Light My Fire

Discussion in 'Destinations and RV Parks' started by Jerry S, Feb 2, 2007.

  1. Jerry S

    Jerry S
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    Hi everybody,

    For those of you who don't know my camping and RVing credentials: 15+ years in tents and 15 + years RVs; 49 states and most of Canada; over 200 campgrounds and RV parks; 5 months of RVing a year for 10+ years since retiring. I discussed my views about the site in the Campgound Reviews (mostly with Texasrvrs) string in this Forum a few weeks ago.

    Since my area is about to be hit with really fridged (highs less than 10 degrees) for the next 4 or 5 days, I thought I'd try to start a hot topic. As mentioned in the aforementioned string discussion, there are some park amenities that one camper considers a positive and another camper considers a negative. One of my favorite examples is campfires.

    I have read many pro campfire reviews complaining about: lack of fire rings; the size, placement, and/or what the rings were made of; restrictions, etc. Many write about the tradional aspect of campfires: just siting around it at night; s'mores; treat for the kids or grandkids; etc.

    The anti-campfire people say: their rigs fill with smoke; embers and ash fall on their rigs and awnings; they can't sit outside at their own sites because of the smoke/smell; the inherent danger of open fires; the things some people try to burn; fires in 80+ degree weather; etc.

    The one complaint of the pro-campfire people that I have the biggest problem with is being upset about restrictions. While some parks may ban fires for their own reasons, many bans are due to governmental (municipal, state, federal) decisions. These can be permanent or temporary but almost always based on public safety issues. I have been out west numerous times over the years in states that have dozens of fires burning tens of thousands of acres and some camper will complain about not being able to have a campfire. They act as if it is a constitutional right.

    One more thought to get the ball rolling. All you have to do is read how many reviews complain about the lack of space between RV sites to realize that most RV parks are not condusive to campfires - at least to your downwind neighbors.

    I could go into each of the pro and anti items above, but I'll wait to see what others think.

    Jerry S.
     
  2. Cheryl Fuller

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    Jerrry, I must admit that the title to your thread got my attention. I am one of those who isn't in favor of campfires, mainly because of the smoke issue. I shared before, but once we were camping at a riverfront campground - due to early reservations, we were able to secure a site directly on the water. As we were less than 100 ft. from a small dam, we could hear the water running and it was so nice to sleep at night with the window open and let the sound lull us to sleep. Then a group of party'ers moved in next door. They proceeded to have a campfire less than 15 ft. from our bedroom window and drank and carried on around the campfire until all hours of the morning. The worst part was the smoke, which permeated our rig and I could smell it for days in the window coverings and upholstery.
     
  3. Jerry S

    Jerry S
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    Hi again,

    Just wanted to add a little note to the opening of my initial post. The Forum string I was refering to was titled "Review Comments". My first post starts on page 2.

    Cheryl: Thanks for your interest and comments. I realize that the fact that your neighbors were late night partyers was part of the story, but the smoke and lingering odor problems would have happened even if it had been a quiet couple who simply had the fire burning for a few hours.

    Jerry S.
     
  4. wpr

    wpr
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    Let me add my two cents worth of thought.
    I built a house on a quiet country lane a quarter mile from a 158 sites campground 32 years ago. Today I still live in the same house, but the country lane has turned into a suburban street and the campground has turned into a 600 sites monster with some of the sites less then 50 feet from my backyard. The municipality tries to impose a buffer zone between the campsites and the neighbors, but the owner of the campground doesn't care. As he has a rich father, he has money to spend on dragging this through the courts.
    I can tell you from experience that on hot, muggy evenings smoke does not rise, no, it comes right into my backyard and makes it impossible to open the windows on many nights. Having several hundred fires west of you, even when there is a smog alarm, takes the romance out of campfires very quickly. It has come to the point that we are very happy when we have a rainy weekend in the summer.
    So yes, I do not enjoy campgrounds with campfires.
     
  5. NewportNic

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    We have stayed in a couple of parks that had community fire pits. It is an interesting way to control the fires and meet your fellow RVers.

    Klaus & Wanda
    Southeast Michigan
    21' 5th Wheel
     
  6. John Blue

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    In all our time on the road we have never had a fire and never will. We have everything inside to cook with and have no need to have a fire. The smoke is a problem to all other RV people around your unit and it will get inside and be a problem. I think of a cave man each time I see people around a fire. All RV units now have some way to cook food. Large number of RV parks will not let you have a fire in first place. People walk off and let fires blow in trees and soon you have BIG fire to put out.

    My two cents!
     
  7. Beastdriver

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    The entire question of fires or no fires is just one more example of the growing need to distinguish between RV parks and campgrounds. To me, most folks who pull up in a nicely-appointed motorhome or fifth wheeler, are not attracted to outdoor fires. True, there may be some, but I would think that most would not. On the other hand, true "campers" (as versus folks who stay in RV parks in nice rigs), might tend to like outdoor fires. Its not just outside fires, but a host of other things (i. e., paved parking spots, 50-amp plug ins, facilities that cater to adults, etc.) that distinguish between RV parks and campgrounds. My wife usually corrects people who think we go "camping" by telling them that what we do is RV'ing--not camping. And, personally, I think the issue of fires versus no fires is another example of why we need to distinguish between a "campground" (where fires probably are desirable), and an RV Park, where most folks, like John Blue, don't see the need for an outside fire.
     
  8. dog bone

    dog bone
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    i myself enjoy a fire. invite the friends. have a nice conversation. cook hot dogs, smores and even pop corn. i enjoy cooking a nice steak or a hamburger on an open fire.

    just like anything else you do in life, not just camping, you have to respect the rights of others. i use dry and aged wood, hard wood most of the time. that way the smoke stays at a minimum. don't burn when it is to windy. when i leave the area or go to bed the fire is out. i enjoy being in the outdoors and i don't want to ruin or wreck the experience for someone else.





    that's my story and i'm sticking to it. :lol:
     
  9. Texasrvers

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    Since I had a related discussion with Jerry S a few weeks ago, I just had to jump in on this. I have the same feelings about campfires as I do about a lot of other things in life. If the campfire (or whatever) doesn't cause me a problem, then it is fine. However, all campfires produce smoke and ash and sparks that usually drift into someone else's space, and then there is a problem--especially if it is my space. I do not admonish people who like to have a nice fire to sit around and talk with friends, and most of these people do not want their fire to cause trouble for others. Unfortunately they cannot control where the ash, and sparks, and smoke go. I suppose it is someone's right to have a fire (if it is legal to have one in that area). But I should NOT have to breath their smoke and clean up their ash, and repair damage to my coach caused by their sparks. We sometimes stay at places that allow fires, but it is not something we look for, and we have never had one ourselves in the 8 years that we have been RVing. (Beastdriver, thank your wife for the terminology. I plan to say the same in the future.) And fortunately we have never had a really bad experience with someone else's fire. But you never know.

    I agree that there is (or should be) a distinction between campground and RV park. This is what Jerry S and I were discussing earlier, and there have been other threads about this on this forum. I think fires are ok if the campground and its spaces are large enough to support them. If the place is more of an RV park where spaces are fairly close, then fires are definitely not a good idea. I put part of the blame for this on the camp/park owners. If their park and spaces are too small to handle fires, then they shouldn't provide the fire rings or other means to build a fire, and their rules should say "no fires." Unfortunately many owners make the mistake of trying to please everyone and then no one is happy. Bottom line: There are appropriate times and places for a fire and all campers/RVers should be mindful about how their fire affects others.
     
  10. A3Medic

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    I use the ability to have campfires as criteria for choosing a campground. The time relaxing around the campfire at night is, to me, part of what camping is all about.
     
  11. Butch

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    We also enjoy a camp fire. In the Northeast-New England States most campgrounds-Resorts-Rv Parks have fire rings. We enjoy the conversations of friends, family, and fellow Rv'ers around the fire. We have invited many to our fires and have made numerous new camping friends in this manner. As an example, last September in Camden Maine, we had a couple next to us from St. Louis, and invited them to join us at the fire. Kathy had baked an apple pie that day, so we all had apple pie with ice cream at the campfire, a fine way to end a great day, having made new friends on our vacation . No matter what the subject, you will have those who are in favor and those against. Some common sense rule should prevail, but there are those who have no common sense, and or those who just don't give two hoots about any one except themselves. We also use good seasoned hard wood, do not leave fire unattended,or have one when the wind is blowing, and we put it out upon retiring. Just some good common sense rules.
     
  12. rodman

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    Would this also apply to a BBQ. Most RV parks and campgrounds have outside BBQ's that when lit produce smoke, Not as long as a fire pit would but smoke that gets into a rig and lingers all the same. I agree about the fire pits that smoke for quite some time but I have also gotten some very strange smells and not always pleasant from a BBQ. I carry a small weber with me because I like a good steak cooked on a BBQ and I would hate to think that bothers people as well, I try to be as courteous as possible to my fellow RV's.

    Juta a thought,
     
  13. campinggirl1964

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    One thing I look for when we go "camping" in our "RV" is the ability to have a campfire. Some of our most memorable camping experiences have been sitting around the campfire with our two sons and other family/friends. We typically have smaller fires and make sure they are out before we go in for the night. Perhaps when the kids are no longer with us this will change, but for now we love to sit outside around the fire looking at the stars, watching fireflies, telling stories etc. With all the amenities of home inside the trailer (i.e., play stations, dvd's etc.), we don't really spend family time if we are inside in the evening. I agree that Beastdriver nailed it on the head regarding distinctions between RV parks vs. campgrounds. Although we have a brand new fifth and like some of the "finer" aspects of RV parks, we still really enjoy parks that have more of a campground feel. Thankfully we have this website that has so many park reviews so we can make the choice that seems to suit us best - I've rarely been disappointed when choosing a park based on the reviews I've read here.
     
  14. Jerry S

    Jerry S
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    Hi again everybody,

    I was going to wait a week to get back into this string but the response has been heavy enough that I might be unable to remember/ comment on every post. Forgive me if I don't get each formun name exactly right. The initial responses came mainly from the "anti" people:

    Cheryl and Wprigge have definitely had bad experiences with campfires and are understandably not in favor of them.

    Newportnic likes communal fires. These have been nice where I have seen them but especially in smaller parks, they are usually only during the summer vacation season when the park is fairly full - and even then not nightly. They are also often too big to sit around or roast marshmellows safely. Many campers will still prefer their own, intimate, family fire on their own site.

    John Blue doesn't see the NEED for campfires. (I have read many of John's posts in this Forum and have been impressed with his opinions, so don't take this the wrong way.) We are First, we are not talking about a NEED. People want campfires. The argument can be made that, at times, the campfire is a need - large amounts for food to be grilled for more than just 2 people, for example. Atmosphere, s'mores, etc. are WANTS. Generally, if you are in an RV, fire is not needed for heat.

    Beastdriver ressurects the campground vs. RV park issue. Too many inexpeienced "campers" don't have a clue as to the difference. As some of the following posts attest, many RVers like campfires.

    Dogbone has the right attitude about responsible fires. Unfortunately, too many campers don't even think about the things he considers before having a fire.

    Texasrvrs, as usual, is right about common sense and courtesy. I am shocked to hear that you've never had a bad expeience with a campfire. I couldn't begin to count my bad expeiences. I am not talking about every next door fire, just the problem ones.

    A3medic has the "fire is part of the camping experience" opinion, but does he/she follow the Dogbone ideas about reponsible fires.

    Butch basically agrees that fires, if done right, are OK. I still say most RV park sites are simply too close together and most fire rings too close to the RVs for campfires not to be a problem for the neighbors.

    Rodman points out that even BBQ's can create problems. At least they are doing something productive - cooking.

    Campinggirl 1964 is another "camping experience" people. Again, do you follow some of the acove noted "rules" of fires.

    Summary: The "anti" side has experienced or understands the problems I mentioned in the original post. The "pro" side says they are responsible fire users. I just wish they would educate their fellow "pros" on how to be responsible and considerate.

    I can hardly wait to start my next Fire" in this forum.

    Jerry S.
     
  15. Texasrvers

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    Jerry S,

    First, you've done quite a good summary. I enjoyed reading it.

    Second, I just wanted to say that one reason we probably haven't had a problem with someone else's campfire is because 95% of the time we have stayed at "RV parks" most of which didn't allow fires. The other 5% of the time we must have been beside campinggirl1946, rodman, Butch, A3Medic, dog bone, or Newportnic, or one of the many other considerate responsible fire builders. By the way we don't mind a BBQ grill. They are usually fired up for only a short time; they don't produce as much smoke, etc.; and the food usually smells great. They just have to be careful not to leave that fire unattended or they just might discover that one of their steaks is missing. :lol:
     
  16. Cheryl Fuller

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    We have been at a few parks that had grills, but we have never used them. Like Rodman, we too, carry a small propane grill in the basement of the motorhome and we use it. Call me paranoid, but those provided grills just seem nasty to me. Ya' never know what has been on there and yes, I know that the fire would burn any residue off, but I would feel the need to use a steamer and a day's worth of elbow grease before I would put anything that was going to go in my mouth on one. Probably 98% of the parks we have stayed at do not have fire rings.
     
  17. Lance-a-Lot

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    The spouse and I enjoy sitting around our campfire talking, roasting hotdogs, making s'mores, watching the flames dance, and listening to the sounds of the night (whipporwills, coyotes, etc.). Most of our camping is done at state or national park campgrounds with ample space between sites. When we stay at private campgrounds/rv parks we do not have a campfire because in most cases we feel the sites are too close together.
     
  18. A3Medic

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    I have viewed this site dozens of times for the reviews. This was the first time I looked at the forums and I hit upon an issue like this. I guess this issue really draws the line between RV park people and RV camper people. I am always a respectful camper and am aware plenty are not.
    I have been annoyed while sitting around like "a caveman" by some class A people running their generators 24/7. I try to be tolerant and not judge why they seal themselves up in A/C emerging only periodically to walk the poodle. To each his own I guess. I will continue to enjoy RVing in the great outdoors with my kids, just like I did with my parents. Like my parents who taught me, I am teaching my kids to enjoy yourself without negatively impacting others.
     
  19. COWolfPack

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    Even though we just bought our travel trailer last year we go more for the camping than the RV parks. We enjoy staying at some of the state parks and national forests in our area. It is nice to get out and be amongst nature. Part of the experience we like is having a campfire. It is fun for us sitting around a campfire talking with friends and enjoying the night. It is also nice cooking on a campfire every now and then. Of course where we stay the conditions are more appropriate for having a campfire. The campsite are spaced further apart so we are not right next to our neighbor. However, if the conditions are not conducive to have a campfire (i.e. spaces to close together, etc.) we have no problem not having one.

    In the end it doesn't matter if you like having campfires (with the smoke) or not; like running a generator (with its noise and exhaust fumes) or not; like staying up late outside and talking, or like to squirrel yourself away in your RV, it all boils down to respect. The good, respectful camper/RV'er is the one that can go out and enjoy their experience without preventing their neighbors from doing the same. This is the type of people my family and I try to be and the type of people we hope to have around us.
     
  20. Jerry S

    Jerry S
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    Back again,

    I'm almost finished reviewing the almost 30 parks I stayed in last year. I keep having a problem getting my review of a park in Devils Lake , ND to post. I'll give it another shot tomorrow.

    Anyway, back to this string. For Cheryl F, Txrv, and COWolfpack: Either you guys never go to the variety of parks or areas (think northeast, midwest, northern plains,etc.) that I do or you go to RV only parks. I just went through my Woodall's and checked the parks I visited for fire rings and/or wood listed under facilities. The states are LA, MS, AR, IL, MI, MN, ND, MT, WY, SD, NE, and IO. 21 of 29 Rv parks indicated fires allowed. These are all full service parks with mostly RVs as customers. Three of the non-fire parks were the 3 casino RV parks in Tunica, MS. I spent the summers of 2004 and 2005 in northern NY and New England and, as somebody mentioned earlier, most parks out that way allow campfires. So you can understand how I find it hard to believe that you can stay at "campfireless" parks 90+% of your travels.

    For Texasrvrs: Both Coushatta and Paragon in LA list firerings. Also, thanks for the compliment regarding the summary.

    For Lance-a-lot and A3medic: I applaud you for being considerate of others when it comes to having a campfire. A3: I was also a bit put off by the caveman reference. Your retort about generators was appropriate. Lance: I enjoyed my years of tenting in state and national parks in the 70's and 80's and envy your ability to do that. This aging mind and body now needs its creature comforts.

    Later,

    Jerry S.
     

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