As first-time van campers, we did a lot of research before setting out on our Route 66 trip. And on our itinerary, along with the best burgers and must-see landmarks, we made sure we had at least a rough idea of where we’d be staying each night.
We were committed to spending as many nights in the van as possible while spending as little money as possible on lodging. After all, we were already renting our bed on wheels for 24 days.
While it was tough to find free or cheap spots in large cities like St. Louis and Tulsa, the biggest challenge of the trip was the 260-mile stretch between Oklahoma City and Amarillo.
With no major towns and very little dispersed camping options along that 5-hour drive, we didn’t have much choice of where to stay at the halfway point, roughly near the Texas-Oklahoma border.
And that’s how we ended up at the Double D RV Park in Texola, OK.
Online reviews called it “a hidden gem” and mentioned the “to die for” homemade fried pies at the on-site restaurant, along with the cleanliness of the bathrooms, showers, and laundry facilities.
Sounds great! What could go wrong?
Well, nothing went wrong at all, in the end, but the Double D RV Park was not exactly as advertised. In fact, it was as much of a ghost town as Texola itself.
We slowly drove through Texola, peering out the windows at the boarded-up buildings with peeling paint. I caught a glimpse of what might be Kerouac’s “ghost of the Susquehanna” transplanted to Oklahoma.
When we rolled into the Double D, there were two other RVs parked in the lot but no visible signs of life, just a tacked-up sign and a metal box to pay for your spot on the honor system.
The restaurant of fried pie fame was seemingly abandoned—we peeked through a window and saw metro shelves stocked with dry goods via a dim light still on somewhere in the recesses of the kitchen, but nothing else.
The bathrooms and laundry facilities were clean enough to get through the night (especially since we were completely out of clean socks after 8 days on the road).
And this is a story with no real conflict resolution, because despite the desolate surroundings and the fact that we were basically sleeping in an unmonitored parking lot yards away from I-40, everything was fine.
I made us dinner (resulting in one of my favorite photos of the trip). The weather was balmy enough that we could sit outside for a while and enjoy a beer with the soundtrack of I-40 traffic as our companion.
And we had exactly enough quarters to do one load of laundry, which was crucial considering there was no change machine and no place to get change for miles in either direction.
The next morning, we were on our way to Amarillo, where we’d sleep in (relative) splendor at the Big Texan RV Park with its heated indoor pool, cabana bathrooms, and Cadillac taxi service to the Big Texan Steak Ranch.
It was only later on in the trip, after we’d experienced the Big Texan and so many other wonderful RV parks along the Route, that we looked back at our night at the Double D and thought of how it all could have gone horribly wrong.
But it didn’t. Lesson learned.