RV owners hit hard as fuel prices soar

INLAND EMPIRE, Calif. While it's true that events like the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival, and other highly-promoted events, draw a lot of visitors in RVs, discussion of fuel costs are heard more frequently than discussions about the fine wines.

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"We had a lot of traveling that we were going to do this summer, but at eight miles to the gallon, and at $5.50 a gallon, it's pretty hard to travel like we like to do," said RV owner Bill Sheldon.

The big RV dealers seem to agree that the market is softening because of fuel prices. But both high- and low-end coaches are moving.

"Some manufactures have slowed down. 2005 was our peak year in the RV business," said Dick Torres from Giant RV. "But they've slowed down a little bit, laid off a few people just like the rest of the companies. But for the most part, the RV business is a good, stable industry to be in."

In the general aviation industry, aircraft owners have cut back on their flying time.

"Anything that has twin engines, most people aren't flying at all," said airport manager Leo Duiron. "And the people that have the single-engine aircraft are cutting down very much what they fly. If they used to do two or three hours a month, now they might do an hour a month -- if not every other month. It's affected it quite a bit."

Is it a correctable situation? RV owner Bill Sheldon offered his thoughts:

"I'm mad, sad and disgusted," said Sheldon.

It may be safe to conclude that the rising cost of gasoline and diesel is taking a lot of the fun out of hitting the open road in your home on wheels.


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