no more than a barren stretch of land with W/E/S. We have found ourselves in one or two of these places also, and having experienced both is why I think I abhor the latter so.

You see, I know we don’t always have to give up the wonders that nature has to offer to be able to get the benefits that man can supply.

7 Responses to “Eleanor’s view on “full hookup camping””

  1. Krista Says:

    Eleanor – you sound like both my parents. The people who own the airstream. I agree with you. However, I am the guilty party that likes to be where the action is – to a point. I like you like the view, the water and the greenspace . . but sometimes I want to be where somebody can hear me yell if I need help. I can dry camp for several days . . . I can pace walk to the state park restrooms . . . but I really love not paying attention to how much water I run when in the shower. You just cannot shave the legs properly with very litte water! I enjoy the blog . . .from a woman’s point of view! Krista

  2. 3ms75argosy Says:

    Eleanor – those sites in CA and CO that you picture are what I have in mind – and I have to admit that the parking lots (oops, resorts) that are pictured are NOT my cup of tea. I am a bit surprised, as I’ve read of some Resorts, and they seemed much nicer than what is pictured – that’s why I love it when people post pics of where they stay. It is a shame that lots of State Parks (the ones on the west coast come to mind) USED to have full hookups, but because of shrinking budgets, turned off a lot of their hookups to save money.
    Thanks for the views!

  3. Mark Johnson Says:

    Speaking of your culinary skills Eleanor, have you considered writing and publishing (since you live with a publisher)an updated Airstream cookbook? I’m sure there are things that you’ve tried that many of us haven’t, and found what works well and what doesn’t. Just a thought. Mark

  4. wheel interested Says:

    Hi Eleanor, great to read your comments. I feel the same way as you do (except I can’t cook like you!!!) The best of both worlds is a beautiful site yet still being able to wash and clean freely and use all the lights, including the patio lights, then to sanitize your system right on location at your leisure instead of driving over to a station and having to rush through the process.

    It is amazing at the kind of 5 star rated places there are, sometimes you wonder what they were thinking. If you don’t use all those special amenities the lower rated campgrounds are often less crowded and prettier.

  5. Eleanor Says:

    HI Mark
    I can cook but I can’t type. I would love to put together my own cookbook, but it’s really difficult to put things in writing while simultaneously being a mom & playmate. I keep losing the required thought processes. (oops – did I type 2 pounds – I meant two cups) 🙂
    It took me two hours to compose my post – no kidding! That’s mostly why I don’t post that often – I don’t have enough free time.

    Maybe when Emma is older… and I take a typing class…

    Thanks for the vote of confidence – it’s always appreciated.

  6. Jenna Says:

    Im so glad you posted the names of these sites. We used to do a lot of walk/hike in camping but now with 2 little girls and our 23′ Safari thats not in the cards. But I hate RV parking lots that are called “campsites.” Whatever! Im glad to hear that you have found some good ones. Keep ’em coming…

  7. Tin Sista (steph) Says:

    There’s something about full hookups in nice scenic places that make this mom’s heart sing anyways. We had a wonderful time with fullhookups at Huntington Beach State Park, in Murrell’s Inlet, SC great beach and fun for kids too! Eleanor your work as mom and teacher is very inspiring–home schooling looks grand the way you do it! Kudos!