When Mark Fadden and his family decided they wanted to try something different for their spring break trip, renting an RV was the answer. We caught up with Mark who was heading up the California coast with his wife and two sons, and Nika, the owner of the RV Mark was renting, on Thanksgiving Week of 2017. Here you’ll discover what brought Mark to RVshare, what incredible opportunities and encounters he and his family had, and what an RV trip offered that no stay in a hotel could compare to.
Day 1: Mark Fadden, his wife Jennifer and two sons Grant and Jack headed over to pick up the RV at the pre-arranged meeting spot on the evening of November 19. Wanting to let Mark get on the road and begin his trip after many months of planning and anticipating, we chatted with Mark for a quick few minutes to learn his expectations, plans and excitement for this trip.
An RV trip is entirely new to your family. What was the impetus for trying this out?
Mark Fadden: One of the cool things that I get to do is think about, as a travel writer: “What different things can families do?” Families are always thinking about what can we do that’s a little bit different?
[My] kids had been to San Diego where my in-laws are, and so I thought, “Well, they’ve never been up the coast, and I haven’t been up the coast in decades.” So we thought, “Hey, let’s do something a little bit different.”
We had some time during Thanksgiving break, so we thought to take this week and just go from Los Angeles and drive up the coast. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about the landslide, or it happened after we were planning the trip, but we’re gonna go around that.
Tonight we’re going to first stay in Malibu at Malibu Beach RV Park, and then tomorrow we go up to the Hearst Castle, do a tour there. Then we’re gonna go as far as we can on Route 1, which I believe is right there, and then we have to jog up to the 101, and then come around the Monterey Peninsula.
We’re going to come back a little bit to Big Sur, because that’s kind of a neat place to go to. Then we’re going to stay in Santa Cruz for two nights, and then we come back and we stay, actually, Thanksgiving night in Santa Barbara RV Park.
That next morning, we’re going to go to the Ronald Reagan Library. My wife’s a big Titanic fan, and there’s a Titanic exhibit that’s closing fairly soon, so she wanted to see that. One of our bucket-list things is going to all of the presidential libraries. We’ve been to the Clinton, been to the George Bush (we’re from Dallas, so been there, obviously), been to the George Bush Sr. down in Texas A&M, College Station.
Really, it’s trying to get away; getting the kids off of devices; going to the different RV parks; experiencing the California coast, which is just absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful; and really just trying to do something different.
Also, and my wife hopefully won’t see this, but in the back of my mind, I’m kind of using this trip as maybe this is kind of a temporary test to see if an RV would be part of our lifestyle someday. Several of her family members, two aunts and uncles, have RVs. One of them, actually, lives in it with a 125-pound Rottweiler. They have a home base, a dock kind-of-thing made for RV parking; but they’re only there a few months out of the year. The rest of the time they are on the road traveling. They send postcards from wherever they are, saying “We’re here. We’re there.” They’ll volunteer to be voluntary park ambassadors at different national parks; it’s a really cool lifestyle.
How did you find RVshare and want to integrate us into your trip?
Mark: We actually live in Colleyville, Texas. I run by this place almost every day when I’m running, and they do sales and leasing, and I’m like, “Huh. Maybe we’ll just rent this RV.” So I Googled RV rentals and RVshare popped up. We were talking about this before with Nika, with the RV, the whole sharing community now and how people, I think, are a lot more comfortable with Airbnb, with sharing things like this.
And, this is a huge expense to buy one; but if you just want to rent one for a trip, maybe a couple of times a year, or maybe you just do it as you’re trying it out to see if you want to buy one of these. RVshare is a great way to do it. You just rent it; pull up and get all checked out on it; you go do your trip; and you turn the keys back in. You have a wonderful experience. Yeah, so that’s a great service you guys are providing, and again, we’re just excited to do it.
Are you ready to drive the RV, and do you think you’ll need to reach out to the owner with any questions?
Mark: I have not [driven an RV], but I’ve had boats, so I’m kind of used to the size of these things. And this is 25 feet, not huge, and I think this one’s a good size for us, just a way to go up the coast and enjoy it.
And [Nika] was very informative. And that iPad, that’s a huge resource. Huge. That’s a great tool to have. To me, that’s awesome.
[She’s] talking [during the walkthrough], you’re like, “Okay, yeah, uh-huh, uh-huh.” But then to have [the iPad] there; she has the videos, she has photos, and she has the manuals. That’s a game changer. I mean, that right there, can save a vacation right there.
Day 2: By the time Mark & Family arrived to Malibu Beach RV Park, it was dark, late and everyone was hungry. To see that RV set up was as easy and as seamless as we were told, we watched Mark take two attempts to back in the RV, hook up water and plug in to electricity. Truly simple.
So we let them rest for the night and then caught up with them right down the road at Zuma Beach, their first stop on the Pacific (and goodness was it a beautiful morning! In the hour we we were there, sweatshirts were shed and shoes were kicked off).
Tell us about your first night and trip so far. Have expectations met reality?
Mark: The first night, we stayed in the Malibu Beach RV Park. It’s a beautiful place. Right up on a cliff. You turn right off the PCH, and it’s a pretty steep hill going right up, but this is a diesel. It goes right up the hill with no problem at all.
We stayed in a normal sized slip; they have some that are bigger for the bigger RVs, [with room] to park a car next to it. It was a great night. We were kind of tired, so we didn’t spend too much time outside. We took a walk around; there is a trail that goes from the very top (there are three levels), down to the office, got some bottled water, things like that, and just came back.
Then we just turned the table into a bed for Jack. Grant was already passed out in his little top perch, which he loves now. He’s like, “Hey, can I ride up here while the car’s going down the road?” “No, no, no. You can’t do that.” But he loves it up there. So it was a great night.
This morning, we actually went down to Ralph’s store in Malibu, provisioned the RV with a bunch of food, sandwich makings, things like that. Came out from there, stocked everything up and went over to the Starbucks.
We’re on our way out. My younger son Grant, who’s wearing a Golden State Warriors sweatshirt, sees a dog outside with a lady. He loves dogs and he wanted to go over to ask her to pet it. While he was walking over, she stopped him and motioned for her husband to come out from the Starbucks. He was inside. Well it turns out, he’s Craig Johnson, one of the owners of the Golden State Warriors, and he had two of his rings on. He talked to us for a good 10 minutes. He let Grant wear two of the rings and took a picture with him. He showed us some pictures of him playing golf with Steph Curry. Grant’s like, “So do you know Steph Curry?” And we’re like, ” Steph Curry works for this guy.” But just the nicest guy; talked to us, told Grant, “Hey, you know when Steph Curry talks about success, he talks about staying in and doing well in school,” and that was the whole thing.
Yeah, so we stopped to provision the RV, never thinking we would meet somebody like this, and lo and behold, you’re in Malibu and you bump into the owner of the Golden State Warriors. It was, that’s an experience Grant will remember forever.
So we came back to the RV Park, unhooked, you know. Jennifer took a shower. Everything was working great. The hot water heater works perfectly; everything is so handy. It’s not like the old RVs where things are hard to do. It’s very intuitive. Everything’s the flick of a switch and things turn on, and it’s ready to go. Hot water’s at the ready. Power’s at the ready. It’s just so easy.
Driving: I thought it would be a little harder to drive, to manage, but again, the backup camera you can keep on the whole time. It’s got huge mirrors on the side. It’s just easy. This is, so far, it’s proven to be very, very simple, even in LA traffic in California. And it’s beautiful scenery. I mean, this is our scenery going up the whole state. It’s gonna be absolutely fantastic. Can’t wait to get on the road again.