Wednesday, March 25, 2015

RV campsite property rights

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We were parking over night at a casino in Las Vegas with a group of friends. We were all headed across the parking area where other RVs were parked when a man came out of his trailer and said we were trespassing on his property. At first we thought he was kidding, but as it turned out he was very serious. Obviously, in his mind, this patch of the casino parking lot was his property and we were trespassing.

On our way back he came out to talk to us as if the first confrontation never took place. This frightened me, but everyone else just laughed it off. I was a bit nervous the rest of the night. Do you think I am being silly?

This is not normal behavior and I think living for a short period just feet from someone with a Jekyll and Hyde personality is a bit disconcerting.
--Nervous Nelly in Nevada

Dear Nelly:
There is nothing wrong with being cautious in all traveling situations. It is not uncommon to run into people with issues, especially in free camping areas. There are many people living on the fringe, many in RVs, that suffer from psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and various addictions.

I think in most cases the right approach would be courtesy, compassion and caution. Everyone has their own threshold for patience and comfort levels in these types of encounters. If you find you are not comfortable then don’t encourage conversation, keep interactions at a minimum, or simply move on.
To paraphrase John Bradford, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." That said, you still have to determine for yourself what is provocation and what is annoyance. If you feel threatened, move on.

During a normal year on the road, camping in all types of areas, remote and urban, we have encountered a situation similar to this just a few times. Seldom are we forced to share a site with another camper, but recently at a Corps of Engineers park in Florida we could only book a combined site. As it turned out, we shared this site with a guy living in his van.

I went over, shook his hand and introduced myself as his new neighbor. He seemed as normal as me, which should have been my first clue. Soon we noticed he was talking loud to someone in a very angry voice. At first we thought he must have an ear-bud phone and he was arguing on the phone with someone. Soon we realized he was talking to himself about us. He was very polite when we talked to him, but the voice in his head was not happy sharing a site with us.

As it turned out the voice won and he moved on, but first he knocked on our door and asked if we needed anything at the store. He was going into town shopping and would be glad to pick up whatever we needed. When I told him we were all set, he started rattling off items he thought we might need...steaks, beer... I’m not sure if he or the voice wanted our money. Then he never returned.

When I talk about caution, it is not only these types of situations you have to be concerned with. RVing or not, there are people out there that want to scam you and I’m not just talking about your cell provider and your insurance company. This winter at a Yuma, AZ casino, Rvers were scammed in a “Three Card Monte” game set up by men in the free parking area. Your odds are bad enough if you go inside, why play in the parking lot!

Ninety percent of the time, free casino parking is only free if you “DON’T” go inside. If you do, you had better read the Wizard of Odds, so you know which of the sucker games are going to drain your pockets the most efficiently. Let common sense be your guide and you should be just fine.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

RV listing

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband is a real gadget guy. He is always reinventing the wheel when it comes to our trailer.
Before our last trip he direct-wired a small inverter to our coach batteries with heavy wire. It has been great for charging our computers, phones and cameras. The inverter sits in a small basket on the dinette seat.

We came home one day and our trailer was full of smoke. I had left some note pads and coupons in the basket and the inverter was hot enough to ignite them. Why it didn’t burn the whole place down, I don’t know.

I think we should remove the whole thing, but my husband said it was a fluke and that the system is perfectly safe as long as we keep things clear of it. For peace of mind shouldn’t we just scrap the whole thing? Is it worth the worry? I don’t want to be unreasonable, but this could have been a real disaster.
--Giving up smoking in Sedona

Dear Sedona:
If wired properly the inverter should be as safe as any other electrical system in your trailer. I would lose the basket and mount it so that you won’t pile anything on top of it.

One thing you should consider is a “LIST.” I have talked about lists before. Many people have a checklist for departure -- making sure everything is unhooked, turned off and put away properly. Another checklist can be used when leaving your rig for the day, or a few hours. Check things like stove burners, electrical items, Wi-Fi, water, awning, even making sure the cat is in sight. It’s easy to forget things and some can become damaging and even disastrous. Many lessons come from experiences. “What does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

We always turn the water off outside when leaving for the day. We learned this the wet way. Our daughter’s loom, stored in the shower, fell against the cold water knob. We left for the day and fortunately the park owner turned the water off when she saw it pouring from beneath the motorhome. Everything was a soggy mess, but it could have been worse. What if the toilet malfunctioned? There would have to be a sequel to the Robin Williams RV movie.

Since we started a daily departure checklist we have found the cat shut in the closet, the burner left on low from morning breakfast, Wi-Fi hotspot left on, vents opened, and awning up.

Making a list and checking it twice will ease your mind and save you from dealing with many issues. 
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ralph Kramden an RV

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have been wanting to write you, I just had to wait until I was pushed over the psychological edge.
We stay in many campgrounds that are tighter than a wax doll’s eardrum. This week we were in a campground that was so tight my truck mirrors were almost touching my neighbor’s.
The real problem is, I like to get on the road early in the morning when we travel. My wife, however, will not let me make any noise until the neighbors are up and moving around. She thinks we will annoy people if we bring our slides in, lift our jacks, start the engine, or even unhook the utilities.
Wouldn’t this come under the heading of, “That’s life in the tight lane?”
Can I buy a silencer that will fit on my Ford diesel? Am I being unreasonable?
I seem to be the only one restricted. Everyone else leaves at dark-thirty and doesn’t seem to be concerned that I’m sleeping. My wife says, “If they jump off a cliff, it doesn’t mean you have to jump off a cliff.” I’m getting to the point that I DO want to jump off a cliff. Please stop me.
--Ralph Kramd-en in Kissimmee

Dear Kramd-en:
Unfortunately, the “highest and best use for real estate theory” seems to prevail for commercial park owners. It’s all about how many units they can squeeze into a given parcel of ground. Some are much worse than others.
The noise you make, coming and going, should always be a concern, but I believe most RVer’s understand that fellow travelers often leave early, and that it is something we all deal with. Staying in parks with tight quarters comes with many drawbacks, but you know all of them going in.
Sometimes you sit out on your patio with a gorgeous view of the ocean or desert and sometimes you sit out on the patio with a not-so gorgeous view of your neighbor’s sewer connection.
Jumping off a cliff is not the solution. Florida’s highest elevation is under 350 feet and I don’t think it’s a cliff. In fact, you might be eaten by an alligator just getting there.
My suggestion would be to pack up, as much as possible, the night before, and make a courtesy call at the neighbors and let them know you will be leaving early. Some people complain if they are hung with a new rope, but at least you have made the effort to warn them, which shows you are concerned about your possible annoyance.
Crowded campgrounds are a way of the RV lifestyle. I’m waiting to see campground owners going up a few stories with RV campground parking garages. I have already seen airplane hanger type structures in North Dakota to house RV oilfield workers during the subzero winters and hot summers.
Know that noise pollution is a part of living in a high density campground, and that everyone is well aware of it.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink