Saturday, June 8, 2013

Figuring Stuff Out at a National Forest Service Campground

 Approaching the White Mountains

Four days ago, we left St. Johns, Arizona, where we'd unexpectedly spent a full week at a pleasant private RV park.  It's a good thing we hung out there--the first prescription of antibiotics I'd been given at the local clinic didn't completely make me well, so I was able to get another round of stronger meds before leaving town.  Now I am really feeling much better.  

We drove only about 60 miles to our next destination.  We want to check out the Show Low, Arizona, area this summer.  This part of Arizona, also known as the White Mountains and the Mogollon Rim, has at least three contiguous National Forests:  Sitgreaves, Apache and Cococino.  All of these have established campgrounds, and all allow dispersed camping (boondocking).  There are also city and county campgrounds, State Parks, and many private RV parks. 

Entering Sitgreaves National Forest

Somebody told us a ways back in our travels to go to the Lakeside Ranger Station out by the Show Low Walmart and there would be a good campground close by.  Wow, they weren't kidding!  Right across the street from the Ranger Station is Lakeside Campground.  

This is a very interesting place to camp.  The sites are large and wooded, so you feel like you're out in the boonies.  However, just outside the campground entrance is a bus stop, where you can catch a little bus that drives all through Lakeside-Pinetop, two communities a few miles south and east of Show Low, as well as out to the Hon-Dah Casino on the White Mountain Apache (Fort Apache) Reservation.  So you can have the best of both worlds here--a spacious, inexpensive campsite that's close to everything you might need or want.  

We can also take the Lakeside-Pinetop bus to its northernmost stop (Walmart) and transfer to another bus that loops through Show Low.  We haven't done that yet.  So far, we've been satisfied with finding groceries, the post office, and a bookstore on the bus route that goes by our campground.  

In fact, a lot of stuff is within easy biking distance.  I've been needing a new bike, so we took the bus up to Walmart the other day and got me an inexpensive 26" ladies 18-speed mountain bike.  It's much easier for me to ride a bike than to walk long distances, because a bike has zero impact on my knees. 

 My new bike!

We are experiencing very good and somewhat disappointing aspects of staying here at Lakeside.  The good part is, as mentioned, the sites are big!  Even though we're close to Highway 260 (I mean, we can walk to the other side of the campground and eat pizza and wings at a franchise), it's quiet in the evening.  Last night we watched a great horned owl hunting for field mice. 

The Beluga in our lovely campsite.

What's not working for us is the lack of electricity.  We have a generator, but it makes a troublesome burning smell when we use it, so we're not using it until we find out what the problem is.  

We do have a small solar panel with us, but it doesn't gather as much electricity as we sometimes need, given that I am not yet retired and need to keep up with my online business.  If it's cloudy for very long, I can't do my work.

We had been counting on being able to run the generator to have a little air conditioning during the hottest part of the day (it's about 95 degrees in the tin can...I mean, the Beluga right now).  We thought I'd be able to iron the scarves I sell on eBay while the generator was running, too, and maybe do a little sewing. 

So, much as we love this campground and the price (just $6 per night with Steve's Golden Age Passport), we did some research today and we'll be moving to a private resort on Friday, or possibly sooner if something opens up before Friday.  We're going to stay there about a month, which brings the nightly price down to about $10, which is a really good deal, considering it includes electricity, as well as some services we might not use, such as cable TV.  And we'll still have access to the bus, so we don't have to uproot our home every time we want to get groceries.  

So that's pretty much what we've got figured out in our nearly three weeks of summer travel.  We like driving a short distance and then staying a while, and we're enjoying the balance of woodsy camping and urban life.    


  1. We also liked short trips and long stays. It's harder to move quickly when your home is as big as a Duck or a Beluga!

    1. It's funny, when you don't have hookups, it's really not that big of a deal to move to a new spot...but it seems like it, anyway. When I drove my little Dolphin, I got in the habit of stowing stuff and hitting the road. It does seem like more to do with a bigger rig.

  2. I prefer electricity too. I like to do my shopping on the way to the campground, then settle in and see nature by foot and bike. I have seen buses that actually carry bikes on a rack up front. I thought that was pretty cool.

    1. Yes! That's how I got my new bike home from Walmart, on the bike rack on the front of the bus! We can take our bikes into Show Low and bike around if we want. It's gonna be fun.

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  4. Thanks, I like the color, too! This campsite has been so pretty and so quiet...although it's filled up a lot more now that it's the weekend.

    Please do stop if it's on your way north! We'd love to see you!