Our Vacation Cottage On Wheels

Our Vacation Cottage On Wheels
2002 Mazda SUV ES-V6 & 2008 Cruiser Travel Trailer - Fun Finder X - 189FBR

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Selling Ice Cream To The Eskimoes And Class Distinctions In The RV World

It used to be, and may still be, if you wished to compliment a salesman, to identify them as an expert in their field, you said that they could sell ice, or ice cream, to the Eskimoes (which wouldn't be PC today; now you would say "Inuit"). Well, there must be several of those penultimate sales people working right here at this resort, because today we went to an ice cream social while the outside temperatures were in the breezy 50s (which is like below zero to a Floridian) and there where small icebergs drifting around in the resort's swimming pool (Okay, that last part's an exaggeration; the pool's heated).

As we queued up to pay our one buck for an ice cream soda or ice cream sundae (the sundaes seemed to be the top sellers), ordering with nuts or without, with whipped cream, caramel or fudge sauce, or cherry, or without, we kidded each other about whether there would be any ice cream or our favorite topping left by the time we got to the front of the line. People whom I had hardly spoken to during the past 6 weeks, other than to nod hello or wish a good morning to in passing, were suddenly friendly and almost effusive in their kidding around. And this got me to thinking...

Maureen and I noticed during our first few days that not all of our fellow campers were friendly. One of the first events we attended was "Texas Line Dancing Night." It was our first exposure to the group at large... and it was disappointing. It reminded me of all those movies where the hero walks into and unfamiliar saloon, or redneck bar, and everyone goes silent and turns to stare. That's what it felt like. In truth and to be fair though, several of the people, when not with their "pack," would offer a friendly hello and even a few words when met during a walk around the resort. But when they were in their pack, or clique, their coterie, they often ignored newcomers.

This isn't how I remembered campers from our early days. They were friendly and helpful, open and candid. So what's happened? I think that I have an answer. Back in the days of tent camping, most people were in the same socio-economic group. Oh, they might have kids, or not, and they may have had college degrees, or not - but we were all in the same boat, or in this case, tent; with mildewed, leaky canvas, damp sleeping bags, cantankerous Coleman stoves, sputtering lanterns, smelly porta-pottys and God forbid, the heinous pit toilet, along with all of the other little "joys" that bound campers together in a common feeling of adventure and accomplishment, if not outright survival. Of course, non-campers could never understand why we were out there sleeping in the cold, drizzly woods and thought we were nuts not to be down the road in the Holiday Inn...

And that's what I think may be missing from today's RV resorts. We're as far from camping as you can probably get; with our trailers and motorhomes, with their hot water on demand, full baths, thermostatically-controlled heat and AC, microwave/convection ovens, Select-A-Number air mattress queen and king sized beds, entertainment centers, washers and driers, 42-inch LCD, satellite TV, internet, and yes, even a fireplace. Forget the Holiday Inn; some of us are "camping" in 6 and 7 figure rolling land yachts. Some of us are towing "dinghies" that cost more than my first house. Every once in a while I catch myself, about to say "camping" when I really mean to say "Rv'ng." What we're doing at an RV resort is Rv'ng; which has nothing to do with traditional camping. What bound us together as fellow campers has been replaced by what now separates us, or, more accurately, divides us into class-conscious clicques.

At the top of the RV social ranking is the million dollar-plus, bus conversion, 40 foot or more, diesel-pusher motorhomes. They are the royalty of the RV world. I saw one roll into the resort the other day, an absolute beauty with full-body paint and a dinghy with matching paint that would put Cleopatra's royal barge to shame. I'd thought I seen everything until a short while later, when the well-dressed owners went rolling by on matching Seques, those 4 grand, two-wheeled, self-balancing, computer-controlled, upright transportation devices that the inventor once (or maybe still) dreamed would revolutionize green transportation for the comman man (but not at those prices, IMHO).

Below the bus conversions and opulent deisel-pushers are the royalty-wannabees in their gas-powered motorhomes, some of which still cost more than a nice starter home in Albuquerque and have a lot of the same amenities, but they're just not a Prevost (the creme de la creme in the RV world), you know? From there, you move down through the Class C van conversions, 5th wheel trailers and the traditional ball hitch hard-sided trailers. Class B van conversions fall somewhere in these latter classes, I guess based on price and options, although some people consider them to be more like a car (shudder) than an RV. Soft-sided/pop-up trailers and slide-ons are so low in the ranking that many RV resorts will deny them entrance, along with many of the pre-90s motorhomes; regardless of their condition; even though many of which have been lovingly restored to better-than-new condition. It just wouldn't be appropriate.

I'll be the first one to admit that I wouldn't trade my nice warm/cool trailer for a mouldy tent anytime soon, but I do miss the comraderie of those old days when we were all just campers; people who loved the woods and the outdoors, willing to endure the requisite discomforts of living with just a thin piece of canvas or nylon between yourself, your family and the great outdoors. I should add, though, that we have met some very nice, friendly RV'ers who, regardless of what they drive or drag around, within minutes after you meet them, will be swapping recipes, or be bragging about their grandchildren or pets, and will go out of their way to help you back into that much-too-narrow RV site or crawl under your RV and help you diagnose a systems problem. There are a lot of them out there... and I bet you that they are all former tent campers.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Hi George, just commenting on your friedliness, or not so, factor; We are a couple in our late 40's who wish to full-time in the next few years, economy and health insurance issues being co-operative. Anyway, we spent 2 weeks down in Florida the beginning of the month, in the "ice age". We travel at this time with a high wall pop-up. Just as beautiful and amenity clad as a trailer, just a tad more work to set up. However, rather than stay in rv resorts, we elected to check out the state parks, Myakka River and Rainbow Springs to be specific. We found 99% od the people there to be most friendly and helpful, as well as such wonderful rangers working the parks. It was a most positive experience, and I urge you to test the waters. Florida state parks were fantastic, and they're right there for you!