COVID Escape – An Epic Stress Filled 2020

Montana Fast Track

After the COVID Escape

After a fast track to my Montana Home-base in May, I spent two months trying to figure out how the COVID lockdown was going to play into my travels this year.

Jagger Enjoying Running Free and Open Montana

During my time at my Home base, I had the Coach maintenance completed which included a new fireplace. The original one gave up the ghost after six years of use.

Planning my future camping wasn’t nearly as fun this year. In fact, at times it was downright stressful. By far it’s the most difficult travel year that I’ve had since beginning my Retired Vagabond lifestyle over six years ago. During that time, I’ve enjoyed traveling somewhat free, planning as I go other than the major holidays. That has all changed, hopefully not permanently.

The RV boom has impacted everyone’s travel plans. This year I’ve met more new full-timers, most with new rigs. Even the weekend and vacation campers seem to have increased. State Parks and National Forest that were open are at maximin capacity.

COVID Escape – Where Will We All Camp

If the camping increase continues again next year, I’m not sure where we’re all going to camp! Another thing that has impacted the full-time lifestyle is the increase of campers leaving their trash on our BLM and National Forest lands, along with overcrowding. It has become too much for the limited government staff. The sad result is closures further limiting the choices of camping spots.

Okay, that’s enough with the negative!

The Decision to Up the Ante

During my stay in Montana, I decided to move forward with an idea I had been thinking about for over a year.

Thousand Trails Camping Option

I made my decision early in May to upgrade my Thousand Trails membership by calling Campgrounds Membership Outlet. They specialize in the resale of Thousand Trails memberships. If you have read my blogs over the last year or two I am sure you’ve noticed that I was struggling to try and decide what my next step would be to my travels as I aged. I’ve wavered back and forth on this problem. I don’t want to settle down to “Sticks and Bricks” just yet, I still love to travel. This decision will allow me to slow down a little but having options of camping longer at times.

While the purchase of the upgraded membership was very easy, Thousand Trails’ handling of the transfer was not. Upfront I was told four weeks was the normal time to process a membership transfer. It took fourteen weeks. Extending my lack of reservations well into the camping season. Because of that, my reservations were changing constantly. I had many “holes” in my schedule, the campgrounds were PACKED! I’m thankful this wasn’t my first year of travel.

Baby Steps

The middle of June turned out to be a trial run for Jagger and me. We picked up the Coach from Sport Land Trailers in Lolo, Montana, and headed for the Great Divide. At about the 5,000-foot elevation level we camped at our first National Forest campground of the season. It was called the Indian Trees campground. It’s a smaller campground with water and vault toilets and only fifteen campsites. I was finding isolated Forests that were open, while maybe the adjoining one was closed due to COVID. This changed several reservations for me and as a result, I took a different route going into Idaho later in the month of June.

After spending two weeks here, only 45 minutes from our home-base, we are heading North to Thompson Falls State Park for a couple of nights before moving into Idaho. Really not sure what waits for us there the way entire Forests are closing.

Safe Travels…Gary and Jagger


4 replies

  1. Yup, life as we knew it a year ago has definitely changed, permanently in some respects! Will be interesting to see this winter if more people find our BLM area that we go to….hope not!! Safe Travels! Give Jagger a treat from me!!


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