Our original plan had us cruising up the east coast, hitting each state in turn, arriving in Maine by early to mid July. Based on an impending wedding near Portland we accelerated the schedule by about four weeks. More recently, we arranged to pick up a couple of relatives and wedding attendees in NYC and take them with us in the RV to the big event. Because we can’t pick them up until just a couple of days before the wedding (they have pesky interference like work and school) this presented a scheduling challenge given that we still wanted to visit all of the New England states before turning west. I mean come on; we stopped in New Jersey, so do you think we would skip New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts?
What we came up with is to sprint beyond New York and visit Newport and Cape Cod, then cut back to Connecticut for a few days. We would then pick up Titi Maria and KayKay in our Geo Tracker, bring them north to our Connecticut campground for a night, and then continue on to Maine the next day. Other relatives will be taking them back to NYC, so after we are done exploring Maine, we will visit New Hampshire and Vermont.
So that is how we ended up at the Carr Point, part of the Newport Naval Station’s property, and a little known gem among military RV campgrounds. Even though the park only has six sites and we were arriving on Memorial Day weekend, we were still able to make reservations less than two weeks in advance. Our timing continues to be fantastic this year; the park had only just opened for the season the week we arrived.
The six spots are situated right on the water overlooking the Narraganset Bay. We pulled in forward rather than back in so we would have the great view through our front window. The park has 50 amp power and water, but no sewage at all, not even a dump station. At $20 a night, it is still a fantastic deal, you just need to arrive with your grey and black water tanks empty, be conservative with the water use while there, and if you are staying a while perhaps plan to drive to the nearby private RV park in Middletown and pay the $15 fee to use their dump station.
We had great weather on each end of the five day stay, with a day and a half stretch of near continuous rain and drizzle sandwiched in the middle. We loved the location (and the price) so much we extended our reservation from four to five days, sliding our Cape Cod and Connecticut reservations to the right. We explored downtown Newport, the historic district, mansion row, Ocean Drive, the marina’s, basically everything we could fit in during the good weather days.
On the rainy days we spent a lot of time hunkered down at the base internet cafe catching up on shows, news, and this here blog. The one day extension allowed us to stumble upon the base thrift shop’s annual sale: $4 bucks for whatever you could fit in a paper bag, excluding uniforms and a few other categories. Holy crap. No wonder there was a line outside half an hour before they opened. We kept it real, we only have so much space, and walked away with but two bags.
The 23 items within them averaged less than 35 cents each, for which we got a handful of DVDs in Rosemarie’s preferred genre of bad horror, four box sets of complete seasons of my preferred comedy shows, a pair of boots, multiple dresses, a purse and matching winter hat, a high quality winter jacket with hood, etc etc. For an additional $3 I also replaced my four cup coffee maker, rusted enough to become a possible electrical safety hazard. What a score. We donated a small bag of things upon arrival, but now we would need to do some serious cutting of our existing clothes in order to stay true to our “one in, one out” rule of items in the RV.
While there we met the To family, our neighbors for the stay, the father, Kam, a freshly minted (though prior enlisted) Navy Ensign supply officer attending classes at the Newport Naval Station. During their time in Newport they were living in a small Class A motorhome, which strikes me as a bit ingenious. I can’t even count the number of military courses I attended while in service, and some of them simply did not provide adequate housing. Department Head school in particularly would have been a much nicer experience had I possessed a decent RV rather than have to stay in the crappy dorm rooms the school provided for us geographic bachelors at the time.
Our last day displayed the unique weather of New England islands. During our afternoon drive around Ocean Drive and Fort Adams State Park we passed through large patches of rolling and thick fog. Turning back towards the Newport Harbor, it disappeared completely, resulting in a beautiful clear sunny day, allowing us to watch the near shore sailing races from the harbor docks.
We’ve stayed in six military campgrounds this year, a big change from our grand total of two in 2015. My past resistance to them, based largely on the additional rules, scrutiny, and bureaucracy found within the facilities, has melted in the face of the subsidized prices for often extraordinary locations. We still love the nature experience provided by national, state, and county parks, as well as the amenities provided by private resorts (especially when they offer the 50% Passport-America rate) but for the rest of 2016 and beyond we will remain much more open to the military campground options along our route.