After our brief stop in central Pennsylvania, we pit-stopped in D.C. for a couple days before moving farther south.

We would love to spend more time in our old hometown, but it is one of the most expensive and inconvenient places for RVers to visit. There are 3 campgrounds in the area – one in Maryland and two in Virginia. Since most of our friends are in Virginia, our preference is to stay as close to our old neighborhood as possible, but the campground that is closest, Lake Fairfax County Park, in Reston, Virginia, suuuuuucccccckkkkkkkksssss.

I mean, generally, it’s a nice looking park…

But the sites only have electric hook ups, no water or sewer. Of course, for the reasonable price of $22 per night, who can complain?

Oh that’s right, it’s not $22 per night, it’s $45 per night…

Lake Fairfax Campground price list
Even though we can get by on a 30 amp hookup, they require anyone longer than 29 feet to have a 50 amp hook-up…. because they suck.

…except on weekends and holidays when it’s $50 per night.

FIFTY DOLLARS.

Per night.

For a parking space with an electric hookup.

For $50 per night, my parking space with a electric hook-up better come with Chris Hemsworth holding a pitcher of margaritas and a bowl of queso:

Hello!!!

Actually, for $50, Chris, I’m gonna need you to take your shirt off….

There ya go! That’s better!!

(See? This is why you read this blog. You never know what you’re gonna get! One day, it could be extended discussion about dog diarrhea. The next, it could be half dressed super hot Australian actors… every click of the link leads to a new adventure!!)

Anyway, we got extra screwed because we were there over Columbus Day weekend, and they consider the holiday to go THROUGH Monday night, so we paid $50 per night for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday.

And because these overpriced parking spaces don’t have a water hookup, it means we conserve our water supply by showering at the bathhouse. A couple years back, the bath house was actually pretty nice. It’s got multiple individual rooms, each of which contains a toilet, sink, shower, and changing area, which is much nicer than most places.

But over the past several years, the facilities have really gone downhill. Several of the showers don’t drain well which means water backs up (which is gross), the shower curtains are mildewed, the floors are stained, there are cobwebs up in the rafters, and, sometimes, dead bugs on the ground. Yuck.

It’s all fine for $20 per night. For $50 per night, it should be a lot better.

Like, super hot Chris better…

Rawwwwwrrrrr……

And then, just to add insult to injury, they kick you out at 10:00 a.m. For $50 per night, they want your butt out the door first thing in the morning. (For our non camper friends, typical checkout is 11:00 or 12:00.)

Adding to the disconnect between price and service, this is how they handle their reservations…

Yep – a binder with individual handwritten registration forms with credit card receipts stapled to them, and an old style handwritten calendar book…written in pencil of course, so changes can be made. When calculating our overall costs, the clerk counted up the days of our stay on his fingers and then used a calculator to figure out the total charge.

If only there was some way for a business to easily and accuratelyย handle reservations and payments…

Alas, in 2019, in one of the richest counties in the entire United States, all we have is pencil and paper.

What do we think of that, Chris?

“Well, that’s just ridiculous, really…”

Thanks for your valuable insight, Chris.

Sadly, while Lake Fairfax is completely overpriced for what it is, it’s the best option if you don’t want to sit in traffic for 8 hours a day while trying to get anywhere in the D.C. area.

Other options for D.C. bound visitors are Bull Run Regional Park (review here) which (A) is even farther from the city; and (B) also has very high prices ($45 to $55 per night for a FHU site depending on the season); orย Cherry Hill Park, a commercial park in College Park, Maryland, which costs $77 per night.

Obscene. All of it.

The bottom line for us is, if we had better camping options, we’d happily stay in the area for a month or more, but that’s just not possible. So, we made quick work of our visit and missed out on seeing a lot of people we would have liked to see. We did meet up with a couple friends, buried them in Amazon packages (thanks again, Dani and Art), snuggled with their dogs, visited with some colleagues, and attended our doctor’s appointments.

And, as luck would have it, when we were back at the campground, we got to hang out with our friends, Mike and Kathie. They are also from the D.C. area and just happened to be back visiting while we were there. We last saw them in Tucson at the beginning of the year when Thor declared their dog, Opie, his best friend forEVER. This time was about as much fun for Opie as last time…

Thor: “And we’re back!!” Opie: “Oh god. Not again.”
Thor: “I. Love. You.” Opie: “Uggghhhhhhhh……..”
Opie: “Why do you do this to me??”
Opie: “I guess this is my life now: being chased around the country by a pushy German Shepherd who doesn’t understand boundaries.”
Thor: “That’s cool. you stay there. I’ll just rest here. On your bed. With your toys. While I stare at you.”

Mike and Kathie also introduced us to folks we’ve been following on Instagram forever, but had not yet met – John and Sonya from Itinerant Life. They were also camping at Lake Fairfax, but we never would have known they were there if not for them being friends with our friends. It’s interesting to think about how many times we’ve probably been in the same campground with people we “knew” online, but didn’t even realize it. Anyway, we only got to hang out one evening, but we enjoyed talking with them and we’re hoping to cross paths again in the future.

Finally, and having nothing to do with anything, may I present to you my photo essay entitled: “Unhelpful. A Photographic Journey”

“Oh, what’s that dad? You’re gonna do a kettle bell workout? That sounds great. Don’t mind me…. I’ll entertain myself with my toy. Carry on….”
“This is perfect…I’ll just lay right here, where I am definitely not in the way.”
“Fine, fine, fine… I’ll go behind you… because there’s obviously nowhere else I could go to chew on my bone…Oh, and sorry about tracking paw prints all over your mat.”
“I mean, if you’re just gonna sit up there, I don’t see any reason for ME to be uncomfortable.”
“Gotta keep those knees up!”
“Man, you are terrible at kettle bells. But, as long as you’re just layin there doin nothin, you may as well pet me…”

And that, my friends, is why we don’t bother exercising very much.

Next up: North Carolina!!

____________________________________________________________________

Where we stayed: Lake Fairfax Park, Reston, Virginia

43 COMMENTS

  1. Omg. You had to use a bathhouse??? You know you lose me right there. Yikes!!! I hope you wore really good shower shoes! Looks like you were very efficient in your VA pit stop!! Glad you got to see and meet so many friends!! Maybe Thor and I can exercise together next time, I had no idea he was so โ€œintoโ€ watching his figure ????. Lastly, a million thank yous for all the OTHER Thor pictures ????

    • Lady, I “lost you” the minute we moved into this RV! What kind of crazy are you talkin? ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, even I am not a fan of bathhouses. We rarely use them, but sometimes it’s not an option. When we do, I always have shower shoes…. but when the water overflows the drains? Yuck. Anyway, I would love nothing more than to see you wrestle with my dog while trying to get through a workout! He’s especially helpful with yoga. Ask me how I know. And, finally, you’re very welcome!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Your blog has helped me get through some very dark days! Love the pics of Kevin trying to exercise with Thor. I have the same trouble with my 2 trying to do yoga. The struggle is real!

    • Thanks, Debbie. I wish I could do more, but I’m happy if anything I do helps a bit. I truly believe dogs are the best medicine… they just make you laugh! And yes, I have tried, very unsuccessfully, to get through yoga routines with him in the room and it’s just a comedy of errors. I end up covered in various dog toys, fighting with him to get off my mat, and failing miserably at holding poses because he’s making me laugh. Total fail…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Yikes on the price for electric only and having to use the bathhouse! Love your conversation with Chris. Glad you got to see some of your friends, they all need RVs so they can come to you (somewhere cheaper!) Perhaps Thor could star in an exercise video explaining how to help your parents exercise.

    • He makes every type of exercise more difficult – it’s like adding a whole new dimension to your workout! I like this idea! And I agree, I would love to have more of our DC friends get RVs and come hang out with us away from the city. Alas, I don’t think posts like this about crappy bathrooms are going to motivate many of them to join in the fun!

  4. Now I know why you asked where we were planning to stay on our visit to DC. Which is coming up TODAY. After reading your review, I’m happy that we decided against Lake Fairfax Park, because that’s where we were going to stay until I discovered Pohick Bay Regional Park. We’ll see how it turns out…????Right now we’re trying to figure out our transportation plan, which of course involves driving to a metro station and fighting for a parking spot before 8 a.m., which means some poor commuter who has to get to work is going to lose their space to our giant truck with the kayak and bikes on top. That makes me feel kinda bad. I would feel better if we weren’t so conspicuous, haha.

    Looks like you had a great time with friends while you were there. Your dialogue between Thor and Opie is hilarious! And I love how ‘helpful’ Thor is to Kevin. Maybe he could to go to Goat Yoga School for a few pointers?

    • I am very much looking forward to hearing about your experiences with Pohick Bay. I’ve never even heard of the place, but it really could be an option in the future. The fact that it’s reasonably close to the Metro really is a game changer. If you had to sit on 95 every day, you’d lose your mind. But the Metro changes the whole calculus. In any case, I hope it works out well for you this week. Keep me posted!

      As for Thor, please don’t give him any ideas about goat yoga. He’s already a pain in the butt to me while I’m trying to get through a video, and he doesn’t even know goat yoga is a thing!

    • In his convoluted mind, he really does think he’s helping!! And let’s be real, he does make the whole boring chore of exercising much more entertaining!

  5. Iโ€™ve followed your blog for about a year now and Iโ€™m not one to comment. However , I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your musings. Along with valuable information about RV life you make me laugh out loud! Thank you and safe travels always.

    Lisa, Tucson, AZ
    T@B 320 S Outback travel trailer and 2 Border Collies

    • Thank you so much! I appreciate that. And I’m glad to know some of this stuff is actually helpful. And now, I’m curious – TWO border collies in a T@B? Wow! That’s a whole lot of energy (and occasional mayhem??) in a small space! Too funny! Safe travels to you, too!

  6. Wow, that is a crazy price. I did enjoy the bonus Chris shots though and had a good chuckle over how you inserted those “pick me ups” in your post. Can one not park an RV in a friend’s driveway and then use their facilities?

    Can’t decide whether it’s Thor or Chris that wins the prize for most popular figure in your post.

    Peta

    • Haha… they both seem to have quite a number of fans on here today, huh? We would love to stay with friends, but our motorhome, while tiny compared to a real house, is still very large and we’d need a lot of space – that is at least reasonably level – to park. None of our friends’ places fit the bill, unfortunately (for us, not them… who wants a giant motorthome parked in the front yard??) I wish there were better options in the local area, but space is at such a premium in the DC area, every piece of land has been gobbled up and priced high. We’ll keep visiting, but we just have to balance how we do it so it doesn’t wreck our entire budget.

  7. Lol, I loved working in Bethesda MD for 3 months but as you say the traffic! Colorado state parks are about the same price but most have full hookups.

    • Exactly – and the Colorado state parks we stayed in were BEAUTIFUL! While we recognized that we were paying a pretty high per night price, it really didn’t bother us. You get a lot for your money at parks like that. Here? Not so much. That’s what’s so frustrating about the whole thing.

  8. We statyed in Pohick Bay Regional Park for 10 days and found it to be quite nice. It is almost as expensive as where you stayed but we did have full hook ups so didn’t have to use their showers although they were actually pretty good.

    • You are the second person to mention this park to us. We had no idea it even existed! I am definitely going to look into it because it sounds like a great option if we want to stay in the area for longer periods of time. As I understand it, it takes about 40 minutes to get downtown on the Metro from there. That’s about the same as it would take driving from Lake Fairfax, and we could avoid driving – which would be huge! Anyway, thanks for the tip. I’ll absolutely keep it in mind for our next visit.

  9. Once again Laura you have cracked me up! I read parts of your blog to hubby but I don’t think he thought the whole thing about Chris Hemsworth, and his pictures, were as funny, and easy on the eyes, as I did … oh well his loss ๐Ÿ™‚ We do eventually want to spend some time in Washington, DC and that was one of the parks we were looking at, hopefully we can pick a cheaper weekend. Our daughter and her family just got a blond German Shepard and even as a small puppy he had a lot of Thor’s traits.

    • Haha… I do notice a theme in my happy commenters today… they are all women. Hmmmmm….. Though, to be fair, Kevin totally understands that Chris Hemsworth is a fine specimen of a human being and does not raise his eyebrows when I post half naked pictures of him on my blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

      You should definitely make your way to DC at some point. It’s an awesome place to explore. They just don’t make it easy on RVers.

      And that is awesome about your daughter’s dog. Shepherds really are wonderful dogs… they’re just annoying, that’s all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Loved waking up to see photos of Chris Hemsworth in my feed! Nice choice!

    Agree that the campgrounds around DC are ridiculously priced. And Greenbelt (which was closed earlier this year for a repaving project it desperately needed) has zero hookups, so miserable during the summer. I stayed at Little Bennett Campground (a Montgomery County park) up in MD this June and it’s pricey, but full hookups, nice spacious sites (more like a state park than an RV park), some trails, and about 10-15 minutes to the Metro (last stop on the Silver line I think…). I’ll pay $66 a night but only for full hookups and only because it’s DC.

    • Yeah, I think in the future, we may just bite the bullet and, after spending a week or so close in for our doctor’s appointments, maybe stay farther out for a couple weeks. We’d really like to have more time to spend with our friends, but we can’t justify the crazy costs. However, if we’re willing to travel a bit, we could probably stay farther out and give us some more time. It just sucks that the east coast is SO expensive. I was just reviewing our overall yearly camping costs for 2019. We did a much better job this year of staying at government operated parks rather than private ones, but because we were in the East, our overall camping costs ended up about the same. Frustrating….

      And thank you for the photo compliment. The Metro, for all it’s flaws, does provide some great photo opportunities!

  11. It is tough to visit DC in an RV and not pay premium prices. I guess most cities are the same way with a scarcity of land. As John says all the time, “Supply and Demand.” He drives me crazy with that phrase. We usually stay at Cherry Hill. Glad you did get a little time to see a few friends. Love, love Thor “helping” Kevin with his workout. He was making sure Kevin was staying on task. Back in the day our cats were helpful, too. Always fun having animals around.

    • I think there’s just a point where the true effects of supply and demand cross over into gouging. We certainly don’t mind paying top dollar to be right near a high demand spot – whether it be a city or national park. We get that supply and demand will increase the price. But for a place like Fairfax, which isn’t THAT close to DC, and which doesn’t even offer full hookups, or a particularly terrific experience, it just seems off. And when they charge you the holiday rate on the Monday night of a 3 day weekend, they’re just taking advantage of their customers. None of which is necessary given how ridiculously wealthy the county is. But, I guess they can get away with it and they do…. Ah well, at least we have the ability to mock them on our websites. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I so agree! Some of these near big cities campgrounds gouge us with their over the top prices simply because there are no other alternatives. Although we did stay at Cherry Hill, the other park that got us is the one in NJ, $77 for a parking spot but with water and power. Oh well ๐Ÿ™
    Thor is the man in the house! move over Kevin.

    • $77 in New Jersey??? I hope you’re talking about the park with ferry access to Manhattan, because if it was anywhere else, that is criminal! There is nothing in New Jersey that is THAT nice or THAT interesting. It is funny though, this past summer we spent $56 per night to stay at a KOA with W/E only up at Pictured Rocks. I was so incensed by the price, but it was the best option in town. In the end, we had a fantastic site that we just loved. It was a rare time when we felt an overpriced commercial campground was worth the cost.

  13. Honestly, I think you are being a little unfair to Thor. Both Thor and Chris Hemsworth are gorgeous and willing (or at least able) to serve as photo props in your blog. And if Chris Hemsworth were lounging around on the floor on your RV you probably wouldn’t be complaining about him being in the way. ๐Ÿ™‚ Give the dog a little more love!!

    I have always wanted to visit DC as part of our road trip, but there is so much to see that it would require a long stay and from what you describe the camping options are not very appealing. So on the back burner it stays….

    • Haha… Trust me, the dog gets PLENTY of love. It’s somewhat absurd how spoiled he is, really. But you are right. I do put him to work for my blog. Whenever I’ve got space to fill, he’s always there doing something goofy or annoying or a combination of goofy and annoying that I can use. He’s helpful like that!

      As for DC, there is a LOT to see and a lot to love and you really do need to go there at some point, but like everything on the east coast, it just takes more time, and more patience, and (a lot) more money.

  14. Next time you are in the area do let me know! I would love to see you! Claire moved permanently to Denver with her boyfriend. We spend a lot of time in Charleston at our home there. If you are ever coming through South Carolina let me know! I love your blog!

    • Will do, Val! We were in Charleston when we first started traveling, but it was before you moved there. And we actually tried to get together with Claire in Colorado last year, but they ended up with some virus that we wanted no part of, so we canceled our plans til next time. Its amazingly easy and incredibly hard to link up with people as we go. In any case, we’ll certainly be back in the DC area next year – we are always gonna be tied to the area – and we’ll absolutely reach out. We do need to catch up. It’s been too long! Stay well, friend.

  15. LOL!!! Fun read ๐Ÿ™‚ to date I have yet to be in the campground bathrooms unless it’s to take shelter or do maintenance. I think after our last visit DC is now off the list of cities we need to visit.

    • It is a real rarity for us to use bath houses, but this is one of those places we really don’t have many good options. And yeah, if not for our significant ties to DC, I doubt we’d be returning much either. It’s a tough place to visit in an RV.

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