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Camping in BLM campground

My dad’s house is being painted so had to move my trailer, which was parked next to it.  I am making a cross country trip in May and a shakedown cruise, before the big trip, seemed like a good idea.  Redding CA has many campgrounds and RV parks so there are plenty of options.  I’ve stayed at several RV parks, but opted this time for a less well appointed and less expensive locale.

At the base of the downstream (dry) side of the Shasta Dam is the Shasta Campground managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  Never having camped at any BLM site before I visited the campground to learn more about the process.  It is first come first served, and costs $10/day, or $5/day if you have a discounted access pass (I do).  The place was packed on the Saturday I visited, but Brian, the site manager/grounds keeper, said it would be mostly empty on Monday.  He also told me the place would be full again the following weekend as there is an off-road race scheduled.

Getting to the campground requires a trip across the Shasta Dam.  The dam is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and they control who crosses it.  They recently waived the requirement to show a valid driver’s license and vehicle registration (cool!, I thought), but when I showed up on Monday, they randomly selected my vehicle for a thorough inspection.  I gave them my driver’s license, told them why I wanted to cross the dam, opened the back of my van and engine compartment.  They used a mirror to look under my van for anything out of the ordinary.  Since there were cars lining up behind me I suggested to the officer that he throw me up against the van for a pat down.. you know, to put on a show for the people behind me.  He declined, but I thought it would be fun and wanted to see if anyone got out of the line after the show.  Disappointment!  😦

Brian was correct, the place to mostly empty. I counted 3 occupied camp sites, out of about 27.  I had my pick.  I wanted something that would get some morning sun and afternoon shade.  The best option seemed to be site #18.  It has trees on the south side and was a short walk to the lavatory, water spigot, and trash bins.  No electrical hookup or city water connection (didn’t expect that for $5/day).

I parked, leveled, and secured the trailer and then proceeded to set up my solar panel to power everything and keep the battery charged.  Was not planning to use the A/C or microwave so there was no need to break out the generators (which I had prepped and tested, just in case).  So far, every camper I’ve met has been very pleasant and talkative.  Not sure if it is a nature or nurture thing.  Maybe camping puts people in a good mood (it does for me), or maybe good natured people are more apt to go camping (could be me too, but that varies from day to day).

NOTE: I purchased the 230 watt Zamp solar panel when I got my trailer.  Until now, it has not been used since there were always electrical hookups available.  The sky was cloudless so the panels worked very well.  On this trip, with full sun, they put out 14.5 volts and up to 10-13 amps, depending on need. Not quite 230 watts, but these things rarely operate and the stated output, except in perfect conditions (i.e.; rarely).   But hey, 80% of the stated max is acceptable to me.  I purchased the largest capacity panel because I expected it to operate at less than that.  The house battery was fully charged after a few hours.

Tuesday, 4:30PM: Other campers started showing up for the race this weekend.  A Minnie Winnie set up next to me in site #17 and turned on their generator.  Goodbye quiet, hello exhaust fumes.  The family included some teenaged boys, but I brought earplugs for such occasions.

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My van is near the center of the photo.  The Sacramento River is in the background

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A view of the campground from the southwest looking east and a bit north.  The Shasta Dam in in the background.

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