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Monday, September 05, 2011

Recreational Outrage

During my travels this summer I noticed an inordinate number of recreational vehicles. I was awestruck by the sheer mass of some of these behemoths, some as large as commuter buses, rivalling 18-wheel transport trucks in size and often hauling SUVs.

How rich, I thought, does someone have to be to pursue this sort of lifestyle? Apparently the vehicles themselves can cost up to $2.5 million - over five times the value of our home! The gas mileage on any of these vehicles must be terrible, and filling the tank can cost hundreds of dollars.

If you're rich enough to drive a mansion on wheels from Virginia to Alaska, I suppose you're unlikely to be concerned about fuel economy. But here's what really puzzles me: if you have enough money to burn on such extravagance, why waste it driving it cross-country for dozens of hours? Why not just fly first-class and stay in the most expensive hotels available? Okay, so you drive because you want to see the countryside; I can understand that. So why not drive a souped-up convertible and, again, stay in hotels? If what you want is luxury, doesn't that make more sense than parking your million-dollar vehicle in a campground with the plebes?

I don't get it.


"Virtual Jefftue" said...

Well, you did pick on a RV that carries a sports car in an underslung hold, that's a little unusual (although in an earlier post, you did espouse the value of a vehicle that had detachable segments so that you drive around with the components that you need - this looks to me a lot like that). You can buy a used RV for less than $30,000, which is better than many cars on the road these days. Although I should qualify that: it's a better cost, not necessarily a better investment.

The mileage an RV can expect to get is around 10-15 miles per gallon, which is not great by most standards.

Our neighbour has a monster RV, it blocks out the sun and you can see it from space (thanks, Google™ Search Engine). If he didn't use the thing from time to time and take his family on an extended vacation, we would probably go blood simple.

Tammy said...

For me it's just the excessiveness of it all. I can see having a nice reasonably sized RV for frequent camping, but these mansions on wheels take the cake. Aren't people going to enjoy the countryside and be in nature a bit? Or do they just pull up the mansion into the next Walmart parking lot?

I think I just loathe people that are very wasteful and extremely indulgent. They don't care about the environment and ave a centre of the universe attitude. Very sad.

"Virtual Jefftue" (a) said...

By: Jeff

Executive Summary: With no RV's, there would be no Captain Kirk.

I spent my summer holidays by researching RV's. While many RV's are wasteful gas-guzzling land whales, some at least grant us a reprieve from our semi-obnoxious next door neighbours, and a select few are advancing the cause of interplanetary science.

Take a look at the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) up on Devon Island, in Canada's Arctic region. Devon Island has been used as an analog for lunar excursions, and lately for simulating a manned mission to Mars.

The original plan was to set up a moon base on Stickney Crater, which is very closely matched by the arid Haughton Crater on Devon I. A pair of Small Pressurized Rovers (SPR's) would be granted to the astronauts so that they could foray from the base in tandem. The SPR's are, you guessed it, moon-based RV's, at least in size and shape. If you've watched "Moon" with Sam Rockwell (say yes, because you need to see this movie), then you get the idea.

The recent downturn/utter collapse of American finances has scuttled the moon base mission. Now, the focus is on landing on an asteroid and then Mars, or at least that's the best scenario. Likewise, the SPR has been downgraded to the LER (Lunar Electric Rover), which has been concieved as a pressurized Apollo-era Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). More or less, it's a Humvee which can go to the moon or Mars (the Mars version is called the SEV - Space Exploration Vehicle).

That's the flagship vehicle of the HMP: a modified Humvee. They use it to simulate the chain of events that would be likely to keep a team of astronauts busy during a typical day of extraterrestrial exploration. The HMP did want an RV, but like the rest of the space program, their budget got cut.

Worse still, while the Humvee is the MPV "Alpha" rover, the "Beta" vehicle is just a simple quad ATV or a pack of snowmobiles, depending on what's available for the mission. The ATV is just like the LRV, except that it's merely a production line model designed for Earth use only, and is the type that could be purchased from a catalogue. At least it doesn't have the LRV's $38 million (in 1970's dollars) price tag.

Without the RV, we wouldn't think of putting a pressurized rover on the moon or Mars. Without Mars, Mankind will never get off Earth. If we never get off the Earth, we'll never meet the Vulcans, we'll never build the United Federation of Planets, we'll never have Captain Kirk, and Earl's (and to a far lesser extent my own) speculative Star Trek fan fiction will never come to fruition. All for the want of a land whale with decent air conditioning, satellite TV, and a couple of cup holders.

Okay, that last bit is facetious, but the point stands: there are useful RV's, and they are very, very expensive. Also, you owe it to yourself to check out the HMP website. It's... fascinating.