Christmas at Jojoba Hills

BEWARE,, this is a longer than usual update with lots of pictures.

From the time we joined the Escapee’s RV Club we have heard and read good things about the Jojoba Hills RV Park so of course we just had to check it out for ourselves.

The sign at the road Entrance to the park. As a member you get a gate opener. As a visitor you get a gate code.

Jojoba Hills RV Park is an over 55 Co-op park located in Southern California just east of Temecula in the second largest wine region of California.

There are 11 SKP Co-Op parks from Washington State to south Florida. The Escapees RV Club helped start the SKP Co-Op parks, but it does not own them or run them. Each SKP Co-Op park is a separate and independent nonprofit corporation and rules and costs vary at each location.

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Here at Jojoba Hills Escapee’s members can pay a $31,000 fee and lease a lot which entitles them to stay on that lot for as long as they wish and for as much time as they wish, provided they pay the monthly maintenance fee of $253 per month plus electricity. Which if you plan to stay in this area a bunch of the time during the year makes it a cheap place to stay, especially taking the location in mind and all the amenities offered here.

Our site at Jojoba

A bare lot here has at least a shed for storage or whatever usage they desire (within limits) but most lots have been improved by the “leasers” by increasing their patio size with pavers, shade structures and adding vegetation (at the leaser’s expense).

NIce sized site with a sun shade and some extended patio work. This site goes from the tree you see on the left to just beyond the right of the RV. And has a great view.

This would be considered a starter site but is still large. It goes to the left of the shed a ways.

This would be considered a starter site but is still large. It goes to the left of the shed a ways.

Even though the leaser pays $31,000 up front and pays for all improvements out of pocket when they decide to no longer be a leaser the full cost of the membership along with any assessments imposed while you are a member are refunded to you after you terminate your membership. But the cost of the improvements is not refunded.

Another nicely landscaped lot with a view. These folks created a nice private patio with a shade cover. 20141224_140738

When the owners go off to travel for an extended period, they are encouraged to assign the lot to the Park’s rental pool while they are away. This makes room for other Escapee members like us to visit the park and stay on one of the rental lots for a nominal nightly fee which was $24 for us including electricity. This is about half of the cost of an RV spot at other parks in the area which makes it a great deal for a full hookup site. Especially with everything offered here.

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Availability of rental spaces depends on members putting their lots into a rental pool while they travel. And not all leaser’s put their lots in the rental pool for various reasons. Some people simply leave their RV here year around and some have shade structures or other improvements that they simply don’t want others to use I guess.

Most parks were people either lease or own lots will give back a portion (if not all) of the rental dollars to the owner/leaser but that does not happen at Jojoba. All of the rental money goes to the park to help with the costs of running and maintaining the park. That’s good and bad at the same time. I can’t help feel if they even gave a small portion of the rental money back to the leaser it would give incentive for more people to put their site in the rental pool and maybe even generate more money for the park in the long run PLUS benefit the leaser at the same time.

Some art someone did in there site

But hey, what they are doing has been working because every lot is currently owned (Leased) and there is a waiting list of at least 17 people waiting for a lot to open up to be leased. And every site that is in the rental pool is rented. So the place is full. So you could argue not to change a winning program that is already in place. I however have always had the mindset that even though things may be good there is always room for improvement. So always strive for better.

We will go out on a limb and say the sites here are as big as any at parks we have stayed at so far, maybe not depth but in width. And the founders of the park did a great job of cutting the park and its sites into the hillsides creating great views from almost every site. Being cut into the hillside like they are also created some strenuous walks up and down the roads for those evening strolls LOL!!! And bike riding, well forget about it!!

Some landscaping in one of the sites

Jojoba Hills has always been one of those spots we would hear good things about, mainly reading but now and again by talking with people. And always, ALWAYS we heard positive things. And after staying in the park for just the 11 days we have I can honestly say that I think every person in the park LOVES Jojoba. So much so that I started looking for the magic cool-aid bowl that everyone is drinking from LOL!!

But to be honest we think we get it. It all starts with the people. Everyone that we have meet from day one has been more than friendly. We were greeted with open arms and every person we happened across seemed genially interested in meeting us and welcomed us.

Even though we could give many more we will give you just a couple examples: One day I went down to the air-rifle range to get a few pictures with the “toy” and while there 2 different people came by and I had probably 30 minute chats with both of them. One person told me about a RC airfield just down the road that by being Jojoba members we had access to. And he mentioned that his neighbor flew down there almost every day and suggested that I look him. Great I thought, I love watching the plains.

After I finished up taking pictures and made my way home 15 minutes didn’t go by before we had a knock on the door. It was Manfred who was the guy I was told about. After inviting him in for a nice visit he invited me to go along with him the next morning to fly. Not only to take my “toy” down to fly but to fly one of HIS planes. Which I gladly did by the way and had a great time flying a RC plane for the first time and meeting the other 8 or 9 pilots that showed up that morning. (Oh boy, is another hobby in the works??!! Time will tell LOL!! But there IS a RC Aircraft show in Ontario Ca. coming up pretty soon that we may need to attend while staying in Indio.

The plane I flew. Look, it's still in one piece even AFTER I flew it.

Another example is that while sitting around with a bunch of folks during the Friday evening happy hour a guy walked up and introduced himself to us and noticing we were visitors and asked if we had plans for a Christmas dinner, and if not invited us to join them in a Pot Luck. When we made mention that we did in fact have plans he simply said, that’s great but we just wanted to make sure no one was spending Christmas alone.

As far as Christmas goes a person could buy a $3 ticket to attend a huge Chili dinner and once you attended the $3 was returned (So a free meal in other words). They decided to collect the $3 up front because in years passed people would sign up but not show up and they have found that people will show up to get their $3 back there-fore less wasted food LOL!! Funny stuff.

Those are just a couple of the countless examples we could give after just being here such a short time. It’s unlike anyplace we have stayed so far while being on the road.

And for activities and amenities. A person can stay as busy as they want here. I don’t know what more a person could really ask for other than maybe a golf course on site.

There is a wood shop and metal shop full of hand and power tools for the convenience of the members. The woodshop has a commercial quality table saw, radial arm saw, drill press, wood lathe, welder, band and radial sanders and more. Connected to each of the tools is a vacuum system to control dust. There is plenty of room for members to pull a car or even RV in to do oil changes or other projects. And there is a complete inventory of landscaping tools that can be used by the members.

The right side is the wood shop and the left is the metal shop

The right side is the wood shop and the left is the metal shop

There is a large and well-stocked craft room and they have classes in woodcarving, card-making, decorating gourds, polyclay, beading and stitching as well as others. And the resort supplies most of the supplies to boot!!

And then there is an art center for the members with classes in drawing, watercolor and painting. And they plan to add ceramics and pottery workshops in the future.

There is even an air rifle range where you can test your marksmanship on targets at varying distances. They even hold competitions now and again and have special days for the ladies.

Walking up to the air rifle range

Walking up to the air rifle range

The Air Rifle range

The Air Rifle range

The air rifle range

The air rifle range

Air rifle shooting range from the air. I should have taken the shots earlier in the morning. Things wash out mid day.

Air rifle shooting range from the air. I should have taken the shots earlier in the morning. Things wash out mid day.

The resort maintains a parking area where members can store RVs, boats and trailers at NO CHARGE as long as there is space available. It seems to be a very popular trend here to have a RV that you leave at Jojoba on the leased site and have a travel rig. And it is common here for members to not travel and have a home elsewhere and just have a RV that is left at Jojoba and used as a winter home.

A shot of the storage yard

A shot of the storage yard

 

And there is a large library that contains thousands of books and videos. Videos can be rented for 50 cents. How can you beat that!!??

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And the exercise room that has a multi-station weight machine, hand weights, treadmills and stationary bikes. I hear there is an elliptical machine on order as well.

 

The weight room. I spent and hour here every morning.

The weight room. I spent and hour here every morning.

A pretty nice weight room. I guess they have a elliptical ordered and on the way. One of the treed mills will be taken out to make room.

A pretty nice weight room. I guess they have a elliptical ordered and on the way. One of the treed mills will be taken out to make room.

And a billiards room with 3 very nice tables. We spent many evenings here.

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A nice pool room

A nice pool room

And a card & game room where you can find people playing things like Bridge or other card games about any time during the day.

There is also a sewing room that is amazing. I don’t know much about sewing but when I walk into a room with about 15 sewing machines, a huge cutting table and cupboards full of material that is supplied by the park for anyone to use I figure it’s a pretty big deal. One of the machines is a heavy duty one that can be used with canvas and other thick materials.

There are roughly 15 machines in this room that anyone can use at any time. And the cabinets are filled with supplies.

There are roughly 15 machines in this room that anyone can use at any time. And the cabinets are filled with supplies.

They use the heavy duty machine for canvas

They use the heavy duty machine for canvas

And they have a Longarm Quilting Machine. Again, I don’t know much about this stuff but after listing to a few of the ladies, and guys, I guess it’s the cat’s meow. Many of the quilts made here are donated to local charities.

Part of the long arm quilting machine

Part of the long arm quilting machine

I didn't uncover the entire thing but this is a quilting machine. I don't know much about this stuff but I guess it's the something special.

I didn’t uncover the entire thing but this is a quilting machine. I don’t know much about this stuff but I guess it’s the something special.

And what RV Resort would be complete without Putt Putt golf. To be honest this one is far from being very good and could use some help but from what we saw while here, it wasn’t very popular.

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And I can’t leave out the Tennis and Pickle ball Courts. The tennis court converts into four pickle ball courts. Mornings are reserved by the pickle ball players and the court is reserved for the tennis players in the afternoon. We have seen tons of people playing Pickle Ball in the mornings but have not seen a sole playing tennis. Pickle Ball is very big here.

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The Clubhouse, pool and pickle ball courts from the "Toy"

The Clubhouse, pool and pickle ball courts from the “Toy”

And of course the pool and 2 hot tubs with the million dollar views.

20141219_133841 20141224_075536 One of the hot tubs. What a great view to have while soaking!!

And there is the Ranch House where many meetings are held but can also be reserved my members for, well whatever. For example our friends Dave and Maxine reserved the Ranch House for Christmas Eve in order to use the full kitchen to bake a turkey and have an evening of fun and games which they were kind enough to invite us to.

The Ranch House

Diane and Maxine working hard in the kitchen at the Ranch House getting ready for Christmas Dinner.

Diane and Maxine working hard in the kitchen at the Ranch House getting ready for Christmas Dinner.

Having Christmas Dinner at Dave & Maxine's

If all of that isn’t enough there is a RC airfield about 1 mile away the park members have free access to. I took the “Toy” down to fly as I mentioned and had a great time.

The airfield from the "Toy"

The airfield from the “Toy”

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A few of the planes that were at the airfield when I went there.

A few of the planes that were at the airfield when I went there.

Plus there are sign-up sheets in the Freedom Hall for things like guided off-site hikes, line dancing classes, yoga, breakfast and dinner outings, star gazing get-togethers, Ice-cream socials every Wednesday and Friday night and Happy Hour (which for us turned into Hour’S) every Friday night, water aerobics, music jam sessions, golf outings, poker night’s and on and on and on.

This is the Freedom Hall where various events and gathers are held like ice-cream socials or larger events.

This is the Freedom Hall where various events and gathers are held like ice-cream socials or larger events.

Diane and Maxine got to the clubhouse way early before almost anyone else showed up. They must have been ready to play!!

During our stay Diane spent a couple evenings with Maxine down at the Clubhouse playing the card game Hand and Foot while Dave and I spent a couple hours in the Billiards room until the ladies finished up.

And Diane got involved with Yoga and a weight training class a couple mornings while I spent time doing my morning workout in the exercise room. No pictures of the Yoga I’m afraid.

For us we found we needed to plan for down time rather than plan to find something to do. It seemed we were always working out or attending some type of social event or visiting with people around the park. So much it seemed that we only broke away from the park long enough to tour Temecula one day and took a drive to Julian to have a piece of Pie they are so famous for LOL!! We were just content staying active at the park.

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These metal sculptures are just down the road from the park.

These metal sculptures are just down the road from the park.

If you haven’t figured it out by now we are pretty darn impressed with the place and it is probably top on our list of places we would consider sitting still at for a few months during the winter months when we are ready for that type of thing. And it’s a darn good thing we left when we did or we might have signed up this time around LOL!! (Other than the new lot switching rule that I will explain later)

Now that we have talked the place up so much I have to at least point out a couple things we feel are negatives, nothing is perfect after all.

#1- The first thing is (and this is something that may not really be fare) it’s in California. In MY mind most California Drivers are just crazy and simply rude drivers. And the road the park is on is a 2 lane, not the greatest road that is heavily traveled. The positive is there is absolutely no road noise. I will be so bold as to say I have never felt the desire to support California but I guess that’s something I would just need to get over.

Diane trying real hard to make more friends but this group seems a bit tight lipped LOL!!

#2- Coming from a small community that I had the privilege of helping a new business get off the ground in I had to deal with the “Good old boy” mentality. And even though no-one that’s in a “person in charge” position at the park will say it’s true I see small indicators that some of that does exist. That’s probably the biggest sour point for me about the park. But keep in mind that’s it’s just my opinion after being here only 11 days and hearing a few comments that make me feel that way. I could be all wrong.

Diane picking some lemons from one of the many community tree's.

Diane picking some lemons from one of the many community tree’s.

#3- I admit that I’m sort of an instant gratification type guy anymore and when you become a lease holder you are assigned a site that is available. You don’t pick it, you just take what is given to you (you do have the option to refuse it and wait for the next site once you reach the top of the waiting list and if you refuse 3 times you go to the bottom of the list again). Everyone lives by the same rule so that’s fine I guess because you do have the ability to trade sites when something more desirable comes available once you are in, and last year they had 38 sites come available for trade so it does happen.

Once a member and in a site the rule has been you could find up to 5 sites in the park that you would like to move to and sign up on a “Wish List”. And when one of the sites came available the first person on the wish list in the #1 position had the option to move to it. So if you are a new member but are a proactive type person and put yourself on the list you had a pretty good chance of getting a site you want eventually.

However there seems to be a change coming and the “Wish List” may be going away. It could change to a seniority type setup. In other words when a site comes available it is made available to everyone in the park for 10 days, and let’s say someone that has been a member for 6 months puts there name on a list of people that want that site first they could be bumped off the list by someone that has been a member for a year but puts there name on the list AFTER the newer member. Not to appealing to a new member because as a rule as a new member you start out on the less desirable sites in the park which most call the “beginner sites” that no one really wants to stay on.

Now the “people of authority” in the park will say that every site in the park is good and they hope people become members for the amenities and the friendly people in the park, and we get that, but we all still want a pleasant place to be while home. You certainly will not be spending every minute enjoying the amenities. But if I was trying to set new rules like that I would say the same thing to get people on board. (I will say that MOST of the sites here are better than most sites we have stayed at during our last couple years of travel, but not all).

There will be another option to trade sites however. And basically it’s word of mouth. So if you hear of someone that might be leaving the park you could simply trade sites with them before the site comes available publicly for everyone to jump on. So it really comes down to who you know, again not a set in stone, sure fire way for new members to move around because of course the new members know fewer people and would have weaker ties.

I would say that if Diane and I were at a level 9 in seriousness about becoming members, hearing about the new rule made us drop to a 7 and we will keep an ear out to how the new system is working.

One of the 6 ponds in the park.

One of the 6 ponds in the park.

#4- About the only other thing that’s a negative to us is we would like the option to have a Casita on a site which simply will never happen here but wouldn’t be a deal breaker for us.

We had a great time during our 11 day stay at Jojoba and we both agree that we have meet more people and participated in more events and activities than any other place we have been. And if we had spent more time at Jojoba I know we would have uncovered even more.

We have to apologize for some of the pictures. I was playing around with setting on the phone camera one day and I guess I forgot to put it back to normal and some are very poor quality but I think you can still get the idea of what they are.

Friday 12/26 we will be lifting our jacks and will be headed to The Springs at Borrego Springs RV and Golf Resort. It’s supposed to be a very nice place and is our New Year’s treat to ourselves. I say that because it’s more than double the price than we normally like to pay but hey,,,, we are worth it LOL!!

I warned you this update was long. And I hope I didn’t ramble too much.

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7 Responses to Christmas at Jojoba Hills

  1. landwander1 says:

    Great write up! We are interested in staying there and also want to get a feel of the land. How much in advance did you have to make your reservations? Was December the easiest winter month to reserve? Thanks,
    -david

    • Dave & Diane says:

      You can’t really call and “reserve” a site at Jojoba, you can call in advance when you are close by and they will give you a feel of what chance you might have of getting a site in he main campground area or you can just pull up and feel pretty sure that you would be able to get a boondocking site which gives you full use of the park as well. OR if you know of a person that is a member of Jojoba THEY can reserve a site for a visitor.
      From what I hear once January rolls around any rental site’s are hard to come by for the rest of the winter.

  2. Really enjoyed this long post. You did a great job explaining the pros and cons!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !!!!

  3. kellyva says:

    Nice post! Thanks for explaining the ins and outs of the park system. We are members of Escapees but have never stayed at one of their parks. We are moving to a brand new park in Yuma on the 29th – it even has a 4 lane bowling alley! HA Safe travels…

    • Dave & Diane says:

      A BOWLING ALLEY!!! Cool!! I’m probably, no I KNOW I’m better at bowling that Pickle ball but like them both. Which park is that? We will probably head towards Yuma the first part of Feb. after we leave Quartzsite.

  4. Very nice post about Jojoba Hills Co-op. We stayed there in Oct. 2013 and much of the same impressions that you pointed out. The facilities were the best of all of the Co-ops we’ve visited. Glad to see that you included the Pickleball courts. At that time in our “pickleball careers” LOL we were just starting and too “chicken” to ever get down in the mornings to play. We will definitely take advantage of them next time.

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