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South So Soon?

It might just be a fluke of a small data set, but it seems that RV travelers are already too far south this October. "There he goes again, running down people who have different tastes than himself," say a few readers. But actually, I'm not talking about tastes at all; I'm talking about geography.

North America is 10-20 times smaller in winter than in summer, after taking into account what most travelers desire. This causes two problems: 1) a noticeable population compression in the places that are desirable in winter, and 2) you run out of places to go in the winter. You get tired of the same old places.

Population compression (#1) does not enhance the camping experience unless you enjoy lines, crowds, generators, or higher prices and reservations at RV parks.

Problem #2 is real, but not severe. I like the places that I've gone to, in winters past. Still, there is a limit to how long I can stay interested in places like the Mojave Desert or windy southern New Mexico or West Texas. Southern Arizona is always overcrowded.

The obvious solution is to stay in cooler locations during the shoulder seasons, so that the warm places don't get worn out. Why do so many RVers have such a negative and cynical attitude about cool air? I've spent 20 years of my life downwind of the Great Lakes, so I know how disgusting cold and wet weather can be. But it's the clouds, cold precipitation, and slop that really get to you -- not the thermometer itself. There is a secondary rainy season in the Southwest in mid-winter, but the shoulder seasons are dry and sunny, usually.

Chilly air under sunny skies is one of the great pleasures of the outdoors. You miss that by heading south too soon.

You can also sleep better in cool air, with the windows of the RV shut and blocking a little bit of outside traffic noise.

But no reasoned argument will have any effect on some RVers, who have this cliche image built into their retirement dream: they are stretched out in a lounge chair outdoors; in the background there is a palapa roof and palm trees; a warm tropical breeze blows in from la baia; they have a margarita or a Corona beer in hand; everything is warm, easy, care-free.

And for escapist cliches like this they are willing to put up with the downside.