Now that it’s summer, we’re seeing stranger things not only on Netflix, but on Maine’s roads.

Of course, we have the usual obnoxious drivers from away, in a hurry because they’re more important than everyone else. We also have tons of bicyclists, runners and walkers and, as I saw the other day, a cross-country skier on roller skis. Strange indeed.

But the strangest has to be the ubiquitous recreation vehicle, also known as a camper or motor home – you know, those behemoths that bring all the comforts of home to a far-off campground destination.

Some campers are sleek and showy and cost more than houses. Others are rudimentary, sheet-metal contraptions that allow the occupants to avoid paying exorbitant hotel prices.

What they have in common, however, are their odd names. I’d never really noticed how each camper has its own model name, printed conspicuously on the front or back, until earlier this summer when I saw one called a Voltage.

That was the perfect description for life in an RV, I thought. Unlike “real” camping in a tent in the woods, where electricity is neither needed or wanted, RVs require lots of voltage, made possible by an electrical hookup, to make life in a campground possible and bearable.

Since noticing that Voltage camper hurtling up the turnpike, I’ve taken note of other RV model names. Some have appropriate descriptors such as Vacationer, Holiday Rambler and Summerland. Others are poetic or enigmatic: Imagine, Shadow Cruiser, Spirit, Transcend, Solaria and Reflection. It seems manufacturers are trying to conjure certain feelings from potential buyers in picking these names.

Other model names are just plain funny or ironic. But they reflect RV life, since RV enthusiasts do everything they can to defy nature and tame the elements, even while yearning to be among them. Consider:

Pioneer — Who are we kidding here? Every destination you travel to in an RV has already been discovered.

Cougar — Cougars are shy and rarely visit RV campgrounds.

Mallard — If you get too close in an RV, you’ll scare one off across the pond.

Alpha Wolf — This sounds like the owner thinks he’s a tough guy.

Prowler — Face it, you can’t sneak up on anything in something as big as an RV.

Starcraft — Because RVs have roofs to keep out the rain, you’ll never see a star, even on the starriest of nights.

Endurance — Unlike tent camping, the RV lifestyle doesn’t require any outlay of energy whatsoever.

Storm — I’m surprised a manufacturer would use this name or anyone would buy one. Sounds like tempting fate, and you’ll be stuck inside your camper playing cards all day if one hits.

Windsport — Is this so named because it’s a sport to drive one in highway crosswinds?

Forester — No matter how good a driver you are, you can’t fit an RV down a forest trail. For a forest experience you have to get out and walk. Sorry.

Chateau — If you’ve ever been to a chateau, you know this isn’t one.

Vista/View — There’s no clear view until you get out.

Freedom Traveler/Freedom Express — Sounds nice, until you realize you’re a slave to that electricity and water hookup.

Viking — I’m pretty sure Eric the Red didn’t explore Greenland in an RV.

Outback — Sorry, you can’t drive this to the real Outback. There’s an ocean in the way.

But no matter your RV model name, happy camping to all this summer and to all RV owners a rain- and bug-free night.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.


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