Sexy Adventures, Mercedes Driving, and Farm Dudes: Camping 2.0


By Diane Anderson-Minshall

How one weekend trip to an emerging California wine district reinvented camping for me forever.

Soon, in the late 1990s, other groups came along — those aimed specifically at LGBT folks, including Rainbow RV, which now bills itself as the largest LGBT RV and tent-camping membership club in North America. RainbowRV now has 7,000 members, LGBT couples and singles, who can join private group camping events, connect with other RVers in areas they’d like to visit, find LGBT-written reviews of RV parks and campgrounds in nearly any state in the nation, and, as with AAA or Good Sam, get discounts on services aimed at RVers.

A quick scour of Google, though, brings up more campground listings, like CampGayUSA, which has listings for gay, lesbian, gay-lesbian, gay-friendly, and gay-owned campgrounds in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. There are also private gay RV communities, like The Hunting Club, on secluded wooded grounds and an 11-acre pond, located in Vidalia, Ga. (the city famous for its  onions). There’s Jones Pond, a clothing-optional RV park in Angelica, N.Y., catering to gay men that has also been owned by gay men since the early 1990s, and Highlands Resort, an LGBT campground resort in Guerneville, Calif. (in the famous

Russian River gay resort region, which LGBT San Franciscans flood to on weekends). The Resort on Carefree Blvd. (often just called Carefree by the women who live there), the Southwest Florida resort thought to be the largest planned community of lesbians in U.S. — there are over 275 homes there — has a spot for RVers. The two major mainstream affiliate organizations for RVers, Good Sam and Escapees, both have LGBT groups within them now.

Clearly, for LGBT RVers, today is a different day.


The Roadtrek RV (above)

No More Behemoths XL
It’s with that knowledge that volunteered for a glorious weekend RV trip, the co-pilot, three Chihuahuas, and me. And it began with a Roadtrek RS-Adventurous, which is literally the Mercedes-Benz of recreational vehicles. Originally Mercedes’ European cargo vans, these Roadtreks combine Mercedes-Benz engineering with a sort of ingenious RV design that packs in everything you really need in an RV but is so small it can be parked in a regular spot instead of those giant spots reserved for semi-trucks and haulers. The Roadtrek is perfect for a couple and dogs (or maybe even a couple of little kids) because it’s smart and compact; all four of the front seats swivel around to gather around a dining table that you can pop up in a breeze; you can undo an extra folding mattress up front if you need to sleep more than a couple; the whole thing is open from front to end and you can see panoramic views anywhere in the RV as well as the drivers around you on the road; and the bathroom is so fascinatingly small and functional I actually tweeted a picture of it.
The thing though about driving this little beast is that, unlike conventional RVs, it felt so un-beastlike on the road. It was fun to drive, eco-conscious, never got sidelined by Santa Ana winds, and I was never afraid of running over or under things (including curbs and small animals) because I couldn’t see around the RV. It had all the things we needed in an RV (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, fridge) as well as things I didn’t realize I should expect but now will in perpetuity (including a home theater system with a 17-inch flat screen TV and surround sound).
After a helpful distributor delivered the Roadtrek and gave me the five-minute how-to, I spent 10 minutes worrying that it might be too small and then the next two days brainstorming ways to buy one as soon as our camping trip was over. Yes, I was now a walking ad for Roadtrek, but where could I take this puppy? Oh, right, this is a story about wine country camping and the joy of travel without waiting in line at the airport, staying in a stuffy hotel I can barely afford, and having to leave my dogs at home with a (pricey) babysitter.