On Campgrounds: You Can Pick Your Site and Your Vegetables at Idaho's Country Corners RV Park
Besides a campsite, RVers pulling into Country Corners RV Park & Campground in Caldwell, Idaho, in mid- to late-summer also get to "U-pick" owners Ken and Linda Blagg's garden.
"We let our overnight guests pick what they want for dinner when they stop," said Ken Blagg, who has owned the 48-site park 30 miles northwest of Boise in west-central Idaho for four seasons.
It is no accident that there is a garden there for campers to enjoy.
"Linda and I were sitting here during the summer the first year we owned the park and that was one of two things that we came up with that we could do for our customers – put a newspaper on everybody's doorstep every morning and plant a big garden," Bragg related.
And "big" is not an exaggeration. The Blaggs' garden contains several varieties of potatoes, cucumbers and squash, 40 tomato plants, a number of cantaloupe vines and about an acre of corn. "The garden this year is phenomenal," Ken Blagg related. "It looks like a farm. The corn is all over 8-foot high."
Whether or not it's because of the garden, business had picked up at Country Corners midway through the summer. "It's a lot better than last year," Blagg said. "We're up over 35% in overnight traffic. Gas prices hit us last year.
"We are getting people this year who missed coming last year. They told us they just couldn't afford it."
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Philippines native Hazel Holbrook didn't mean to end up owning Jamestown Campground, a former KOA park in Jamestown, N.D.
It just sort of happened.
"We were traveling last summer in June and thought we could find a property in Montana," she said. "But where the campgrounds we looked at were, it was really mountainous, and the roads weren't paved."
On the way home to Bowling Green, Ky., with her retired husband, they ran across Jamestown KOA about 100 miles from both Bismarck and Fargo in a rural area near Interstate 94. The location and size of the park appealed to her, so she bought the property within a month and by July was running a campground.
Business this season has been "real good," she said, due in large part to transient workers building a new power plant nearby. "Many of them are staying the whole summer," she reported.
The variety of people who stay at Jamestown Campground in her first year of ownership has surprised her. "You have different people – grouchy people, rude people, happy people," she observed. "You have to work with all of them. That's kind of a challenge for me. 'You provide them with everything and still they complain."
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Despite rain in early summer, Abigail Abel, the second-generation owner of 195-site Bald Mountain Campground in Townshend, Vt., is pleased with the season.
"June and July was rain, rain, rain," she said. "Amazingly enough, we've been quite busy. This year people have come despite the weather, maybe because it's been raining everywhere in the Northeast."
Located in a valley in southwest Vermont created by the West River, a 50-mile long tributary of the Connecticut River, Bald Mountain Campground, sitting on 160 acres, was built in 1968 by Abigail Abel's parents, Robert and Charlotte Abel. The park's namesake, Bald Mountain, is part of a state park up the road.
High fuel prices last season didn't seem to affect attendance from campers from the Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., areas. "Last year it surprised me that the season was as good as the year before," Abel said. I thought gas prices might have bothered us, but we didn't see any of that and there's been none of it this year."
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Located in the hilly Pennsylvania Dutch County, Pine Hills RV Park in Kutztown, Pa., stayed open over the winter. "I don't think we will try that again," said Pam Hasse, who has owned the 123-site park with husband, Bob, for three seasons.
"You need a break. This is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week job, especially if you live on-site. You can't walk away and say that you don't want to do it right now," she said.
The park will be closed officially Dec. 1, but not completely. "We told some of our snowbirds to call us if they are traveling during the winter and if we are here, they can come down and stay for awhile," she said.
Since they bought the park, the Hasses have been working on new landscaping and leveling off sites. "Little by little we are redoing the park," Hasse said.
The park was full for almost two weeks in late June during the Kutztown Folk Festival, which featured local craftsmen.
The partially wooded park hosts many RV rallies and appeals to large motorhomes.
"We accommodate big rigs the best – easy in and easy out. The Prevosts love us. They can come in with a 45-foot Prevost with a big SUV behind it and they can stay put," she said.
At Timberline Campground in Waukee, Iowa, business has been "pretty good" this season, according to Deborah Christensen, owner with her husband, Dick, of the 112-site park on 40 acres.
"We're not setting the world on fire, but we have a lot of local weekend business. People are staying closer to home but they are staying a day or two longer," she said.
The park, originally opened in 1944 as a summer boys' camp, is in a heavily wooded area near I-80, 10 miles west of Des Moines.
The Christensens, who bought Timberline in 1998, this year added six new sites to the park, which features a host of amenities and three Conestoga cabins. "The cabins have been very, very busy over the last two years, she said. Some of our customers have had trailers and sold them, but they like the ambiance of camping. A lot of tenters also go into cabins for a night or two to get off the ground."
Bob Ashley is an Indianapolis-based freelance writer/editor and a 25-year newspaper veteran who specializes in the recreation field.