OK, I know many of you are disappointed in me, but I have compromised my principles and stayed at the Flagstaff KOA the last couple of nights. I needed to meet up with Mike Wendland and do some installation work on his satellite internet system, so we had to find a place in Flagstaff where we could do this. We ended up at the KOA.
There are a few dispersed camping spots nearby in the Coconino National Forest, but they involve dirt roads, and one thing you don't want to do is get stuck down a dirt road in the Southwest during monsoon season in an extremely heavy two wheel drive vehicle. Also, dispersed camping this near a metropolitan area attracts an entirely different crowd, as I saw driving in on Highway 89 from the north. It's a bunch of ancient trailers, passenger cars, and teepees – too wild even for my inclusive tastes.
And Flagstaff isn't all that conducive to overnight parking – they probably have heavy transient traffic, being right on I-40 and not that big of a town anyway, so the choices were slim. There were the county fairgrounds, were you can dry camp for $16 a night, so the KOA didn't look that bad by comparison. And at least at the KOA we wouldn't get rousted for crawling around underneath Mike's rig pulling wire and otherwise looking like we were some broken-down drifters. Such activity usually attracts law enforcement attention if you're in a public place.
So here i am, jam-packed into a strange artificial setting with a bunch of rookie campers. It affords one a number of amusing spectacles. I loved the people in the Rialta that pulled in yesterday, who went through the hour-long setup routine – dicker around with the leveling blocks, hook up to city water, electricity, etc. They probably used a total of five gallons of water the whole night, but managed to leak a few hundred gallons out onto the ground thanks to a bad connection where the hose connected to the camper. Oh well. Maybe they feel more secure hooked up.
Now I will admit that very long, very hot shower this morning felt really, really nice, and Fiona seems to love it here, so it's not all bad. I just feel out of place. People walk by and look at our prototype rig, but I haven't gotten one informed question about it yet. More experienced campers usually spot an intriguing detail and want to know more about it, but not the people here. A camper is a camper, even though if you look closely it seems to do a lot of stuff with no hookups.
They have these teepee things, way to big to be portable, and with wood platform floors, for people who don't have anything they can sleep in, but want to camp. And for the truly helpless, they have a “Kamp Kitchen”, a trailer serving breakfast, which you purchase and eat in their little outdoor patio thing. You can basically show up with a passenger vehicle and only your personal effects, and still camp here. Most curious.
I've gotten Mike's stuff squared away and picked up the packages at the UPS store I also needed to do, and we're ready to head back out to the national forest or some other isolated area. It's nice to see how some of the other camping community lives. I just don't think I could do it for very long.
By the way, Mike will have a full post and pictures on how to install a satellite Internet system in a small motorhome. And I'll be his guest in the upcoming Episode 48 of the Roadtreking RV podcast discussing the ins and outs of the technology.