I’ve been traveling up and down California and Oregon a lot over the last few months. Both states are over the top beautiful to say the least, but they are also expensive! Camping can be expensive too, RV Parks can run anywhere from $45 to close to $100 depending where you are at, and most state and national parks $35 a night. If someone on a budget, that can be a lot per month….thats where casino camping comes in! It’s cheap to free and many times very well located.
Here are the top 5 casinos I’ve camped at in California and Oregon. I am not a gambler so this top 5 has nothing to do with gambling aspect of the casinos.
View from Cher-Ae Heights Casino, Trinidad CA
Cher-Ae Heights Casino - Just a couple miles from Trinidad CA, a cool city and must stop. I rated this my #1 casino stop because of the view! The RV parking is up the hill from the casino, with large trees for shade, take the 25 yard walk to the edge of a hill overlooking the ocean into Trinidad…just beautiful!! The stay costs $20 for 3 nights…its very quite…and an added bonus, there is a small hiking trail 1/2 further down the road to a beautiful beach…enjoy!
Sand Dunes near Florence, OR
2. Three Rivers Casino - Just a couple miles outside Florence, OR. Florence is on the 101, and is the beginning (going south) of the coastal sand dunes. The casino is just off the 101 and a short drive to Historic Florence, I actually rode my bike down there one day. The lot is large and flat, plus I feel very safe as security does make the rounds (be sure to check-in). They allow you to stay 3 days free, more if you gamble. I like this stop because its close to the town to get a bite to eat, if you spend a few days in the area there are many day trips to take to the many state parks for hiking and site seeing.
3. The Mill Casino - Located in North Bend, OR, The Mill offers both an RV Park (not sure the price) and a non-hookup lot for $15/night. You can take advantage of the restrooms/showers, laundry and wi-fi (does not work well, but you can walk up to the casino toward the back and get good coverage there). I have this #2 for a few reasons, it is right off the busy 101, but the bay is right there and very pretty, I like the use of the showers, and when its not busy they will allow you to use the dump station. They also have pretty good, reasonably priced food (I took advantage of the Sunday Morning buffet). The main reason is the closeness to State Parks (Sunset Bay, Cape Arago State Park and Shore Acres State Park) Some of the most beauty coastline in Oregon, be sure to stop at the viewing area of the off-shore colonies of seals and sea lions at Shell Island (take your binoculars)
4. Blue Lake Casino - Located about 8 miles off the 101 in Blue Lake, CA….near Arcata. To be honest there is not much special about this location, nice small lot….very nice staff when I checked in and I remember the food was pretty good and inexpensive. The 2 main reasons I liked this place was 1. its inland and in the mountains, after being along the coast for a while and missing CO I just felt at home waking up and seeing mountains all around me 2. while the town is really small, Im a beer lover and there is a great brewery with outside patio I walked to called: Mad River Brewing Co.
5. Agua Caliente Casino - Located in Rancho Mirage, CA….Short drive from Palm Springs. They make my list for the huge parking lot, and flat as well….When I went to check in they were very relaxed and felt I could have stayed there a few days in needed. Its located in near Palm Springs and is about an hour or so from Joshua Tree….and FREE
Its been years since I bought an RV. Its also been years since I wrote my ebook “An RV Tech’s Checklist for Buying a new or used RV” (click to learn more and buy ebook). This spring our son Rick, a freelance designer and web designer / marketer for Tough Tops told us he wanted a change in his life and he wanted to hit the road.
It’s January, Rick lives in Boulder Colorado and its not the time of year to RV shopping. Myself and my wife are in Mesa Arizona, and it was not winter here at all. In fact people are buying and selling RV’s like crazy. And why not? It feels like summer, the snowbirds are in town, if you’re a seller this is the time to sell, and if you’re a buyer this is the time to buy. Rick starts looking on craigslist daily and lets me know of any RV’s he finds attractive for me to follow up with… and I start my research and looking as well.
The challenge? He’s on a limited budget for this project and finding something inexpensive that will work for him. Being an old RV tech I have my doubts we are going to find something he can live in!
I quickly learned I was in for a surprise. Some sellers knew very little about their RV’s, in their defense they may not have used it in a while. Others were short term owners which is very scary! Still others…I could understand why they didn’t use them as they were in bad shape. Some were selling the RV for someone else and at times it was difficult to get any accurate information on the RV. Some had no power in them, no water to check the plumbing system, or LP gas to check appliances. I was going crazy! We quickly learned any older RV that was decent and was priced right… SOLD…AND THEY SOLD FAST!
My first guideline in my book in buying a used motorhome is “do not fall in love with the “house” or living area part of the RV until the chasis is checked out. If there are issues with the chassis, you’re not “going” anywhere. My advice has always been to learn as much about its history as possible (which I was having difficulty doing) and have it checked out by a mechanic. How long have you owned the RV, how did you use it, is mileage accurate, what is maintenance history, etc. Also I like to get fluid (engine and tranny) samples. This tells you a lot!!!
Obviously this was not going to be possible because lower priced used RV’s were selling fast. Our search was, much like anything else, the longer you do it the better you get at it. Once we had a “hot “ lead we jumped on it. One day we finally got lucky or at least we were hoping it was luck! The owner had just listed his RV on Craigslist, he was not a long term owner but he knew some of this history on it. It was very clean for its age, low mileage, he had power in it so I could see the appliances were working. I took it on a test drive and it seemed to be ok. We had to make a decision as other prospective buyers were on their way and his phone was ringing as we were talking with him. We bought the RV!!
So with fingers crossed we took it home. First we had a muffler installed, next we took it to a truck mechanic who checked things out. Brakes were good, (we’re happy about that), shocks, hoses, and engine wiring were original, so those were replaced and freon was added to the chassis A/C.
A few weeks later Rick arrived in Mesa to meet his 27’ class C RV. While he’s visualizing himself living in it we went to work installing a solar system as he wants to be totally self sufficient. (We’ll report on that project in a few weeks). He and I learned a lot. I checked out all the appliances and other systems and they responded remarkable well. The old Norcold refrigerator will blow away anything there that their manufacturing today…his beer will be cold!
Now Rick and his RV are back in Colorado, Mother Nature christened both Rick and the RV as they encountered storms of wind, rain, hail, and snow on his way back home. Mechanically things went well. One night out he encountered extreme winds outside Santa Fe which did some damage on one side of a rear panel…but this is to be expected on an older RV.
So…to date this has been his experience. There still may be a chassis A/C issue but he will have to take things as they go. Rick will be blogging on his new endeavor and we all have our fingers crossed that all goes well. More to come….
It’s that time of year to get ready for the road....it's also our favorite time of year
Time to clean any dust and debris from the tops of the slide outs. While the slide is in make sure to clean the areas of the slide out that go out. It is a very over looked area that picks up everything from dust to pine needles to toys. Take it from Tyler. He has pulled everything from toy motorcycles to hair brushes to a customer’s wallet that he thought he let at a truck stop.
After a thorough cleaning make sure it is completely dry!
Then comes time to condition the seals. This is easy enough with a little baby powder or talcum powder
…on the seal prevents the seal from grabbing as the slide deploys and pull the seal off and turning a camping trip into a costly and time consuming fix to replace your seal.
For the outside of the slide follow this great video from the www.thervgeeks.com for applying the powder to the exterior of the seals without having to remove the slide toppers.
This is also a good time to make sure your slide toppers are looking good and the hardware in secure. As a slide topper is the only movable part attached to the exterior of the coach and with all moving parts things can become loss. Check the screws! Everything from the tension bars to the anti-bellow devices.