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Getting Kicked Out due to COVID-19

The following story details the experience of two RVers directly impacted by RV park closures related to the spread of COVID-19. To learn more about how you and other RVers can encourage states and counties to keep park and campgrounds open for full-time RVers, click here. 

“Wait…what did Jenny just say!?” Jenny was the new RV park host.

This was mid-March, 2020 at 4:30pm. Lezlie and I were enjoying Happy Hour, which takes place most days in the Lizard Lounge- The RV park’s outdoor meeting place lined with cracked plastic lawn chairs, aging wooden tables covered with frayed blue tarp, and a sheet metal gable roof to fend off the sun. COVID-19 had begun to spread across the US.

“I think she just said that the RV park was being forced to close,” I panic-whispered back to Lezlie.

As full-time RV travelers, we like to avoid RV parks because of the tight spaces, crowds, and other objectionable quirks. This park, however, has a special place in our hearts because of its remote location, large RV sites, and incredible views, among other things. 

To call this park remote doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s located 60 miles west of Big Bend National Park, which is touted as being the most remote National Park in the country, so it’s out there- far from any interstate, movie theater, or hospital.

We decided in late 2019, after several Xscapers convergences, to spend three months at this RV park to help minimize distractions and get some serious work done on our business. 

“What are we going to do, now!?”

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization deemed the coronavirus a global pandemic. 

Since we were already in a remote location and planning to stay into April, we thought we would be safe to ride it out right where we were.

As it turned out, the governor of Texas left it to each county to decide how to handle this new threat. Presidio County (which is where we were located) was one of the first to announce it would coordinate, “to close hotels, short-term rentals, and RV parks beginning Monday, March 23.”

Contact Your Legislators to Keep RV Parks Open

The park owners ensured us that they were consulting with their lawyer, but otherwise didn’t have much more information. Our initial thought was to stay at the park and try to find a way to convince the local government that we were in town long-term and were not just tourists. We even considered telling them that we were contractors, since we had built the RV park’s website.

In the days following, we spent our waking hours poring over the news and social media, trying to come up with ideas.

Our original plan, before all the craziness, was to head to Moab in April and boondock around Utah and Colorado until the Xscapers Fourth of July Convergence. This was still a completely legitimate option to consider…until Moab closed.

Our next option was to head to the Pacific northwest- closed.

Report after report started showing up in our feeds about campgrounds closing and entire areas shutting down to tourists, outsiders, and non-residents. And, we were beginning to see fellow RVers posting about needing places to park. A Facebook group was hurriedly formed to help displaced RVers find spots- its membership grew from several hundred to almost 3,000 in just a few days.

So, instead of trying to find a short-term solution, we decided to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and try to find something longer-term. The day-to-day escalation of this pandemic gave us a bleak outlook for being on the road and trying to find places to stay.

Our first stop on the trip north in Hamlin, TX

We contemplated several options, none of which were very desirable:

  • Plead our case to stay, and if it works, possibly get stuck in triple digit temps for months
  • Try to find an open RV park, and hope it doesn’t get shut down
  • Travel to friends staying on BLM land, and hope it doesn’t get shut down
  • Rely on a social media stranger to put us up on their land
  • Find a storage facility for the RV and stay with family in Dallas
  • Drive the RV 1900 miles to family property in northern Michigan

For many reasons, including money, weather and safety, we decided to go with Plan F: head north. Again, none of these situations were ideal, but this seemed like our best option. 

The decision was made. Now, we had to plan a cross-country road trip during a pandemic- no big deal, right? Actually, the planning was pretty easy. It took about 30 minutes to plan our entire route including locating four options for each of our four overnight stops during the trip. Our experience planning travels for last three years really came in handy! 

Under normal circumstances, we travel no more than 300 miles in a day, but this was a textbook abnormal situation, so we upped the limit to 400 and made the trip one day shorter.

RV parks were closing, and areas were being vigilant about outsiders, so we decided to find alternative places to stay overnight along the way. We used Campendium, AllStays, and the Escapees RV Club’s resource, The Days End Directory, to help us find sites.

Everything was set for our nerve-racking 5-day journey. We could only hope nothing would go wrong along the way.

Our first overnight was a city RV park in Hamlin, TX. It was free for the first night and included full hookups- what a deal! We called the city to make sure the park was still open, and luckily, they were.

We spent our second night in the Tulsa Camping World parking lot, again for free and with electric hookups. We called in advance and they were more than happy to accommodate our overnight stay.

The third night was spent in a Cracker Barrel parking lot without hookups, but the sun broke through the clouds in St. Louis that day and we were able to pull some power from our solar panels. The comfort food (take-out, of course) was welcomed and necessary after three grueling days and 1200 stressful miles of travel.

Before heading out on the fourth day, we took a look at the route and decided to push the 400-mile limit and go just a bit farther to hit another Camping World in Michigan. This change would allow us to have electric hookups for the night and would eliminate a longer drive on the last day of travel.

That was the day we discovered how much driving is too much driving. Four days and 1576 miles later, during a global crisis, we had to stop. Andy was becoming exponentially agitated with everything and he was losing focus. It was time to pull over and take an RV nap.

Two hours later, he awoke refreshed and ready to finish the drive. 

On day five, we arrived at our final destination safely, and this is where we’ll continue to stay until it’s safe to travel again. 

No one expected a global pandemic, and everyone is having to adjust to this new life. Like most RVers, traveling was (and is) one of our most favorite activities, and as we find ourselves stuck in one place, the skills we’ve learned over the last three years of RV life- flexibility, adaptability, and resourcefulness- continue to come in quite handy.

We will remain in contact with our RVing friends and we hope to get back on the road to see them soon, but like everyone else, we are unsure of when we will get to live our nomadic lifestyle again. Until that time, we’ll keep our distance and find other ways to enjoy life. 

We wish everyone a safe and healthy quarantine.

Have you been kicked out of an RV park or campground due to COVID-19? Share your story with us: https://www.escapees.com/tell-us-your-story/

Author

Andy Shears & Lezlie Garr

Andy Shears and Lezlie Garr have been traveling full time in their fifth wheel RV since 2017. When they’re not playing with their dog Jax, they’re buried in their laptops, working feverishly on ResumeLezlie.com, a remote career services business. They love spending time off grid, meeting up with friends, and sharing food and drinks around a campfire. They also break out instruments if properly primed. You can find them and follow along at unknownnormal.com and on IG at unknown_normal.

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9 Responses to “Getting Kicked Out due to COVID-19

  • Eileen & Bryan
    2 months ago

    We made a similar choice, traveling 3,000 miles in 7 days to get back to the sticks & bricks, which we had hoped to have sold by now! I hear you about the grueling drive. Glad you two had a place you could hunker down.

  • Thanks, nice report.

  • What a story, guys. Please, continue to stay safe and work hard. I know this article will help others know that the struggle isn’t an individual one. Let’s do it together (6 feet apart and no more than 10 people).

  • Robin Walczak
    2 months ago

    Thank you for story. We were due to retire, sell up and travel in our fifth wheel. Hopefully, this will be a distant memory soon!! Stay Safe!!!

    • We hope so too! Travel is a BIG part of our life and we want to get back to it. Best of luck to you when it’s safe travel!

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