Our Grand Adventure and Parking the Rig
RV Parking “on the Road”
Our Grand Adventure is moving along swimmingly. We have traveled from the Pacific Northwest down the magnificent coastline to Southern California. But a common problem with a big RV is parking. In a lot of the National Forest campgrounds, we are too big. In California, a number of the State Park campgrounds have signs, “No Trailers or Motorhomes”. That is, in the ones that are open during the winter. In California, posted rest areas allow overnight “rest”, not camping. Scenic overlooks are posted, “no overnight parking or camping”. However, in the National Forest along CA Pacific Coast Rte 1, a National Forest site host, with only short RV options available and night upon us, suggested to park in an overlook. So the rules appear to be different on federal land.
We had an experience the other day while visiting the town of Solvang, CA, that took the fine edge off a visit to their unique town. Solvang is a Danish-themed village founded in the early 1900’s as a base for a Danish school. The town is unique in its architecture, typical of what would be found in Denmark. Delightful shops and restaurants line the streets and invite tourists.
Solvang spends a good deal of money on advertising and for the most part the town lives up to its advertising. However, we encountered an attitude among a few of its inhabitants that left a bad taste.
I am not sure how you do your snooping and sightseeing when on the road. If we are towing, we do a combination. If we are staying in a nearby RV campground, we will off-load the Subaru and go cruising. Then we have the usual problems of anyone finding parking places. But if we are between campgrounds and decide to visit a place, like our trip to Solvang, we will run in with the full rig, 38 feet of DP with 20 feet of trailer hanging off the back end.
Then, when arriving in a tourist destination, we will scout the town, keeping a sharp eye out for signs indicating “RV Parking”. RV parking will vary from location to location. Freeport, Maine, the home of L.L. Bean, has a great dedicated lot that is one block over from the main drag. It has large spaces with plenty of room for maneuvering. The lot at Mount Rushmore is well laid out with handicapped spaces right at the entrance. On the other hand in California the Hearst Castle RV parking is the farthest lot out (of many) with no provisions for handicapped.
We make it a point when arriving with our full rig, whenever possible, to arrive early in the day. We did this in Solvang and found the signs on Main Street pointing us to the RV lot. We parked making sure that we were not hanging out into the driveway and locked up for a day of shopping and eating in town. The RV lot was conveniently located with easy access to the town. And the lot was well signed “RV Parking Only, 8AM to 5PM” and included the town’s ordinance numbers. The spaces were marked as well “RV’s Only” painted on each stall’s pavement.
When returning to the coach we found that the VFW hall adjacent to the lot was hosting a local Boosters Cub holiday event. The party-goers had invaded the RV-only lot and their vehicles had completely blocked our RV, preventing us from leaving. A call to the local police department informed us that the police only operate during normal weekday business hours. It was Sunday. The Sheriff’s Office in Santa Barbara was handling coverage. The dispatcher told me over the phone that unless I could supply him with a physical street address, he could not help me. Have you ever seen an address on a municipal parking lot? I informed him it was next to the VFW building near the downtown. Same answer. I am glad that I did not need an ambulance.
Next, we invaded the Boosters party (Lucy note: with utmost courtesy, met with same), and rounded up enough vehicle owners to unblock us. Some of the local auto owners had not read the signage, they had taken the availability of spaces for granted. The delay caused us to arrive at our next campground after dark and I REALLY enjoy setting up in the dark.
What can we as RVers do to protect ourselves from these inconveniences? The Chamber of Commerce’s attitude in Solvang when I contacted them by e-mail was “exceptions do occur and unfortunately you found yourself in the middle of one of them”. As far as the signs go, according to them, rules are made to be broken. I had wanted to alert them of a problem with both the police and the RV lot, but I was blown off.
The response from the Solvang Department of Tourism was just the opposite, “I have forwarded your note to Solvang City Hall for review”. I don’t have the answer to this but we will not go back to Solvang, CA.
Well, that is all for this time and we will catch you a bit further down the road.