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Old 07-27-2016, 02:24 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
wando1997's Avatar
2004 19' Bambi
Missoula , Montana
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 23
Hitting the road in our 19ft Bambi!

Hello to all

Well, we are pulling the plug, so to speak, in September. Sold our home in Montana, retiring in September and hitting the road west in our 19 ft Bambi. I know that I am going to be asking for lots and lots of advise but what I need first is in regards to campgrounds.

For the initial trip, we are planning on doing the 101 from Washington to northern California. I am wondering if there are any books out there that list all of the National and State Parks, cost and when they close for the season? I know I can find a lot of this online but sometimes even that is confusing not to mention we won't have the internet at our fingertips when on the road.

I know that we are going to have to stay at private campgrounds periodically if only to charge everything up and take a long shower! I would really appreciate any suggestions...good or not so good...

We are really looking forward to seeing everything we have only talked about and experience the freedom of the road while we are healthy enough to!

we will also have with us our furry family member, Sailor, an 80 pound golden retriever. So any advise traveling/camping with a dog would be wonderful! He is really family to us and goes everywhere with us.

Thank you dear Airstream friends...

Jo & David

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Old 07-27-2016, 04:46 PM   #2
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hippiechick's Avatar
1966 24' Tradewind
versailles , Kentucky
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 185
Wow, living the dream. No advice here as ours is not ready for travel yet. Just wanted to wish you the best in all your adventures.

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Old 07-27-2016, 05:06 PM   #3
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2008 27' Safari FB SE
Long Beach , California
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 95
If you haven't already signed up, it might be helpful to get a Good Sam Club membership. If you go into Camping World, they have this huge directory that's reminiscent of an old phone book and it lists all the various campsites. It's the same info that can be gleaned from the website.

Also, for public parks, there's and

I've also found that some local campgrounds (municipal and county) are not on ReserveAmerica, but on the local agency's own web site. A bit more of a pain to find, but often available and cheaper by the night - without an $8 reservation fee.

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Old 07-27-2016, 09:24 PM   #4
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2014 19' International
Port Townsend , Washington
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 19
We like the camping guidebooks put out by Moon Publishing, written by Tom Stienstra, especially the ones for the Pacific Northwest and the West Coast. They are very comprehensive on state and federal campgrounds but also on others too. For us (love our 19' Bambi!) the books have the "right" amount of information - we are partial to state parks, county facilities (sometimes at least) and federal campgrounds.
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:17 AM   #5
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racoco's Avatar
1976 31' Sovereign
2007 19' Bambi
Midland , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 119

I am envious. Still working and can't pull that plug yet. But our digital life has made working from our 19' Bambi pretty easy when we have to.

The books are nice, but there's not a lot of storage in 19'. We've gone digital with books, magazines, references, CD's, just about everything we can with iPhones and iPads. 12v outlet next to our TV is a dedicated USB charger now.

I agree with the Good Sam membership advise above. Nearly every private park gives a discount, and so does Camping World.

Have fun!
1976 Sovereign & 75th Anniv Bambi
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:21 AM   #6
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2015 27' Flying Cloud
Yorba Linda , California
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 61
Images: 2
Here's a big one for you. I know it was for me. If you are 62 years or older you absolutely need to acquire a Life Time Pass for National Parks. Only $10. Payback comes the first time you use it. Spaces are discounted by about 50%. Sometimes even more. Just don't loose the card. It's good forever!
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:24 AM   #7
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1978 31' Sovereign
Los Angeles , California
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 7
my experience with NorCal coast is that after midSeptember, they roll up the carpets and shut down for a long winters nap.
that curvy stretch of hiway 1 down the coast is a lot more fun than the 101, and your lil 19 is as big as you can get on that stretch of road. Also way more adventurous (read: primitive) south of Mendocino to the Bay area. It gets really cold, but where your from, could be comfy for you.
the plus side to all this is a lot less traffic.
I see boondocking in your future - invest in a really good solar power system and if communications are important (mostly for internet) a good sat dish system, of which there are more than plenty of opinions here on this forum :-)
Have fun!
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:39 AM   #8
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2016 30' International
Currently Looking...
Quartz Hill , California
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 80
Ditto on joining Good Sam Club.
Get Trailer Life Directory from Camping World. I like keeping the book around for reference. Wifi isn't always available or is slow.
Make sure you visit the coastal redwoods while in N California. Prairie Creek State Park Has elk wandering through the campground. I have not stayed There in my Airstream, so not sure if they are RV friendly. Most State Parks in California are.
Have a great trip!
BTW: I have found that McDonalds has one of the best public Wifi's going.
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:48 AM   #9
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1963 16' Bambi
Yreka , California
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,870
If you have a smart phone, I suggest taking a good look at the apps for "allstays". Just search and you will find quite a few to choose from. I use the allstays camp and RV app and it lists everything just about! Private, NFS, National Parks, BLM, even truck stops! I use it almost exclusively rather than the bunch of books I used to pack around. If you look at a place where you will be going and map it out on the app, it will stay in your phone about 24 hours so you can access it even without cell or internet service. Here is a link to their website so you can check it out a bit before making a purchase:

Where you camp depends on your lifestyle choice. We have a vintage Bambi, but it is self contained and we can go quite awhile without hookups. We have a good battery system and never have had any problems...with that said our appliances are original so we do not have any fans, etc. that keep running and draining our batteries. We prefer NFS, BLM and smaller type campgrounds rather than the large ones where one sits next to a big Class C motorhome. Besides they are much more affordable! We often find we need to find a RV park so we can use their dump station and refill with potable water, but we try and schedule that when we plan on moving from one spot to another. Most of the campgrounds in the West that are public have a 14 day limit, a few in extremely popular places have a shorter time.

The advice given above about closing down for winter is very true! Government type Campgrounds in Northern California (which actually begins at about Redding, CA ~ the top 1/3 of the state....) usually close down around Oct 1. Some will be open past that, but if in the West in late Sept. and early Oct. and "out in the wilds".... check to see if it is deer season. Lots and lots of deer hunters are out there shooting things that move. In the mountain areas you might want to be prepared if camping at higher elevations for freezing temps in the late fall and winter months. We have done a lot of winter camping and when we do, we do not put water in our tank.... had a line freeze once, and that was enough. We simply carry jugs of water for our use. However, if you go along the Oregon Coast (stunning drive btw) it usually is below freezing. We are suffering a drought here, but on normal years it is very rainy along the Oregon and Washington Coast as well as Northern California.

I would also mark on your computer sites such as the NFS and search for camping in the areas you plan on traveling to next.

There are some areas that are nearly impossible to find camping spots... for example, San Francisco. The nearest campgrounds would be a commute away so check your maps carefully. But if you go to a metro area, find a campground and unhook and drive to the nearest public transportation place. Do not try to drive in San Francisco, that is "doable" parking is very expensive, usually about $35 for 24 hours, and majority of parking places are for small cars, not tow vehicles.

One of the best things you can do is when you have internet service, post on the forum here and say next we are going to such and such a place and ask for folks to share their favorite camp spots! Usually great advice that way!

A number of folks on the forum also offer free one or two night parking at their homes, there used to be a list of folks who did this, so you can stop in a town and meet the locals and find out great information that way. Usually there aren't any hookups, but you can often get water or have access to wifi.

Well, good luck! It sounds like a great adventure ahead! Have fun! Post lots of photos!
Mrs. NorCal Bambi traveling in S Tardis ~ from the Great State of Jefferson!

My blogs:
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Old 07-28-2016, 12:49 PM   #10
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2014 19' Flying Cloud
Reseda , California
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 279
Images: 1
Get the app called AllStay in addition to all the advices you are getting here. Drive slow and steady. Don't be in a rush. Enjoy the journey. What you're doing is something I will be doing some day.
"No job is so simple that it cannot be done wrong."
"Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege."
"Either I will find a way, or I will make one."
"Sweat is your fat crying"
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Old 07-28-2016, 01:01 PM   #11
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2008 19' Safari SE
Bandera , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 103
Congrats on going fulltime....I look forward to hearing YOUR comments after you are on the road for a while, in a 19'er, especially with Sailor. We have a 19'er as well, and while we won't be going fulltime in 2017 (work is done but the non-work commitments still hang a bit), I do expect several 6+ week trips. The most we have been gone is 2.5 weeks, and as you know, storage is an issue in the Bambi. Enjoy!
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Old 07-28-2016, 01:05 PM   #12
New Member
Bessemer , Alabama
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 4
facebook pages

There is a facebook Airstream page with excellent resources and folks to give live advise on your travels. One is Airstream Addicts.
The other will help you with places to stay, it's called Airstream Courtsey Parking.

Happy Trails,
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Old 07-28-2016, 02:00 PM   #13
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Commercial Member
2009 19' International
Santa Margarita , California
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 24
Three weeks in our Bambi

We just came back from our first extended trip (3 weeks) in our 19' Bambi with our dog Mali. It was SUCH a great experience! We left from Central Coast of CA and went to Colorado and back. We had internet on our smart phones enough during the days to find a place to camp. We boondocked only one or two nights because we found it kind of hard to parse out the best places to stay on BLM land, etc. We found some lovely campgrounds in Colorado. And some not so great ones... but we always had our lovely little home with us! And when we didn't like a campground, we just got up early and left!!

Have a wonderful time and yes, please let us know about your experiences! we are planning to do another trip up to Seattle and back in November.
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Old 07-28-2016, 03:43 PM   #14
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wando1997's Avatar
2004 19' Bambi
Missoula , Montana
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 23
Thanks so much for the book recommendation. I will pick one up ASAP. I really need something other than what is available on the internet since I imagine we will be in areas where it is impossible to get online!

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