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Old 04-27-2008, 08:20 AM   #1
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Beginning of the end?

Let me start off by saying that I'm generally a very optimistic person and hope to avoid being labeled Mrs. Gloom and Doom BUT

how bad does it have to get before the fuel prices start preventing people from getting out and camping and damaging if not ruining the RV business?

We are in that stage of our lives - one retired, the second close behind - where we are beginning to think about doing some serious camping and traveling. We have owned 3 Airstreams and are seriously looking a 4th newer, more expensive, "forever" Airstream. We are not rich by any means and are having second thoughts of spending that money on the trailer if we're not going to be able to enjoy it anywhere but in our driveway.

I realize it's going to be everyone's own decision as to how much they are willing and can afford to spend for say a long weekend at the lake but could there come a time that your favorite RV park at the lake is going to be closed down due to lack of business? Will RV supply companies and manufactures close down for the same reason? Is this a domino effect and the price at the pump is going to trickle (flood) down and hurt not just campers but business owners and manufacturers - thousands, maybe millions of people?

And my second question, is there a legitimate solution being developed? Is the solution already out there and for some reason (ie, government intervention) being kept from the us, the consumers?

These are questions Jimmy and I discussed yesterday after having to pull out that credit card and fill up twice for a relatively short trip (without the trailer). Please give us some reasons to be hopeful that our years of dreaming and planning of Airstreaming in our retirement years can still be a reality.
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Old 04-27-2008, 08:30 AM   #2
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I am hoping by the time this may happen, we will be able to just bolt a pair of antigravity generators on the bottom of our Airstream, and tow it with a bicycle. I am not joking (well, not much), either we will have the ability to haul our trailer behind whatever vehicle we end up with, or carry it along with us.
The failure of the economy, and lack of infrastructure is a very real thought we have. Will there be a way to tow our trailer in the short term? Will there be equipment available to tow with? I don't know if you ever watched the movie "Americathon", but I am envisioning a situation like that before we find an alternative.
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Old 04-27-2008, 09:10 AM   #3
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The 'challenging' business climate in the RV industry has already claimed it's first victims: Travel Supreme (although I hear that they are about to be purchased by Jayco), Western RV Manuf. and a couple of small outfits.

Winnebago has closed their plants for a week due to slack demand, and this is only the beginning. In this new era of $4-5 gas, only the strong will survive.
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Old 04-27-2008, 09:54 AM   #4
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Welcome to Barter Town

Visited Quartzsite, AZ this year. It is the Snowbird capital of the US they say.
I inquired to all the small business and vendors as to the state of business this year, non-scientific at best.

Business down 50% as opposed to 2006/7, was the consensus.

Most business owners are not placing restock orders for the coming 2008/9 season. Lots of vendors say they are not returning next season.


Artists are hurting as you can imagine. Many artists are being offered loans by the show promoters in order to afford gas to just get to the promoters next show.
Kind of reminds me of the company store scam.


For the first time in 10 years, I'm being pleaded with by second tear art show promoters to exhibit with them just to fill empty spots caused by artist bailing out due to poor or no sales and expensive fuel. (even after paying in-full with no refunds, using the "throwing good money after bad" principle

Craft shows are a different matter, the under 25 dollar "made in China" buy and sell items hawked by "so called artists" sell as fast as these charlatans can important the junk.
Many of these fish mongers are thriving.

Myself, I just went solar, added a cat heater and some fans. Looking to add a 60 gal water tank and an Aux fuel tank to my Tow Vehicle. My daily driver is my Yahama 225cc motorcycle which resides in my TV, and gets 75mpg.

I decided in 2007, that 2008 might be a good year to step back from the art show circuit and reflect. That decision turned out to be a good one for me.

Recently, I met a newly graduated doctorate student traveling cross-country on motorcycle.
He was struggling to set-up his tent in the trailer park I was over-nighting in.

I offered some help and we struck up a conversation.

Gene, is an exchange student from Hong Kong. Just earned his Doctorate in finance from a top collage. His dream as a boy, was to study here in the U.S., settle down and get a job here in the U.S., and travel across the United States on a motorcycle.

He got his degree, is traveling cross-country , but is leaving the US to settle down and get a job, Gene cannot find a job here, while Asia and the middle East are throwing money at him left and right, even offering him a home for free!

He also said that he is one of the last generations seeking an education here in the United States.

He asked me if he could be candid about his take on the future of the U.S. from an outsiders prospective.


He shared with me the sentiment of his collage professors and fellow students, the opinions of his friends and relatives back in Hong Kong, as well as his own.

At times it was hard for me to believe he was actually talking about the United States.


His take on the state and direction of the U.S. is only his own opinion of course, and I thanked him for his candor.


Each and everyone of us has his or her's own opinion, I have mine, you have yours.


Did I mention I'm fully solar now and looking for a tribe.

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Old 04-27-2008, 09:59 AM   #5
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I don't know what the effect is going to be long term, but in the short term I think the pain will be rotating through the different parts of the travel industry. I see each segment having to deal with unique problems.

Airfares are going to skyrocket, so leisure travel will drop by 10 to 15%. Will that mean more vacancies at hotels in preferred destinations? Will it be cheaper to throw a bag in your Toyota Prius and drive to Las Vegas?

Will there be more vacancies at your favorite campground? Will cheaper camping fees offset some of the higher fuel prices?

How about closer in destinations? Will we continue to drive all across the Western US, spending a night or two at each place? Or will we be making shorter trips and spending a week at each place.

I live in Minnesota. I'm a lot more likely to drive to the north shore and Lake Superior than I am to drive to the Grand Canyon this year.

Will shorter trips and longer stays mean a different camping experience? Maybe that will drive people to a different end of the travel trailer market? I might be more likely to buy a heavier, larger trailer if I travel less and stay longer.

And what about all the people who won't be going to Asia or Europe due to high airfares? Will they be buying a travel trailer and staying "domestic" this year?
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:11 AM   #6
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Undoubtedly, this is just another cycle not at all like many, many cycles that have happened before. Perhaps someone here with a good memory or an interest in economic history can provide perspective that will help relieve the blues that seem all too pervasive and all too unwarranted when viewed over years rather than months.
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:25 AM   #7
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Fuel costs are causing people, and companies to make hard decisions. I've just returned from a 15 day trip towing my trailer. I drove a total of 1,610 miles combined towing and sight seeing. My fuel cost, diesel, ran from a low of 3.95 a gallon to a high of 4.58 a gallon. My total fuel bill for the trip was 560.53, .35 per mile or 37.37 per day.

Has this had an impact on my travel plans? Yes and no. It has forced me to really factor in fuel cost as a more significant factor in my trips. I had planned for this trip last November, and then I had estimated my fuel cost to be around $300, almost half of the actual cost. It will affect my travel on shorter trips of 3-4 days because the shorter the trip the higher the daily costs will be. So when my fuel is going to run me $300 for a weekend trip, I will really have to want to go. For the longer trips I will probably still go, but I will eat in the trailer more often than before and may not make as many side trips.

The fuel factor is spread out over more days on a longer trip. This summer I will be gone for two months and travel over 5,000 miles excluding side trips. I'm just having to decide what side trips we really want to do. I've already dropped scenic drives around Glacier NP, and a self-drive tour of San Francisco as well as an excursion up and down Hwy 1 north of San Francisco.

Hard decisions to make by everyone. I'm retired, but my DW still works so our prime time for trips will still be limited to the summer. I'm not yet forced to determine if we can afford to make 3-4 long trips a year, but I will have to at some point. Your decisions are more immediate. I've found that if I focus on the daily cost of the trip I am better able to determine how much the cost of fuel impacts me.

Good luck on your decision.

_____Tom
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtStream


He asked me if he could be candid about his take on the future of the U.S. from an outsiders prospective.


He shared with me the sentiment of his collage professors and fellow students, the opinions of his friends and relatives back in Hong Kong, as well as his own.



Michael
So, what are those opinions? Inquiring minds want to know

Hopefully, with high prices the attractive profit will encourage domestic production and there will come a point when that enters the market that prices will level out.
If not, maybe McDonald's will start recycling its french fry oil into a burnable fuel, wouldn't that be great!
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:26 AM   #9
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Maybe I will camp less than I used to...maybe not. I know that I will stay closer to home for now, but I will still get out. I work from home part time and work from an employers office part time. I can cut out driving downtown and ride the bus to save up for the gas to go camping. A small adjustment and a worthwhile one. Eventually, I will work from home and my Airstream full time.....that's the plan.

There are many ways to economize and it's an exercise we Americans are having to face. Fuel is expensive in Europe and I see stories all the time (even on this forum) about Airstream's being exported to Europe.....and most of them seem to go to England. Those folks are willing to pay for fuel to pull their rig around.

Think about going to rallies that are closer to home. We will adjust, we will make do....we will survive this.

It's sad that the RV industry is suffering so much now. There is a lot of new inventory out there and I see ads on TV all the time with marked down prices. If you are thinking of a new Airstream, it's probably more of a shopper's market than it was a year ago. Take advantage of that and negotiate your deal. The glass is half full.
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:30 AM   #10
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Undoubtedly, this is just another cycle not at all like many, many cycles that have happened before. .
This cycle takes me right back to the that disaster we elected back in 468, Romulus Augustulus. Or before him, that goofball Justinian I.

We just keep repeating the same mistakes. In a few centuries, the Independent States of American will be the low cost producer, and we'll be sending all of our natural resources (cornstarch, switchgrass, and water) to the United Empire of Eastern Europe and the Consolidated States of Asiaifica.
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:31 AM   #11
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I tend to take the same mental path as posts 5 and 6. Glass half full.
So much of this is mental, but I realise that mindset can affect how the nation reacts in harder economic times.

While there may be some slowdown in the RV industry, I suspect that it would be mostly in manufacturing and sales. Those of us with an RV will still use them, but as MarkDoan points out, it may just be more local.

For perspective.
I bought my house 9 years ago next June. The market value today, even in the current housing crunch is at least twice what I paid, and probably closer to 2 1/2 times what I paid.

There are other parts of the economy that have increased as much (or more) as fuel, but as a nation we all have been spoiled by our cheap fuel. This has been discussed extensively on other threads.

I suspect that we will become accustomed to the level that fuel prices stabilize, and it will become our new "norm".

We are a nation with short term memory. Just look at how we dealt with security issues in October of '01 VS how we deal with them today.
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:45 AM   #12
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If nothing else, maybe Airstream will pay attention to its buying public's concerns and start seriously developing lighter trailers. Trailers that can be towed easily and safely by smaller, 6 cylinder vehicles. If they can do it for the overseas market, why not for it's domestic market?
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:53 AM   #13
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Dollar's fall forces new standard of frugality

Great article in this morning's paper. I think some very good things will come out of this mess. One being that Americans will learn how to be more appreciative of the non-material things... such as camping with the family instead of shopping on the weekends and buyimg more crap.
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Old 04-27-2008, 11:32 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myoung
Undoubtedly, this is just another cycle not at all like many, many cycles that have happened before. Perhaps someone here with a good memory or an interest in economic history can provide perspective that will help relieve the blues that seem all too pervasive and all too unwarranted when viewed over years rather than months.
I have one-- Just after WWII in Europe, if you went to a bar, you ordered two beers at once, because by the time you were ready for your second beer, the price would have gone up. At this point, I just hope the price of fuel will stabilize, then there can be an adjustment across the board. As it is, the price of fuel keeps climbing and no one knows how much to plan, or how much to charge to recover transportation and manufacturing costs, because the price just keeps jumping, with no stability in sight. Even if the price of gas stops at (gasp) $5/gallon, and stays there, the farmer will know how much it will cost to plant, grow, and harvest his crops. The trucker will know how much it will cost to get the crops to market. The baker will know how much to get his bread to the grocery store, and we will know how much it will cost to go pick it up. The uncertainty is currently causing much more trouble than a higher, stable price would.
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Old 04-27-2008, 11:45 AM   #15
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If they can figure out how to put a man on the moon...

Perhaps they'll also be able to figure out how to make a lighter Airstream, so that a smaller engine will be able to pull it so we can still go down to visit the coconut palms ever winter.

As to the question of what will I (& the Mrs.) be doing...we're not changing anything !!!

Yes, (as mentioned) we certainly won't be able to "just wander with the same abandon" as when gas was only $1 per gal, but considering we really only travel down south "to" a destination & then return back "from" the destination...I'd say the cost of fuel is just a fact of life.

Hopefully, Canadian supplied oil will help to save the day... follow this link & click on "Canada" Oil reserves - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Now that we've figured out how to get it out of the sand in Alberta, we've got lots & you folks won't be left stuck !!

You'll have to learn how to speak our language though...& perhaps this will help...







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Old 04-27-2008, 11:50 AM   #16
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Hmmm, yes lot's of pessimism. Let's try and put things in perspective. A few years ago diesel was 1.65 or so a gallon. A 25 gallon tank puts a fill up at 41.25. Today diesel in my neck of the woods can be had for 3.95, that same tank of fuel is now 98.75. So a hundred bucks as opposed to 40$. I am not seeing a huge difference given the overall cost of doing the RV thing.

I would propose that fuel is a relatively small part of the equation. The TV was 32K, the AS was 25K, and its is ~ 1.5k a year to keep it maintained and stored. Fuel is down in the noise compared to the cost of buying into the RV lifestyle infrastructure. So I do not expect any real change in use.


A lot of folks (including the US GOV) were and are living beyond what they can afford and fuel is putting some over the top. Not sure you can do anything about that. It's like a kid eating a bag of candy, he won't stop until he pukes his guts out and next time he'll know better. A lot of folks were grazing at the trough of cheap credit and now we have the gut ache. Only it's adults and they have to decide on their own to step away from the trough.

The US is a great country with great people. I could care less what a bunch of Asian or Middle Eastern citizens think about us as they do not have a leg to stand on. Buy into your country and work to make it a better place rather than run it down. Get involved. It is easy to complain, but it's also easy to make a difference just by making a choice to do so.

If a segment of our population wants to buy cheap Chinese junk, then that is the beauty of a free market. Those same people are also dumb enough to buy that junk over and over as it will keep breaking, maybe they'll learn maybe they won't. My wife and I make it a point to buy made in USA whenever it is possible and it mostly is (sometimes you need to work at it a bit). The quality delta is typically night and day, the US stuff is in general way better (not always). But that is our choice.

I think all of us here on the forum have bought into a classic chunk of Americana. So let's keep our chins up and set the example. The US economy will be back in stride before you know it and that new electric/hydrogen tow vehicle will take you places you never thought possible.
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Old 04-27-2008, 11:57 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elolson
The US is a great country with great people. I could care less what a bunch of Asian or Middle Eastern citizens think about us as they do not have a leg to stand on. Buy into your country and work to make it a better place rather than run it down. Get involved. It is easy to complain, but it's also easy to make a difference just by making a choice to do so.

If a segment of our population wants to buy cheap Chinese junk, then that is the beauty of a free market. Those same people are also dumb enough to buy that junk over and over as it will keep breaking, maybe they'll learn maybe they won't. My wife and I make it a point to buy made in USA whenever it is possible and it mostly is (sometimes you need to work at it a bit). The quality delta is typically night and day, the US stuff is in general way better (not always). But that is our choice.

I think all of us here on the forum have bought into a classic chunk of Americana. So let's keep our chins up and set the example. The US economy will be back in stride before you know it and that new electric/hydrogen tow vehicle will take you places you never thought possible.
I love these sites to buy American:

BuyAmerican.com - your online source for quality American-made products.

U.S. Stuff Home- Made in USA Products, Assembled in USA Products, usstuff.com

Still Made in USA.com - American-Made Products for Home and Family

No Sweat -- Union-Made Sweatshop-Free Casual Apparel

U.S. Made Toys
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Old 04-27-2008, 12:07 PM   #18
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Beginning of the End?

I think not! I haven't begun to wear-out this Airstream.

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Old 04-27-2008, 01:15 PM   #19
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I have a small Battery Sales store, and we are being squeezed from both ends....

on the supply side:

The cost of all metals have affected batteries like never before, due to unprecidented escalation of LEAD prices. For example, we saw the market price of LEAD rise over 30% last September! Is there no end in sight? LEAD is heavy and higher fuel prices only add to it's cost to truck it around the country.

Higher fuel prices have caused truckers to add fuel surcharges to deliveries.

We receive price increases on our Copper Cable and cast copper fittings each time we order stock?

Hold on to your seats, consumers...inflation is on the way! Hey, wait a minute...I'm a consumer, too!

On the Sales side:

We sell batteries to three large RV dealers for their new units...the Spring and early Summer months tend to be our busiest...NOT this year...these RV dealers are already hurting...door traffic down, and unit sales way down!

We have had economic 'downturns' in past years, but never have we had a 'slow down' AND high fuel costs...that is the new unknown - high fuel prices!

RV sales depend on customer mobility...if a customer is struggling to just get by with his fuel costs during the week to get to work, he isn't going to be able to afford much to move his RV around on the weekend!

Also, I don't see RV campground owners lowering their rates if they aren't getting the traffic into their parks...maybe they'll even try increasing rates in an effort to keep afloat - or reduce services, who knows?

Boy, I hate to be a 'glass half empty' type person, I've been an optimist all my life, trying to see the best in people...but today's challenges are beginning to 'grate' on me!

With the HUGE profits being enjoyed by the oil companies here in the US, I think it's time our elected rep's step away from their favorite Petroleum Lobby guys, grow some real intregrity, and come up with some meaningful price controls for fuel! Yes, I'm a dreamer...

As long as our oil companies base their sales prices on the world market of oil, instead of their actual costs of production we will continue to get screwed!

Don't forget that the high taxed prices of Tea riled up our fore fathers a couple hundred years ago...can the extreme rise in fuel prices cause another revolution? How high do the prices have to rise before we citizens begin to put pressue on Washington to do something for us...and not just line their own pockets with these oil profits? Do we kick them all out, and get some new guys and gals in office to go to bat for us before the lobbists get to them, or is that impossible?

Yes, you're damn right, I'm taking shorter trips in our RV...the 'fuel factor' has become a LARGE number in our decision of where to travel, or how often!!!

That 'tunnel' looks rather long right now, and I don't think we are even close to seeing the 'light' around all those twists and turns in there!
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Old 04-27-2008, 01:30 PM   #20
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Angry

I am thinking that I may take just two more trips this year. One to the midwest rally, and the other to southeast Indiana to meet up with some friends. I anticipate given current gas prices these two trips to cost me about $550 in fuel alone. Keep in mind I've already spend about $365 on fuel for my round trip to the Louisville area the week before last. So that said, I'd be around a grand in fuel alone for this season. Normally, I'd go on one more longer trip and a few shorter ones, but it is looking more and more like beyond the next two, the others are getting dropped unless fuel costs go down. This would save me about $600 this year. If I took all the trips I normally do, I'd spend about $1500 this season alone. My estimates though are based on $3.49/gallon, so right out of the gate, if prices don't come back down to Earth, I'm already .30/gallon shy on my estimates.

To put in into perspective, before this whole thing got way out of hand, the same trips once costed me about $750.00 or slightly less, when gass was pre $1.75/gallon.
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