Even motor home enthusiasts have trouble describing their lifestyle.
They say it has something to do with the love of travel, the joy of meeting new people, the comfort of ending each day in their own beds, no matter where they are.But according to several of the 3,200 motor coach-owning families who met at the former Defense Depot Ogden this week, there is more to it than that.
David McMillin of Nashville-based Outdoor Resorts of America manned a booth in Ogden for the 35th annual summer convention of the Family Motor Coach Association. The convention ends Thursday.
McMillin compared the lifestyle to pasta: either you like it, or you do not. But if you do like pasta, there are dozens of different ways to prepare and eat it.
With motor homes, he said, it does not matter whether a person is driving a basic, $50,000 recreational vehicle or a $700,000 luxury coach. If they park next to each other, they soon will be chatting, talking about their backgrounds and sharing meals.
"When I go to an RV lot, before the day is over, I'll know the people next to me," McMillin said. "All the people share things in common, like a love of other people and a love of seeing America."
Robbin Gould, editor of the FMCA's Family Motor Coaching magazine, said those shared attributes showed during convention seminars that covered everything from chassis maintenance and towing to microwave cooking and fashion.
"They're very outgoing people," Gould said. "They're very willing to meet people. There are no strangers out there."
Marcia Atkinson of Cincinnati is the wife of Charlie Atkinson, newly elected president of the FMCA, which counts 112,000 families as members. The Atkinsons bought their first motor home in 1972 and drove their fifth, a 36-foot Intrigue by Country Coach, to the DDO/Golden Spike Events Center for the convention.
"We loved traveling, and we wanted our (four) children to have the opportunity to see the country," Atkinson said. "All of our friends are from FMCA, and we have friends from all over the country."
Besides all those FMCA friends parked in rows that seemed to stretch for miles, manufacturers drove another 800 new recreational vehicles to Ogden to display and sell.
For about $80,000, a person could drive off in a coach equipped with a couch, comfortable chair, television, booth-style eating area, kitchen with sink, stove and microwave, basic bedroom and shower/toilet area.
Robert and Carol Wood of Winchester, Ohio, were looking to spend a little more. Robert Wood said the 40-foot, 1997 Beaver Marquis they already own cost about $400,000. On Wednesday, they were preparing to test drive a Newell Coach Corp. model that runs more than $700,000.
"This is a great possibility," Carol Wood said, relaxing in one of the coach's leather chairs, near the large-screen television.
Robert Wood said they really got into the motor home scene after he retired in 1992. And although they are not "full-timers" - they retain a residence that does not have wheels - they have put in about 1,500 miles of travel in their motor home during each of the past 20 months.
"I decided when I retired that I wanted to see the country more than I'd seen before, and the way to do that was motor coaching," Robert Wood said.
The highest of the high-end homes on display was the million-dollar "Elegant Lady."
Frank X. Konigseder, vice president of Liberty Coach of North Chicago, Ill., which customized the home, asked people to take their shoes off before touring her 45 feet of movable luxury.
He said 90 percent of the coach's interior is custom work, including glass etchings lit with changing colors by fiber optics, lighting controlled with a "programmable logic computer" and the 52-inch projection screen satellite television system in the spacious bedroom.
Liberty has designed and built similar coaches for professional race car drivers and singers like Travis Tritt and Randy Travis, Konigseder said.
But Irwin and Naomi Hirschfield prove that people do not have to spend millions to find adventure in a motor coach. Between May 1990 and March 1991, the Hirschfields nearly fulfilled a wish to travel "'Round the World in our American Motor Home."
They had their modest coach ferried from the United States to France. From there, they drove through 27 countries, spending about $2,600 per month, before they were stopped short of their goal by the gulf war.
Irwin Hirschfield, 72, likes to show off the accordion he bought in Moscow for 75 cents and talk about the time he was stopped for speeding by East German police, but avoided a ticket by giving them tiny American flags.
The Hirschfields' motor home is filled with the miniature figurines Irwin collects, along with other mementos from their travels, like a piece of the Berlin Wall.
Naomi Hirschfield, who is 77 and had a stroke five months ago, said her husband feels a sense of urgency to see the nation and the world - something he shares with fellow motor homers.
"We're married 50 years, and I want to be with him, so I come any way I can, and he runs," she said.