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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Nuked out RV

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Our microwave just started making a terrible buzzing noise and no longer heats. My wife wants a new one, but we have only used this one a few times. We use it almost exclusively for storing our plastic food containers.

I think we should just pull the old one out and build the space into a storage cabinet. She thinks we should spend three hundred dollars for an appliance we use once a year.

Can you give us some input to cease our petty arguing.
--Nuked out in Nevada

Dear Nuke:
This could go either way. I would agree with your wife for resale reasons. If that is not important to you, the extra storage makes perfect sense.

You should also consider a new convection/microwave combination oven which might fit your space.

If you seldom use the appliance it seems a waste of space. If, however, you find it convenient at those times you do use it, replace or update it. You can still use it for storage.

Measure your opening and ventilation space carefully before ordering a new appliance. They won't all fit into the space vacated by your present unit. Convection/micro combos are often a bit larger.

Before you make that decision I would diagnose the problem with your microwave. It is very possible your problem is a $5 diode that can be replaced easily, but carefully because of high voltage stored in these units.
--Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

RV stalking

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have met a lot of wonderful people in our travels. We seem to keep track of each other on social media and meet up over the years whenever our paths cross. It's been great up until now.

Recently, one couple decided they wanted to travel with us exclusively. They never asked if we would mind, they just started stalking us in an RV way. At first they would ask where we were headed and just show up, now they are wanting our itinerary and suggesting we share meals together.

My husband doesn't want to confront the situation. He finds it awkward. I am insisting we break it off with them, and get back to our own life on the road.

How should we handle this?
--Uncomfortable in Atlanta

Dear Uncomfortable:
Traveling together has many dimensions. Many people find it compatible, but it has to be mutual. It sounds like your dilemma is not.

Your situation was born out of a desire by just one of the parties wanting to hook up, without so much as a discussion about the ground rules. You need to confront them with your feelings about the arrangements they have developed without your consent. You may lose them as friends, but eventually that is going to happen anyway if you struggle through this until you can't take it anymore. It would be better to be up front with your feelings and hope they understand.

One of the funniest parts of Bill Bryson's book, "A Walk in the Woods," was about this very situation, only on foot. An obnoxious woman who talked with confidence to hide her insecurities hooked up with Bryson, and his hiking partner Katz, uninvited. They tried everything to ditch her without hurting her feelings. Finally, they decided to walk really fast, get a few miles ahead of her, then jump off the trail at the next town, and hope she would pass them. Then they felt bad and guilty, and worried about her. They find out later from other hikers she has been bad mouthing them as fat, lazy old guys. Then they felt bad they felt guilty.

So don't try to ditch these people by telling them you're going one way, and go the opposite. You will feel guilty and they will bad mouth you.

Have an adult conversation, and explain you are not comfortable traveling with them all the time. Tell them you need more alone time to do your own thing.

If they take it badly that is their hangup, not yours.
--Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

RV Jump or Swim

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are considering buying a Class C motorhome and doing some traveling. We have no clue on what to expect, what we might need, or how to go about making a buying decision. My wife says we just need to go ahead and take action. I am more cautious. She says I study things to death, but I just don't want to spend a pile of money and find out two weeks into our trip we bought the wrong darn thing.

Can you give us any advice? It's turning into an argument every time we go RV shopping.
--Studious in Standish

Dear Studious:
There is nothing wrong with figuring out all your options before pulling the trigger. Everyone will have different needs, fears, and confusion when trying to decide what will fit their needs in this RV lifestyle. I think one great way to try it out would be to rent a motorhome for a week or more and visit a popular area of great camping. Since I am sitting in Capitol Reef National Park writing this, Utah comes to mind. The state of Utah has done a bang-up job of promoting itself. Capitol Reef (along with all the other National Parks in Utah) visitation is up twofold in the past five years. A huge fleet of rental motorhomes reside just down the road in Vegas. People from all over the world fly into Las Vegas, rent a motorhome and head for Utah.

I suggest this busy area because it gives you the opportunity to experience campground bingo at the same time you are trying to figure out what rig would work best for you. You will learn how hard it is to explore these areas without a smaller tow vehicle (toad), how hard it is to snag a campsite without a reservation, and many other situations that exist, and at this point you have no clue.

I think my biggest caution in using a rental unit would be sanitation. I would ask the rental company what their policy is on sanitizing units on their return. If not convinced it's proper, I would do my own freshwater tank sanitizing. I find it very common at campground dump stations to see people, with no idea how things work, filling tanks with non-potable water, doing their dishes right at the dump station, not rinsing any equipment they use, and using the same water hose to rinse the sewer hose and fill.

In Yellowstone I pulled up behind a Chinese delegation that seemed to be having a jolly time laughing and trying to figure out the dump technique. I tried to help, but seemed to be confusing them more than helping. All five of them kept signaling to me that they had it under control. I sat for fifteen minutes and watched them do every crazy thing I have ever witnessed in the past and then some. I sure wouldn't want to be the next rental customer on that rig.

Other than that, I think a rental week could open your eyes to many questions you may not even have at this point, and answer many you do.
--Keep Smilin', Richard E. Mallery a.k.a Dr. R.V. Shrink