The good ‘ol days
By Bob Difley
My grandpa used to start his stories with, “I remember back when . . . ” and then go on to tell us boys elaborate stories of how times have changed, how different it was when he was growing up, and how wonderful the “good ‘ol days” were.
Well, now it’s my turn. I remember when camping fees at state parks were $6 to $8, When you could get full hookups and all the usual amenities at very posh RV resorts for $20, and gas was $1.49 a gallon.
Now you can’t find the most primitive amenity-free forest service campground for $6 to $8 any more now that the Forest Service has delegated fee collection and operations to private companies, full hookups in an average resort are double (and more) the old $20 fee, and gas–well, that’s another story.
Economists tell us that when you adjust for inflation and all the other things economists adjust for, these prices are not unreasonable compared to the good ‘ol days. Maybe so. But I also remember when you could camp just about anywhere in the National Forests–or on any public land–and nobody bothered you or told you to move on, or if you parked overnight by a city park (these days people look at you like you are a child predator). You could sleep overnight safely in a shopping mall parking lot–right under the lot lights if you were nervous–or even on the street as long as you didn’t stay more than a night or two. It was possible to go for long periods when traveling without paying any campground fees.
It’s tougher now. The Forest Service, and soon the BLM and other public lands, are now designating which roads you are permitted to drive on and where you are allowed to camp. And it’s up to you to know the rules or you could receive a hefty fine. Even some Walmart stores and other big box retailers that used to welcome RVers–and their spendable cash–are starting to back away from the welcome-with-open-arms policy.
But I guess we can also be thankful for some of the things that we didn’t have back in the good ‘ol days as well. Like the internet, that let’s us send free email to take care of communications with family and friends, pay bills online through local bank, make reservations for campgrounds, stream movies (no more having to drive to the local Blockbuster and back for VHS’s), and find out all the information we needed to know about the places we were visiting right from our own computer–and to make all of this work 75% of private campgrounds now offer internet connections right from your campsite.
We also now have cleaner air, organic pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, efficient home-like appliances and other devices for our RVs, cell phones, iPads, and–well, I could go on and on. Add to that global warming that guarantees that we can stay longer and be warmer in our northern campgrounds before having to head for the deserts for the winter, a dis-functional congress that happily isn’t passing more rules for us to live by, and millions of people out of work who can’t afford to own an RV keeping the campgrounds less crowded. The skies are still blue, the water wet, trees green, and bison still blocking the roads in Yellowstone. Where would you rather be, in the here-and-now or in the good ‘ol days?
For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.