Our 400 Mile Odyssey OR/ Don’t Believe Everything You Write On The Internet

A stiff drink after a long, long day

I really hadn’t expected to walk into an empty RV park and be told there were no spaces available.

Really???” I questioned, scanning over the 150 or so sites I could see that were quite obviously free

“Yes, we have a fair starting this week-end so I have 50 rigs coming in today and 150 rigs coming in tomorrow” stated the woman matter-of-factly

“Well, if that’s the case you must have at least one space free for us tonight” I said, running the numbers in my head

“Oh no, we have absolutely no spaces free at all” responded the woman, barely glancing at the reservations list “especially not for something your size” she added, in a rather derogatory fashion I thought

“Really???” I managed to repeat myself, staring in bewilderment at the huge lot with spots that ALL seemed to fit our size.

We were at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds and clearly this woman didn’t like the way we looked or she was just being plain difficult. Either way it didn’t seem worth it to spend the night with such ungracious hosts. I went out to Paul to break the news, we looked at each other and simultaneously broke out “We need to get the *!@@ out of Sacramento!”.

A good end to a forgettable day

Thus began the longest drive in the RV we have ever done. This was rather ironic too, having just answered a bunch of comments on the blog only 2 days ago about how far we usually drive (typically no more than 150 miles) and the fact that we’ve never, ever exceeded 350 miles in one day. Just goes to show you can’t believe everything you write on the internet, no mater who it’s from.

We weaved out of the freeway nightmare maze that is Sacramento, pointed the rig north and aimed for oblivion. My goal was somewhere peaceful and green where we could just hang out and forget this day. I consulted my trusty uscampgrounds.info app, found a forest service site that seemed to fit our size and plugged in the destination. A mind-boggling 400 miles later (that would be end-to-end) we arrived exhausted and crabby to the campground.

Oh thank goodness! A site that fit our size (just barely mind you, but “fit” is a relative term with “the beast”), lots of green and trees, tweeting birds, calming breeze and a stiff rum & coke. We kicked back into the green, raised our glasses to the sky and thanked the travel gods for getting us here. All was right again with the world.

We’re spending a coupla days hanging out at our new, lovely destination before we head on up to Shasta. It’s a far cry (in a very good way) from what would have been 2 crowded days in the big city. Call it fate or dumb luck, despite breaking all our travel rules we ended up in a much better place. And now I can say with all honesty, firm conviction and absolute certainty that we never, ever drive more than 400 miles in a day. Remember, I wrote it down on the internet so it must be true.

THIS is the place we were looking for. Hiking and green near Red Bluff, CA
Yes we fit, oh yes we do
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  1. says

    Maybe you should have sent Paul into the first place. Also, it’s not dumb luck to find a place, I think it is the synchronicity of the road. Don’t you just love California? I sure do.

    • libertatemamo says

      What, are you saying he has more charm than I do….:)
      But you do have a point. If he’d gone in I could have blamed him for the result….sneaky, sneaky…

  2. says

    All’s well that ends well. It’s good you ended up someplace you liked better.

    Plenty of people disagree with us on this, but your experience is exactly why we like to call ahead and make reservations before we show up anywhere. That’s especially true in popular areas or around holiday weekends. We tried floating around without reservations early in our travels, and tried again this winter while backpacking through Central America. After getting shut out of some places we really wanted to go, we decided it wasn’t worth it – at least to us.

    • libertatemamo says

      The irony of all this is that we actually DID call ahead. The woman claimed she wasn’t able to get through to our number. Also it was very clear that she could have put us up for one night if she wanted (150 rigs coming in the next day…and not a single spot open for that night….really??). Anyway, like you said all’s well that ends well. Most of the rest of our summer spots are booked so we shouldn’t run into this problem again.

      • says

        Oh wow. Reminds me of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry busts a gasket over the difference between “taking” a reservation and “keeping” a reservation.

        I, too, just got a call from a campground saying they were going to give my spot away for this coming holiday weekend. Good thing I had cell service.

  3. says

    Oh those days are just so sucky. That’s when a good stiff drink will make the world right. Well, Sacramento’s a hole anyways, enjoy Northern CA, it’s so much nicer up there!

    (hard to believe it’s so ht where you are…right now we are freezing and buried under 3″ of snow at a campground near Leadville CO!)

    • libertatemamo says

      Yeah, actually we were surprised at how FEW RV options there are in Sacramento. Not an RV friendly city at all!! And up north is MUCH nicer.

      3″ of snow, huh! Well you guys are up at ~10,000 feet. I could totally use some of that cold right now.

    • libertatemamo says

      I did link to it in the blog, but I’ll repeat it here. It’s the Cal Expo (the fairgrounds in Sacramento). We were trying to stay at the RV park there. Unfortunately it’s one of only a few options in Sacramento.

  4. says

    Clearly an unhappy woman was working there that day. Once you got to a much nicer place and got half a rum ‘n’ Coke into you, you could probably feel compassion for her unlucky lot in life.

    And, man! Isn’t pulling into your spot and breaking out the liquor the best feeling ever?

    • libertatemamo says

      The rum and coke did make everything look alot rosier. And yes, breaking out the liquor when you get to a new spot is the best thing ever.

  5. positiveclarityCathy says

    I can tell you I live up the road from Sacramento in a very very friendly area called Apple Hill :) lots of farms and fruit stands.So next time bypass Sacramento esp the fair grounds! I only go down there in the car and only when I have to go to the airport no other time!
    There are plenty of forest area up here though and lots of you pick fruits

    • libertatemamo says

      Cheers for the tip! Paul and I both decided we’re going to avoid Sacramento at all costs in the future. Just doesn’t seem worth it. It’s nice to have the option of staying somewhere else, so we will DEFINITELY look into Apple Hill for our next time through.

  6. Len Schattler says

    Nina & Paul,
    Remember the old adage…’Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, and gets you a good 400 miles (end-to-end) away from the idiots who still live and breed in our perfect world!’ lol


  7. Jim says

    Never say never…lol… We also try to keep it below 200 miles b4 stopping, most times… this trip we stopped at Harris Ranch ( free) for the night… refueled, had dinner.. very nice location for the nite.. then Red Bluff also, but stayed at Durango RV Park… (part of Passport America ) Sitting in Mcminnville, Or visiting the Grandkids these last 3 weeks… we so enjoy your posts….

    • libertatemamo says

      Durango RV Park looked like a nice, convenient stop-over -> great to know it’s PA. Also didn’t know about Harris Ranch. This is the one in Coalinga, CA, right? Fab to know you can stop there for free. Another great tip to add to the list of spots to overnight on I-5.

  8. says

    If you aren’t committed to a CG yet near Shasta area, Mtn Gate RV Park ranked up with The Orange Grove, and more shade! Wi-Fi bumpy, only complaint, in the afternoons. 15 mins to Redding, 10 mins to Shasta Dam and Lake Shasta Caverns. Deer walking up to pasture right next to you.

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh thanks! We did book our site here (memorial day week-end and all) so we’re currently in a very nice Forest Service Site up on the lake. But I’ll write your tip down and check it out.

  9. says

    I felt compelled to comment again as we are sitting here, enjoying a beautiful day in SD, and a healthy glass of zin (emphasis on the word healthy). Terry has just finished reading your post and we are chuckling (ok, we are downright laughing) as we are picturing you standing in front of the less than friendly campground host as she is explaining that “there are no rooms at the inn”. Terry then looked at his log of our longest day on the road ( a nightmarish day in Iowa when we arrived after dusk to try and inspect appropriately sized sites for our rig), as we felt certain that we had traveled almost the same distance in one day. We were feeling your pain (ok, right about now I am feeling no pain) and discovered that we had only traveled 316 miles for our longest day. It only felt like 400. Ok, you win!

    • libertatemamo says

      Well, not sure I want to win that award LOL….but glad I could give ya a chuckle. Hope the holiday week-end isn’t too crazy down at San Elijo.

  10. Jerry G says

    If you get stuck near Sac again, there is a Camping World in Rocklin. The people are very nice and the front of the store faces the highway, soooo I’f you go around ‘back’, all the highway sound is blocked, and it is just a short distance off 80. Lots of varied shopping nearby, REI, ORVIS, Banks, and restaurants, etc.

    • libertatemamo says

      You know Camping World was one of the “freebie” choices I had written down, but unfortunately it was too hot and we were looking for hookups for the animals. It’s good to know it’s a decent stop though. If we’re ever forced to stay in Sacramento again (and I hope we aren’t), then it’ll be back on the list.

  11. Jeff and Cheryl says

    While in the Mt Shasta area I’ve a suggested must see. There is a mountain stream a few miles off the interstate that will take your breath away and will eat up huge amounts of memory on your camera memory card. Best way to find this place is to put this address in your GPS: 4239 W A-Barr Rd, Mt. Shasta City. The address is an RV resort but not one you would likely want to stay at. Two or three miles or so past the address you will come on the stream, on your left. Follow the road up. Last year, we hit snow about 5 miles after we got to the stream.
    BTW our longest drive has been from Mountain Gate RV resort just north of Redding to Chowchilla, just over 360 miles IIRC.

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh thanks for the tip! I will map it out and see if we can get there.
      And as for you drive, I know exactly which stretch you’re talking about! Our drive was all the way from Bakersfield to Red Bluff so we went thro’ both those towns.

  12. says

    Late to the party here, as usual. Just wanted to say, I couldn’t figure out why you were hanging around in California in the first place? But that’s purely from the viewpoint of an outsider. Quite happy to be that outsider too..

    • libertatemamo says

      Well we had a good reason to stay there (and unfortunately it was linked to the unhappy event that I wrote about on the blog a few weeks ago). It’s still not something I’m able to write about…too many emotions around that one. In the end we did manage to enjoy our time, but it was a long, long stay and we’re very happy to be back on the road.

  13. says

    Nick Russell ran into exactly the same problem where he is. Was told that there were no spaces available. He just didn’t leave…there were extremely high winds affecting his decision to stay. Last we heard, he’s “squatting” on the site for a couple more days until the wind dies down! But sorry you had to leave and do the miles. Eldy loves to drive but I agree that 400 miles is tough on everybody all the way around, and he only drives 55 mph, so it takes us longer to get somewhere!

    • libertatemamo says

      Well if I’d been feeling more stubborn I probably would’ve done a similar thing LOL.
      Unfortunately CA speed-limit (with a tow vehicle) is 55 mph, so the drive was very, very long indeed.

  14. bob says

    I was the one who started the whole discussion a few days back regarding upper driving limits so had to laugh when you posted about the 400 miles. Glad you made it through. After weighing our options we’ve decided to do a 350 mile one day drive next week (Phoenix to North Rim of Grand Canyon). Will start around 4:00 am to avoid heat pulling out of Phoenix (our home) and will take multiple stops. While rum and cokes don’t wait for us at the end of our journey, we will embrace the cool pine air when we arrive. Pleasant journeys to you..

    • libertatemamo says

      I found it so funny that we drove those 400 miles right after that whole discussion. Should be lovely at Grand Canyon this time of year. Enjoy your trip!!

  15. Dave says

    Sorry to hear of having to deal with a sad individual who is so in the wrong field of work. Last fall when we were heading south for the winter we traveled 652 m in one day in order to get ahead of a winter storm in Utah. So we feel your pain.

    • libertatemamo says

      Wow!! My goodness 652 miles -> You take the cake, the icing AND the cherry on top with that drive! Nina

  16. Caroline says

    I am very late to this party but just had to add our 737 mile day to your comments section. We towed our 30 foot RV up to my daughter’s wedding since the small town had no rooms left to stay in. We had good roads and switched off driving but it was a very, very, long drive.

    • libertatemamo says

      Wow that’s a SERIOUS drive!! Sure hope we never have to do a day-haul like like, but glad to hear you made it thro’ OK.


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