LJWorld.com weblogs Linda's Backroad Musings

Freedom Machine


Married less than two months, it was the summer of 1966 when we drove to a nearby state lake for our first overnight campout. We had an old army tent and plenty of food and beer. We slept on the ground. To those humble, early marriage beginnings, we added two children and various types of outdoor sleeping accommodations. Our family enjoyed freedom of open spaces, solitude, beautiful scenery and relaxing around a fire. Several years ago, our children long gone and retirement at hand, we began thinking about a recreational vehicle. In the past, we traveled to one place. We now plan longer road trips. We did not want to give up our independence in overnight accommodations, but needed something suitable for our age.We were not alone in our wish to own a RV. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) states more baby boomers own RVs than any other age group. Although the purchase of new vehicles will slip somewhat in 2008 because of higher gas prices, projections indicate sales will still be the fifth highest in 30 years.Our search for an RV fitting our lifestyle started at the yearly early January Kansas City Sports Show in Bartle Hall. Even though a new RV would not fit our budget, we walked through the units on display to determine our preferences. We wanted something small enough to park anywhere and self-contained so we could stop for the night without a reservation. Finally deciding on a small van conversion with gas mileage comparable to popular SUVs, we began looking for a used unit.Newspaper want ads and online sales sites were excellent sources, but good deals moved fast. I did not hesitate to call or email questions. Without fail, owners were anxious to share information. Six months later, we purchased a five-year-old 17-foot conversion van found on an Internet-listing site. It had 17,000 miles on the speedometer and cost less than half of a new model. We picked it up in Minneapolis, Minnesota.It is everything we hoped. You might see us tailgating at football games or parked on Mass street in Lawrence. We have been to Maine, states in the Midwest and especially enjoy two-day trips right here in Kansas. We are planning an Alaska trip a year from this summer. We feel as secure parking in a large chain store parking lot (boon docking) as a remote hilltop. We use it year round. We call it our Freedom Machine.


Ronda Miller 10 years, 4 months ago

Linda, I have always been told to write what you know and what you care about and you did both for this article. It was informative and a lot of people "our" age group will find it helpful and insightful. Makes me want to start checking around for a good deal now and it will be several years before I am ready to travel. Thanks for a great post!

Alia Ahmed 10 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like quite an adventure and that you have a great traveling partner. I look forward to reading about more of your RV road trips.

David Lignell 10 years, 4 months ago

I love the idea of a Freedom Machine. We've always talked about traveling when we retire, but never gave it much thought -- especially the cost. I'm not a big fan of camping the old way, with a tent and stakes, etc., but I could be a fan of something you drive away in. Hmmm. Thanks the for great idea. I'll be scouring those RV shows now.

Marlo Angell 10 years, 4 months ago

Glad to hear how you found your freedom. I second Alia in hoping you blog about your adventures.

KevinBroom 10 years, 4 months ago

Gas prices are ONE factor when it comes to how RV sales will do over the next year, but interest rates, the overall health of the economy, and the slumping housing market are actually bigger factors. While the projection for 2008 is that sales will be down a bit, 2008 still looks to be the 5th best year for the RV industry in the past three decades. The only better years (in order) -- 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2007.

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