Read what Chuck Woodbury ( Out West Newspaper - Issue 50, May, 2000) has to say about Cruising America!
Cruising America one word at a time.
I have met Superman and Superwoman and they were in a recreational vehicle. Mike Hinkle and Cindy Michaels roam America in a 22-foot motorhome, designing websites for mostly bed & breakfast inns, campgrounds and other mom and pop businesses.
They have found a way to travel and earn a living in a modern way. "if more people understood how to live this kind of lifestyle, there wouldn't be enough campgrounds," said Mike.
They work hard and long. I don't know how they do it. I got tired just listening to them describe how they spend their time -- it's like a super human effort.
After they left town, I logged onto the World Wide Web to check out their many web sites (they have 20 major ones, each with dozens of sub-topics). Wow! If you printed all the information and photos, it would occupy a thousand pages.
Mike writes and take digital photos. Cindy design the web sites, proofs Mike's writing and keeps track of accounts receivable.
Cindy works during the day at her laptop computer, usually until about 4 p.m., when she quits to make dinner. Mike then hops on his own computer and he's off and running 'til the wee hours of the morning. "I'm a type A person," said Cindy. From what I could see, so is Mike.
Their customers, many of whom they met in their travels, pay them from $10 to $495 per year for some Internet exposure. Generally, the more they pay, the bigger the web presence and the more exposure. Mike and Cindy said that all together, their web sites get about 100,000 hits a day. Nowadays, they don't even solicit business, it just arrives from referrals and through emails from business owners who have found them on the Web. "We have a book ten inches thick with names of people to see," said Cindy.
They see some, too, plotting their itinerary from one to another.
They share their motorhome with a chocolate Cocker Spaniel named Lexxus. About four nights a week they stay in bed and breakfast inns, the other nights in campgrounds.
When they stay at a B&B, it's usually to put together a web site for the place. Mike and Cindy crank out web sites like McDonald's does burgers, and incredibly, they do it with a basic $30 authoring program. They charge a fraction of what most companies do, but because of their low overhead, earn a profit. They have no employees.
Their business is called Cruising-America.com. Because it revolves around the Internet, they must go online often to upload information and tend to mountains of email. They can access the Internet at most B&Bs and at some campgrounds. Every so often, they will stay a week or a month somewhere, when they can log on a will.
A mailing service in Casper, Wyoming, forwards their mail. ATMs keep them in cash.
After leaving me today in Seattle, they were headed north to Canada and then Alaska. They started this year's tour in California in March.
They went "nomadic" in 1997. Mike was working as a manager at a Wal-Mart in Casper. Cindy was a secretary. Mike saw a lot of folks in RVs rolling up to his store, sometimes even parking overnight in the lot. "I thought what what great way to live," he said.
Before long, he and Cindy hit the road. They say they're making a good living, and that they just might keep on traveling like they are for ten or even twenty years.
"Sometimes we feel guilty doing this," said Mike. "It's just too easy, so much better than punching a time clock."
To see Mike and Cindy's work, log onto http://www.cruising-america.com. - C.W.
|Be sure to HONK & WAVE|
when you see us
"on the road"!!!
6301 Cotton Street
Pensacola, FL 32526