Saturday, March 12, 2011

Portland Metro RV Show - a motorcyclist's perspective

Why would two motorcycle travelers who love tent camping go to the Portland Metro RV Show at the Expo Center? Because it was too rainy to ride bikes and because Stefan is tired of hearing me say, when we are camping, "Do you think those people would let me look in their RV/caravan if I asked real nicely?"

We don't want an RV. We don't want a caravan. At least not any time soon. I've just been really curious about what's inside them. I really wanted to see inside these trailers-of-luxury. I wanted to see in the huge ones. I wanted to see in the tiny ones. I wanted to see the flat screen TVs and ovens and washing machines and dryers and bathtubs and faux fire places. I wanted to see inside small caravans that supposedly sleep 16. TV shows and web sites give you a hint of what's inside, but you can't get a sense of space unless you are actually there.

We spent four hours at the show. And what did we learn? Mostly, that we still don't want a caravan or an RV any time soon. But in addition to that:
  • There is as much diversity among RV/caravan users as there are among motorcycle riders - maybe more. The luxury RVs had music playing - something along the lines of the "Girl from Ipanema." The luxury caravans designed to provide you every opulence and provide a place for your motorcycles or ATVs in the back were playing "Back in Black."

  • There is an RV/caravan for every economic class in the USA. No, really, EVERY economic class. Used, I'm sure some of the things we saw would go for less than $1000, and you could live in one (though you'd have to go outside to change your mind). Most expensive one we saw? More than $300,000.

  • The word luxury is not overused when it comes to certain caravans. But not only are there caravans for old and very rich retired people, there are dream caravans for people who want to schlep around their motorcycles or ATVs in luxury, with a back room that has plenty of space for a group gathering when the bikes are parked outside, as well as a fridge and easy chair - that's just in the BACK room (don't even get me started on the rest of the place with it's bar, dining table, huge bedroom and TWO bathrooms). I believe this was the Fuzion Model 405 - 2011 Model Year... which costs about what we want in a HOUSE.

  • For those who can't afford that crazy kind of toy-hauler, Coleman makes a folding camper that comes on a trailer with room for TWO motorcycles! No photo available online, that I can find - apparently, it's quite new.

  • Air Streams are oh-so-beautiful, and now that I have, at last, seen inside one... they have lost all mystique for me. I have no idea why they are worth all that money. One trailer we saw was four times more than a comparable non-Air Stream. Yes, the Air Stream was gorgeous inside. I'm sure it wins oh-so-many design awards. But when I'm camping, do I really freakin' care about award-winning aesthetics?

  • Trailers that affix to the back of pickup trucks have come a LONG way in 30 years. And, really, provide just about everything you need if you are going to forsake a tent. Even small ones can come with a bathroom and shower. On a rainy and/or cold night, I could stay comfy in one for a week.

  • I might have fallen out of love with the Air Stream when I saw the price tag, but I'm now totally in love with the Aliner. The Aliner Sport, to be specific. I thought I'd prefer the Tear Drop-style camper, but after seeing such, forget that - the Aliner Sport is it, the one caravan I would consider giving up the tent for when car camping. And we could pull it behind the Honda Fit! It's sooooooo roomy inside! And the guy took it down and put it up for us - less than five minutes. Incredible.

For now, and for at least a few years to come, we'll stick with motorcycle camping. And I hope those RV campers keep offering us coffee in the mornings.

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