A First Time RV Experience

Written By OutdoorAfro

Published on Aug 20, 2011

It’s been a wonderful summer of travel for Outdoor Afro, but the highlight was our RV Trip to the Sierra Nevada region in California last week! Check out our story…

First off, my family remains filled with gratitude for the support of Camp California, the leader in camping and RV’ing in California. With their partnership, we were able to spread the word far and wide about this fun filled event, and connect with trip sponsors with the shared goal of connecting more Americans to nature through the RV experience. We are also thankful for proud sponsor American River Sales in Auburn, who generously provided us with one of their innovative teardrop trailer designs, and Ponderosa Resort who provided a rich base camp for our Sierra Nevada adventure.
This was the first time my family had ever had an RV experience, and in this case, towed a trailer along to set up camp in an RV Park, in spite of many years of tent camping and a range of other outdoor experiences. Over these two years in the Outdoor Afro community and beyond, I have heard the persistent concerns about wildlife and dirt as being a major reason why some African Americans choose not to camp.
Therefore, it was our goal in this trip to demonstrate that you can camp with comfort, yet find ways to enjoy nature too! In our case, we planed to use both the teardrop trailer and a tent to accommodate the entire size of our party. Getting the trailer hitched was a cinch thanks to the expertise of Gary from American River Sales. The trailer came with a long list of cooking supplies, utensils, and a stove, so all we had to bring was food and our favorite spices!
I have to admit I was a little nervous towing something (anything) behind my car, but as we moved along the curves of the Sierras toward our campsite, my confidence and excitement grew in anticipation of the weekend ahead.
As we pulled into Ponderosa Resort  in Lotus, CA, about 17-miles beyond the rental site and midway to the town of Placerville, we were greeted with friendly staff that let us know we could choose any site we wanted that was available. Ponderosa Resort is situated along the American River and near Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. The resort is a classic! Imagine the South Fork American River running through your front yard and the golden color of the Sierra foothills reflecting off your sunglasses? In addition to a swimming beach, it had many amenities to enhance our experience, such as a store, swimming pool, and family center with board games, pool table, television, and wireless internet.
After driving around the entire site, we decided on a wonderful corner spot with a view of the American River, where pulling in was easy — and thankfully near a fully equipped restroom. As soon as we were set up, the kids squealed off down the road to the swimming pool for an evening cool down and opportunity to make new friends. What struck me immediately was the feeling that this was a kind of pop-up or flash community, mirroring a popular trend these days among food and retail outlet events. While temporary, I felt that the unique experience can leave such a lasting impression for the participant because of the variable locations and people.

With limited time to spend at a site like this, there was also a more immediate sense of welcoming among our fellow campers that maximized a sense of neighborhood. Everyone who walked by our campground had a friendly word or a smile, and our teardrop trailer was the belle of the ball with a design unlike any other at our resort.

But we were especially impressed at the elaborate set-up of some of our neighbors, who we could tell had been doing this kind of camping for a long time. Some groups were large parties that had up to three RVs all connected by a string of festive lights at night and were full of revelry. Mark and his wife Ann, our nearest neighbors, shared that they were full-timers, meaning they RV year-round, exploring the entire country, one campground at a time. Outside their RV, they had a cool mist system under their shade canopy, which was an enviable feature on hot Sierra afternoons.

Preparing our food was also a wonderful experience using the stove provided in our teardrop, I was especially inspired by Evanne Schmarder’s website the RV Cooking Show, where she shares many recipes tailored to the RV experience. The kids and I enjoyed creating together our own recipe improvisation of grilled salmon with garlic and lemon, steamed veggies, and a Caesar salad our first night. Yum!
My younger kids did not even mind doing dishes!

After a day of flawless travel and set-up, we were all ready for bed early, with my nephew and son Seth in the tent, and my two younger children and I ready to sleep comfortably in the trailer. We very much looked forward to our river rafting trip the next day.

Next up: American River Rafting!