This is America: You can drive just about any kind of gas-guzzling, hydrocarbon-spewing rust-exhibit you want — unless you drive a recreational vehicle, otherwise known as an "RV." Among the pundits of political correctness, driving an RV puts you one social notch above suspected terrorist.
Sure, RVs are big, ugly, get notoriously poor mileage and are often
driven by those with declining driving skills. But do they deserve
the scorn we give them? Do RVs pollute more, destroy more wildlife,
roads or riparian areas? Do they further deplete the world’s
ozone or the president’s public-approval rating?
Many dubious vehicles ride the roads: triple-trailer semi-trucks
with a tendency to blow us off interstates, 1967 Volkswagen buses
that go from zero to 60 in a month, and plenty of BOACs (otherwise
known as Big Ol’ American Cars) that barely get 10 miles per
But let somebody drive a lumbering behemoth
sporting a slogan like "Born to be Wild" on its flanks, and both
eco-warriors and muscle-car drivers unite in a cry of shared
Have a little compassion. Look at who’s
driving these paved-road porkers. They are our parents and
grandparents, people who lived through the Depression, never
watched their cholesterol, burned coal in their furnaces, ate eggs
fried in butter with a side of sausage every day, fought in two
World Wars, never used sunblock, and were told by an actor who went
on to be president that smoking was good for them.
same people put up with my generation’s boycotting
cleanliness and short hair, streaking through public places,
burning flags, draft cards and marijuana, eating seaweed, tofu and
bean sprouts, voting Democrat "for a change," dodging the draft,
staying in college way too long and generally growing up to be
bratty, ungrateful adult children. Now, we’ve spawned a
syndrome that could be called "Winnebagophobia," a fear of monster
homes on wheels containing chemical toilets, propane stoves and
floppy kitchen tables that convert into beds.
think RVs are the root of all evil are the same people who think
that the world’s problems can be solved by putting Linux on
all computers and growing more agricultural hemp. These people
don’t drive RVs, but most of them drive AVs — Adventure
Vehicles, also known as sport utility vehicles.
better for the environment, an AV or and an RV?
AV: Gets 12-18 mpg or less with all those toys
on the roof rack.
RV: Gets 5-10 mpg or
a little better if you get in the slipstream of a tractor-trailer
AV: Can cost $50,000, plus the
cost of all those toys on the roof rack.
RV: Can cost $150,000, or whatever is left of
AV: Carries four
people plus gear, or two passengers plus two dogs.
RV: Sleeps eight.
AV: Hits a new trail or river every weekend.
RV: Stays in campgrounds or
children’s driveways for weeks at a time.
AV: Passengers poop in the woods, by the stream
and in the desert.
repair to a chemical toilet.
Passengers build campfires or cook with exotic, $200 five-ounce
RV: Occupants push buttons on
the microwave oven.
hike on trails, pooping along the way.
RV: Occupants pop in a video and make microwave
AV: Recreationists wear
grooves in Utah’s Slick Rock Trail.
RV: Travelers go shopping in Moab.
AV: Recreationists hammer bolts into
RV: Travelers go
shopping in Boulder.
AV: Climbers say,
"Go for it" a lot.
RV: Travelers ask,
"Where is the KOA?"
AV: Owners keep
REI and Patagonia in business.
Owners keep Exxon in business.
Owners drive their parents crazy.
Owners drive like crazy to get away from the kids.
AV: Hikers heat up overpriced freeze-dried camp
RV: Occupants microwave pizzas.
AV: Owners wear Birkenstocks.
RV: Owners wear Birkenstocks.
Let’s learn to love RVs. They help free up the
backcountry — and they force everyone else to drive at a
snail’s pace and enjoy the scenery.