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  1. Default First ever RV trip – Vegas, Grand Canyon, Antelope, Zion, Yosemite and San Francisco

    This is our first trip in an RV so we had only a little idea of what to expect. We are a family of four, me, my wife Liv and my two boys Ben (17) and Dan (13). I’m not really a camper to be honest (I like a few more comforts and a clean shower) but I love the outdoors so an RV seemed like a really good compromise.

    Liv and I went to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Sedona and Monument Valley 18 years ago (in a car and hotels/B&Bs) and had a fantastic time so somewhat belatedly, we really wanted to show the boys how beautiful this part of the world is and of course, see more of it for ourselves!

    We put together this trip using books like Lonely Planet, extensive Googling to avoid obvious errors and the busiest tours but it couldn’t have been done without help from the guys here especially glc, travellingman, Rick Quinn, Southwest Dave and Midwest Michael.

    The last time I drove any of these roads, we had an atlas, printed directions and probably no useable mobile phone. This time I was using an app called HereWeGo which is an offline Sat-Nav. I’m pretty sure it is still free and we had it last year in Florida and it was excellent. But that trip was pretty easy compared to this one (Orlando, Cape Canaveral, St. Augustine, Charleston, Amelia Island and finally back to Orlando). Being on a U.K. contract with O2 meant that for me to use my phone would cost £7.50 (about $9) a day so anything offline was a godsend. This time however, Liv was on a new contract with Three that allowed free roaming in the US so we were able to validate the routes as we went, at least where there was any network coverage, which wasn’t very often.

    This was a 10 day trip in an RV around some spectacular places plus 3 city days in San Francisco and 6 on the beach at Pajaro Dunes just north of Monterey. I made these notes on the move and have updated them and added photos now I am back.

    So that’s us and how we got here, let’s get on with the trip!

  2. Default Day 1 - Las Vegas

    We landed in Vegas from the U.K. and spent a single night only because you can’t take possession of the Rv the same day as you land. Given how tired I was, that’s a pretty sensible rule, even if it didn’t seem so before we left.

    The trip over was amazing really. Expectations were low for today but a pleasant drive, a nice chatty parking guy, friendly check in lady, nice and funny (as unlikely as that sounds) security guys, very cheery and helpful Virgin stewardesses and then finally, a US border security girl who was also chatty, funny and interested in us and our trip for the right reasons made the whole journey completely bearable.

    We really don’t like Vegas but if we were going to stay here, it might as well be in some luxury, it’ll be the last we see for the next 10 days. So as I had amassed enough points from my business trips away we were able to book a small suite at the Venetian that all 4 of us could sleep in. It was certainly good that we didn’t have to pay as everything else is so expensive! We found the Venetian very comfortable but the complete opposite of everything we like and why we were here but it was definitely another experience!

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    This is us tired but managing a first evening out even if it was in a slightly surreal location.

    And that was that, a long day one, an early night followed by the inevitable early morning, but we had arrived!

    The interesting stuff lay ahead.

  3. Default Day 2 - Las Vegas / Willow beach

    We had an El Monte C28 on order but they couldn’t make it available to us until after 15:00 so we had to waste a large part of the day but the various pools at the Venetian made that easier!

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    When the time came, El Monte were great, the pick up from the hotel was dead on time, the check in and release team were good but in the end we couldn’t escape until after 5:00. We had long decided that a drive to the Grand Canyon on that first afternoon was a bad idea so whilst looking for a stop en-route, I stumbled upon Willow Beach Marina and Campground - https://www.willowbeachharbor.com/ , nearer than Kingman and it looked pretty good.

    Following a slow start (justifiable levels of caution on my part!) and a supermarket stop, we arrived at Willow Beach just as it started to get dark. If you don’t know Willow Beach, it is off the US93 about an hour outside Vegas and the 4 miles down towards the Colorado River. Arriving late was our first challenge, the arrivals office was closed so we headed to the site not sure what to expect. But of course, they were well used to this and there was a notice board and a camp host so we were quickly parked up (pull through site of course!) for our first night.

    It was a fun first night in an RV, working out how to connect everything and how to use the oven to cook a pizza. But a slightly over crispy pizza and a few beers tasted pretty damn good!

    The biggest disappointment of the day was the Hoover Dam. I am sure that 18 years ago the only road was to drive across the top of it but now there was the new road alongside it. The boys were poised by the windows with the camera at the ready but we couldn’t see a thing. Probably a good idea to stop rubber-neckers slowing the traffic down but they were disappointed.

    Unfortunately, we didn’t take many pictures at Willow Beach (blaming Jet Lag) but it is well worth a look.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,735

    Default

    Thanks for sharing!

    The start of your RV experience is very typical - normally you can't pick up until the afternoon, and it usually takes a fair bit of time before you can get on the road. Its an excellent reminder for others hoping to make a "quick escape" on the start of an RV adventure.

    I look forward to reading about the rest of your trip.

  5. Default Day 3 – Willow Beach / The Grand Canyon

    We woke to find that now it was light we could see this was a beautiful campsite, overlooking the river with very flat pitches and all the connections you need. The shower block had individual ‘bathrooms’ accessed with the key card you receive on arrival. We found out later that this really was the height of luxury when it comes to the campgrounds!

    This really was a good find and useful for anyone who wants to start their journey but doesn’t have the time to get to their ultimate destination such as the Grand Canyon.

    We arrived at the Trailer Village campground just before lunch. The check in process was easy and the site was good, we were greeted by a family of elk checking out all the new arrivals!

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    The campground will be well known on here but for us, the only real downside of this site was that there were no showers directly on the site. The pitches are pretty open so quite close to your neighbour but it wasn't a problem.

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    Liv and I had been to the Grand Canyon before 18 years ago and we felt that unless you took one of the (expensive and lengthy) trips down into the Canyon, there was only so much time you could spend admiring the awesome view. We therefore decided to stay only one night which meant one afternoon plus any time on the way out the next morning. This also left more time for everything else and looking back, i think it was the right call.

    So we walked some and bussed some of the rim trail and gave the boys there first spectacular sights of the holiday. There were more to come tomorrow but it was a pretty good first real day of the trip.

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  6. Default Day 4a – Leaving the Grand Canyon

    We had arranged a kayak trip of Antelope Canyon for 1:00 so we headed out of Trailer Village reasonably early and headed towards Page.

    The trip along Desert View Drive is spectacular and in my opinion (from both this and our previous trip) affords the some of the most spectacular views of the Canyon and the mighty Colorado River below. We had to make a number of stops to investigate and take more photos plus a final stop at the Desert View Watchtower which was definitely well worthwhile.

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