Sunday, March 16, 2008

To RV or Not To RV?- That is the Question

We’ve put aside two and half weeks of travelling from Los Angeles to Albuquerque in New Mexico. A few days are for Las Vegas and the Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton and then we start out across Arizona and New Mexico.

I’m a camping girl. Give me a tent a sleeping bag and sleeping mat and I’m happy. I can do hotels and motels too. I’m not much good at serious scumminess – there was the one star accommodation in Yass that is best not discussed: I lasted 45 minutes before checking out and finding a few extra stars further down the road. (Who knew that there was such a thing as one star accommodation?) And I’m all for safety – I’d prefer to get my holiday excitement in ways that don’t include wild animals.

I’m not much of a caravan or campervan kind of girl. I’m not old enough yet (I don’t plan on ever being that kind of old). I’m not joining the Grey Nomads - retired folks who take off around Australia in caravans – ever. Caravans make me claustrophobic and are for someone else.

Arizona and New Mexico are all about the scenery and landscape. We want to watch beautiful sunrises and see landscapes that could come out of western movies.

So how to travel? Amy thought an RV might be a possibility. I was doubtful – no caravans and no campervans. But I thought it was worth finding out about them if for no other reason than I could then reject them.

So I took to the internet and googled
'RV Hire USA'

RVs – Recreational Vehicles - are amazing. Australians take off in their caravans, or their combie vans. Tourists and travellers from overseas hire campervans.

Thinking about it – there’s a fundamental difference between a campervan, and an RV. There’s camping in a van – like the campervan that I saw in New Zealand. In that van, the stove was a tiny gas flame on a hot plate. The hot plate folded down when you wanted to cook. It folded down out the window. So, we watched as a guy stood outside his campervan, and cooked. Camping on wheels. Campervan.

But nothing seems to compare to the RVs in the US.

If RVs had opinions, they would be offended to be even compared to campervans. RVs are huge and fitted out. They are big motor home things. The drivers seat in an RV is like a big comfortable arm chair. Literally. This chair could be put down in your lounge room and fit there quite nicely. The stove would do nicely in any well fitted out kitchen. These things have bathrooms, and toilets and hot running water. Not portaloos - they have proper toilets and bathrooms. They have spa baths. They have TVs and sound systems and home theatres. They are mobile amazements.

Hiring an RV and wandering across Arizona and New Mexico started to seem like a marvellous idea. We could go where want and stop where we want. Step out the front door in the morning and watch the sun rise. See the stars at night.

Let’s get an RV I said, and Amy very sweetly resisted any temptation she may have had to mention that she’d already suggested that, and instead agreed that it sounded like a great idea.

So many possibilities and so many choices. Did we want one that had the double or the queen size bed? How big a living area? How big did we need our water storage to be? What sort of kits would we need – bedding? Linen? Food? Did we want one of those ones that has the side opening out? And what about air conditioning? And heating?

Hiring an RV is like going to an American supermarket – there are an overwhelming number of choices and decisions to be made just in taking something down off the shelf, let alone getting to the checkout.

I started getting quotes from RV hire companies and the difference was huge – anywhere between $4000 (US) and $6500 (US). Just to be finally certain – just before I booked one at about mid range – about $5000 for the 2 weeks, I checked the cost of renting a car for the same period of time.

And got a quote for $900 for a new
convertible mustang.

RV be damned. I’ve booked the mustang. Sometimes you just have to put the wind in your hair, great photos and an American cliche ahead of practicalities.