Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Where to Stay During Decorating Week

Fiesta Parade Floats, Irwindale, CA Parking Lot

How close to the build site you want to be is a matter of personal choice. How far are you willing to drive in the dark, in unfamiliar territory, after having a long work day? And then repeat this twice a day for a week? My choice developed like this. Decorating the float was our reason for being there. Long drives, dining out, evening sightseeing, etc. was not part of the considerations. So getting as close as possible was more important than quality of accommodations. I decided on a ten mile radius.

I am retired military so I investigated campgrounds at area military facilities–none available within my radius of consideration. A few commercial campgrounds fit the bill, but the prices reflected the fact that we were looking at the busiest tourist week of the year for the Pasadena area.

When I began researching this project, I quickly noted that both the Angeles National Forest and San Bernardino National Forest are within reach of Pasadena and surrounding communities. Both have many campgrounds that will accommodate most RVs. I considered the problem solved and moved on to other subjects. When I later returned to get more specific, I discovered ALL CAMPGROUNDS WERE CLOSED FOR THE WINTER!. Don't count on staying there during decoration week.

My early emails to float builders always included a query about boondocking on their site. Fiesta Parade Floats was the first to answer my email and the only one to invite me to park my rig in their lot. That won my allegiance. We stayed with them, boondocked in their parking lot, and walked back and forth between our rig and the work building. I cannot provide any information or give advice on other organizations and their facilities. Chances are that if you call you will probably talk to someone who knows nothing about RVs and their requirements. Be very cautious and question extensively.

Fiesta stated in their email response that I was welcome to park in their lot while we were working. I took that to mean arrival no earlier than 26 Dec and departure no later than 31 Dec. I learned after the fact that they were not hard over about those dates. Not knowing that, I made reservations for 31 Dec and 01 Jan at the Los Angeles/Pomona/Fairplex KOA, which was reasonably close. During the afternoon of 31 Dec we moved there from the Fiesta parking lot. We spent New Year's eve and New Year's afternoon after the parade and night there. On the morning of 02 Jan 2013, we called this adventure complete and headed on our way.

Based on our experience boondocking in the Fiesta Parade Floats parking lot, I will offer the following to inform your decisions. Fiesta Parade Floats occupies two buildings in an industrial park. They share a large, well lit, fenced parking lot with several other companies. The parking lot is patrolled by security personnel 24/7. Employees walk between their cars and their workplace at all hours of the day and night. They allowed us to park along one edge of the lot. Four rigs parked there.

I must emphasize that this was a vehicle parking lot with no provisions for RVs. I arrived with all water tanks empty, propane tanks full, and several containers of gasoline for my generator. Once set–up I did not move my rig for the duration. On our way in, we did a grocery shopping to be sure we had enough food to get through the week without having to leave the parking lot. Fiesta Parade Floats allowed me to use their fresh water source to fill my fresh water tank with my bladder. So we were set for the week.

I even set out my Tailgater so we could watch a little TV in the evening while the pain killers took effect. Nights were cold enough for the furnace to kick on.


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