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How to camp in style in Havasu

April 8, 2019

It’s hard to know a stranger when your home makes you the life of the party and for Perley Jay Benson, his bus is home.

With more than 35,000 songs on his karaoke system, a flat screen TV with speakers to accompany it and a full bar conveniently stocked all on one side of his bus, campers have few excuses to not pull up a foldout chair and join him.

Not to mention sitting alongside the shore of the Colorado River serves as the perfect backdrop to the scene for the retired Alaskan business owner who spends nearly half the year in the area.

If this seems a lot different from the camping you know then perhaps it’s time to upgrade from the old tent and makeshift fire.

Campers have come a long way from lying on the ground in sleeping bags. For those who don’t like to “rough it,” luxury or glamorous camping, also known as “glamping,” makes it so people can still sleep under the stars without sacrificing the comforts of home.

After years of hard work as the owner of welding consulting company, Benson has spent his retired life traveling the world with his wife as his road companion. He can tell you firsthand people can enjoy nature without giving up hot water or cable.

The two purchased a vintage 1980 Eagle bus and turned it into their dream home. In the near 20 years they have had the bus Benson has made upgrades so he can travel in style.

“I have painted it twice and remodeled it several times,” Benson said.

The amenities of his bus include several flat screen televisions, a satellite dish, a wet bar, a reverse osmosis system for water and a wine cellar. He also rebuilt a two-seater 1972 Honda that fits perfectly under the bus so the couple has something to ride around in when they visit places.

The features on Benson’s bus aren’t uncommon for campers or glampers according to John Meyers, manager of USA RV & Marine in Lake Havasu City.

Meyers’ business handles the customizing of motorhomes and coaches for their customers. He said the most common addition campers request is the installation of satellite dishes and receivers so people can watch TV wherever they are.

“Some of them will enable you to watch TV while traveling on the road,” Meyers said.

Meyers said even those who have always camped in an RV have seen changes in the newer models such as cameras all around the coach for safe driving and awnings that come out for shade at the push of a button.

“The biggest innovation has been the slide-out,” Meyers said. “It gives you a lot more room. The trend you see now is people are going smaller. For a while the coaches were getting bigger, but now people are going smaller in length and then they have the slide-outs.”

Meyers said the average motorhome can range from $60,000 to $70,000 new and about $30,000 used.

As far as location, Mohave County and Arizona have been a prime locations for camping due to near-perfect weather year-round.

Benson parks his bus at Pirate’s Den RV Resort and Marina in Parker and describes it as the ideal place to set up camp.

“It’s a million-dollar view and it’s the prettiest place,” Benson said. “The water level is constant and the boating is great. This is a spot where we don’t get much bad weather.”

Pirate’s Den is a riverfront pirate-themed resort that features amenities that include an 18-hole golf course, a beach bar, the Black Pearl Restaurant and beachside cabanas. The resort is open to RV’s 15 years and younger unless approved by management.

John and Debbie Scott of California are neighbors of Benson’s at the resort. The retired couple sets up shop with their 40-foot Phantom Motorhome that has four slide-outs, three televisions inside and a cabana in tote.

“You can have fun camping no matter what you’re in,” said John Scott. “You can be as busy as you want to be.”

Camping for the couple wouldn’t be complete without their ATV either but their pirate-themed setup isn’t complete without the companionship the resort provides.

“Everybody here is family or friends,” Debbie Scott said.

The couple says they enjoy playing horseshoes, playing bingo in the clubhouse or just relaxing on the river.

“There’s never a day you look for something to do,” John Scott said. “You’re on vacation every day. One of my friends said he didn’t party like this in his twenties.”