Book Review – Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream

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Carolina Cruising to an American Dream

Review of a book about discovering America from an RV and the lessons along the way

Not quite four months before she became a “sexygenerian”, Carolina Esguerra Colborn embarked on a new life by getting married aboard a cruise ship on Washington’s Lake Union. She and her husband Bill continued to cruise after their wedding, this time in an RV. They rented out their homes and moved into a life of full-time travel.

Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream is Carol’s story about their travels through the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico, their marriage and her journey to becoming an American. Carol grew up and lived most of her life in the Philippines, where she was a successful executive and raised three daughters. Dealing with health issues brought on by stress, she left the corporate world and moved to the United States, a place of fascination for her. She eventually settled in Seattle, where one of her daughters lived and where she met Bill.

Their first few months of RV life were as driven as their business careers had been. They travelled through five continental states, Alaska and three Canadian provinces in just two months. Carol says, “It was not the cruising lifestyle we envisioned. But it was exciting and I didn’t mind.” After eight months and 15,000 miles, they began to slow down. They bought a larger RV and stayed longer in one place, sometimes spending weeks at one RV resort. They explored the area around them in their car and took time to enjoy the facilities at the RV resorts.

Parts of Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream read like a travelogue as Carol recounts their itinerary and stops along the way. But it goes beyond a mere list of locations. Carol includes interesting tidbits and background on the places they visit and shares her own perceptions, from her panic at the thousand-foot drops on California’s Highway 1 to her joy at seeing Indian petroglyphs and her delight in discovering unexpected Philippine connections. As I read about her travels, I discovered places I’d like to visit, knew that like her I wouldn’t dare walk across the Mile High Swinging Bridge and enjoyed her perspective along with my memories of places I have visited.

Yet my favourite parts of the book are not the paragraphs about the places Carol and Bill travelled to. My favourite parts are the personal stories she shares. Stories about her life in the Philippines. Stories about a mature couple from different cultures building a life together. Stories about the logistics of life on the road. Stories about staying connected with family and friends as they travel. Stories about new friendships. Stories about becoming an American.

I met Carol on-line through a blogging group we both belong to. This past winter, I had the opportunity to meet her and Bill in person, when we found ourselves in Arizona at the same time. Carol’s enthusiasm and energy come through in the book. She writes with humour and honesty, making this an enjoyable read. And, for those of you contemplating taking to the road in an RV, she includes several appendices of tips.

You can find Carol’s blog here.

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  1. hi donna; thanks for sharing your experience with her book. as you know I’ve spent a lot of my life in motorhomes travel trailers and beds of pick up trucks. I doubt I ever traveled in anything as nice as what they use. 🙂 although we did run into some people with some amazing homes on wheels. one couple we met at a hot air balloon show had a motorhome with a double deck on the back of it that hauled a car and a mini helicopter. well keep the posts coming, max

    1. Max, it sounds as if you have a few stories about motorhome travel too. I’ve seen people haul cars with motorhomes, but never a helicopter!

  2. I read Carol’s book a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it for the very same reasons you discussed above. We’ve talked about taking a road trip across the US someday and Carol’s book had me dreaming about getting to know my own country. Great review and, if we ever do a US wander I’ll let you know so that we can arrange a meet up too! Anita

  3. What’s unusual about this story is that the woman in question was successful back home. You can find an abundance of poor women who have married to get US and Western European nationalities.

    1. Catarina, Carol applied for American citizenship on her own merit after five years of permanent residency. It was interesting to read her perceptions as a new American of the historic places they visited related to the American Revolution.

    1. Phoenicia, the journey is exciting and romantic in many ways, but there are also spots with difficulties (health issues, problems with the RV, etc.) that round out the story.

  4. Cruising the country in an RV and writing a book about it sounds fascinating and I think it’s cool that you had a chance to meet the author. Thanks for your review of the book.

  5. This was a really well written post Donna and your enthusiasm for Carol and her journey comes through. Traveling the world in an RV or bus has always been a fascination to me since I read “Blue Highways” and then stories on the life of Uschi Obermaier. Really good review.

  6. Books like this just add more fuel to my living-in-a-RV quest I hope to accomplish someday. It’s interesting how there pace slowed after the first 15,000 miles and they started to stay longer in various places. I think that’s where I’m at in my travel attitude. It can be great to hit a furious pace and see a lot, but so much can be said for taking the time to really get to know a place. Plus, Tim’s comment serves to remind me that I still haven’t given Blue Highways a read.

    1. Jeri, I think it would be hard to sustain a fast pace forever. There is a lot to be said to taking the time to really get to know a place.

  7. Since I absolutely love road trips this just sounds wonderful to me. I noticed Jeri’s comment about how she’s dreaming of doing the RV thing one day and I must confess that I have occasionally entertained similar fantasies – in part because I can’t bear the thought of leaving my dog behind!

    1. It seems that a lot of us have living-in-an-RV fantasies. It certainly makes sense if you want to bring your dog along.

  8. Every since I was very young, I’ve had this fantasy of spending part of my retirement touring the country in an RV. I think it would be fun to go into the small towns and really experience how different people live. I’m not sure I could keep it up long-term, but it definitely sounds like a fun experience.

    1. Erica, I too think it would be a fun experience, but not sure I could keep it up long-term.

  9. Holy smoke, 15,000 miles in 8 months! That’s one heck of a road trip. I agree, the best part of road trips are the friends you make along the way – and how it can change (hopefully for the better!) your relationship with your travelling companion. You learn a LOT about someone when you’ve shared the same vehicle for 8 days!

    1. Krystyna, my husband used to say “birds in a nest must learn to agree”. I think that applies to travel in an RV.

  10. Carolina and Bill sound a lot like people I am reading more and more about as they retire. People become international travelers always on the road. Not necessarily in an RV but visiting different places. Thanks for sharing this book review of Carolina with us Donna!

  11. Hi Donna, oh this life of Carols sounds awesome. I’m so jealous. I’d just love to someday hop in a big RV and travel the country, staying each place as little or ad long as we felt liked. What a life. Maybe I should read her book though. Perhaps it is better in your dreams than reality. I’m sure she includes the good and bad. 🙂

    1. Susan, there is something appealing about living and traveling in an RV, isn’t there? But as with most things, there is both good and bad in the reality. Carol touches on some of both.

  12. What an interesting story you have reviewed. As an author, I always like reading about another author’s work and being set in an RV sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing this with everyone.

  13. It sounds like a book I’d like to read. It seems that she is thoughtful and shares more than scenery!

    1. Beth, although the information about the scenery is interesting, it is the parts she shares beyond that which interested me the most.

  14. Sounds like an interesting book. One of my later goal is to rent a RV an travel across America.

    1. Jason, I’m discovering there are many people who’d like to travel across the country in a RV. Hope it works out for you some day.