Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Going Through Five Stages of the Cruising Lifestyle

Friday, April 23, 2010

Going Through Five Stages of the Cruising Lifestyle

Bill and I stumbled upon a cruise ship for our wedding venue.  Since then cruising has become our passion and way of life.  In fact, we are on our second motorhome in just 8 months!  Star (our first, a Class C) which we traded in for our second, has been quickly grabbed by another couple starting on their adventure.   We shifted to M’A (short for Mountain Aire, by Newmar), the Class A we bought at no other than the behemoth of the RV industry, Lazy Days. (Please see my post on ‘Buying Our New Home’.) We must have been at two different stages of RV cruising! What are the phases anyway?  I believe there are 5:  escaping, sightseeing, seeing-relaxing, sunbirding, and nesting (ESSSN).

We really did not have the opportunity to experience the first stage which I call escaping.  (You see we met at that time in our lives when we were ready to retire: he was about to sell his business and I was already tired of teaching in the US after retiring from the Philippine business landscape 4 years earlier). This is the phase when you actually have other things to do and you just want to pause, to experience the benefits of cruising (such as getting close to nature, going to new places, and experiencing new people and activities, visiting family and friends ; please see my post on Debating the Pros and Cons of Cruising as a Lifestyle). You want to gain these benefits but not suffer the disadvantages of cruising (such as losing income, being away from family and friends, and not having time for other pursuits).   It may be that you are still a student, an employee, an executive, a business owner, or a housewife.  You simply have the urge to cruise on a long weekend, be on a much-needed vacation, and escape from the busy requirements of daily life, so to speak.  
The second one is what I will call the sight-seeing stage. This is the phase at which Bill and I entered the groove.  This is when you finally have the time to see a lot of places on a looooong bucket list you have started to build.  So you pack up, make an itinerary, and go on a cruise! We wanted a motorhome that was not any longer than 25 feet so we downsized to the bare minimum.  Star was the perfect getaway vehicle!  We did not have to pack/unpack, we could cook our meals anywhere any time, and take showers and other daily requirements.  It was our moving bedroom, bathroom, dining room and kitchen! We bought Vino, our scooter, because we soon found Star still too difficult to maneuver in town, was a chore to unhook and reconnect from campgrounds, and was consuming gas at 10 miles to the gallon.  In 7 months we covered 21,000 miles sight-seeing from the Arctic to Mexico to Florida!  

But 8 months later, by March 1, 2010, we were in another RV for the second stage.  I call this third stage, seeing/relaxing.  Our children were right; they could not believe we could go on doing what we were doing: travelling almost every other day to a new place, as if we were running out of time. They were actually beginning to wonder when we would find Star too cozy for comfort.  However fond we had become of Star, we actually began to think of replacing her in December when we had April, my youngest, traveling with us from Mexico to Texas to Louisiana for about 2 and a half weeks.  If you can just imagine a 24-foot Class C motorhome (that means after the drivers space and engine we actually had a living area of 17 feet long by 8 feet wide (no slide-outs).  That means 136 square feet! Every night we had to transform the dinette into April’s bed (and tuck away the little Christmas tree that housed our collection of Christmas ornaments!).

At about the same time, Bill caught pneumonia in congested Mexico City.  So it was timely that we relaxed a little and made space for visiting family and friends.  What was holding us back was that we had just bought Star and we thought, if we could not trade it in for a good value, our lifestyle will end up to be quite an expensive one, something ‘frugal us’ could not live with.   But lo and behold!  Lazy Days had thought about such psychology a long time ago.  The secret of their success is to understand what goes on in the mind of those who want to enjoy RV cruising as a lifestyle and have the right gear available for whatever stage and whatever budget!  They gave us the marvelous opportunity to own a 37-foot quality Class A motorhome (albeit a 1997 model) that had a good-sized slide-out and was very light-colored and airy inside!  We even had enough money left for a workable dinghy!

So, now we have M’A ‘turn, the former (our Mountain Aire by Newmar) to take us to new campgrounds where we can relax and entertain and the latter (our Saturn SL1) for running around to see the many attractions around.  In spite of becoming poorer by tens of thousands of dollars, we now enjoy the best of both worlds, of both sight-seeing and relaxing.  We relaxed Three Flags RV Resort in Wildwood, Florida, and were tour guides for Dittas, my visiting friend from the Philippines, around Savannah, Georgia and Hilton Head, Beaufort, and Charleston, South Carolina from The Oaks at Point South RV Park in Yemassee, South Carolina (please see my post on ‘Touring the Low Country USA with a Friend’).  Right now we are again relaxing in Forest Lake RV Resort in Advance, North Carolina before we go sight-seeing around the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with JingJing, another visiting friend from the Philippines, from Lynchburg RV Park in Gladys, Virginia and the Green Mountain RV Park in Lenoir, North Carolina.

Bill and I foresee that we will go through the other 2 stages of RV cruising as we become older, not that able to withstand wider differences of temperature and weather, and becoming more mellow  and,  hopefully, wiser.   The fourth stage, sunbirding, really means that, when we are in America, we will stay 4-6 months in the northern areas during late spring to early fall and the other 4-6 months in the southern states during late fall to early spring (much like what birds do, migrating to the south during winter and to the north during summer).  And the last stage, nesting, is when we would stay in a locale for most of the year , finally settle down, and ultimately establish our nest.  We imagine that we would just travel to go out to visit a child (or wait for them to visit us) during major holidays or birthdays.  We are now thinking that may be somewhere in Utah which is about 4-5 hours from each of our children’s homes. We hope that M’A ‘turn will still be with us then!
At what stage would you begin cruising in an RV? Up to what stage will you continue to do so?