Rainbows End is home to the original Escapees RV Club established in 1978, brainchild of Kay and the late Joe Peterson. Located in Livingston, TX (pop. 5,335), an easy drive from the cities of Houston and Austin. This is the first RV park I’ve been to that earned top marks from me in every category! Escapees RV Club offers much more than your typical campground, though.
It is also the place where 10,000 RVers maintain an address. A tour of the mail center relates the history of the park, how Escapees and the new offshoot Xscapers (for RVers who work while traveling) have grown with the times, and why many full-timers come here to establish a domicile. Escapees offers many amenities, such as this Smart Weigh scale which weighs each corner of a rig individually. The service costs $55 and is available by appointment.
It was easy to ask for a map at Headquarters and follow the dots in the domicile changeover process. First I opened a mail forwarding account so I would have a local address for $195 for the first year, then $95 per year plus shipping costs. Then I took Rose and Gypsy to be inspected ($7 apiece, annually). The next day I switched vehicle insurance carriers from the branch I had previously used to the TX branch, saving a few hundred dollars a year.
During the winter months I stayed in the park 3 times, each time in a different capacity. When first arriving, I camped in this wooded section called The Oaks for two weeks, paying the member rate of $125/week for a full hook-up site. Verizon is at 4-5 bars and 3G throughout the park, but wi-fi is only available in certain sections near the office, for an additional fee. I opted to use my phone’s hotspot to go online.
Temporary insurance cards, inspection reports and titles in hand, I stopped at the tax office and registered my truck and trailer. Then it was off to the Sherriff’s office complex for a driver’s license ($25 for 6 years). The entire process took about 5 hours and was accomplished within a 10 mile radius. In comparison, just waiting in the DMV office in my previous state took 5 hours!
The next time I traveled back this way, I was into saving money, so parked in the dry camp areas for $5 a night (maximum is 20 nights per year). This was a grassy area with a picnic table next to the full hook-up sites in this section. Another dry camp area is in a wooded copse across from the common dump station. The attendant kindly allowed me to fill up my fresh water tank before parking for the week.
This was the first time I’ve used the shower in a RV Park, and I was impressed at the cleanliness of the facility. The room was heated and the water hot and plentiful. Next door is a large laundromat (one of two in the park).
The third time I returned to the park, it was as a CARE volunteer. I’d read about this opportunity to assist with the onsite but separately run non-profit organization in the Escapees magazine, knowing that I’d wanted to work there eventually. As luck would have it, an opening came up in March and I spent 6 weeks workcamping in return for meals and my site. I will review the CARE program in my next blog post.
Nearby Lake Livingston is a huge recreational area, complete with Livingston State Park and this view from the Farmhouse on the Lake Restaurant. Trust me…the coconut cream pie is the best ever!
Ultimately, the best part about parking at Rainbow’s End is the built-in community. Here I met the nicest people, was invited to social functions within 5 minutes of unhitching, and had a fantastic experience getting to know both the regulars and passer’s by. Many RVers own homes here, each with a RV shed of some sort adjacent to a traditional house. One of my new neighbors stopped by with cat toys and a gently-used cat carrier for Miss Georgia She also told me about the onsite physician’s office where I got a checkup and my prescriptions renewed for the year.
New to Texas, I was able to apply for healthcare at www.Healthcare.gov despite having passed the normal deadline. Bank accounts and cellphone were switched over to the new address online. The entire process was easy breezy. Movie nights in the clubhouse come with freshly made popcorn and assorted candies. The real treat is knowing that I’ll get to return “home” again soon!