Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by timsresort » Sat May 20, 2017 7:33 pm

I once again agree that it's a little far out for some. I also do not think that in the first year of a new venue that everything is going to be perfect. All previous sites have had issues that were mitigated over time. So we absolutely should give Petaluma some time. (I thought it was fine and would happily continue there). I just wanted to throw out the 49er as an option for the future, and wondered what the membership would think of a location in the gold country.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Chuck Lutz » Sun May 21, 2017 11:16 am

Dave...just a thought here...if we have the luxury of looking for new venues for the Spring meet which is our biggest attendance and therefore biggest problem, it would be really great to "test drive" the location by planning a Fall meet there first to see if the management expectations and our expectations are in sync with one another.

You know, like test driving the place before bringing what the Spring meet does to any venue?

As an aside, I googled both the 49er in Plymouth and the Thousand Trails in San Benito....if I had no feedback other than just reading everything on the websites and seeing the pictures, I think San Benito would be a smoother fit for us. All the other issues notwithstanding.

I will point out the obvious here though....back in "the old days" we had Mom 'n Pop campgrounds in such sleepy burgs like Corning and Waterford that were a little rougher around the edges and that kinda suited our group just fine. They actually appreciated the volume of business we brought to them and the cash flow! They both went away and we had Tower Park...a little more "civilized" but Were happy to have our business and, to me....afforded almost ALL the club members with similar/decent sites. Things changed a bit when they became KOA and now the third iteration of "campgrounds" is what we have left...

The newer KOA business model that really doesn't NEED us or our money or the headaches we bring to them so negotiating with them is more difficult, I can appreciate that!

That's where we seem to be now....in a world of KOAs (Thousand Trails is about the same) and their "business model" is not suited to fishermen or tent campers.....its RVs towing Mercedes-Benz SUVs with the grandparents and their grand kids staying there....hence the carnival attractions these places seem to have and the desire to turn two sites into a single pull-through and charge over $80.00 a nite with a four day minimum (OK, maybe three?) depending on the season? At least the club officers got Petaluma down to $50 but the four night minimum stayed.

I know I complained about the problems for non-campers or non-members accessing Petaluma because I brought a trailer full of stuff to sell...I recognize if we are going to try to open up sales to those groups we not only have to be close to bigger cities to draw from, but be in a camp where they allow that...with that in mind, we have to make a decision if we are going to try to find locations that meet those specifics or not. Frankly, I don't think we can so I'll remove LOCATION from my priorities. As long as we can find some place close to I-80, or I-5 or Hwy 101 or 99 or many other roads then access for the MEMBERS won't be too difficult. The Sac/San Joaquin valleys meet that and the lower Sierra Nevadas as well as some of the coastal mountain ranges will also. I don't think Hwy 1 Pacific Coast does at all... We happily cruised from Corning to Waterford so those can still give is a range that extends into those areas and gives us possible places.

The thing is...do we want to be a place where "everybody comes" or do we want a place where we fit in, that accepts us more along the lines of the old campgrounds and will the membership with RVs be content with limited service....I mean, is WiFi really a necessity for our club? I think not. Maybe we need to find places where we just plain get together with the club members, with no expectations of large public attendance which hampers and limits the search criteria? Maybe we need to rethink where we are, where we want to go?

I can sell all the stuff I have on the gee....Then instead of towing my G529 full of parts like I did at Petaluma, I can tow my GPW somewhere where we can ride around the camp unobstructed and take off in several directions on trail rides for lunch and enjoy our MILITARY VEHICLES instead of worrying about the Huey, the PBR, the vendors and the public. I know, heresy...but the best times I have had at our meets were centered around scrounging a few parts from the members, driving my GPW around and on trail rides and the camaraderie of camping with my bros.

I'd be interested to know if others would be willing to sacrifice a few of the things we have taken under our wing in the last dozen years and get back to a simpler camping model....I never went to Camp Roberts but no one who did had anything but positive things to say and it wasn't exactly as civilized as any KOA is/was. I'm not advocating our doing the Spring meet there, I'm just pointing out that many of our members have "roughed it" there before and went away happy they got to drive all over hell and gone and hang out with one another.

I talked to Dave Aro the other day about the possibility of finding a Boy Scout camp we could rent out...charge ourselves and then pay "rent" and hire additional services and even the Scouts to help with parking and guiding members around and cleanup...I'd rather the Scouts get some cash than some Mega-Corp KOA anyway. I'm just looking for options here and they won't fit the KOA business model and since they tend to restrict us like Peta/Jellystone will be dling, maybe some tradeoffs would be better options?

Just sayin'....
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Kim Sievert » Sun May 21, 2017 12:22 pm

Camp Roberts had maybe about 5 full hookups, without shade trees and they were about 1 mile (or more) away from the barracks and mess hall we rented.
Camp Roberts does not want our well behaved group back.
Dave tried for a few years after the last meet, to set up another one.

Chuck, I though you made one of those Camp Roberts campouts.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by John Neuenburg » Sun May 21, 2017 12:55 pm

People who attended Camp Petaluma now have a better idea what to expect. Let's assume for a minute that KOA makes no changes. There will be fewer problems and complaints in 2018 because most of us will adjust what we do. For example a 2017 day user might rent a cheap spot in the Group Camping area next time to get campground parking and his wristband. A spouse might choose to not bring her car - just drive hubbies pickup to town. Someone who after the event learned about the existence of parking in the trailer storage lot might plan to stash his pickup there in 2018 to make more room in his campsite for his MV plus maybe a friend's MV.

But we hope there will be positive changes. Every improvement we can make allows the event to work for more people. So after the 2018 Camp Petaluma, we should have a much better idea what we have. The point is, assuming there will be no changes is not smart right now.

The people who were there for social reasons, MV driving, tire-kicking, and had a campsite or cabin, mostly had a great time. Having a nice little city like Petaluma next door with hotels, restaurants, and even airporter bus service from the big airports, is different than every other place we have held the event. The roads in the region are great for MV driving and the scenic beauty of the area is hard to beat. It's more family-friendly than our other locations. So the big thing we have to work on is handling people who can't or won't rent a campsite. Vendor needs will be addressed with more buyers walking around. Growing the number of campsites helps this too. Note Dave's statement about there being over 40 new prospective campers asking Jo-Ann for campsites and cabins. This sounds like more people are likely for 2018. We will seek more campsites in the forest plus some long pull-throughs can be divided into A and B sites.

We can experiment with the Fall meet location. It can fit into more places. 49er Village is out in right field but our other venues were on the fringes except for Tower Park. This is a busy RV park and we don't know for sure if they will give us a section. It's worth having a meeting with them. At an elevation 1035' above Lodi, the uphills to get there might be tough for certain people. This is a big reason why Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley was ruled out many years ago. BUT if people don't mind the uphill tow, Grass Valley has 40 full hookups, 100 partial hookups, and dry camping space. Another one I know less about is El Dorado County Fair and Event Center in Placerville.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by DavidA » Sat May 27, 2017 10:52 pm

The Casini Ranch option should be looked into and a possible consideration. It looks to be in a nice location however the weather there in fall and spring can be iffy. Still, all the campsites seem to be on the level and they appear to have quite a few. Definitely worth the drive if the price is right and the weather is right. Casini Ranch Interactive Map Check it out!

I like the look.


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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by John Neuenburg » Sun May 28, 2017 12:15 pm

I go to Cazadero a few times a year which is a little north of the tiny town Duncans Mills and Casini Ranch. I think it's too remote for a big MV swap meet but great for a smaller one oriented to driving the scenic area. Very female friendly options, like Camp Petaluma.

Casini Ranch was a setting for the filming of the 1960s TV series Combat! as was Hop Kiln Winery on Westside Road for episode "Ollie Joe" and Korbel Winery land near Guerneville where they blew up the Odd Fellows Road bridge during episode "The Losers." The bridge had been scheduled for demolition and they let the special effects man for the series do it. The owners of the winery, the Heck brothers, fed the cast and crew champagne and orange juice every morning. Jack Hogan ("Kirby") later said they were drunk for two weeks!

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Casini Ranch hosts the annual Civil War Days every July, a highly recommended CW reenactment weekend. It takes place in a secluded valley near the campground. Lots of artillery because it's produced by the California Historical Artillery Society who did a nice demonstration for us at Tower Park a few years ago. This year it is July 15-16 and would be a perfect time for a possible POC to check it out while investigating the area for a MV event or Camp Petaluma convoy route.
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The MVCC's own Dan "Lt Dan" McCluskey leads the Union cavalry every year
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May I suggest a Camp Petaluma convoy route to Freestone - Occidental - Monte Rio - Duncan's Mills for refreshments - Guerneville - 116 to Forestville, Sebastopol, and Stony Point Rd to Petaluma? Or for remote twisties, go north of Guerneville to take Sweetwater Springs Road east to Westside Road, check out Hop Kiln or other wineries then catch 116 south.

I can't resist posting this shot of Dan at the National Cavalry Competition, which he attends regularly. And most of us thought he was only into mechanical MVs!
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Bart1015 » Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:02 am

I live very close to Casini Ranch. The Ranch is privately owned and operated and they do a great job. They also host the Russian River Rodeo every year. Its a small town rodeo that attracts some big named riders and a lot of locals. The Ranch is set up very nice and it would be a great option for a swap meet. The Russian River runs on the camp's edge and is a great place to jump in and cool off.

They have everything from full hookups to no hookups. The dump station is clean and easy to use, the staff will come out and pump your trailer for a fee.

I have been going there for over 30 years and its never a disappointment.

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by The Fireman » Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:04 am

WOW,

Casini Sure looks better than Petaluma

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Greg Lalonde » Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:28 pm

hey fireman.i have a question.why do you think that? we(my family) camp there twice a year,its right on the russian river,and it is a very nice place.i do like petaluma very much.there is a lot to do around the area,convoys,the military museum,back roads,dillons beach,the list goes on,and on.if for some strange reason,we lost petaluma,casini ranch would be my first choice. greg l.

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Kurt Lesser » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:00 pm

We'd lose the entire contingent from the south if we relocated to Casini Ranch. It's too far north and there are no easy ways to get there. People are already bitching about getting to Petaluma and it's 500 yards from 101!
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Chuck Lutz » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:57 am

I see Kurt's point....back in the day we had two events, one up on the Sacramento River and one down on the San Joaquin River....Woodson Bridge and Big Bear....they afforded the northern, central and southern guys the best of both worlds....one in their backyard and one they had to drive a bit to get to. For us central (Bay Area) guys it was a bit of a drive to both but no big deal to me or my buddies around here.

The Spring event is the big one and would be best suited to a central location...of which there ain't many any longer outside of the Korporate KOA business model so we seem to be stuck with the Jellystone/Petaluma locations because if for no other reason, they can accommodate our numbers of campers. I understand that some of the northern and southern guys bitched about Petaluma but as Kurt said, it's right ON the 101 highway! For those unfamiliar with a road map, they simply come up the 101 and through SF to get there and if they are I the valley, they have to negotiate a switch from I-5 to 880 to 580 to 101 or use Highway 12 from I-5 to the 101. If we were still at Woodson Bridge it would have taken them longer anyway!

It is a matter of choices here....do you want some place easy to get to or some place we can fit into that isn't like Church Camp?

I had a site by the river at Woodson Bridge down at the end and a place on the train tracks at Big Bear (after camping in the mud bog/orchard for a couple years). I know we are all older, crankier and have evolved into a much more sedate camping style (RVs/campers, not tents) as we got older but I think the days of bitching about what the club is able to secure us should be OVER....I mean, does anyone REALLY look forward to an event with Port-O-San toilets and no showers these days?

It's good to speak out and I know they listen but there are only so many options out there....for those wanting a more rustic event, maybe something in the Sierras around 2,000 to 4,000 feet right off I-80/highway 49/highway 20 could be done and then access to "the road less traveled" for our vehicles could work. I know the Northern Recon guys have done the event up around The Buttes and I went once, but other options would be available if we did not have a 400 campsite requirement for that kind of event....

For those who complained about the drive to Petaluma, I guess reading all the latest info since the meet might have shown them that:
a) the club has been actively seeking locations for our LARGE group
b) there ain't many that are not of the KOA style available
c) we have had to adapt because we are victims of the club's own success; we've grown in club membership (and in guests) to the point where there are no Mom 'n Pop camping places within a 100 mile radius of Tower Park/KOA/Jellystone that seem to fit our needs so those are what is left to choose from.
d) a "rustic" setting with no Wi-Fi, no water in each site, no sewer connections in each site isn't "convenient" to us any longer.

I think the club officers have done their due diligence and then some, thank you for doing the footwork and for negotiating the best possible deals in spite of working with Korporate KOA!
Chuck Lutz

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Mitch Olson » Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:03 pm

Well said Chuck. Very well said.

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by John Neuenburg » Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:11 pm

I agree. Who woulda thunk it?

:lol:
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