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Old 01-01-2012, 06:31 PM   #1
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Wal-Mart Was a Tad Creepy

On our last night out we decided to try a stay at WalMart because it was just a midway stop on the drive home and we figured why not save some money. Our first choice was a WM in Mountain View, Ca. We got there at 3pm and it was in the middle of a huge mall with a million cars. There wasn't even an empty parking spot let alone one long enough for the trailer. We googled up the next one in Santa Rosa and headed north. (pulling the AS through San Francisco traffic for the first time was a real treat!).

We got to SR at 6PM and first we discovered that the entire lot was for compact cars and even using two we were 5 feet hanging out. So we went to the far side along a greenbelt and parked along that curb. There was no other RV in the lot. When it got dark it got a bit creepy. Cars driving around, and strange noises etc. It was New Years eve and lots of fireworks and such going off too. Around 2am a MoHo drove in and parked in front of us. What I realized about a trailer is that you can't just fire up the engine and take off. You have to get OUT first! LOL.

I know it is irrational, but we felt a little exposed. I expected there would be half a dozen other campers. We didn't sleep well!
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Old 01-01-2012, 06:38 PM   #2
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Sounds like it might have been worth the forty or so dollars. Although, near San Fran, I wonder what an RV park charges...?
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Old 01-01-2012, 06:38 PM   #3
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I never understood the Walmart thing anyway. Camping in a parking lot with all the pitfalls you mention instead of paying $20 or $30 for a full service site with nice settings and amenities. Just doesn't make sense to me.
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Old 01-01-2012, 06:54 PM   #4
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The nicest thing about an Airstream is you can camp anywhere. I bet Golden Gate Park would had been spectacular. I find a wide spot in the road more comforting than a Walmart parking lot. Many love to use them. Some will tell you why shortly.
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:05 PM   #5
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We've done WalMart once in Missouri with no problem. We did Flying J in Kentucky one time and will never do it again because of the noise.
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:09 PM   #6
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You think it's kreepy outside....try shopping.

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Old 01-01-2012, 07:44 PM   #7
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The nicest thing about an Airstream is you can camp anywhere. I bet Golden Gate Park would had been spectacular. I find a wide spot in the road more comforting than a Walmart parking lot. Many love to use them. Some will tell you why shortly.
Camping in Golden Gate Park? I don't think so, even if there was a campground. There is a campground in The Presidio, and an overnighter there will cost you $100, but you'd have to leave the Airstream outside the campground.
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:49 PM   #8
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think outside the box a little... Anywhere you park it you can camp in it. I said not one word about a campground.
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:57 PM   #9
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I never understood the Walmart thing anyway. Camping in a parking lot with all the pitfalls you mention instead of paying $20 or $30 for a full service site with nice settings and amenities. Just doesn't make sense to me.
Assuming you can find a campground--any campground, nice or otherwise, somewhere nearby. Most Wal Marts are near interstate highway exits and are well lit and well marked. Pretty inviting when it's getting dark and the campground directories reveal no campgrounds for many miles around.

Admittedly, not all Wal Marts are created equal as campgrounds. Many have plenty of parking and a gaggle of RVs in one corner or another. We came across one Wal Mart in Michigan that had a separate area of the parking lot, surrounded by trees, specifically for RV parking! (We were just stopping to buy some stuff and didn't stay.)
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:58 PM   #10
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Olema or Russian River are great locations to linger while you meander. The tight little campground at Olema has the added advantage of a great restaurant at the Olema Inn. Point Reyes. Armstrong Redwoods at Guerneville.

Where's the Russian River campground that has hosted a lot of AIR rallys?
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Old 01-01-2012, 08:02 PM   #11
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We've Walmarted it a few times in our travels. While they have not been the highlight of our travels they certainly haven't been a dark spot either. Actually sort of neutral about them. Have not had any spooky experiences at them either. Yeah, sometimes there's the loud vacuum cleaner early in the AM. Maybe the lights bother me a bit but nothing more than that. Haven't tried the Flying J's yet and have not done any roadside rest areas yet. Not sure I'm that adventurous.
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Old 01-01-2012, 08:11 PM   #12
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After twenty-something years of full timing, I'd say AVOID those places. Tire stores are much better if you're in late and out early in the morning. Over the years, we've learned to not push it into the darkness. Big deal, find a KOA and relax in security.
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Old 01-01-2012, 08:19 PM   #13
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The Bay Area isn't RV friendly, and I'm unsure whether one can park an RV anywhere overnight on the street (especially, if it's occupied).

The closest RV resort that I know if is in Pacifica, about 15 miles south of SF:

San Francisco RV Resort | Park your RV on the Cliffs overlooking the Pacific Coastline

I think it's about $65 per night this time of year. There's another one at Candle Stick Park, but I haven't heard any good comments about that part of town. It probably isn't much better than what you describe. Although, I think they lock the place down at night.

There's also a KOA in Petaluma that is OK, and it's about $60. However, it's about 40 miles north of SF, over the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA | Camping in California | KOA Campgrounds

If anyone knows of any better places near SF or Fremont, please let us know. I know that I'd sure appreciate some advice on RV camping in the Bay Area.
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Old 01-01-2012, 08:24 PM   #14
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And there's the Petrified Forest, but no hook-ups!
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just kidding!!
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