I read somewhere that pilots of small planes are always on the lookout for where they could land in an emergency: a country road, an open field, or similar spots. The last few weeks, I’ve felt a bit like that, changing plans as the weather has changed (from bad to worse…) as I travel down the west coast. I thought it might make an interesting post to talk about changing things when Plan A doesn’t quite work out, so I’ll cover two situations here.
Situation 1: Campsite Woes
The spot looked great on the website when I was making the reservation. Sunny so I could use my solar panels (no hookups available, which is fairly typical for California State Parks), and a long enough driveway to fit my rig. This is the site I thought I had reserved.
But…. when I showed up, no bueno. The site turned out to be what is referred to as a double, two sites side by side with no space between them. And the other site was full up with a big trailer, a big pickup and a dog run set up right to the edge of their site. Oops.
Three years ago, I would have bit my lip, moaned a bit, and backed in and stayed there for four nights. But I’ve learned a few things in my vagabond travels and one is that there is usually a better site to be had, especially if the park isn’t fully booked up. So I drove around, noting two sites that did not have “reserved” tags on them and then stopped at the camp hosts’ site to talk to them about switching. They said it was good for the one night and I could talk to the ranger in the morning about the other three nights. I pulled into the new spot and checked on the website to see it wasn’t reserved for the rest of my stay.
Next morning, I had a nice chat with the ranger who completely understood the double site situation and came by an hour later to tell me I was good to stay in that new spot for the rest of my stay. My new spot was quiet, even if it had zero solar and I had to haul out the generator after the first few nights (which was actually day 4 of zero solar between here and the redwoods camping).
Lessons: Keep your cool, scope out possible sites, be nice to camp hosts and rangers, and never give up!
Situation 2: Weather Woes
I had reserved twelve nights on the California coast: six nights in one place, six in another. But the weather turned windy and rainy and cold, with my weather apps sending me wind warnings and gale warnings and flash flood watches. all of which didn’t bode well for warm or sunny weather. And none of those twelve nights had hookups (see earlier comments about California State Parks…)
I got onto Campendium, where I spotted a family-oriented RV park that a friend had stayed at a few times. Jumped over to their website to check availability and someone had apparently JUST canceled their Thanksgiving week so I scooped up those six nights. Twice the price of the state park, but with a more sheltered location, plus electric and water and even a laundromat. And did I mention the fast, free wifi?
By Day 4 of my stay, the weather had gotten worse. I was feeling those wind gusts shaking my trailer, even though I was a few miles inland from the coast, and the rain was almost constant. I decided to see if I could extend my stay and walked over to the campground office. Sure enough, three more nights were available, so I paid for those, then worked with a really nice agent at the California State Parks reservation line to cut my next campsite from six nights to three. I can do three rainy nights, especially since friends are joining me for the long weekend. We can always stay warm and dry in Alto-land, telling stories and drinking wine!
Lesson: Sometimes paying more is worth it. Especially in winter.
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
8 thoughts on “Vagabond Life: Having a Plan B”
Very glad that you’re not only ok, but doing well, yes!! Hope that you made your special December date.❤️
Love reading your Alto insights! So helpful. Can’t wait to get ours in April.
Informative post. I’m wondering, when are your “weekends?” Seems the on-site planning and actual driving is your “day job” and takes up a few hours. Hopefully, there is time during those 3 or 6 or 9 days stops you can actually hang out enjoying the location/friends/etc.
See, Annie! PlanB is always a good thing!! :):):)
I think I know that pilot who told you to always be on the lookout for a landing spot. Glad you found alternatives,and even gladder you learned to look for them. I think it’s going to be raining for the forseeable future. Hope it dries up for your visit here.
A very interesting and informative post. Even though I only aspire to a few months on the road, the lessons here are for more than camping. Also, love the quote from Eisenhower.
Thank you, Annie, for your insights. We are about 3 years away from retirement and are thinking about an Alto, but we first need to think about whether or not we are “camping” (Ish) people. We need to do a lot more reading on so many subjects. I need to understand all of the expense and logistics and whether or not we can find the kind of experience we are hoping for, etc. Thanks for being a practical resource and sharing your adventures! Happy holidays. J. Fitzgerald
Thanks for reading, and for leaving a commment. I am working on a “how much does it cost?” kind of post, but it’s not a quick or easy subject to cover. You may want to think about renting one of those RV things for a few weeks, see how you like it, and what you do and don’t like about the experience. There are almost as many ways to RV or vagabond as there are people doing it, I think 🙂