The Southwest’s RV culture continues to ramble on, even as high gas prices and tough economic times leave some enthusiasts parked at home, according to a report by the Daily Times, Farmington, N.M. The Rocky Mountain Ramble RV Rally, which began Tuesday (Oct. 11) and continues through Saturday brought 400 RVs to New Mexico’s San Juan County.
For many full-time motorhome residents, the Ramble is a welcome stop on the RV circuit in a warm, dry climate. It’s a chance to reunite with old friends and see another part of the country. Yet the scene seems to be dwindling as some RV owners look to save money by keeping their favorite hobby in park.
Attendees at the Ramble said they’re dealing with tighter budgets by staying in each destination longer and planning their trips better.
“When we first started, we’d move on every week or two weeks, and now we sit around awhile,” said Barbara McCann, who travels with her husband, Gordon.
The McCanns joined the RV lifestyle in 2004 after selling their retirement cabin and winemaking property in North Carolina during a laborious grape harvest.
“It got to be work,” Gordon McCann said.
They soon bought an RV in Texas and hit the road. Since then, they’ve visited every state except Hawaii, and also ventured into Canada. The McCanns most recently came from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, where they spent 11 days.
Gordon McCann said he and other RVers sometimes trade work for services. In 2009, the McCanns served as camp hosts at the Grand Canyon’s north rim for the summer in exchange for a place to park. Such arrangements keep costs down.
“Everything I own,” McCann said, gesturing to his motor home, “is right there.”
Gordon McCann said RVers often use gas price websites to plan their fuel purchases far in advance. Innovations such as widespread Internet access, cell phone service and online banking have made it easier to prolong life on the road.
Although hundreds are attending the Ramble, the RV industry has been hurt by tightened lending that often calls for downpayments of 30%. Even those loans now require sterling credit ratings.
“The RV industry has been hit real hard by the economy,” said Allen Rein, national senior vice president of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA). “It’s just a sign of the times.”
The Rocky Mountain Ramble, put on by the Rocky Mountain Motor Home Association, is one of 10 regional rallies. The Ramble brings hundreds of people to San Juan County, and many of them spend money in restaurants and shopping centers. It’s among the major RV events the area attracts each year, said Tonya Stinson, marketing manager at the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“It’s one of the larger ones and the most consistent,” she said.
However, the event is getting less response from the community this year, Rein said. Businesses have been reluctant to advertise in the Ramble’s program.
The Ramble first came to McGee Park in 2004. It skipped a year; this week’s event marks the Ramble’s sixth appearance in Farmington. Events are scheduled throughout the week, including daily breakfasts, and a car show Saturday.