Go West, part 7: Giant Shoeboxes are taking over the Earth

When my husband and I got married I demanded two terms in our pre-nuptual agreement: 1) We will not beat the kids. 2) We will never get an RV.

Recreational Vehicles offer most the conveniences modern American culture has come to find critical to comfort. Television, mattresses, refrigeration, heated water . . . But how convenient are they really?
As I follow one of these giant boxes over the Sierra Nevada range on a two lane improperly banked, winding road, I cannot imagine that the poor sucker behind the wheel of this awkward bumbling pretense of structure might be enjoying the ride.
By comparison, my ?lesbian dog car,? as my teenage son calls it, a (Subaru Outback,) handles like a sportscar. I play peek-a-boo with oncoming traffic, not daring to pass, but nosing into the other lane once in a while when the lumbering behemoth blocking my view and progress becomes particularly slow and annoying.

RV sales have been steadily climbing over the past five years, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. Under ?shipment trends? states the organization?s website, the wholesale numbers continue to rise:

?Shipments of all RVs (motorhomes, travel trailers, sport utility RVs, truck campers and folding camping trailers) totaled 285,749 units in 2012 ? a 13.2% increase above the previous year total. Forecasts for 2013 see additional gains of 7.5%.?

I scanned the numbers, which date to 1978, when 389,900 units were shipped. What? Sales have gone down?
I scan the column of numbers. I cannot detect more than periodic waves, there is no steady increase since I was 12 years old. It just seems like it. Then I figure it out. As I think ?some of those units are still blocking traffic,? I have reached the text below the data:

?Today a record 9 million RVs are on the roads in the United States, a substantial increase in ownership over the past decade. According to a recent study by the University of Michigan, ?the steady gain in ownership reflects a strong and enduring appeal of the RV lifestyle.??

Finally, on the downslope, as the shoebox I?ve been staring at for the last hour picks up speed; now I?m really stuck behind it.
I give up, I sell out, I cash in my chips.
I see a track leading into the forest, an unmarked road. This is U.S. Forest Service (or ?Forest Circus? as my sister called it when she was an employee) land so I know it is mine for the trespass.
I drive in as far as I dare, the sound of the road still present, but the view of it gone.
I turn off the engine and get out to sit on a log. The smell of the pines is invigorating, the cool air stirs my imagination. I could just stay here a few days, me and the trees.
This is Life in Style.
I wonder if those nine million RV drivers know what ?lifestyle? means. How often do I see them actually sitting outside the RV?
Yes, if my husband buys an RV, I?m filing.

By Maile

Maile Field is a writer living in Northern California. Born in Hawaii and raised in Montana, she earned her master of fine arts in nonfiction at George Mason University in Virginia. She encourages constructive criticism.