Friday, August 11, 2017

RV Normal or RV Nuts

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I can’t believe I am saying this, but I’m bored out of my gourd. I have been looking forward to traveling full-time in our RV for a dozen years. Now that I have retired, my wife and I have been on the road for just less than a year and I am a bit disillusioned. We both have many interests, love to travel, get along fine in a confined space, enjoy life and the many friendly people we meet. So, what’s wrong with me? Why do I feel I’m missing something? I’m always thinking I should be doing more. If you could get my head screwed on straight I would be forever grateful.
Lost in Paradise, MI

Dear Lost:
As Bob Dylan said, “Don’t think twice, it’s alright.” Many people go through an adjustment period just as you have described. Going from a structured lifestyle to “free as a breeze” can sometimes knock the wind out of you. You need to give it some time and find your comfort zone. These exact conditions have created a new job description for thousands of people. Both volunteer and paid positions in many parks around the country are now filled by people like yourself that can’t seem to stop doing something that feels like work. Companies like Amazon have started “workamper” programs. They need seasonal help in their distribution centers and they fill positions with RVer’s who want a work fix and some extra money. There are positions like this all over the country with various industries.

The National Park Service could not operate today without the many volunteers who join the ranks in return for free camping in some of the most incredible places on the planet. I just had a guy on the couch recently who bought a metal detector and went looking for gold. He thought that was going to cure his need to define his existence. He was back a month later. He traded in his metal detector for a digital camera to shoot wildlife. Last time I saw him he was happy as a lark, migrating north to Alaska. The point is, keep searching for what makes you a happy camper. You have a lot going for you already, you just need to fine tune your compass setting.

Always remember, if you don’t think you’re normal, you’re nuts! --Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

RV Road Rage

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have an ongoing problem with road rage. He sits right next to me in the motorhome and swears a blue streak at the outside world as we drive down the road. If we are in rural areas he seems like a perfectly normal, compassionate human being. When we get into heavy traffic congestion, construction zones or have to turn around because of a missed turn, he goes nutso! I think he needs a course in anger management, but he tells me he is working on a home remedy to “just say no” to spells of frustration and the rage that follows. Can you help us? Is this a normal RV symptom? I see rigs much larger than our Class “C” with a “toad.” I can’t hear into the cockpit of those rigs. Maybe everyone is raging on down the road. Let me know what you think and what I should do to combat my husband’s road hostilities.
--Blue Streak in Biloxi

Dear B S:
I think this is more common than many people like to admit. You don’t hear this often in campground conversation, but you can bet it is more common than people let you believe. Many drivers are capable but not comfortable towing a large rig. I know a retired tour bus driver that spent his career driving 40 ft. Tour buses into New York City and Boston but couldn’t get used to pulling a 30 ft. Fifth wheel. I met another woman who couldn’t stand to listen to her husband swear and talk to other drivers that irritated him. She bought him a sound device that made various weapon sounds. He would use his machine gun or rocket launcher sounds to vent his frustrations. It is no different from trying to kick a smoking habit. You have to want to quit and work hard at keeping your wits about you. Another thought would be to have your husband pull off to the side of the road immediately and do some deep breathing, yoga relaxation poses and make various mediative sounds to connect his RV spirit to the primordial OM sounds resonating throughout the universe. Relaxing and building mental capacity for patience is the key. Rage can ruin a trip, cause unhealthy stress, become a safety issue and ruin a traveling relationship. You may want to do some of the driving when you see your husband going off the deep end. That will be his signal that he is going too far. It may help him put his actions into perspective and mellow him out a bit.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

RV site rights

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We love birding all over the country. The RV lifestyle has made it possible for our life list to grow substantially. We move into an area and we don't leave until we've found every species we came looking for. I'm not as obsessed as my husband. He doesn't know when to quit. Last week he was looking for an Elegant Trogan at Patagonia State Park in Arizona. He could hear it over in a secluded site at the end of a cul de sac. He went sneaking through the bushes and surprised a lady out sunning herself. She screamed and he bolted. I had to go over and try to explain what actually happened. She was not a happy camper. 
I don't think my husband understands yet that another camper's site should be respected. Don't you think paying for a camping site is similar to a short-term lease?
--Embarrassed in Arizona

Dear Embarrassed:
I am no lawyer, but personally I do agree that when I pay for a space it does come with some rights. Semi-privacy should be one. It doesn't always work out that way. Often you are encroached upon by music, lights, generators, partying, and even trespass. 
We should all think about how we would want to be treated and act accordingly. Many campgrounds are designed with sites that are sardined together so tight it is impossible to be a perfect neighbor. This is just part of the lifestyle and you have to roll with the punches. 
I do have to say, your story reminds me of a poem.
--Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

The Anatomy of a Birder
I heard it in the hedgerow, in the neighbor's yard;
A bird I'd never heard before, I listened very hard.
I crouched so low and crept so soft, I traumatized the cat;
He too, had heard this lovely bird, and knew where it was at.
I used the cat and all his skill to point me on my way;
Then with assumed seniority, convinced him not to stay.
Again, I moved toward the sound, whittling the gap;
Peering through the hedgerow, the sound my only map.
But then a silence filtered in, no longer any sound; 
A stillness overtook me, as I sat and glanced around.
Then movement through the tangled leaves, slight but just enough;
And eye contact in shocked surprise, with my neighbor in the buff.
I can't explain, the bird had flown, the cat only assisted;
And now I can't enjoy my birds, my neighbors think I'm twisted.
-Dick E. Bird