Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Cruising as a Lifestyle

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cruising as a Lifestyle defines the verb cruise as being ‘akin to Tom’…just kidding. The following are some of the definitions of the word that I consider relevant to this blog: 1) to travel about without a particular purpose or destination, 2) to drive at a constant speed that permits maximum operating efficiency for sustained travel, and 3) to travel at a moderately fast, easily controllable speed: cruising along the highway enjoying the scenery.

It is true that sometimes we cruise along with just a general direction, waiting to be surprised by what new things, sights, foliage, wildlife, for example, that we may encounter down the road. It is also true that, after driving for hours, we would shift to cruise-control to relax our tired muscles on the freeways of America. And it is true that we deliberately slow down because the scenery that is unfolding is just spectacular, like when the glaciers started to appear across the horizon at Glacier Highway enroute to the twin towns of Steward, British Columbia and Hyder, Alaska.

But the definition that I would like to offer is this: aimless (meaning no big aims), effortless (meaning no big efforts), timeless (meaning no big dictates on time), deeply personal and enjoyable drive through life, usually with a loved one(s). I would like to compare and contrast this cruising lifestyle with the driven one because, for years, I had to endure the latter, bringing up my children alone.

Whereas the latter is usually accompanied by big goals (building a home, bringing up kids, getting an MBA), cruising is characterized by little ones (baking a pie, spotting a deer, or finishing a book). Whereas the driven lifestyle needs lots of energy to sustain, cruising works whatever the energy level one may have (that is why, it is not about age). Whereas the driven lifestyle means deadlines, cruisers often say: ‘When I woke up this morning, I had nothing to do; when I went to bed, I was only half done.’

This is why the RV industry has grown. But, before I go any further, let me just categorically make this disclaimer.There is another definition of cruising in to travel about slowly, looking for customers or for something demanding attention, i.e. taxi drivers, policemen, and…prostitutes.This is the definition not relevant to this blog!
This year the RV industry celebrates its 100th anniversary. A century ago, the automobile, better roads, and the American love of the outdoors gave us the first recreational vehicles. The website of the Michigan Association of recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds says ‘Through war and peace, booms and busts, fuel lines, fads and the cyber revolution, the RV lifestyle has endured.’ Other interesting statistics in their report are:

* There are more than 12,000 RV-related businesses in the U.S. with combined annual revenues of more than $37.5 billion.

* Nationwide, there are more than 16,000 public and private campgrounds.

* 8.2 million American households now own an RV—a 16 percent increase since 2001 and a 64 percent gain since 1980.

* Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA)estimates there are as many as 30 million RV enthusiasts nationwide,including RV renters.

* RV parks and campgrounds across the country report reservations in 2009 to be 8 percent better than in 2008.

That the RV industry has grown is undeniable.Thus, my next post on this subject shall be a discussion of benefits and disadvantages of cruising as a lifestyle. Maybe, it is because the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.