Winnebagos: Don't fear 'em, cheer 'em

  • Dennis Hinkamp

 

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 gallon.

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 misery.

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.

These 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.

People who 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.

Which is 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 truck.

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 the inheritance.

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.

RV: Occupants repair to a chemical toilet.

AV: Passengers build campfires or cook with exotic, $200 five-ounce stoves.

RV: Occupants push buttons on the microwave oven.

AV: Passengers hike on trails, pooping along the way.

RV: Occupants pop in a video and make microwave popcorn.

AV: Recreationists wear grooves in Utah’s Slick Rock Trail.

RV: Travelers go shopping in Moab.

AV: Recreationists hammer bolts into mountainsides.

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.

RV: Owners keep Exxon in business.

AV: Owners drive their parents crazy.

RV: Owners drive like crazy to get away from the kids.

AV: Hikers heat up overpriced freeze-dried camp food.

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.

Dennis Hinkamp lives in Logan, Utah, where he is the proud owner of a 1965 Airstream Globetrotter with a chemical toilet.

High Country News Classifieds
  • CLEAN ENERGY PROGRAM ATTORNEY, NEVADA
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a Staff Attorney who is passionate about Western communities and the protection of the natural environment to...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Deschutes River Conservancy in Bend, Oregon
  • WATER POLICY ANALYST WITH WRA (BOULDER)
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates seeks a passionate Water Policy Analyst with knowledge of western water issues to join our Healthy Rivers Team to strengthen...
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST
    9+ acre inholding. Passive solar strawbale off the grid and next to the Continental Divide Trail in ponderosa pine/doug fir forest at 7400.
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • PROGRAM MANAGER, SUSTAINING FLOWS
    Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • PROGRAM ASSOCIATE - VERDE RIVER EXCHANGE
    Verde River Exchange - Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • CODE COMPLIANCE OFFICER
    Teton County Planning & Building is hiring! Our ideal candidate is a team-player, a problem-solver, pays attention to detail, and can clearly communicate technical material...
  • ARCHITECTURE DRAFTSPERSON/PROJECT MANAGER
    Studio Architects is seeking a full time Architectural drafts-person/project manager with1-3 years of experience to join our firm. At Studio Architects our mission is to...
  • ASSISTANT MANAGER/TRAINEE, COLORADO RANCH
    needed for 16,000+ acre conservation property in south central Colorado. Qualified candidate would have experience working on a ranch or wilderness property, general forestry/fire management...
  • FARM HAND &/OR NANNY IN ESCALANTE
    Nanny for 18-mnth-old. Yearly salary, vacation, health insurance. Spanish/other foreign-language native spkr prefrrd.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Washington Association of Land Trusts seeks an ED to build on WALTs significant success & to lead the association to new levels of achievement. See...
  • BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM STRAWBALE HOME IN WESTERN COLORADO!
    Secluded, energy efficient Southwestern home on 40 wooded acres. Broker - Rand Porter - United Country Real Colorado Properties. 970-261-1248, $425K
  • FORMER RETREAT CENTER/CONSERVATION PROPERTY FOR SALE
    57 acres in Skull Valley, AZ, 17 miles from Prescott, year-round creek, swimming holes, secluded canyon, hiking/meditation trails, oaks, pines, garden, greenhouse. House, office building,...
  • ARIZONA PUBLIC LANDS ORGANIZER
    Title: Public Lands Organizer About the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) The AWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and assisting individuals and organizations...
  • HISTORIC RANCH HOME W/ 20 ACRES
    Historic 1893 Ranch Headquarters. 4 Bdrm, 3.5 Ba, 4000 ft2. Remodeled 2002. Includes 2 studio apts, stables, arena, workshop, 5 RV hookups. Chirachua & Peloncillo...
  • VICE PRESIDENT OF RETAIL OPERATIONS
    The Vice President of Retail Operations will provide overall leadership and accountability for purchasing, product development, merchandising planning, visual merchandising, retail operational excellence, oversight and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners seeks an experienced fundraiser with excellent communication and organizational skills.
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    position in Phoenix with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy.
  • ROADS END CABIN NEAR YELLOWSTONE
    Vaulted ceilings, two fireplaces, two bedrooms, loft, jetted tub, wifi. Forest, mountain views. Wildlife. [email protected]