Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Change of Perspective - KOAs

We just left Yosemite National Park and as I have been saying to anyone that will listen, it really was one of my favorite spots. The lush greenery all around, the multiple waterfalls throughout the park and the majestic views from every spot made it an amazing park to visit. I knew from the beginning I wanted to visit Yosemite on this trip, but we did not have very clear plans for the second half of the trip so we waited to make reservations. I knew it would be hard to find spots in the park, but I was hoping we would get lucky. When we finally made some plans for the tail end of our trip, we were about 2-3 weeks out and Andrew started searching spots to stay, everything in the park was booked, but what we did find was a lovely KOA on the West side of the park in Mariposa. It was about 30 miles from the park entrance, but the drive into the park followed the Merced River, as a passenger it was a lovely drive. As the driver, the road was narrow and curvy making it a little stressful. Even though the KOA was far from the park it was as close as we could get, with services. We could have found some BLM land to camp on, but we were also in need of showering and doing laundry, so for us, it worked perfectly. Because we drove in the first day, we got to meander around the park at our own pace, stop and take photos and explore crazy roads, like the journey up to Glacier Point. The second day we utilized the public transportation system. The YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) picked us up right in front of the KOA and dropped us off at the Visitor Center, then we were able to take the Yosemite Shuttle to get to the trail head for our hike up to Vernal Fall. Then, after a long day of hiking we were able to get back on the YARTS for the drive home and rest, read or just stare out the window, making the ride home very relaxing for everyone, which is one of the beauties of public transportation. 

KOA Midpines/Mariposa outside of Yosemite National Park
When we started this trip, I did not know much about KOAs, I had my narrow minded judgements about them, assuming it wasn’t really camping and it was a little cheesy. But this trip has changed my mind completely. When I can stay so close to amazing parks like Yosemite, and get great services, including public transportation, I became a fan. We have stayed at some really great KOAs on the this trip, Yosemite was beautiful, Healdsburg/Cloverdale, was another one of my favorites, with its lake and gorgeous trees and covered forest.
Lake at Healdsburg KOA 

Our camper nestled among the trees at the KOA in San Diego

We also really enjoyed the KOA in San Diego, just a 10 minute drive from the San Diego Zoo, the KOA had a huge pool, climbing wall, giant bouncy pillows and fun bikes for the girls to rent. The great thing that we have found about the KOAs is that they are very comfortable and consistent. On this trip, they have been a great place for us to stay when we want to explore a city as well (like the KOA in Vegas, next to a casino and a short Uber trip to the strip!), the spots are cheaper than a hotel room and in most cases they are centrally located, making it easy to get where we want to go.

KOA Las Vegas
I will always prefer nature and forest over city and concrete, but in most cases the KOA will usually provide a little piece of nature, close to a fun city. We have done our share of boon docking, national and state park camping and after being away from a real home for almost 9 months, as silly as it sounds, KOAs have started to feel like home. We know we can get clean showers and bathrooms, most have pools and fun playgrounds and we are able to plug in and refill water, it always feels like a little reboot after being away for a bit. Plus, they have a really easy to use app for the iPhone which makes it super easy to find a KOA near by and has tons of info to determine if it will work. The girls now ask if we get to go to a KOA, when we are heading out to a new place. Now that we are KOA members (or VIPs) we will likely renew our membership and explore KOAs closer to home. I don’t want to sound too cheesy or like a KOA ad (probably too late), but the bottom line with so many things on this trip, our perspective has definitely shifted on this subject and it's important to share that. Everything might not be exactly what you think and trying out something new might be a very rewarding experience. 

1 comment: