7 observations or tips for traveling the 101 Oregon Coast December 05 2018, 0 Comments


I’ve had the pleasure of traveling up and down the Oregon Coast a few times now, I do really love it and highly recommend taking the time if you are able…Here are a few observations or tips I acquired while traveling on the wonderful coastal 101.

PICK A DIRECTION IF YOU NEED  - I feel the North and South are vastly different!….The North is more touristy town, good for shopping and eating, nice beaches to bring a chair and hang out all day….The South is more rugged beaches, smaller towns with not a lot going on and more scenery and parks…Both are fun, but if you don’t have time to do the entire coast, this might help decide.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DEALS / MEMBERSHIPS / PASSES - The coast can be expensive, the restaurants, supermarkets and campgrounds are all pricey so be sure to take advantage, here are a few examples:

Good Sam - Get discounts on RV Parks.

Oregon State Parks Pass - if you don't camp at state parks but like to see the beaches and hike a parks pass is a must so you are not paying at every turnoff or hike you want to take.

Senior National Parks Pass - There are no National Parks along the coast but if you have the Senior Pass you get half off Federal campgrounds.
** If you have a standard National Parks Pass you get free access to any Federal fee locations for hiking ect.

Casino Camping - there are a few along the coast, they are not totally free always, but still a great deal…plus you can usually get a cheap (and pretty good) meal at one as well….not to mention free coffee.

SEA FOOD, EAT FOOD - Anytime you are on a coast you must take advantage of the awesome fresh seafood the coast provides, does not always need to be at a pricy restaurants, do your homework and find the little local spots with great eats. And pass along your knowledge, I ate wonderful fish and chips at a place called The Crazy Norwegians Fish and Chips in Port Orford because a friend recommended it….and this leads to my next point...

ASK FRIENDS AND SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HELP - The 101 is popular and well traveled, and there is SO much to see and explore. Ask your friends of places to stop and check out, ask questions over Facebook, Facebook Groups and Instagram to help plan and make the best adventure you possibly can. Plus you can search Instagram at your location and get insight of cool places to explore.

PORTS - For those who travel simply and might not always have a shower opportunity every morning, cities which have ports will have showers to use…..bring quarters!!

TAKE YOUR TIME - Sometimes easier said than done, but if you have the chance don't rush your experience, take things in, get to know the communities and be in the moment!

GET OFF THE BEATEN PATH - This does not mean go wonder into the abyss but some people tend NOT to get off the 101….there is a lot to see that right off the 101…..a few of my favorites:

Pacific City - The 101 does not go through this small ocean town….the beach is beautiful and you can have a beer while your feet are in the sand at The Pelican Brewery.

Manzanita - Another small town off the 101….South of Canon Beach, Manzanita makes for a nice stop to check out the beach and grab a coffee

Cape Blanco State Park - I just love the Port Orford area, some of the best coastal views in my mind, about 5 miles off the 101 Cape Blanco offers amazing ocean views, beach, hiking and a lighthouse.

Cape Arago / Shore Arches  / Sunset Bay State Park - Another personal favorite, 25 or so minute drive from Coos Bay these parks offer cliff views, hiking, beach time and even seal viewing….wonderful experience.


Enjoy the Oregon Coast!

And Happy RVing

My Favorite Travel Apps November 29 2018, 0 Comments

My last post I wrote about my 5 favorite items to travel with…Now I move to phone apps!

There are thousands of apps out there, my phone is full of them! But the truth is I really only use a few…. same goes for travel apps…I have quite a few on my phone but when it comes down to it I only use a few…

**You can find all these apps though your app store on your smart phone

Google Maps - I use Google Maps for twp important tasks, searching for places (campgrounds, grocery stores etc.) and as my GPS….

SEARCHING - I love the simple fact of searching for a grocery store for example, finding the closest, seeing my ETA, get reviews and directions…And if I’m concerned about parking I can take a 360 degree look of the area….all in one app

GPS - I usually always have Google telling me where to go…even when I pretty much know, its nice to have a heads up when my turn is coming when driving a big camper….BUT I have to say Google takes me down roads from time to time my camper has no business going down…and sometimes the directions are just off, or slow/behind….I would be open to finding a GPS that would warn me about rough, narrow roads etc…..any out there??

Spotify - My last post I mentioned bluetooth speakers, the Spotify app is what powers my music….I can listen to pretty much anything, they also have a radio function and playlist I can save to my phone for when I'm off grid…they also have podcasts as well.

Yelp - I was not a big Yelp user before I started traveling, But I love it now! I will still use Google to find places, but after that I will search that place via Yelp to see if they have outdoor seating and is dog friendly….Having a doggy, that's a must!

Weather App - I don't get fancy here,  still lean on the side of “Don’t know the weather, look outside” BUT I will glance at the app for planning out future activities and travel. Anyone have a favorite weather app?

Untappd - Being a beer lover and enjoying visiting breweries along the way this app is great! If I go to a city or town with multiple breweries the app is great to help decide which one to visit…usually has to do with their beer list. Then you can also keep a record of all the breweries you have visited, give “stars” to the beers, include photos and notes….can also be friends with others like Facebook…I don't use that part of it but if anyone wants to be beer friends find me at Travelingdesigner.

Harvest Host - There are a bunch of camping  / campground apps out there…too many for me, hence the fact I just use Google Maps, But I do love Harvest Host, and being a member I do use the app. If you have not heard of Harvest Host, you get to camp for FREE (but they ask you to buy something) at wineries, farms and other super cool places!! BTW….The price is going up starting Jan. 1, so get signed up…Best $45 you can spend.

All Trails - Cool app for find trails near you. The app divides trails into their difficulty, has maps, trail descriptions, user photos and reviews.


Please share if you have any apps that you use a lot while traveling. I just traveled with some friends and leaned of a few new ones I might this list might change....stay tuned


Happy RVing

Top 5 must have travel items November 14 2018, 0 Comments

Being an RVer we all travel in different ways, have different rigs and like to do things in different ways. I think we can all agree that we all have items that make our lives better, easier or we just take pleasure in as we travel.

Here are my top 5 must have travel items:

1. WiBoost - I work as I travel, and I do like to get off the beaten path and camp in places where cell coverage is not great…My Booster is wonderful….The booster usually boosts my signal 2 bars or so….Don’t leave home without it!

2. DC to AC Power Inverter (plugs into lighter) - I do have solar, but a inverter like this is great to power up phone, jetpack and smaller devices…and if I'm in a place with clouds and rain I can plug on computer and charge if I'm lacking sun.

3. French Press - It just makes a good cup of coffee!! And using this along with a hand grinder are 2 things i don't need to plug in!

4. Computer  / Phone - Most of us are controlled by our devices, right?…No different being on the road…My phone is my camera, GPS, hot spot sometimes, music and entertainment…I use my computer not only to work but stream movies and sports

Taken from eco gear's Instrgram Page

5.Bluetooth Speaker - I love music…my old rig had terrible speakers and a good Bluetooth Speaker with great sound quality is a must. I use it inside and I can take it outside at my campsite.



Bonus: National Parks Pass - Gotta have this!! Gets you into all the National Parks, always get you into Federal Lands, forests to get out and enjoy nature!



Here is a video I made a couple years back talking about some of these items and a few others:


Have your favorite items? Please share

Happy RVing

Simple Tips for RVing in our National Parks May 23 2018, 0 Comments

A simple checklist for RVing in one of our National Parks this summer.

Finding a place to camp... August 10 2017, 0 Comments

We are all on the road for different reasons, some of us are on vacation, some retired, some working still….and with that we all have different budgets, BUT the one thing we all have in common is the need to find places to lay our heads at night!

I fall in the “still working” category and I’m on a budget for sure. When I first hit the road I looked at my rent and figured out what I pay per day to live in my apartment in Boulder, CO and used that as a sorta guideline, my goal was to save money on “rent”, but it’s not cheap to camp these days! Spending most of my time in CA and OR the average price to camp at a State Park is $35….so, thats around $1,050 per month, and if you stay in RV Parks its much more, and over time that can really add up, especially if you travel full time. For me its balance between roughing, finding those cheaper or free places to camp and spending the money for a nice place to camp. I have to admit I find joy when I find free camping or say “my average stay for a week was about $7”!!

When it’s time to find camping here are some of the places online I look at and the process I use….hope some of this you find useful.

I first start by starting a “my maps” map on google. I’ll mark the places to want see and explore. Those usually are State Parks and National Parks, wanting to be close to hikes or other nature related things (camping on the beach ect.) and towns and want to visit.


Then I’ll move onto camp sites…I start by looking for free camping….cheap next, followed by State Parks to RV Parks and add those to “my map” as I find them….I don't stay in many RV Parks, more because I look space and trees, but I gotta fill with water and empty the tanks….and sometimes I just want cable TV to watch game or a nice shower!!

So, where do I find these places? Here are my go to sites


  1. -Great resource, many of the locations are out there, in the woods and such so plan accordingly. They list free and very cheap options. If you have a van or smaller camper this is especially a great resource….be sure to read the reviews of the posts and ALWAYS do research on the spot….anyone can post and some people post pull off and stuff that’s not safe, or are not really camp “sites” at all….and if you have a big rig, think about using google earth to look at the terrain

  2. - Casinos are the best!! Most offer free to cheap places to dry camp from anywhere from 1, 3 to 7 nights….check out each casino’s website as well about rules and regulations… are a few of my favorites


  • Cher-Ae Heights Casino - Trinidad, CA - One of the best views you can find….a 50 yard walk from the parking lot is a cliff overlooking the ocean….Just beautiful, and a quick drive to town and the State Park…$20 for 3 nights

View from Cher-Ae Heights Casino


  • Quinault Beach Resort and Casino - Ocean Shores, WA - They have a huge parking lot just for RVs thats hidden away, people can put their chairs out to relax…You can hear the ocean from your home and its a 5 minute walk to the beach….$10 on weekends and $5 during the week


  • Mill Casino - North Bend, OR - Not a huge fan of the town but its close to some awesome State Parks. The Casino is nice, there is a RV Park there but you can dry camp in the lot for $15 a night, use their bathrooms, showers and laundry. You can access free WIFI from outside of the casino and they have some good, cheap food options (as most of them do)

View from coast hike near Mill Casino

I have stayed at casinos for free in Florence, OR, Pendleton, OR, Oroville, CA and Palm Springs…among others


3 . - $40 a year gets you access to farms, wineries and other cool places….they do ask you to purchase something….but $30 for camping, a bottle of wine and wonderful experience is worth it

Winery in Northern CA....Harvest Host location


4. “Google” Ski Resorts in the area you want to stay - Ski resorts usually offers free to cheap parking in the summer months….I’v stayed at Ski resorts in Taos, Lake Tahoe and Bend


5. ONP Walmart phone app - Phone app that lists the Walmart's and people can comment on their visits, the free camping site lists many Walmart's too….again, do your research as not all Walmart's allow overnight parking


6. Trucker Path phone app - List truck stops, Walmart's and other places to overnight park…good when your in a bind or just need a place to sleep for a few hours


7. - When i google RV Parks and camping this site comes up a lot and provides good info for all kind of camping options


8. “Google” “Fairgrounds” - many fairground have camping options when there is not an event going on. I have stayed at fairgrounds in Eureka, CA, Booneville, CA and Ontario, OR


9. BLM Land - great place to boondock but I have not found a good resource….I usually find these spots by being in the area and talking with other travels. One of the best places I have ever camped is in the Alabama HIlls, which is BLM land and free. There is also a BLM campground nearby for $5 night with drinking water, restroom and I got almost full bars of feel service


Alabama Hills in CA, BLM Land

10. And lastly word of mouth - meeting and chatting with other travels you will learn all kinds of cool stuff

I always make sure I have a Plan A and Plan B, just in case something does not work out

After that I just Google parks in the area I want to go and read the reviews….If i’m going to stay at a RV Park I do want the review to be good…hope they have trees and some space and if I get greedy a hot tub : )


Happy RVing

*If anyone can add to the list don't be afraid to comment

My Favorite Camping Spot July 20 2016, 0 Comments

We all love to camp for different reasons; the great outdoors, the food, or a crackling fire but the location is always one of the reasons we all pack up the car or RV and go camping. For Tough Tops 10 years in business we posed the question for our sweepstakes “Where is your favorite camping spot?”


I starting thinking about this and realized this is a tough question! First, I feel a lot of the places I camped I have long forgot the names and not sure some of them really had names at all….many were just pull offs in a National Forest or in the mountains. One I remember driving 20 miles on a dirt road until we came to a high cliff overlooking the desert valley floor into Sedona, AZ…..Such a beautiful place!


I do want to share two places which stand out to me, one place I camped for the first time just last summer and one which I remember from growing up.


Signal Mountain Campground  //  Grand Teton National Park

We came here many times growing up for family vacations. The Tetons have always held a special place for me and the thought of them puts a smile on my face.

Right in the park, Signal Mountain is on a mountain with sites carved out within the trees. There are little dirt trails taking you to Jackson Lake and an amazing view of the Tetons. Depending on the water level you can scurry down the side and get to the water, as kids we would go down and skip rocks.


And with all the National Park campgrounds I’ve stayed at and love are the amphitheater programs. As the sun sets, add some layers of clothes, make the hot chocolate, grab the lantern and head to the bonfire and learn some cool stuff from the park rangers.


To learn more




Gold Bluffs Beach Campground  //  Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park 

First off this one is tents only as you need to drive on a somewhat bumpy, dirt/gravel road for 6 miles to get there, but if you can its worth it!


Hence the name, this campsite is at the beach, you look one way to a cliff of beautiful red wood trees and the the other to the Pacific Ocean. There is something about hearing the waves as you lay in your tent and taking a beach walk first thing in the morning. 


I feel there is one other great perk about this campsite, its near Fern Canyon. And again hence the name is a beautiful canyon covered in ferns that lead you our of a huge growth forest to the ocean. You can take the hike from the name road (6 miles or so if I remember) or drive the bumpy road and get direct access. So this is a popular place during the day, but being about 2 miles away, getting up early and heading over you have the chance to have the place almost to yourself, which is the way to go for sure.


You have a favorite camping stop you would like to share? Post to Tough Tops Facebook page HERE or email me HERE….and get all the detail will be entered to win a few prizes, one being a $150 gift card! If you don’t have a favorite spot, its summer and the perfect time to go out and find one!!


Happy RVing…and camping