For quite some time now, I’ve struggled with a rare strain of motorhome mania (Latin: caravanus envyitis) and being up close and personal with them recently only triggered a flare-up.
There’s a certain romance associated with the caravanning lifestyle – open road, drifting from campsite to campsite (or Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart as it were), not knowing, or caring, where the next rest stop leads you. It’s the call of the wild…on wheels. Granted. it is not for everyone though.
Whatever floats your road-boat, right?
I even considered for an all too brief moment that I might abandon my S.E. Asia trip, buy myself some form of RV, and head out on highway. “Project Roadway” I would call it. But then I pondered the logistical landmine that lay ahead. Would my car be able to tow such a thing? Would I be wasting my days combing through the fine print of a motorhome insurance quote instead of braving tuk-tuks and pounding pad thai down my gob? And just where does the poo go?
What would I do with my poo?
These are the questions that haunt me. And so just as quickly as it materialized, the road romance disappeared. Straight out that tiny hand-cranked window.
What sparked this curiosity? Why, a gay rodeo of course. How else does one follow up announcing quitting your job to travel the world.
Seems on the verge of outrageous yes, but I assure you, I am not aiming to be the blogging equivalent of Sue Sylvester. Happenstance (and 40 kilometres of asphalt from Calgary) led me there.
The Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association (ARGRA) held the annual Canadian Rockies International Rodeo over the Canada Day long weekend, and I attended some of the events on Sunday. Unfortunately, most of it was cancelled due to severe windstorms and a tornado warning, and everyone was evacuated into the civic centre. Oh the drama.
What surprised me most about the rodeo was not the number and diversity of the attendees, but the number and diversity of the RVs — campervans, caravans, motorhomes, trailers, and other forms of land yacht were there in full force. Hence the trigger, short-lived as it was.
So what’s the appeal? Aren’t they really only a travelling trailer park? A mobile mobile-home? Plenty of retirees embrace the lifestyle. And it seems like a great way to while away your twilight years. But why should the blue-hairs have all the fun? Where are the younger set? Why do people my age not consider caravanning a lifestyle choice?
I blame the gypsies.
The Romani, Roma, Irish Travellers, and the Dom nomadic peoples, as well as several other groups in Europe, India, and Asia are often referred to, in the most negative of tones, as gypsies. Most of the above are fine, upstanding folk – loyal to their families, as hardworking as the next, the “salt of the earth” as they say. The thing is, as goes one forum comment I read, those are not the ones you are likely to meet.
I will only use the term gypsy when referring to people from the above groups who tried to steal from me.
Woman in Venice with rug draped over arm concealing a child who tried to snatch my camera? Gypsy.
Snot-nosed kids waving magazines in my face trying to make their way into my pockets in Rome? Gypsy.
Smiling woman holding baby in doorway in Florence? Romani. Had she thrown the baby at me? Gypsy.
See how it works?
Gypsies have given caravans a bad name. The traditional gypsy wagon, or vardo, was both elegantly and intricately designed, and a practical mobile-living quarters.
Over the years though caravans have lost their lustre. I chalk it up in part to the doings of a few rogue gypsies, and the western view of their lifestyle. No obvious employment + no permanent address = they must be up to no good. In the eyes of many at least. Some folks feel that if you are not a retiree, and you live in an RV, you are mostly up to no good.
Or maybe that’s just me.
In any case, Bangkok is a go, and the Airstream road dream will just have to wait for another day.