In my last post I talked about these people who live in campers or RV's full-time, with no permanent house or apartment. As I mentioned, I couldn't do it. I mean, I like driving...I like the outdoors...I even like traveling. But full-time RV living is just not for me.
And yet... For the last seven years I've been going up to Washington State for my “summer job” which often lasts six months. You guys may or may not know that when I go up there I usually stay in a company-provided motorhome - a relatively old, 27-foot Sonoma Class A. (The chart above shows the differences among the various types of campers/RV's/motorhomes. My boss owns a selection of travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers and Class A RV's.
"My" Sonoma is powered by a little four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine made by Isuzu. It gets comparatively good gas mileage, but it can barely get out of its own way. With a maximum speed of about 65 mph on a straight and level road, it's absolutely not suited for American interstate highways, except maybe the ones here in flat ol' Florida, “The Under-Construction State” in which every road is a traffic jam with old people in cars from somewhere else.
I can't believe Sonoma decided to sell this thing in the U.S. ...Or that my boss bought one – and drove it all over the place (probably slowly) when his kids were young. Truly, it's a turd on wheels. Driving the Sonoma, there is always a conga-line of cars with frustrated drivers behind you. It causes a traffic jam going up a freeway on-ramp. An added bonus is that it drives like a piece of shit, too! Strong crosswinds make you feel like you're going to tip right over. The way it heaves and rolls, steering it down the road is akin to commanding the Queen Mary through seas churned up by a hurricane. Let's just say it's not fun. It would have me heaving and rolling too.
Fortunately, I only have to drive it a short distance from our little airport on the Okanogan River up to the orchard owned by the customer for whom I work. This customer has put in a heliport for the two helicopters they rent from us for the cherry season. They generously installed three RV sites with full hookups that we can use for free. Once parked (in late May), the USS Sonoma stays docked right where it is until the cherries are picked and it's time to go home. I have added an external propane tank hookup, so we don't even have to leave to fill that up. I just throw the external tank in the back of the pickup truck and go to town. Breaking camp, I untie the bow lines and half-expect a couple of smart fortwo cars to come and gently guide me out onto the main road/shipping channel.
Class A recreational vehicles generally have all the usual amenities you'd expect at home – like microwave and real ovens. Mine had a three-burner gas stove. And they're pretty comfortable, all things considered. The Sonoma had a decent queen-size mattress in the back. I'm not sure if it was standard or if the boss replaced the original along the way. RV manufacturers used to cheap-out on the beds. This one is pretty good.
Living in the thing is okay for one person. But it's cramped. I wouldn't want to have to share it with anyone; there's no one I really like enough to do that. The bathroom is tiny, and like on a lot of RV's, the rear wheel-well intrudes on the shower tub. It's only got one air-conditioner unit on the roof. The poor, overworked thing just cannot even keep up on 100-degree days, which is the end of June through all of July for us. Okay, remember earlier when I said it was a turd on wheels? Well it is, but it's also an oven on wheels too. In moderate climates it's fine, but when the temperatures hit the extremes outside it gets uncomfortable inside.
As I said, the customer rents two helicopters from us. During the day, I'd leave the other, less-senior pilot to hang out on the property in his RV, which is a Winnebago Super Chief, which is bigger and had a better air conditioner than mine. (And yes, I could have pulled rank and taken the bigger RV. But I leave a lot of stuff in the Sonoma over the winter so I don't have to haul it back and forth every year. So I figured I might as well stay in it.)
When I was a kid, my family did a lot of camping...tent camping. And we were good at it! Oh, we sometimes fantasized about getting a little pop-up trailer. But keeping such a thing within the confines of New York City would be a problem. Plus, it would have to be towed by our faithful VW bus. With even less power than a diesel Sonoma, VW buses don't make great tow-vehicles. So my parents said ix-nay to any sort of camper.
Just as well. I still like camping – but in a tent carried on my back or in my canoe, not this glamping thing which is the act of going into the woods with every conceivable luxury and thinking that you're roughing it.
I put up with the Sonoma RV every summer because it's private. Believe it or not I'm not exactly a sociable person. I like my alone-time. But at the end of the season, when the cherries are all picked and the rest of the crew have packed up and gone home, I move into one of the empty crew houses. How people stay in those RV's full-time is beyond me.