Primo Camping Spots from 4 Years on the Road

I’m really digging this retrospective series here. I’ve put all the four-year posts I’ve compiled, so far, on this page, if you’re into them, too.

This theme was suggested by my friend Matt, but I’ve struggled to figure out criteria. “Camping sites” usually means in campgrounds, and there aren’t that many I’ve even liked.  I have a feeling Matt was thinking about lovely locations, historic areas of interest, etc., whereas my list is based on personal moments I experienced at remote locations.  Let’s see if I can explain.  

1. Washburn, Wisconsin

Tracy and I both loved this spot partly because of the exact things I now am not keen on: nearby amenities. But the timing was the trick here; Covid was spreading and there was no vaccine.  When we pulled into this modest city campground on the shore of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay, we didn’t realize we were getting everything we’d been missing because of social distancing.

A big deal for me was that we could walk to a brewery with outside seating.  It was our first drinking/dining out in months, and I remember telling Tracy I could go there every single day. He rolled his eyes at me.  (We did go more than once.)

Ditto with the outside farmer’s market: we could walk to it and get fresh, local veggies for the first time. We also enjoyed riding our bikes through the neighborhoods, which gives you a unique feel for a place. And, we drove the truck along the lake’s shore for famous hiking spots.

And kayaking!  We kept the kayaks in the grass right behind the trailer, so all we had to do was walk down to them to go out on the famously gorgeous bay.  Of course, that led to our worst near-disaster ever, the time Banjo almost burned down the trailer in a propane explosion.  We still take the knobs off the stove when we leave Banjo alone.  

We payed for one week in the Washburn city campground, then we added another, and then a third. We pulled away only because we knew other lovely places were waiting for us.

2. Bonita Springs, Florida

I consider this to be the southern version of Washburn, in my own weird way.  No Covid vaccine still, so most Canadian snowbirds couldn’t cross the border with their RVs for the winter. That allowed us to scoop up this prime campsite directly on the Imperial River (kind of near Naples) in an rv resort we otherwise could never afford. (We paid $650 for a month back then; we were quoted $3k later, although with a few different circumstances.)

Our neighbor having us over for happy hour

In any case, we biked to town for the farmer’s market; with all the different types of ball courts there we devised the Retiree Olympiad (Tracy won, damn him); I swam in a heated pool; and we kayaked the river right behind us.

Oh, the manatees!  They swam right up as we sat outside watching the water.  To be minding your own business in your own lawn chairs and to see manatees float by is an experience I’m still not over.  

3. Western Arizona Desert

Tracy rolls his eyes again when I mention this spot as one of my favorites, because, really, there was nothing out there!  We were boondocking kind of near famous Valley of Fire State Park, but it’s the circumstances of this location that I loved. 

Guaranteed warm weather, so you can wear easy-going clothing morning, noon, and night (and by “easy-going” I mean skip the bra, although you gotta wear boots for cacti and snakes). I could walk Banjo through the desert washes with no one in sight.

My favorite memory is being able to play the ukulele loudly, while walking in circles working on memorizing a song. I learned Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” here, and I’ll always remember what it felt like to belt that sucker out across the sand and rocks, with only the sky as my audience. Finally one night as the late sun was setting I sat down and recorded it.

(Here’s the link, for you new readers who haven’t been subjected to my playing and singing.)

That was also the place where high winds came through and put me in a panic while out hiking so that I made some bad decisions and got back to the trailer (with hands full of thorns) just in time. I’d rather remember the Dylan.

4. Lake Koocanusa

We stayed as long as our waste tank would hold out on Lake Koocanusa, at the border of Montana and Canada.

We were parked on a spit of land, with the lake stretched out in one direction and a creek trickling into it in another. Again, kayaking at our will, watching bald eagles, and that was about it.

Let’s see, Tracy got scared by a Grizzly while riding his bike in the woods, and I learned a few songs from that Robert Plant/Alison Kraus album. I also got a UTI from playing uke all day in my wet bathing suit after having spent the morning floating in an inner tube. Duh.

As we were leaving, I jumped out of the truck to take this photo of Tracy driving across the bridge. I love it!

5. Denali Highway

Jeez Louise, this post is getting long.

I won’t go on and on about our boondocking spot in Alaska off the Denali Highway, since I dribble photos from that short stay everywhere I can (it’s the top photo of my homepage here).

The highway runs along the foot of the Alaska range of mountains, so each day we watched the clouds form and drift across them, and the fog ascend and lift, and we identified glaciers and peaks. In this one spot, we saw wolves and moose and had porcupine run through the campsite.

This is also where a solo bicyclist asked if she could camp next to us for safety’s sake, and, after getting her gear all set up, she got in her tent and proceeded to kind of loudly “pleasure herself.” I laugh because Tracy thought she was just talking to herself. What an odd memory to keep.

So, there you have it, five of my favorite locations we’ve camped in the past four years, mostly because of distinct memories from each place. These are my top five right now; ask me in a few minutes, and I’ll have five different ones!

7 thoughts to “Primo Camping Spots from 4 Years on the Road”

  1. Wow. That’s some seriously beautiful scenery! And while it’s not enough to make me ditch my house for a nomadic lifestyle, it does make me itch to travel.

    1. I love how so many of your responses start out with, “it’s not enough to make me a nomad.” I appreciate your perspective!

  2. Awesome post! I love the picture of Tracy driving across the bridge. Airstream should use that in their advertising. I recognized that camping spot in Alaska, those days were so awesome1

    1. They were, indeed! We’re looking forward to seeing Carl and Brenda next week. Wish you two could beam over.

    1. It’s a cool little town, very near the tourist town of Bayview. If you go, check out the Houghton Falls State Rec Area. Lovely coastline!