Oh, we wanted to be camping as Fall fell in. But a sore back and visiting relatives moved to the front of the bus in early October and the rest of us are left back here with nothing to do but look forward. So look forward we have, in this case to next July, because next July is Explore the Oregon Coast month for Team Toto.
We know better than to cruise into Seaside or Cannon Beach or Newport unannounced, on a summer weekend, and think we’re going get a campsite anywhere other than next to the dumpster (if we get one at all). We learned this many years ago on a road-trip vacation to the Olympic Peninsula. Headed back down the coast side, Miata, top-down, ah, an earlier life… convinced we could get lodgings whenever we got tired.
The helpful staff at the Lake Quinault Lodge showed us, essentially, an average-sized closet, with a bathroom down the hall, for I think $1,200 a night. We drove on.
Seaside, Oregon — a wonderful little beach town littered with No Vacancy signs. We had to backtrack to Astoria and stay in a B&B — you know, the kind where you actually have to talk with strangers over breakfast no matter how little coffee you’ve had — hidden in a middling hillside neighborhood. Not my Miata dream, but at least we were as comfy as a lumpy mattress and dusty old furniture could make us.
Yeah so we know. Make reservations. And with Oregon State Parks, which we have determined to be reliably above average, one can reserve nine months (to the day) ahead. Scratch that — one MUST reserve nine months (to the day) ahead if one wants to avoid the aforementioned dumpster-view sites.
July, did I mention July? We chose July because we learned this year how much we enjoy Fiberglass Trailer Rallies. The people are great, the venues have been consistently top-drawer, and for once in our lives we feel just as tall as everyone else. No more being the shortest guy in class, in Professor glasses, having to explain why it looks like he’s wearing his father’s clothes. Oops, rathole, sorry.
Next July will be the 14th annual Oregon Coast Gathering of Fiberglass RVs. I admittedly don’t know all that much about the history of the event, but if it’s been going for nearly the entire current century there must be some appeal there. We will find out.
The OCG is held at Bullards Beach State Park outside of Bandon, Oregon (south/central coast). It’s too far to drive in one day. And we have friends and relatives who live on this very same coast. And we have been invariably enjoying our various trips to various beaches. So, a trip down, and then back up, the coast. As things are shaking out so far, we will visit Nehalem Bay State Park, Beachside State Recreation Area, the big do at Bullards Beach, and then meet friends from California at the south end’s Harris Beach State Park near Brookings.
We will not cross the border into California, and I’m not saying why. Once we’ve relived old, good times with our friends at Harris Beach, we’ll head back north, stopping at Sunset Bay State Park (near Coos Bay), and then…
Well and then the rest isn’t reserved yet. I’ve been poised with trembling fingertips above an array of keyboards every few mornings, ready to stab at the “reserve now” button on the Reserve America <TM> site in attempts to snag pre-identified campsites coveted for their views or spaciousness or safe distance from playgrounds or other alluring attributes.
We have a plan, but it keeps shifting. We were going to stay at Cape Blanco State Park for our first northbound stop. But I learned late in the game that Cape Blanco doesn’t take reservations — it’s all first-come first served. Should we count on getting a site? Uh, see above. So, Sunset Bay instead.
The current plan calls for a northbound stop at Beverly Beach State Park, and then we’ll head inland for a few days at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park before going home. The Stewart park has a disc golf course and therefore is a must-visit destination. (I haven’t tried disc golf, but I want to.)
Trusty resources I use to identify campgrounds and campsites ahead of time include:
- RVParkReviews.com. Enough people visit here to make their average rating statistically significant, in my opinion, but note: a last-minute course schedule change at my undergrad school forced me to forego Statistics class, even though my degree required it. So I really have no idea, right?
- Campsitephotos.com. Yes… photos of most of the campsites in the known universe.
- Tripadvisor.com. Great for entertainment value. Review quality highly uneven, but sometimes there’s a gem of a campsite recommendation.
- Google maps — because all the other resources might not show you that strip mall or 10-lane freeway that’s just across from half the campsites at your chosen park.
It is a true fact that, after careful research using the above, it’s still easy to end up in a lame campsite. Nothing beats being there to judge for yourself. But that’s okay — no need to remove all the adventure and mystery from travelling. And even the lousiest campsite might be next to someone who cooked too much pulled pork and is giving it away. It could happen.
I do have one question I’d appreciate help with, around the Reserve America Internet Latency issue. So, for Oregon State Parks, the nine-months-to-the-day reservation window opens up at 8 AM sharp. But there is my 8 AM, and then there is yours, and of course there is Reserve America’s. I haven’t yet identified precisely how long I should wait after the time on my laptop flips over from 7:59 to 8:00. Ten seconds is too long — the way-cool site you wanted is gone. One second is too short — Reserve America still says “Not yet, Bub!” and then by the time I can re-submit my request the way-cool site is once again gone.
Maybe it’s 1.73 seconds. Maybe that’s optimal. I dunno. Maybe it varies, depending on Internet Latency, a term I’ve recently read about and can’t get out of my mind.
Anyway. It is a time of planning, and planning and booking is half the fun, and can even involve slightly raised blood pressure readings around 8 AM. Fascinating. For fun, though, we also just planned something almost last-minute, by our standards: three nights at nearby Belfair State Park to experience Thanksgiving during the statistically rainiest week in western Washington. Turkey TV dinners in the TotoLounge! Can’t wait.
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