Evelyn and Leo Carey never dreamed of buying an RV when they were raising kids and fully ensconced in the working world. But , according to a report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Evelyn spied a small teardrop camper trailer about five years ago in the side yard of an art gallery in Wisconsin, and an idea was born.

“I fell in love with the shape of it,” she said. “It was so artsy and so cute.”

By then, the couple had sold their home near Lake Calhoun in south Minneapolis and downsized to an empty-nester condo in downtown St. Paul.

About a year later, they ponied up for a 17-foot Casita travel trailer, which they have pulled across America’s roadways for months at a time, exploring state parks, historic trails and prime bird-watching spots. 

“It has everything you could possibly need,” said Evelyn. “When we travel, we follow our nose — and follow our bliss.”

Baby Boomers and adventuresome seniors such as the Careys are driving the biggest resurgence in RV sales since the early 1990s. The industry has seen double-digit sales growth during the past three years, and this year, shipments of tow-behind travel trailers are expected to reach their highest levels.

The skyrocketing sales are fueled by the 10,000 or so baby boomers who are turning 65 every day, plus a large band of fifty-somethings who are planning for an active or early retirement.

“People are retiring and living more for today than the future,” said Jeff Nobbe, general manager at Shorewood RV Center in Anoka, where overall sales are up 40% since the depths of the recession. “They weren’t doing that before. They were buying lake places before.”

These active Americans feel the lure of nature and romance of the road — but sleeping on the ground isn’t part of the equation.

Unlike previous generations of frugal seniors, many baby boomers are flush with disposable income, and they’re not afraid to spend it. RV manufacturers are taking note.

But there’s more involved than just a “bigger is better” attitude. While rigs roomy enough to hold a hot tub and surround-sound stereo TV can be found on many RV sales lots, there’s a new emphasis on lighter weight towable vehicles and more fuel-efficient motor homes.

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