From Tucson To Las Vegas  (Via San Diego)

 

 

Tucson to Yuma on Interstate-8 provides time to experience the wide variety of Sirius Radio channels.  Satellite radio is an excellent investment for any RVer on the road.  Looking at cacti (the plural of cactus for others educated in Mississippi) and listening to the all Elvis channel, what more could a southern boy ask for?  The Border Patrol is quite active along this route and on three occasions we went through inspection points.    

 

Yuma is literally on the California state line and just a stone’s throw from Mexico.  Numerous RV Parks are filled in the winter months by snowbirds fleeing the cold.  Using the flip-a-coin method of selecting an RV Park we wound up at the Cocopah RV and Golf Resort.  If you love golf this is your heaven, but unless you intend to spend a lot of quality time on the course you might seek a Park more conveniently located.  We were so close to the golf course they put up a screen to protect us from errant drives.

 

If you have never seen celery, lettuce, and cauliflower growing in the field, Yuma is your stop.  It is also brimming with sit down restaurants such a Johnny Corrinos.  Though Yuma is worth a stop if you are in the area, I can’t honestly put it on my list of must-see cities.     

 

During cool months the drive from Yuma to San Diego along Interstate 8 is a most interesting one.  The terrain not so gradually moves from sea level to over four thousand feet.  During one long stretch all you see on both sides of the road are huge rocks giving the appearance that some giant hammer had broken down the mountains. 

 

On the down side, traveling this stretch in an RV during summer is a little risky.  Every mile or so there is a sign advising that radiator water is available.  At one point they instruct you to turn off the air conditioner so your vehicle won’t overheat.  Now imagine it is way yonder (southern term meaning a whole lot) over 100 degrees outside.  Some experienced RVers told me they travel this stretch only at night.

 

The San Diego RV Resort just off Interstate-8 and Lake Murray road was our first stop.  Paved level sites, hot clean showers and a good location almost make the price worthwhile ($45 per day).  Downsides include; only one modem hookup, no heated pool (they call themselves a resort after all), not having the discount coupons they advertised and the surprise increase in fees for the weekend preceding Presidents Day.  Presidents Day is fine holiday and one worth celebrating, but as an excuse to raise the rental fee by $13 a day, I don’t think so. 

 

San Diego County has a number of RV Parks and campgrounds that are well worth checking out both because they are inexpensive and well maintained.    (http://www.sdparks.org)  In an effort to be more economical we moved to Lake Jennings Park with a view overlooking the lake and though it was a few miles further out the $40 a night savings made it worthwhile.

 

Recommended stop:  The San Diego Zoo is a must see for anyone even remotely interested in animals.  Unless you are really into walking, pay the extra few bucks and get a ticket that allows you to ride the buses.  One bus is a guided tour giving you an excellent overview of the zoo.  Another bus will pick you up at designated points throughout the park.  For lunch try Albert’s, a surprisingly good restaurant though not cheap.

 

“But we only have an annual average rainfall of 4.5 inches.”  Were these words spoken by Noah’s neighbors as he began the Ark or every television weather forecast from San Diego to Las Vegas?  Well I can’t be sure about Noah’s neighbors but we heard those words nightly for several weeks as it continued to rain.

 

Fleeing San Diego before the next rainfall we took Interstate-15 to Barstow.  There’s really no good reason to stop at Barstow since Las Vegas is only about one hundred miles away, but live and learn.  The KOA at Barstow is adequate unless you want to use the Internet.  The modem they advertise is also connected to their credit card approval so if anyone checks in using a credit card you are disconnected.   

 

On a cloudy Monday we completed the trip to Las Vegas and checked into the KOA at Circus Circus.  Since Las Vegas is a popular stop for almost everyone I’ll spend some time talking about our experiences, both good and bad, beginning with the KOA.  It is, as advertised, the only RV Park on the strip (Las Vegas Blvd) though that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the closest to where you might want to go.  From the Stratosphere on the northern edge to Mandalay Bay on the south is about six miles give or take a blister.

 

Level and paved sites with clean bathrooms are the best features of the park.  If you want to connect to the Internet all I can say is, good luck.  KOA has instituted a wireless system that you pay to use, but at the Circus Circus KOA the signal doesn’t get much past the front door of the office.  They offer no other methods of Internet connection.  If you are willing to pay KOA for their wireless service you could take your laptop to the office and use it between the pool table and air hockey game.  There is also no cable availability.

 

The manager assured me they were going to put additional antennas on the restrooms and that service would be available throughout the park by summer.  He also said they would have computers in the office that would, for a fee, allow you to check your e-mail.  Free Internet connection should be the rule in my opinion.

 

From the park it is quite a distance through Circus Circus to Las Vegas Blvd (the strip) where many of the more famous Casinos are located.  In fact the newer ones such as MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, Luxor, New York New York, Paris and Mandalay Bay are closer to the southern half of the strip.

 

Las Vegas has provided a number of ways to get around, but be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking.  The Las Vegas Trolley will eventually get you around for $5 a day or $1.75 per ride.  There is also a monorail, a bus system and plenty of cabs.  If you have a tow there is plenty of free parking, but the strip gets awfully congested. 

 

Great, cheap food in Las Vegas is a long standing myth.  You will find plenty of good food, but much of it is pricey.  The cost of shows runs from $20 to a couple of hundred bucks.  We spent $77 a ticket for Bally’s Jubilee and a little under $50 a ticket for the next to last row at Mandalay Bay’s Mama Mia.


This was originally written in 2005 so prices and amenities may have changed.


Copyright Jack Kean 2005

 

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