Friday, July 18, 2008
This is a long time coming, but I do have some opinions about KOAs after our trip through Colorado. The short story? In the future I will try to plan more research time for finding a real campground to stay at.
KOAs have nice bathrooms with nice showers. Both of the places we stayed at had pools. One even had a restaurant of sorts that served really good breakfasts. There were also playgrounds, which were helpful when setting up camp. But KOAs are not a good match for us. KOAs are for RVers, not campers.
First, we go camping to be in nature, in the forest if at all possible. I want my site surrounded in trees. It is the green that is soothing. Campgrounds are usually set up in secluded areas, with individual sites set along sprawling roads to provide as much isolation as possible. Camping is often a solitary activity. Not that we don't love going with friends and family, but we don't set up our tent in our tree-lined site and then go try to meet all the neighbors. Not so with KOAs. KOAs are a social setting. The people come not to "camp" but to hang out.
Take Colorado Springs. While driving to and through that city we passed beautiful green hills and delicate forests. I was very impressed and getting excited about our KOA. But no. The KOA was built several miles south of the city area because that is where the desert picked up providing the most space for the big RVs. It was not pretty.
Nor did either place provide any seclusion. In fact, in Grand Junction, there were only 4 tent sites on one small grass patch right in the middles of a circle of parked RVs - and most of those RVs were the kind that looked like they lived there. I felt like we were sleeping on a stage - we were the entertainment with our noisy bunch of kids and tent pitching gymnastics. I HATED IT!!
Being social isn't our forte or goal, but we don't usually have an overwhelming aversion to it. But the people who come with their RVs to hang out are not the people we choose to socialize with - quite the reverse. My kids have never been exposed to so much cigarette smoke or casual drinking. Smokers at the site next to ours, smokers at the pool, smokers at the Kamp Kitchen. * And everyone carrying bottles of alcohol. I even had the adorable experience of making dinner in the camp kitchen next to savory lady and having my children ask me to read a sign of posted rules. No pets and no alcoholic beverages, I read out loud, and emphatically, for who would have an issue with either injunction? I caught the attention of the lady and I smiled. I try to be friendly. I didn't realize until later that not only was she toting a beer, but was cooking beer on the stove top. Happy day!
I have not mentioned that these lovely smoking, drinking, social people also have a penchant for swearing, immodest clothing, tattoos, not disciplining their children, and bathing. Apparently the very essence of a KOA attracts the obnoxious of the earth. (I realize my children are a special breed of crazy, but you will also see me trying every second to control them.)
I will say that there were other people there...some nice old couples, a Swedish kid touring America, helpful KOA workers that were friendly enough for me to practice my small talk skills (which are basically non-existent). But overwhelmingly, KOAs are not a place I'm comfortable having my children. And they are ugly. (The KOAs are ugly, of course, my children are actually beautiful.)
*The second I see someone with a cigarette they drop in my estimation to something stupider than a dog. And if I see them smoking around their children I have to fight the all-encompassing desire to turn them in for child abuse. I literally start shaking in fury and almost almost say rude things loud enough for them to hear.