I won’t lie to you, I’ve stayed at a few KOAs in my day. My first experience with one was in Terre Haute, Indiana on my first cross country road trip ever, and actually had no idea what a KOA even was, aside from the apparent lack of literacy they expressed through the word kamping. The experience was nice, and nice and expensive, and after that I rarely went back, except when there were no other options. The reality of KOAs is that they are typically more expensive than other parks, and that they’re chains.

And I can’t handle chains. Whether it’s Walmart thinning out the mom and pops or McDonalds fattening up the mom and kids, they represent the antithesis of what travel is all about to me: experiencing life. Why go to Belize and then order a Big Mac? Why drive to Vegas only to visit the world’s largest Hard Rock Cafe? Why…etc.?

As of late, however, I’ve been changing my mind on the KOA. The one in Las Vegas, next to Circus Circus Casino, is possibly the cheapest place you can stay in that city and be within half a block of the Strip. Tonight we’re staying at the KOA in Kingman, AZ. It wasn’t the cheapest place to stay (Kingman has reclaimed it’s section of Historic Route 66, and sleezy motels — perfect for rugged traveling lovers like ourselves — abound for $20 a night), but for the extra $10 we spent to stay here we get reliable Internet access, a few trees above our head (no small feat considering we’re in the middle of what is possible America’s cruelest desert), a miniature golf course (and I’m a pro, of course), and even a swimming pool. The staff is typically no less than exuberant on a bad day, down right annoyingly pleasant on a good day, and how can you go wrong with a daily ice cream social?

Perhaps it’s because I’m 30 and this is the first step to me first becoming a Republican, then a bastard Republican, then a greeter at Walmart, but gosh darnit, I’ll KOA again, I tell you!