018: RVing up in La La Land…or summer camping season COVID-19 style!

Spontaneity and freedom are key attractions to travel by RV. That’s what we signed up for when we sold our house and excitedly began life as full time RVers in November 2018. Then COVID-19 hit in March of this year and the world as we know it disappeared in the space of a just a few days!

Since embarking on this permanent escapade, Mark and I have a saying—more like a motto really: “It’s all part of the adventure”. This mindset has helped us weather some unpleasant episodes to date. But as we’re collectively realizing by now, no matter what our life circumstances are, confronting life in corona virus time is putting us all to the test.

So for what it’s worth, this is how this early new-normal life is affecting us thus far. First and foremost, we are among the lucky ones… we’re in good health and have been able to stay put in our winter RV resort without an issue. But summer beckons and it’s high time to leave the desert for cooler temps!

What’s in store exactly?  No one really knows. Uncharted territory all this is! This summer, with more vehicles on the road and COVID-related capacity constraints in parks varying from state to state, some serious advance planning is required. This is not the season to wing it!  To make matters more challenging, the mainstream media backed up by sleek advertising campaigns by RV rental companies—are now touting the ‘safety advantages’ of traveling in your very own rig for summer vacations #RoamOutside  As a result, RV sales and rentals are going through the roof right now…!

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Pre-corona virus time, decently equipped RV parks/campgrounds were already in short supply. Anecdotally, I think it’s fair to say that a large percentage of privately-owned campgrounds have not—shall we say… evolved with the times; for most of these parks it means no significant upgrades have been done since the 1970s. Indeed, it’s often the subject of jokes among full time and frequent RV users when we start comparing notes on some of the worse ‘ones’ out there. It becomes a sort of one-upmanship game as to who has been to the worse of them all!

Traditionally, government managed campgrounds (National Parks, State Parks, Forest Services, etc.) usually offer great locations and sites at affordable prices; however, due to COVID-19, most of these are still closed or operating at reduced capacity.

For example:
 1F7C6680-CBF9-4382-A909-548E890D270F_4_5005_c  California State Parks announced today the temporary closure of all campgrounds in the state park system to support state and local efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Of course, there’s always boondocking. Lots of campers love to boondock (the term refers to off-grid camping in the wild with no connection to electric, water or sewer services). Our own experience with boondocking has been mixed so far. Often access areas to boondocking spots are unpaved and pothole-ridden, making it challenging for a 32’ motorhome to thread safely. Smaller rigs or camper vans fare much better on that front and indeed boondocking is very popular especially with folks who vacation a few weeks at a time. There are many different types of boondocking—too numerous to mention here—but while it’s still something we do from time to time, it’s not a lifestyle we’ve been able to completely embrace. We’re way too attached to urban ‘on-grid’ living, with unlimited access to air conditioning! Different strokes for different folks!

In our 18 months on the road we’ve experienced them all! We try to aim at staying somewhere in the middle!

The best of boondocking:                                           The worse of RV park site:

So what now indeed?

Well, a few weeks ago, Mr. Bond pointing to the West Coast, we checked in at Hollywood RV Park in Van Nuys, a neighbourhood northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Its location is on Balboa Boulevard is right by Van Nuys Airport, close to several movie studios and to UCLA Oncology Center.

Travel life pre-COVID days: We weren’t paying much attention to an RV park because, outside of the precious hook up services, we never used any other amenities, preferring instead to use it as a base to explore far & wide with the Jeep.

Travel life during COVID days: Even though at the time of this writing, restaurants, bars and retail stores are slowly reopening, wandering and exploring the way we like to do are still limited activities. However, thanks to the Los Angeles edition of Atlas Obcura, “the definitive guide to the world’s hidden wonders” which I recently discovered, there are still plenty to see & do.

In closing and speaking of world’s hidden gems, a word about where we’re staying now, at the definitely quirky Hollywood RV Park. So cute!

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Proud proprietor Steve has owned Hollywood RV Park since 1974, though it’s been in operation since 1947. Over the years, he’s done a great job at keeping the park sparkling clean with updated amenities while channeling Old Hollywood vintage paraphernalia, complete with cool wall art adorning the campground narrow lanes (some of the visual arts are by creative tenants happy to oblige in between movie studio gigs.)

The park has an eclectic mix of residents, among them pilots, nurses, movie artists and artisans but also cancer patients in town for chemo treatments. A very special community made that much more special as we’re living through these new-normal times.

Streets are named after famous LA movie or landmark, with wall art adorning the name.

Some of the long time resident rig set ups wouldn’t be out of place in a Sunset magazine issue, don’t you think?

Our ‘street’ at Hollywood RV Park

Next destination? Central California, specifically Paso Robles, Central CA Wine Country. Ah but wait a minute… this is also forest and brush fire season in California. Already, firefighters are at work putting a brush fire out in Avila Beach, near San Luis Obispo just south of Paso Robles – so anything can happen!  It’s all part of the adventure… I guess!

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3 Comments

  1. I love every single one of your blogs Johanne, however THIs ONE I’ve been waiting for. I think of you both often, wondering where you are and what you’re up to. The pandemic has magnified those thoughts for me, along with the current political climate. Stay safe, be well and keep on keeping on. Love you both. ❤️

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