Poodle Bath & Groom at a National Park
I took advantage of my topped up water tank by giving Sadie a bath and groom on the site on the final morning. Check out was a ridiculously early 10am and there was a camper on another site itching to get on mine who came by to let me know. I was off by 10:37am after he came by a second time to say someone was waiting for his site. Sigh. I even had enough water to shower myself but nowhere to park while doing so – I showered while parked in line at the dump station! No problem as there was no one behind me and just one guy in front – I told him to take his time. Ha ha – it all worked out. Lunch at Seawall picnic area with Nellie parked alongside the ocean: a beautiful spot! On to Lamoine State Park where they have certain sites that are FCFS (first come, first serve) meaning they are non-reservable! So once you are on one, you can stay for up to 14 nights. What a great idea, ahem, National Parks. Sigh.
Peak Season and Coastal Areas
So I have been reflecting on the realities of traveling to popular tourist destinations during peak season. Acadia is stunning but super-crowded for our day-trips which detracted significantly from enjoying the sights. The campground topography similarly was beautiful but the camping experience was AWFUL due to neighbours all around, campfire smoke, barking dogs and screaming children. We just hid inside our RV while we were there. I had heard that the National Parks are ridiculously crowded and I know there are people out there who are bucket-listing a visit to all 400 National Parks. Of course, National Parks also have some amazing natural wonders to share. The key will be to try to avoid peak season times, something we did not succeed at here. Also, I suspect that there will be adjacent areas that will be almost as beautiful, nearby National Forests or even less popular sections of the National Park like the Schoodic Penninsula in Acadia, that may offer a great experience with fewer crowds. Sure enough while at Lamoine State Park, I took a day trip to the Schoodic Penninsula and found it every bit as beautiful as Mount Desert Island (the main areas of Acadia) but minus the crowds. With a new campground opening this fall at Schoodic however, odds are that the crowds will increase.
Also, my expectations regarding coastal areas were borne out here. Everyone wants to be by the coast or lakeshore so these areas are more crowded and expensive and offer few (or no) free or discounted camping alternatives. The Harvest Host near Bar Harbor flaked out and the BDWs outside Belfast were both unable to accommodate me. Every night we have been here we have paid top dollar for campsites on top of our day admission, making this an expensive week in Acadia. I believe that we will find Florida to be similar: with coasts and a high tourist population over-winter, there will be few cheap or free alternatives near the coast and crowds everywhere. We do want to spend some time in Florida but a monthly rate at Cedar Key is looking more and more attractive. We need to have our eyes wide open: it’s okay to pay full pop for camping to be in a popular area at a peak time: just be aware that it will be crowded and it will cost more.