Originally posted May 2020: Revised and migrated February 2021
Travel date May 2020
After months of self-isolating during COVID-19 at Cedar Hill State Park near Dallas TX, Kevin and I decided to hit the road. We began a revised version of our previously planned ‘Mountain Summer’ route by heading to our first stop in Childress Texas.
This decision was not taken lightly. We spent hours researching local advisory notices and closures online. After hours of risk discussions, we made contingency plans.
As an asthmatic, I had been extremely cautious and spent the past two months at home. Kevin did a few solo grocery trips for us during this time so I had the luxury of staying home.
Honestly, as I revise this article in February 2021, I am still scared of needing ventilator support if I contract COVID19. Therefore, I will continue to wear my mask, social distance, and obsessively clean my hands regardless of our location.
Our original ‘Mountain Summer’ plan departed from Dallas on April 1st. We planned to explore west Texas and Arizona in April and May. Like a lot of you, in early-March, we decided to shelter in place and had to delay our trip.
Thankfully, the state park allowed volunteers to remain in the campground when the park closed to the public. We had a beautiful state park practically to ourselves and it was magical. The timing worked out for us and we were immensely blessed with hiking and mountain biking trails to ourselves.
Planning for RV trips
On May 14th we left Dallas to start the “Mountain Summer-COVID19 edition” with our first stop in Childress Texas.
Our revised trip plan is very flexible and only has two campground reservations. Zion National Park Watchman Campground in May and late July in Denver Colorado. I intentionally did not make campground reservations so we could easily alter our route as needed. Our goal is to continue to maintain social distance while exploring Utah, southern Wyoming, and Colorado.
Pippi is ideal for this purpose since she is completely self-contained. If you are wondering who Pippi is, check out our About Us page.
How do you plan a road trip?
As you can imagine I had already spent hundreds of hours researching the original ‘Mountain Summer’ route. Thankfully I didn’t have to start completely over for ‘Mountain Summer – C19 edition’.
Since the revised plan required us to get from Dallas TX to Zion National Park (approximately 1200 miles) in eight days, I took a different approach. I kept our original route plans after Zion and only focused on the trip to Zion.
I attempted to find locations that were not too far off our route. Focusing on those with attractions that didn’t require human interaction (hiking, disc golf, etc).
Travel days often do not go as planned. So I found campsites or parking areas around every hundred miles along the route. On good days, all the stars align and we feel like driving a few hundred miles farther than planned. But on bad days, the weather and technical issues can severely alter the plan.
As you may know, many counties and cities have closed campgrounds to protect their residents from infected travelers. Many national and local parks are closed for similar reasons. Since I can not know the future, I have an absurd number of options in the Covid19 layer of my Google planning map.
Free apps for camping and road trips
In essence, I have Plan A, B, and C at various points along the route just in case the campground or National Forest I prefer is closed or not accepting new RVs. Since we are self-contained we have a lot of options for overnight stays.
We really just need a level-ish place to park however sleeping in parking lots is not the most ideal option. Sometimes parking lots are great for a quick evening but I like variety in our stops.
In my research, I cross-reference information and reviews on a few free camping apps including Campendium, iOverlander, FreeRoam, RVParky, and plain ol’ Google search results.
Childress Texas RV Park: Fairgrounds Campground
For instance, I wanted our first stop to be the Childress Fairgrounds Park. We’d been there on a previous road trip and liked the park. Also, temperatures were warming up and we wanted the option to run our air conditioners if needed.
The City of Childress’ website didn’t mention the campground’s COVID status so I was unsure if the park would be accepting RVs. They provide no public bathroom facilities and have no staff on site but some similar campgrounds are still closed. With a little more research I found a recent Campendium user review so I was fairly confident the park was open for RVers.
The Childress Texas Fairgrounds Park consists of five first-come, first-served campsites in the small town’s fairgrounds. For $15 per night, you get a gravel/asphalt parking spot in the city park with a covered picnic table, 50amp electric and water connections.
Campers are limited to three nights max stay and payment is an honor system. We found this little gem on our way to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta last autumn with my parents. Since this campground is so small and does not take reservations, I had an alternate location if they were full or the park was closed.
Thankfully we had a good travel day leaving Dallas and the trip was easy. We stopped at a rest area to make lunch (we carry our kitchen with us) before continuing on to Childress. We arrived around 3 pm and were the first RV to arrive for the night.
Things to do in Childress Texas
We decided to stay in Childress Texas for two nights because we like the park and the cute little town within walking distance.
Over our two-day stay, we took several walks around the lake in the park, played a couple of games of disc golf in the park, and I was able to complete my first virtual 5K.
We were also able to support a few local businesses while in town. The Town & Country hardware store was open with social distancing practices (although most patrons were maskless) so we picked up a few items and got Pippi inspected while we were still in Texas.
Donuts in Childress Texas
Based on Google reviews, we also decided to try the donuts at the Childress Bakery. I thought they were magnificent but I have been craving donuts for about three months so I am not sure if I was a fair judge.
Texas vs New Mexico
After two nights in Childress, we planned to make our next stop a quick overnight in a small park with free overnight parking off I-40. We arrived at the San Jon Municipal Park earlier than planned due to the time zone change and a good travel day.
During our first day in the state, we saw several digital highway signs stating that New Mexico requires face coverings and even some signs stating that specific towns were completely closed to visitors. Check out our New Mexico page to read about some of our adventures in the state.
Parking at Walmart Overnight
Kevin felt like driving further than my Plan A, B, and C options so we ended up parking at Walmart overnight in Edgewood NM.
Our Walmart overnight was uneventful, with the exception of the nearly empty meat department inside. We enjoy parking at Walmart on long road trips because we can safely arrive after sunset, shop, sleep and keep moving the next morning.
We planned to spend two nights at our next destination, El Malpais National Conservation Area. I share a few favorite activities in our El Malpais blog.
What’s it like to travel in an RV full-time?
I am so excited we are finally starting our full-time RV travels but honestly, it felt odd to leave Dallas. Every other trip we have ever taken, we have always ended the trip by going back home. To learn more about us and how we are able to travel full time, check out our story.
Houseless or Homeless
We are officially homeless or more precisely houseless. But nomadic sounds slightly better for those worriers out there. We are planning to follow the weather and experience as much as possible.
With COVID-19, we plan to focus on the natural and socially distanced options available. We are bummed that current times will limit our ability to experience local cultures and people as we would otherwise. However, we look forward to incorporating more when it is safe to do so.
Emotions: RV Full Time Living
As we kicked off this new life, I was still full of mixed emotions. I was excited to get started on our long-term road trip but I was scared of being lonely. New experiences and places sounded amazing but always being far from home sounded pretty sad.
Update from February 2021- During the first year, we found our stride and have enjoyed many amazing experiences. Check out our blog page to read about a few.
As we left the Childress Texas RV park, I looked forward to our new life and all of our plans.