Newby Campers Find Freedom on the Road
Editor’s Note: Columnist Doug Smith wrote the following story which appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Nancy and John McIntyre are retirees and friends of mine who have discovered their version of the good life: Traveling carefree for months on end in their small recreational vehicle, in no hurry to get anywhere.
In three years as RV newbies, the Minneapolis couple have logged 60,000 miles on their rig, traveling from Alaska to Florida and California to Newfoundland. They’ve seen spectacular scenery and quaint towns, have made new friends and are effusive about their new life in a 19-foot modified van.
“It’s pretty sweet,” said Nancy, 63.
Two other friends — one recently retired, the other about to be — also bought RVs last year and plan similar adventures. All of which leaves a working stiff to wonder: What’s wrong with this picture?
“You’re dumb to keep working,” John McIntyre, 63, told me the other day.
He was joking.
Until now, my camping — whether along the Pacific Coast of Washington, the mountains of Montana, the tundra of the Northwest Territories, or the lakes and rivers of northern Minnesota and Ontario — has been in a tent.
I’ve only camped in an RV once — on a duck hunting trip to North Dakota years ago. And while I’m not ready to retire my hiking boots or canoe paddle, I confess I’m intrigued after hearing about the McIntyres’ adventures and nomadic lifestyle.
Plenty of Minnesotans have been similarly hooked. Last year, residents registered 152,000 RVs, not including pickup campers. If you figure most RVs are used by at least two people, that’s more than 300,000 RVers in the state.
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