The curious case of Lorin’s fixation with travel trailers

by Lorin Michel Monday, June 4, 2018 10:46 PM

This weekend we were at it again. It was hot and dusty, and after a relatively pleasant May when we could still sleep with the windows open, June arrived in full Armageddon. For those of you unversed in the ways of the desert, June is the hottest month of the year. It is unrelenting. Every morning by 7, the temps are already in the 80s. By noon, it hovers between 95 and 100. Last year, up here on the hill, we had two days that hit 117º. It gets that hot because of where our weather station is positioned, against the hill behind us, without shade. But still, even with that caveat, it was ridiculously hot, and not all that uncommon lately. On June 19, 2016, the official temperature in Tucson hit 115º. On June 20, 2017, we officially recorded a temp of 116º. Brutal.

But then, come the beginning of July, the monsoon rains finally start and even though it can be hot during the day, when those storms roll up from the south, bringing thunder and lightning and wind, and when they unleash torrential rains, the temps can drop 30º in 20 minutes. It makes summer in the desert bearable. 

Where was I? Oh, yes. Being at it again this weekend. By “at it again,” I mean looking at travel trailers. Airstream has finally released its long awaited (at least by me) Nest fiberglass trailer, and I wanted to see it. Being a retirement destination, Tucson, like Phoenix and other parts of the desert southwest, has a number of RV dealerships. The Airstream dealer is called Lazy Days, and it’s down by the airport. We climbed down into the Z, put the top up and the A/C on, and took a ride.

I ended up being disappointed by the Nest for a number of the reasons. It was supposed to be light because of the fiberglass but it’s heavier than the smallest Bambi Sport. It was also supposed to be cheaper but it’s not, not really. Its tiny self clocks in at about $46,000. For a trailer. 

But while we were there and walking around on the blistering pavement under the unforgiving sun, we happened upon another interesting travel trailer that I decided I liked even better. It’s the Forest River R-Pod, a kind of teardrop shaped trailer that’s also made of fiberglass. It’s several pounds lighter than the Nest. It’s also less than $20,000. Used they’re around $15,000 or less. I was hooked. I got brochures. We came home and I promptly sat down at the computer to learn everything I could about the brand and specifically the RP 180 model. I started looking on to find used ones. I was ready to buy. 

Except that I really wasn’t. I knew somewhere deep in the corner of my brain that this whole fixation was and is a sham. I was never going to buy a travel trailer for a number of reasons. I work too many days and too many weeks to take enough time to travel the country by road. But the main reason is more simple: I don’t camp. I don’t like to camp. I don’t have any desire to camp. I don’t have some hidden desire to frequent KOA campgrounds. I am an avowed hotel snob. Something that’s four stars isn’t always good enough. 

“So then what’s the deal?” Kevin asked, unsurprised. He has lived with me for twenty-two years. He has heard me rant about subpar hotels. He has never once heard the words “let’s go camping” come out of my mouth. 

I thought about it. And here’s what occurred to me: I am fascinated by the idea of tiny houses, of being able to live in a space the size of my closet that contains a kitchen, a dinette, a bed, and a bathroom. And the idea of being able to travel and pull along my own small version of my big house, is intriguing; to know exactly what the place we’d be staying in after a road trip was going to be. Completely ours, decorated the way we like, with all of the stuff we use, albeit on a smaller basis. My version of “wherever you go, there you are.” And that, I finally decided, is why I thought I wanted a travel trailer. I’m a home body.

My fascination will continue. But my flirtation with actually buying something is officially over. To that I say, bring on the five-star hotel rooms.  

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