They were called motorcoaches, house cars, travel trailers and even mobile bungalows. Recreational vehicles are now celebrating a century of putting America on the road with some of the comforts of home, the Waco (Texas) Tribune reported.
The first mass-produced campers were manufactured in 1910. As part of the highway-hopping hoopla associated with the RV centennial, local author Evada Cooper has compiled “Centennial RV Recipe Cookbook: Celebrating 100 Years of RVing.”
The book will soon be released by Texas State Technical College-Waco’s publishing division. It showcases more than 100 recipes that are road-ready and time-tested favorites collected from around the country. Evada specifically set out to find recipes that are easy to prepare in an RV or at a campsite. Another feature is historical photos and trivial tidbits about the allure of the open-road lifestyle.
She and her husband, Terry Cooper, are the owners/operators of MobileRVacademy.com, an online school that offers instructional DVDs and webinars on topics of interest to RV enthusiasts.
Terry, a master certified RV technician/instructor who taught courses on RVs for many years at TSTC-Waco, now teaches solar energy courses at the college. He contributes to the cookbook as well — not as a chef but as a mechanic. He offers maintenance advice and handy tips in the publication.
“So it won’t matter who you are — man or woman — you’ll be reaching for that book all the time,” said Evada, who goes by the nickname “Lady E.”
The couple recently finished production on four DVDs for MobileRVacademy.com. Next year, they hope to establish local classes for women to learn RV maintenance.
Women, the Coopers noted, are the fastest-growing segment of the RV market. “We noticed that about 70% of our students are women wanting to know how to maintain an RV,” Evada said. “So a local class would give us more opportunities to connect with consumers.”
The Coopers met on a blind date a few years ago, set up through Match.com. That first date, Terry recalled, lasted 12 hours. When the first restaurant they were at closed for the night, they went to the IHOP to continue talking about their shared love of RVs. Evada loved camping as a teen, and her grandparents owned a travel trailer.
The Coopers married in December 2008. “We had too much in common,” Terry explained.
The RV maintenance information is a unique feature for a cookbook, Evada said. She hopes it will broaden the book’s appeal beyond food enthusiasts. Some 30 million Americans drive about 14 million vehicles, so the potential audience for the cookbook is huge.
Terry grew up near Somerville, Texas, about 35 miles from Evada’s hometown of Rockdale. “So we’re taking a dip from the same gene pool,” she joked.
“He is providing me with tips, procedures, checklists and maintenance schedules that are so vital for the upkeep of our RVs,” she said. “Having this RV maintenance information right at your fingertips, along with your favorite recipes, is a wonderful idea I know others will embrace.”
A 1978 graduate of Rockdale High School, Evada owned her own cafe in Rockdale for about 15 years before she moved to Port Lavaca for another job. Following a divorce, she had difficulty finding an affordable place to live with her teenage daughter. So she bought an RV and was smitten with the simplicity of the lifestyle.
Even sharing her 37 1/2-foot-long Sierra Forest River with two dogs and a cat was a lot less stressful, she said, than living in a cramped apartment. She moved to the Waco area almost three years ago to be the general manager of a restaurant that has since closed.
The author also works with Workamper News, a publication for full-time RVers who look for seasonal jobs to pay the bills. Sometimes, those seasonal jobs have ways of turning into full-time jobs, Evada said. Examples include docents at animal sanctuaries, burger-flippers at state fairs and desk clerks at national parks.
She started soliciting recipes from the RV community this spring for inclusion in the cookbook. Whether they are old-time family favorites or non-traditional camping fare, she said she wanted any fun recipe that RVers would like to share.
In addition to recipes, RVers were asked to submit brief bios extolling their love of RVs and roaming the nation. She targeted the members of national RV clubs and organizations, the people who would most appreciate a centennial celebration of the lifestyle.
In the spring of 2010, Evada learned that the national Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) was endorsing her book as one of its official publications during its year-long celebration.
“I’m just very excited,” she said. “It’s all about family, friends and food. It’s about a return to the era of simpler fare but good, hearty food.”
The cookbook has “no-cook” recipes as well as items intended to be prepared over a campfire, with a Dutch oven or a trailer microwave.
“The idea is to make (the dishes) fast and easy, so you have more time with family and to enjoy the great outdoors,” Evada said.
For more information on the RV Centennial Cookbook, contact LadyEcooper@MobileRVAcademy.com.
Editor’s Note: Evada Cooper tells RVBUSINESS.com, “As a way to help our friend the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum continue to preserve the past …the present …and future of this great industry, I am extending the offer for the balance of 2011 that those individuals and organizations that come to MobileRVAcademy.com and purchase a copy or copies of the RV Centennial Cookbook: 100 years of Rving, a donation of 5% of the sale will be given to the RV Museum.”