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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

RV camping confrontation

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have retired and live in a small travel trailer. It is just the right size for us. We have been on the road for almost a year and we are loving it. The only problem I have is my wife. She gets annoyed by our camping neighbors way too often. I am a retired State Police Officer, but she thinks I’m still on the job. I admit we do get some real winners parking next to us at times. We were just in Glacier National Park and our neighbor was breaking just about all the rules at one time. It was more than my wife could handle, so I went over and had a talk with him. That did not go well. We were in a no generator zone, no firewood gathering, and a no burn ban was on. This nut case had his generator fired up to run his electric chainsaw. He was cutting down trees so he could feed his enormous campfire. After I talked to him and he told me to buzz off, the campground host showed up. He did listen to the host and stopped his insanity. If I was the sheriff in town, he would have been fined so heavily he would have needed a loan to get home. I don’t want my wife unhappy. I don’t want to be the law east or west of the Pecos, and I do not want to be annoyed. Am I asking too much for the campground administrators to do their job? Isn’t it part of what I pay for in my fees? Things are so lax that people keep pushing the limits of noise, rule breaking and litter. No consequences just embolden them. Do you think it’s my background? Do I need some professional help in letting my past training go?
--Cop off the beaten path

Dear Cop:
It is not just your background. We all deal with this insanity on a regular basis. We watched something similar one night in a Forest Service campground. The host came by, hesitated a moment, and moved along. I heard him say, mostly to himself, “People, ya gotta hate ‘em.” In fairness to the host, it is not his job to police the area either. But it is his job to call in backup. Now with so many camping areas going to a concession status, jurisdiction keeps getting cloudier and law enforcement less available. If you are going to do anything, I would suggest you report to the nearest local management. At that point you have done what you can. Hang up the badge. If you can’t seem to hang up the badge, become a host. Just because it is not the host's job to confront unruly people, it doesn’t mean it can’t be. Every campground should have a chain of command. Someone’s in charge. Things can be done, it’s just not your job as a registered camper. You will not be considered someone of authority, just a complaining neighbor. You will find things get resolved much quicker by going through the proper channels. It is much better for your wife to be a bit frustrated than you in a verbal or physical confrontation with someone who obviously isn’t too squared away to begin with.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

RV Little Big Mansion

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife is dragging her feet when it comes to buying an RV. We have been planning this move into retirement for a number of years. We plan to keep our home, but live in the RV for most months of the year. Her problem seems to be space. She doesn’t want a big RV, but she wants lots of storage, cooking area, bath and bedroom. That is an impossible combination. Please give me some reasoning firepower so we can get past this perception obstacle in our road to retirement.
--Little Big Mansion on Wheels

Dear Little Big Man:
If you have never had an RV it will take some adjustments. I do not know how your wife defines “Big.” Just about every manufacturer has added slideouts to their models. This makes a huge difference in what is being hauled and what is stretched out at the destination. This could help in meeting her standards for size and space. The other things to consider when shopping for a rig would be storage. Being organized in a small space is key to successful living. Having plenty of storage will be a significant help in staying organized. You will find the smaller the unit, the less space is dedicated to storage. Something with basement storage (storage space under the floor) will make a huge difference in what you end up stepping over. (Pun intended) You need to look at as many floor plans as possible, with your list of needs, likes, and dislikes. I can’t guarantee you are going to find a unit that will make your wife happy. She needs to be open-minded about the fact that this is not going to be a 1500 square foot house on wheels. Most people in the retirement stage of life begin to downsize, throw out ballast they have collected over the years, and start sharing family heirlooms with children and family members. My grandfather in his last years told me to tell him what I wanted of his and he would put my name on it. I told him I wanted the safe. I should have been more specific. I did get the safe, but it was empty. Another point that may help your cause is housekeeping. You will both find it much easier to clean and maintain an RV than a home. Once you actually get on the road you will find you have much more time on your hands to explore and do things you truly enjoy. You can always start small and work your way up. Once your wife is comfortable with traveling in a smaller rig, she may find it more realistic to bump up a bit. Looking at units will give you an idea of how just three feet can gain you more elbow room in various living spaces. In most situations you will also spend more time outdoors than you normally would at home.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

RV Shiner

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Your recent letter, about constantly cleaning the RV, struck a chord with me. I am not a neat freak or constant cleaner, but I do like a nice looking rig. I think my problem is, I can’t make a decision. I read way too many RV forums. Lately it has been cleaning related. My wife makes me come home once a year to mow the lawn. When it gets knee high, people start to wonder. She met a local woman who asked her where she lived. When my wife told her, the woman was so relieved. She told my wife she thought two old people died in our house and no one had found them yet. To get to my point, I use this pit stop to do yearly maintenance on our rig. Most campgrounds do not allow RV washing. I want to refinish the exterior, but I am perplexed as to what route to take. The previous owner used Poliglow finish on it and made it look like a million bucks. It was wearing in places so I just stripped the whole rig. It has been a real bear getting that stuff off. I used all the solution from the Poly people, then tried ammonia, and ended up using ZEP floor stripper. It was the only thing I found that would really cut the Poliglow. It would be easy to just re-apply Poliglow, but I hate the thought of having to strip it again in a few years. After reading a weeks worth of RV forum suggestions, I just can’t think straight anymore. It’s like I am being pulled in several different directions at once. I have never been like this. I am usually focused and can make good decisions without second thoughts. Is this a problem many RV owners have, or a rare condition that is only haunting me?
--Poli Perplexed in PA

Dear Poli:
You are not alone. Many RV models are unpainted gelcoat with decals. Most manufacturers do not recommend wax on decals. Trying to wax around them is like painting by number. Some opt to use products like ProtectAll and Aerospace 303. These have a short UV protection life, as they weather off quickly. Poliglow and other remedies like floor polishes do make a rig shine like a new penny, offer some UV protection and can last a long time if applied properly and maintained adequately. I began my working career as a Airstream Shine Boy. As a kid I used Met-All with a carpet affixed to a floor sander to de-oxidize aluminum trailers. I then used flour to absorb it and buff it out. Airstream eventually went to an acrylic clear coat. With my first motorhome, I waxed everything twice a year. The decals went south and nothing would bring them back. In my opinion, most decals are only going to look good for about 5 years no matter what you do, short of polishing once a month with products like 303 or spending big bucks for a full paint job. That would cut way into my backpacking time and budget. You are not alone in your dilemma. Personally, I’m a Poliglow owner. I have had the misfortune of having to strip a few I have bought used. It is no fun. Like all finishes, it wears away eventually. It needs a couple maintenance coats per year. The secret is to do the prep work correctly. It’s not for everyone. But after trying it all, I find it the least time consuming. I didn’t buy an RV to be a slave to it. It sounds like you already schedule time to do yearly maintenance, this might be the way to go. The other methods are equally effective and you actually build up muscle stamina with the constant motions involved in waxing and polishing. You can start looking buff just from buffing. If you read the comment section of this post I bet you will find others with methods you will find as interesting as all those that have you confused from the other RV forums. If one of these do not convince you, I would suggest you write them all on scraps of paper, put them in a scrub bucket, hold the bucket over your head, reach up and pick one out.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink