We’ve driven through La Crosse, Wis. several times over the past few years since it’s on the way to Rochester, Minn., where our friends Dave and Michelle live. Michelle and I have talked many times of how nice it would be to camp there since it always looks so pretty driving by. When we discovered the Memorial Weekend was open for them and us, we decided to do the long-anticipated trip there.
The Pettibone Resort, where we booked, is located, literally, in the middle of the Mississippi River. There’s a series of islands there and the campground was built on one of them. And as the girl who checked us in said, “You want river-front camping, you take your chances on floods.”
I called the day before we left to make sure our campsite wasn’t under water. We were fortunate to have booked the site that we did – site 101 – since it was on high ground and on the opposite side of the campground that did, in fact, experience flooding. We also had two different people tell us we had the choice spot in the entire campground, to which I agreed. We walked around the campground one day and didn’t realize an area that appeared to be a water inlet was actually campsites under water until we saw the little white signs with the campsite numbers sticking out of the water.
Because of the flooding, and the forecast for rain, I think a lot of people cancelled since the place appeared to be fairly empty for a holiday weekend. Brian and I arrived Friday afternoon and it was really empty. By the time Dave and Michelle came in late Saturday morning there were a few more sites occupied but I don’t think the place was more than half-way full the entire weekend.
As I mentioned, the forecast was for rain but we only got a wee bit on Sunday afternoon. It was sunny all day Saturday. After the rain Sunday, it was cloudy but warm enough for outdoor activities. That said, the weather did not spoil the fun in the least.
The setting of the place didn’t disappoint. There was something quite calming about waking up each morning to see the river flowing just a few feet behind us. The river was also a nice backdrop to a run through Pettibone Park, the namesake of our campground.
The park was located on the opposite side of Hwy. 14 from the campground. There was a nicely paved path that wound through the woods, around a small lake and then along the banks of the Mississippi. My friend Michelle and I took the dogs and went on about a 3-mile run. The run kept getting interrupted by my dogs, both of whom must have held in all of their, um, waste until this run. And each time they went, both of them would wait until after we passed a garbage can or dumpster. After Macy went the first time, I ran the 1/8 of a mile back to the trash can so I wouldn’t have to run, swinging a tell-tale blue bag the rest of the way. We took off running again and not even five minutes later, she went AGAIN. Back I went to the trash can! So, their bowels caused the run to be more of a workout than we intended! Yet another reason dogs are good for your health, I guess.
As far as newbie RVing goes, we learned a few more things on this trip. Firstly, 29 gallons isn’t a whole heck of a lot, especially when you’re talking about the storage capacity of waste tanks. There’s been a lot of chatter on the Everlite owners forum about the tank monitors’ inaccuracy so we were a little skeptical when the monitor showed 2/3 full for both black and grey tanks on the morning of our second day. There’s really no way to look to see how full the grey tank is, but opening the toilet up, pushing the flush valve and shining a flashlight in will give you some idea of the black tank’s contents. It looked pretty full.
Brian decided to unhook everything, re-hitch and go to the dump station, which was really close, but obviously not at the individual campsites. There was just water and electric — oh, and cable! Ha
It didn’t take him long to do this but I think he was a little disappointed that after all of his efforts, he came back to find me packing a bag to go to the bath house to shower. I had taken my first RV, water-conserving shower the day before and, especially after my run, I just wanted a semi-long, hot shower. The shower the day before was adequate, but I didn’t feel as clean as one should feel after a shower. And the process of RV showering is going to take a little getting used to. It went something like this:
1. Step in and turn the hot water knob, scalding water hits chest immediately.
2. Make a mental note to turn down the hot water heater once the shower is done and quickly turn the cold knob as you jump out of the stream of water.
3. Once the water is at a comfortable temperature, you rinse your body.
4. Next you start to rinse the hair but realize you’re about a foot taller than the shower head.
5. Do a squat until your at the appropriate height and wet your hair as quickly as possible.
6. Shut off the water.
7. Grab the soap, realize you forgot to wet your washcloth.
8. Turn the water back on, wet the washcloth.
9. Shut off the water.
10. Put some soap on your washcloth, scrub your body.
11. Think about rinsing the soap off, but decide to wait and rinse the soap off with the shampoo.
12. Put shampoo in the palm of your hands.
13. Start to massage shampoo into your scalp, realize your hair isn’t wet enough.
14. Turn the water back on, wet your hair some more.
15. Turn the water off.
16. Massage shampoo into the scalp until it’s sudsy.
17. Turn the water back on.
19. Rinse your hair, allowing the water to run down to also rinse the soap.
20. Freak out that it’s taking too long to get the soap out.
21. Turn off the water.
22. Squeeze your hair, twisting and turning it to get out remaining water and realize there’s still a lot of shampoo left to rinse out.
24. Turn water back on.
25. Rinse hair as quickly as possible, cracking elbow into shower door in the process.
26. Rub elbow, remember the water is still running.
27. Turn off water.
28. Assess the amount of shampoo and soap left to rinse.
29. Decide to run the water for 10 seconds more.
31. Turn on the water.
32. Stand directly under the stream of water, rotate 360 degrees.
33. Turn off the water.
34. Get out of the shower and immediately spot suds on your leg you failed to rinse.
35. Throw up your hands and sigh.
So, yeah. Not the most relaxing task. I’m anxious to repeat the process with a full sewer hookup. I’m hoping the experience is much different.
The rest of the trip was lovely. Campfires and s’mores by night. Coffee with a view by morning. I think we would definitely return both to La Crosse and to Pettibone. The only negative aspect of the experience had nothing to do with the campground but had to do with ignorant campers who think the rules concerning dogs on a leash don’t apply to them and their GREAT DANE (!!).
We realized too late that we should have said something the first time (of no fewer than 8 times) the dog made it’s way to our site causing my dogs to go nuts. But it seems, based on what the kid (dog owner who appeared to be just days beyond his 21st birthday) said during the altercation he tried to start the last day when we politely told him to get the damn dog on a leash already, please, thankyouverymuch, that someone did complain but nothing was done. The dog owner made a statement about us bitching and complaining all weekend long but he was told there was no rule about dogs being on a leash. Riiight. I’m sure the campground owners would be thrilled at the fact your 4-foot tall dog at one point wandered over to the playground scaring the bejeezus out of the kids playing. We hadn’t said a word the whole weekend until we were checking out, but wished we had. Not that it would have done any good, mind you, since clearly no one did anything about the complaints that WERE apparently made. My guess is someone complained to the young kid working the desk on the night shift and that kid didn’t want to get involved.
It’s unfortunate that that experience was the one that had to end an otherwise spectacular weekend. But we tried, as with every other problem we encounter, to keep a sense of humor about it. It helped that “the Tool,” as we re-named the owner, came marching over shirtless with sunglasses on that had a big rhinestone star on the side. Special.