A Glamping Guide to 3600 Miles to Oregon
Okay you have to hum the next verses to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies in your head as you sing the following verses to yourself…
Here's a little story about a girl with a Fro
Who drove 3500 miles with an RV in tow
Little did she know she would get caught in snow
A late storm that is
On the Donner trail in the high sierras...
Well first thing you know the story could have ended right there.
But she persevered showed up in Oregon no worse for wear
Oregon turned out NOT
The place she needed to be
So eight months later she packed up her truck and headed back East to Tennessee
Hills that is,
single malt whiskey...
This is a story of a meandering trip across the United States, the start of the Adventures of #WestwardFro, and then my becoming #TNFro. I will share my experience camping in Reno, late snowstorms in Donner’s Pass (Yes of the Cannibal Variety) It would be about tip warnings in Wyoming. It would be the breathtaking experience of the geyser, Ol' Faithful, of Yellow Stone and soaks in the Hot Springs of Arkansas. It will be about camping at the foot of the giant Redwoods and being corrected that the giant drive through tree in Leggett, CA is in fact a Giant Sequoia and not a Redwood by the cranky old manager of the KOA in Redwood CA.
This will be my first foray into tiny living, but with a twist. Because it is truly a DMV-approved vehicle, the restrictions of a tiny home you really don’t have to worry about. I have been a camper since 2005 when I pulled my first RV from North Carolina to Estes Park in Colorado. This trip was to be life affirming but was more grueling than it had to be.
On that trip, I rented a well-used Class C motorized RV through GoRVing.com and for most of my second trip out West would be a longer re-creation of that trip with a twist.
If you're going to buy an obnoxious Bubba truck in Texas, where everything is bigger, you engage the best car agent, Terry Hill, who will get you said Big Bubba Truck with an illegal lift and an engine to tow barn. Just sign on the dotted line.
It doesn’t matter if it won’t fit in your garage or anywhere on earth for that matter.
You get a travel trailer, a motorized hitch with a towing capacity from 10 to 15000 pounds with sway control to survive those winds with tip warnings across the Plains and ride out!
Beastla is too large to fit in my garage or on earth, but I love her!
Instead of the motorized Class A or C, I would get a refurbished travel trailer by Holliday, with an amazing kitchen, washer/dryer, retractable table, upgraded bath, and memory foam full mattress, with a motorized hitch for ease of connection with a sway bar for stability, and truly a home on wheels. If you buy an old rig or RV, and you know you are not going to resell, at least for a while, and with plans to live in, ball out, and make it your showpiece; make it your home!
The interior of your rig is made even more jolly with fresh cut flowers. Outdoor Hydrangeas were not safe from cutting west of the Mississippi River, while I was out there. The decorating of an RV in which you intend to live is about personal taste and functionality. There are space limitations, but what you do with the space to encourage brightness, stability, and happiness is key to survival in less than 26 feet of space for living. It's about finding small paintings and pictures, or even framing cards from well wishers. It's about rag woven rugs on the parquet floor and high tread carpet in the sitting and bedroom areas. It's about being obsessed with cleanliness, and ridding yourself from clutter as soon as the usefulness of an item is no more.
Having an end of the day regimen that promotes decluttering your space and your mind is relaxing also. The ability to soak in a tub or to take a hot shower without the threat of athlete’s foot or getting eaten alive by bugs makes the end of a long driving day most worth it. Therefore having a hot water heater with a minimum of 10 gallon capacity, and a combination shower and tub is a luxury that should not be overlooked or taken for granted.
Self sufficiency and a self contained home is what I lived in as I crossed the US. Part of that was the a combination washer and dryer confined to a small space, which is key to lessen the trial of making sure you have enough quarters to feed dryers that will never dry your clothes.
A real kitchen with a two-way refrigerator to stock adult libations, fresh fruit and vegetables for meals created on the go. A real propane stove is key to survival and eating well on the road. DO NOT depend on fast food for your sustenance. But still take a chance to experience local cuisine as much as possible.
Twinkle lights, an outdoor waterproof rug, a tie dye tablecloth and wind chimes are the props I used to personalize my outside space. I created a mobile, easily-stowed space that was welcoming but comfortable to write in, and to enjoy the few days of sun in the rainforest that is Oregon. It was my mobile oasis. I also had enough room for yoga, as well as a place to practice my putting. It was very easy and safe to leave my bicycle outside, but I wasn't crazy not to lock it to the picnic table. Crime generally is low in the RV parks, but vagrancy and petty thefts were actually high in Oregon due to drugs and high homelessness in Coos Bay. I say all of that, just as a subtle warning, don't let your guard down, and always be aware of your surroundings, and secure your belongings if you don't want them to grow legs and walk away—this is even applicable to propane tanks and other outside furniture.
I crossed the US by myself and camped in KOA and Good Sam Sites the entire trip. As stated before, I have been a member of KOA since 2005, 12 years before I bought my RV.
If I had known about the KOA #GetOutThereKOA contest, the KOA could have actually paid most of my fees going out West. There are other contests through #Outdoorsy and other reputable sites that can assist in a trip such as this. And if you wanted to assist others in transporting their goods #Roadie is another way to get paid while you drive.
American Made Cocktail Hour—Stop 1
My first stop was the Manchester KOA in Tennessee with a day trip to stock on the TN No. 27 TN Whiskey, for quality and premium American Whiskey at the evening's cocktail hour.
Tower of Gentleman’s Jack, Lord Help me, and where is the Coke?
This would last me almost 10 months until one of my guests at my Airbnb in NC decided to drink it all. This would be one of the many reasons why I ended my foray as host, but I digress.
ARKANSAS HOT SPRINGS—Stop 2
In spite of some shady moral issues with President Clinton, he did come from one of the most unexpectedly beautiful states in the South.
Ok being the bougie individual that I am, my suggestion is to check into one of the many hot spring spas in Hot Springs the Arlington.
One of the many spas on Bathhouse Row—and check out the pools at the Hot Springs National Park. Hot Springs National Park.
Another View of Hot Springs:
Just check in somewhere and take the water, because you will be camping another 3,000 miles, and why not?
Pull in early enough to dig for diamonds in Arkansas, and take another soak before you hit the road for your next stop.
Crater of Diamonds Arkansas:
Don't Drive Over 8 hours Per Day
I would know what exactly a tip warning is; in Wyoming you could get wind gusts up to 65 mph rolling across the prairie that have been known to tip over 18 wheelers. I find driving to be centering and Zen. But even I felt, after fighting the downdrafts all day, it is physically and emotionally exhausting. You just have to be mindful and take breaks and get uninterrupted sleep every night. You have to care for yourself while on the open road to keep alert.
You’re at the mercy of mother nature, but you appreciate the vastness and the power of the Creator.
The wind combines were taller than most buildings in the southeast.
There were hills and rock formations.
There is just such a majesty and beauty to all of that vastness.
Don’t rush, take the time to enjoy the big sky country of Wyoming, and even more impressive sunsets.
This would be the last sunset before I would get stuck in the late snowstorm and learn that my large tires with the 35 inch wheels were indeed snow tires that really didn’t require chains. At least that is what the chain tech told me at the chain station outside of Reno.
Donner’s pass, late snow storm (Yeah, of the cannibal persuasion).
Leave late enough to go further north and hit Yellowstone National Park visit the Crow Nation.
Camp Mammoth Hot Springs. This campground is bare bones, but has beautiful views. Having central heat, a private bathroom, and a real kitchen is necessary in this environment.
Picture from Upper Loop, Yellowstone National Park:
Yep, that’s Old Faithful:
Mount Rushmore, Our Tax Dollars At Work:
I drove through snow, and gully washers through Sacramento, and finally a rock slide.
To visit the drive through Giant Sequoia. Yes, my truck may have been a little big to get through, so I would have to drive around.
Not my ride, but you get the general idea.
Pacific Coast, First Glimpse
This was one of the last photo of my first view up close view of the Pacific as I got on the 101 on my way to camp at the KOA Journey Campground in the Redwood Forest.
Redwood Over My Campsite at Dusk:
Beastla in the Redwoods:
Goats at the Redwood KOA:
My route out west was circuitous, sometimes fraught with potential danger:
There is a solitary existence that you think you want by traveling and camping on your own, because it is you against the elements.
Sometimes on the road in small town USA, or in the mountains, or backwoods of Arkansas, Google is not your friend, and will steer you wrong on unmaintained logging roads if you’re not careful. Even with great coverage, there are places devoid of phone signals. You will not have a connection with anyone in your stream on any platform on social media. But when you do regain a signal, towards the end of an almost 4,000 mile trek to Oregon, this welcome sign is like a premonition to great things to come.
It was ok that I was not meant to work in my previous capacity as a nocturnal pediatric hospitalist in Oregon.
Stand of Redwoods on Hwy 101:
But the beauty I would witness, on the few clear days, is and was the best in the country.
Sunrise, North Bend Oregon—I lived and craved these clear days in Oregon.
Rainbow Over The Mill Casino RV Park, Pot of Gold Day:
Clearing of Rain Over The Bay, Coos Bay Oregon:
My trip would end with far too few clear days with sunlight coming up over the Bay at the Mill Casino in North Bend Oregon. It Rains 220 days a year, so you have to maximize your time in the daylight, get a great raincoat, hat, and crazy boots, and keep it moving!
Funky Rain boots:
Solo travel can be a solitary existence, but traveling and camping in this vast world is not. You battle against the elements, bugs, and 18-wheelers, but you keep going, looking for more to see and to learn. If you choose to live and camp in an RV, it requires dedication to the lack of privacy, space limitations, and solo traveling as a brown women with an Afro; a novelty on the road. Embrace the vast community of like-minded individuals, retirees, weekend thrill seekers, contract workers looking to live on their own terms outside of a hotel. You have to want this more than anything, and you must make it a sanctuary with comforts specific for you and no one else. Maximize your time where you are, and stay as dry as possible.
(Now again you have the instrumental of The Beverly Hillbillies theme in your head because this is the closing).
Well now is time to say goodbye to Felicia and her Fro’
And I would like to thank you guys for kindly dropping in
Please come back in a couple of days to this locality
To find out about all the shenanigans
And partake in the dream to travel all over the south.
Sit a spell,
Kick off your shoes,
Ya’ll come back now again Ya’ Hear!
Part 2: WestWard Fro’s Time In North Bend Oregon Camping at the Mill Casino, and How I won a month’s camping fees at the Casino!!
My Outside Space Game Day, The Mills Casino and RV Park.