Friday, December 31, 2010

RV parking at Walmart

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been using Walmart parking lots for overnight stays while traveling between destinations. We think this is a wonderful opportunity offered by Walmart. We call them our “Pit Stops.” We do our shopping, laundry nearby and rent a movie from Red Box. They always have an out-of-the-way area that is not too noisy or bright. Several times we have noticed other campers not just taking advantage of a good thing, but potentially ruining it for the rest of us. We have seen people with tables and chairs out under their awning, small fenced in dog pens erected, large generators in the parking lot next to the rig running loud and smoky, tents and loud arguments over parking spaces. It takes every tactical maneuver I can muster to keep my husband from turning into a Walmart referee. He wants so badly to go over and give them a piece of his mind. He thinks he is Wyatt Earp. I tell him I didn’t start traveling to put up with non-campground conflict. If it bothers him so much I think we should avoid these overnight stays. Besides, I think it could be dangerous confronting people that obviously have no common sense. He loves your column and I think if he hears some advice from you he may listen. Thanks in advance.
--Up Against the Wall-mart in Earp, CA

Dear Up:
Don’t get down on your husband. Those kind of irresponsible actions can make sane people crazy. I agree, he should not try to be the “Law west of the Walmart.” I also agree that these people do jeopardize the convenience we all enjoy. Walmart has actually been challenged by interests that would like to see them discontinue overnight parking privileges. They refused to stop offering this service. They said it was another customer service they would continue to promote in locations that did not disallow it by city ordinance. One thing you can do, to help compensate for the inconsiderate few who abuse the service, is be a loyal, courteous customer. Let store management know you are shopping and thank them for allowing you to stay. Call ahead and ask permission, even if you know it is allowed. Often they like RV’s to congregate in a certain section of the parking lot. Also, things change and you never know when a new ordinance might restrict overnight parking. These are much better tactics than confrontation with parking lot neighbors. If your husband goes out at all be sure to have him check his guns at the door. If anything, let him walk around the parking lot with a very large, official looking badge and stare, but, make him promise he won’t talk to anyone.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Motorhome Brake Dancing

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Maybe you can help solve this constant problem my wife and I have every time we park our rig. It’s a little embarrassing but I know many other people suffer from the same situation. We both drive our motorhome, we both take turns dumping the septic, we both know how to troubleshoot all the appliances. We are a great team. The problem is, she thinks she’s an expert at backing up and parking the rig. She is always telling others that I’m terrible at it. The fact is, I just give better signals than she does. I can get behind the motorhome and maneuver her right into the tightest spots with good hand signals. When I’m driving, I can’t even see her in the mirrors. She is usually in a blind spot behind the rig, flapping her hands and her gums. While she’s back there dancing around I can’t see or hear her. We have discussed this problem a million times, but I still can’t get it though to her where to stand and what signals I need. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
--Brake Dancing in Denver

Dear Brake:
This is a huge problem. I hear this constantly. If you look around the campground as people arrive you will see this scenario played out time and again. Couples seem to get frustrated with each other when trying to work together to park, especially in tight spaces. I suggest patience. Armed with that I suggest a couple props. The first is very important--an oven mitt. Yes, you heard me right. This is most important. If the person behind the rig giving parking signals wears an oven mitt there are certain signals that will not be able to be seen no matter how frustrated that person becomes. This can go a long way toward keeping the peace until the rig finally gets parked. Another piece of equipment that comes in handy is a cheap pair of walkie talkie’s. You can often find them at second hand stores for a few bucks. Another problem I see, in a majority of parking conflict cases, is over politeness. Not between the couple but with blocking traffic. Don’t worry about blocking the road or holding up another camper. We are all in the same boat (land yacht). They don’t mind waiting for you to take your time and get parked properly. Just don’t let them help you. Remember, they don’t have anything invested. Your spouse is going to make sure you don’t impale your rig on some hidden branch, but a bystander may not be as concerned. The next time you park the rig make a conscious effort to hold your tongue. Remember, it’s in a slippery spot. Make a pact, no fighting over parking. Watch others and see just how silly it is, then put yourself in that picture. Your New Year’s Resolution should be, “I’ll watch your back-up, you watch mine.”
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Friday, December 17, 2010

Down in the RV Dumps

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been on our first shake down cruise with a new class C motorhome. It has been a real eye opening, learning experience. I have always taken my waste disposal for granted. I flush the toilet and it disappears forever. Now I get to see it one more time before it goes off to the big sewage system in the great unknown. My problem is not sanitation. I am questioning dump station manners. In my opinion, so far they stink. My first experience was outside Cody, Wyoming. It was a free dump station near a Veteran’s Memorial Park. The sign clearly stated “No Commercial Dumping.” Halfway through my dumping process a Canadian Tour bus pulled in. The driver backed up to the hole on his side (this was a two-holer) while his tour guide positioned him over the target. I could not imagine they were going to pull the pin without at least hooking up a hose. When I finally figured out that’s exactly what they were going to do, I screamed to my wife, “Jump or swim.” We hopped in the rig and sped off just as they pulled the plug. I was so upset I went a little ballistic. I walked back over to the dump station and told them what I thought about their method and inconsideration as we were standing just a few feet away. This is the most extreme example I can list so far, but I am just starting. My wife says I should roll with the punches and not let these people set me off. Should I suffer in silence when I find myself dumping with dopes, or relieve my stress by giving them a little “crap” so to speak?
--Bob in Blackwater, VA


Dear Bob:
First, I think you made the right decision. Always run first. I think you will find most fellow RV’ers to be very polite when it comes to sharing dumping stations. Most will go the extra mile when it comes to cleaning the area before they leave. Unfortunately, there are always a few bad apples that spoil the barrel. I don’t think losing your temper will make these people act or smell any better. For every dump station user that soils the area you will find nine that leave the area clean and tidy. Seldom will you be up against a tour bus worth of waste. Most RV’ers are using dump stations in a campground setting. I looked your dump station up on the internet. Yes, the internet can even tell you where to take a dump (rvdumps.com). You were at a city dump station that was probably there for the convenience of campers like yourself. Even if these jokers you had to deal with had permission, they still should have been more considerate and squared away, hygienically speaking. Losing your temper in the scenario you described is very understandable. In normal conditions, let it go. No pun intended.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Friday, December 10, 2010

RV Insurance--Never Leave Home With It!

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We just bought a new Montana 5th wheel last month and escaped the Michigan Siberian north. We are in a great park in Bradenton Beach, Florida and feel we made the right decision. Having a new rig is exciting but I think my husband worries about it too much. We are well insured but have seen two hit and runs already this month. They are not malicious attacks. These people probably don’t even know they had hit something until they discovered a dent in their rigs. Our neighbor with a 40-foot motorhome, pulling a small pickup truck, pulled out while we were eating breakfast one morning. He took out a small palm tree on our site and just missed our truck. Before he exited the park he went over the curb and scraped a fire hydrant. He never even realized he hit anything.

Two days later the couple across the street with a three axle Airstream wiped out the whole side of their trailer, wrapping it around a telephone pole while turning out of their site too sharply. This morning while out walking we saw another motorhome back into a car while leaving the park. Is this a common occurrence for RVers? I hate to have my husband dwell on this issue all the time. I keep telling him it is just chance that we have witnessed so many collisions in the short time we have been traveling. He is already designing a portable post system to border our campsites as a “first line of defense” as he calls it. Please tell me this is not necessary. I feel like we are spending too much time worrying about this issue instead of enjoying our surroundings. I feel like my husband is getting to the point where he is not comfortable leaving our rig unattended. --Bump and Grind in Bradenton

Dear Bumper:
Don’t worry. Be happy. When you look around the campground at some of the large rigs that now ply the road, you would think this could be a huge problem. If you go on the internet and look for RV accident statistics you will find very little information. The fact is, RVers don’t hurt enough people to warrant their own statistic. I think your above average accident witnessing will decrease as you continue to travel. Look optimistically at your experience so far. It has heightened your personal awareness and will make you more careful in your own towing practice. When someone has a good percentage of their net worth in a new comfortable home on wheels, it makes them ever conscious of their surroundings and driving habits.

Many dealers take new customers through a driving course to demonstrate turning radius, swing ratio and tips on using mirrors effectively. Each driver is unique. This is no different from learning to drive a light truck or van. Each type of RV has a different reaction while maneuvering around tight campgrounds. I have known tour bus drivers who would take a 40 foot tour bus into New York City, but could not get used to parking a 5th wheel. Your husband should hold off on his “Perimeter Pole” design until you have had more time to experience just how safe it is to be surrounded by a whole herd of various sized RV’s. There is a “One Eyed” guy I wrote about a few weeks ago you might want to be aware of. Otherwise, I think you will discover the wonderful world of RV travel is almost utopia like in the safety department. You should encourage your husband to leave your rig unattended for extended lengths of time until his paranoia has sufficiently eased. Enjoy all of your neighbors and never, I mean never, let them see you sweat!
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

##RVT791

Friday, December 3, 2010

Campground Reservation Dilemma

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I are fairly new at RVing. We didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to secure a campsite when and where we travel. The reality of this time consuming chore never entered our minds during the years we dreamed of roaming around North America in our travel trailer. It has taken The adventure out of our sails. Our utopian plans of throwing out the anchor wherever the wind blew us has turned into the nightmare of securing reservations well in advance and putting ourselves on a schedule. We thought our time clock days were behind us and now find ourselves rat-racing around and keeping a daily planner again. Is this a syndrome that many Rver’s suffer with or will we finally overcome our fear of being site-less and end up in long lines with people that refuse to be sent to the reservation system?
--Dan in Demming

Dear Dan:
It’s a fact of life. A majority of campgrounds have become bookie joints. The future holds more of the same. You can let it corral you or use it to your advantage. It is not a perfect world we have created. The old saying, “If given lemons, make lemonade,” applies here to your feelings. The realities of the road are often much different from the picture ads you have been drooling over for years. That said, it is still a wonderful lifestyle. You have to weigh the difference of planning your trip far in advance and knowing you have secure sites, or winging it and taking your chances. The deck is stacked against you if you decide to wing it. There are actually scalpers who buy up the best sites and seasons in many state and national parks and resell them in bidding auctions on Ebay and Craigslist. In Florida, for example, many state parks have gone completely to reservations. Even if you do find a site during the week, you often have to move out on the weekend because they have been completely booked months in advance. Many National Forest Campgrounds have gone to reservations. I wouldn’t be surprised if soon it won’t be necessary to book ahead at Camp Walmart. The boondocking days are dwindling. It’s a numbers game we call supply and demand. Many places that used to be free are now charging for two reasons -- #1 because they can, and #2 because of overuse. In the present economy you will find many free campgrounds full of unfortunate people who have lost their homes to foreclosure. There have already been attempts to erode the Senior Discount from government campgrounds, and with state budgets in the black water tank you are finding fewer services and less maintained facilities at higher fees. My advice is to stop dwelling on lemons and adjust the sails and make lemonade. There are still many wonderful places to drop anchor. You can arm yourself with more information using campground directories, computer websites, fellow campers and news media to find those gems that few have discovered. Eventually, you will find places appealing enough and you will know when you want to return and for how long. At that point “Book ‘em Danno,” and you will end up loving the reservation system.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Campground Segregation

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I am seeking help with a problem I have had ever since I started full-time RVing. I am single and I have a wonderful little rig. I pull a 17 foot Casita with an older model Jeep Wrangler Laredo. I have developed a complex over the past several years about my size. Everyone seems to believe that size matters. I don’t feel bigger is better, but in many situations I am treated as small and insignificant. I love to Kayak and carry an inflatable 12’ Sea Eagle kayak. I prefer to camp near the water and I am finding that many parks reserve their water sites strictly for larger and newer rigs than mine. It seems discriminatory. I am willing to pay the value added price for the water sites, but the big dogs do not seem to want me hanging out with them.

I was recently in Florida on the Ocklawaha River at a wonderful campground. The river sites were 25 percent more money. I was willing to pay but was informed that I was “too small.” There were sites available but the neighborhood was occupied only by monster motorhomes in the several hundred thousand dollar range. I can afford to buy a comparable rig with pocket change, like those taking up the primo spaces, but I prefer my small, unique, reliable, uncomplicated Casita. Do you suggest I get professional help or buy Psychology for Dummies on Amazon? I feel I need to deal with this malady soon. If I don’t nip it in the bud it could end up taking over my life as increasingly more campgrounds become elitist country clubs.
--David in Goliath, Ga.

Dear David:
You need to concentrate on the phrase “Small Is Beautiful.” This phrase is believed to empower people more in contrast with phrases such as “bigger is better.” Size does matter but why not “Less is More.” Size matters to you in your choice of rig size. It also matters to those privileged river site residents. I see two scenarios evolving in the RV world. The first is the one you describe. Many campgrounds are developing themselves to cater only to the high-end RV set or segregating as you in your case. This could change radically as more people are opting for smaller and more fuel efficient rigs since the economic crash and spiking oil prices.

I personally find it offensive when I am denied a space in a campground because of the age or size of my rig. However, mental health is best maintained by rationalizing these social realities. I would not, and do not hesitate to display my displeasure with campground owners who flagrantly tell me I am not good enough for some section of their park. You are as much of the economic engine that runs the ever-changing camping industry as anyone else. You vote with your dollars. Your dollars count as much as the devaluated dollars packed around in the pockets of those in the more luxurious rigs. Money talks and boycott walks. Don’t get mad, get even. Segregation can only be slain by marching, right out the door and down the road to an equal opportunity campground. You must decide if you want to practice long distance kayak carrying techniques or affirmative action. Just say no to your mental complex, stiffen your spine and follow the river to another campground. Letting this social injustice eat away at you will only take you to a mental state known professionally as “up a creek without a paddle.”
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

##RVT790

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A New RV or a Diamond Ring?

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I hope you can help me with my husband’s paranoia about our finances. We have been full-time traveling in our RV since retirement. We took the plunge, sold the house and bought a used 5th wheel. We have been on the road for seven years and both enjoy the lifestyle. Now that we have our sea legs I have a desire for several options that our rig lacks. We are perfectly capable of buying a new rig but my husband keeps on insisting we save our money and just update what we have. I tell him we can’t take it with us, let’s splurge a bit. He keeps everything we own in tip top condition so this one will not wear out in my lifetime. I just want some of the new features that our design will not allow him to upgrade. Should I put my foot down and insist on new wheels or relent and appreciate that he is frugal to a fault.
--Abstemious in Albany

Dear Abby:
You could try several approaches. First, explain to your husband that this is America. Saving is not the American way. Explain to him that this is a throw away society and that he is causing layoffs in Elkhart, Indiana with his tightwad ways. If that fails to convince him, you might want to suggest a “new” used rig. This is a buyer’s market and I am sure you could find the options you are looking for at substantially less than a brand new rig.
Many people dream of retiring and doing exactly what you are doing. Unfortunately, for many, it doesn’t last long for various reasons including health issues, finances, homesickness and insecurity. From this pool of ex-RVer’s you can often find a nice unit that has had little use and deeply discounted. Or you could tell him you want to renew your vows and instead of that five karat diamond ring you never got the first time around, you will settle for a new RV with all the bells and whistles. I don’t know your financial situation, so be careful what you wish for. There are people with the fanciest rigs who cannot afford to drive them around the block. Buying used helps with the initial depreciation hit and often the first owners worked all the bugs out. I’m talking about mechanical problems not bedbugs.
--Keep Smilin’ Dr. R. V. Shrink

Friday, November 12, 2010

RV party animals

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Can you tell me what my attitude should be about noisy campground neighbors? I seem passive in situations because I do not react visibly to emotions I might be feeling. My husband on the other-hand would be considered aggressive. He can sometimes detonate without much provocation. When we are camping in our motorhome next to a rowdy bunch I like to think they are letting off steam in a party mode and we should just move to a quieter site. My husband thinks they are inconsiderate and demands that they tone their noise levels down. Several times this has put us dangerously close to physical confrontation. Often alcohol is a factor, especially during the holiday camping season. Do you think the way to handle these situations is to move, confront, or submit in quiet frustration. --Nervous in New Haven

Dear Nervous:
I agree with your husband on the inconsiderate charge. However, confrontation will bring you nothing but grief. Moving is an option but that still does not solve the problems for others around the offensive site. You might first want to report the problem to a campground host or ranger if one is available. Most campgrounds have some basic noise and quiet hour rules. In most cases these are good people, gone bad. Like you say, they are on a camping weekend and letting off steam. That still does not give them license to irritate their camping neighbors. A better option than being aggressive would be to “kill them” with kindness. Introduce yourself in a friendly fashion and ask them if they could keep it down a little. From that introduction you will quickly discover if they are good people, gone bad, or inconsiderate people you will need to report or move away from. One of the advantages about the RV lifestyle, unlike home ownership, is the ability to pick new neighbors as quickly as moving your rig. Let me stress that fighting fire with fire is not the answer to your frustration. Trying to out rowdy your rowdy neighbors with higher decibels will only escalate things. So put away the four foot amplifiers hooked to your Bose Wave music system playing Luciano Pavarotti, turn off the generator, stop honking the horn, and move on down the road.

--Keep Smilin' Dr. R. V. Shrink

##RVT789

Friday, November 5, 2010

WIFE WITH WEIGHT PROBLEM

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife has a terrible weight problem. I am trying to change her lifestyle in an effort to reduce her weight. It has started to affect our motorhome mileage. We travel several months of the year and she feels she has to bring half of our worldly possessions along on every trip. I have debated with her endlessly about the seemingly needless paraphernalia she totes along and never uses. It all falls on deaf ears. When I start in on a discussion of reduction she takes her hearing aid out and refuses to participate. We haul bikes we never ride, a sewing machine never plugged in, extra pots, pans and iron skillets that never boil or fry anything. The list goes on. I am at my wits end. How can I persuade her to leave some of this anchor accumulation in port when we sail off down the road? It takes me several miles to get up to speed and I avoid mountain passes like the plague.
 --Lead Bottom in Leavenworth

Dear Lead Bottom:
With a heavy heart I read of your dilemma. Some individuals are born pack rats. I think you may have married one. It is my guess that you realized this trait in your wife long before you had a motorhome. Carrying too much weight can be not only an expensive mistake, but a safety issue. I would do a few things immediately. First approach the subject from a safety viewpoint and not from that of a minimalist. Then slip her a copy of Walden by Thoreau. if that helps, follow up with The Zen of Decluttered Packrattery. Watch the old “I Love Lucy” trailer episode with Lucy sneaking her rock collection into the trailer when Desi isn’t looking. All of these subtle tactics should have a cumulative impact. You may see your wife begin to streamline her packing to a more frugal level of organization. In the meantime you might want to make sure your holding tanks are as empty as you can keep them. Liquid is heavy and emptying your tanks will help you balance out your wife’s perceived necessities and save on gas. Also, be sure your brakes are up to snuff. 
After exhausting all good faith efforts you will eventually have to say, “Enough is enough” and start throwing out ballast if you expect to rise from this dilemma. Motorhome obesity is the number one killer on steep, curvy, mountain roads. Your wife needs to understand the gravity of this situation. You may have to put your wife on a Weight Watcher program. Stop at every truck weigh station you come across and point out to her your above average scale ticket. It really comes down to health and safety issues. You need to balance this issue out before your next departure. 
 --Keep Smilin’ Dr. R. V. Shrink

##RVT788

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Geritol Posse Rides Again


Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I spent a wonderful few days in one of Arizona’s most beautiful “Sky Islands”, high above Green Valley, Arizona. Being winter, we enjoyed sunny warm days and cold nights in Madera Canyon’s Bog Springs National Forest Campground. We love these out of the way, hard to reach, NF campgrounds for the solitude they offer, the beautiful locations, and the dark quiet nights. 
The problem started when we left our mountain utopia and ventured into the valley below. The land of “Oscar the Grouch.” We decided to stop at the Green Valley, AZ Library Book Sale to find some reading material. It was early in the morning and we found a huge mall type parking lot behind the library. The sign said it was the White Elephant Thrift Store, but other buildings looked like Sheriff, Road Commission, county type stuff. We were the only vehicle in the lot. I parked horizontally, taking up five spaces, way out at the edge of the lot in nobody’s way. It was an hour until the library would open so we ate breakfast. Over the next hour, every lot slot in the parking area filled. We were amazed. A line was forming at the White Elephant Thrift door. Soon the Golden Girls blocked me in from the front and Archie and Edith blocked me in from the back.
When the hundreds of lot slots were filled, people started parking out on both sides of the street.
I thought I was just imagining the looks we were getting from people walking by. Could my five spaces be that important in a sea of overflowing vehicles that clearly had to flood the nearby roads whether I was squatting here or not? I went on a recon mission. I discovered they were all here for the White Elephant Thrift Store. It wasn’t a once a year sale. This thing goes on six days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. It is more popular than Walmart at Christmas. When I got back to the motor home I discovered I had not been imagining the “LOOK.” The head of the Geritol Posse knocked at our door. At first I thought it was the Sheriff. Brown shirt with official arm patches, khaki pants, shiny gold badge and radio. My first clue she was White Elephant Security was the fact that she wasn’t packin’ any heat. 

She said, “You have to move. You are taking up five spaces.” I could see the panic in my wife’s face. She thought I was going to go into my raving jailhouse lawyer mode. It was true that I was breaking no law. I had every right to be parked where I was. I could have given this female Broderick Crawford much grief, but I could also see the strain in her face. Coming out and telling me I must move was the last thing she wanted to be doing, but the Golden Girls and several other complaints forced her from her better judgement. I could have unhooked, parked the car and motor home separately and vertically. That would have really blocked the lot. I know that would have sent her into a panic. So instead of being Mr. Hyde, I decided to be Dr. Jekyll. I told her I couldn’t squeeze out until she had one of her complainers move their vehicle. The word was out. I had been evicted. Cars were already vying for position to take my five spaces. When she got the car behind me moved, I still could not exit the parking lot until she made those crowding for the slots, like vultures on a fresh kill, move on past. They did not want to lose their positions. Because of poor eyesight, I could tell many had taken their Vytorin in combination with their Viagra at breakfast and it had hardened their hearts. They wanted to string me up but couldn’t find a tall enough cactus. We finally eased on down the road and found a gas station that said we could drop the rig for a couple hours. We went back to the library and later explored the White Elephant store. I saw my Rent-a-Cop friend and told her I had parked down in Nogales, Mexico and wondered if that was far enough. 
It still bothers me that I rolled over for this insinuated parking infraction. I feel I may have weakened RV Parking Rights when I cooperated and left my spaces. Should I have hunkered down, stood my ground, forced legal action for the benefit of all other RVer’s who might need several spaces to park in the future? Am I getting soft? Could I be losing my debating will? 
--Violated in Green Valley 

Dear Violated:
There is no doubt that you had a rock solid case for parking where you were. I find it very compassionate on your part to accept the inconvenience of moving to relieve the stress of the security guard who had the thankless job of asking you to move. For you to recognize her uncomfortable situation and defuse it is commendable. I don’t think this indicates you are losing your edge. Instead you may be honing your relationship skills. If you never see that look of panic on your wife’s face again, that could signal a soft patch in your abilities to dole out attitude adjustments to those in need. For any damage you might have inflected on future RV Parking Rights, you more than made up for in goodwill with the Green Valley, White Elephant Law Enforcement Division of Arizona.
Keep Smilin’, Dr. R. V. Shrink

##RVT787

Friday, October 22, 2010

SLEEP APNEA CAMPING

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have just started living the RV lifestyle and immediately the price of camping caused sticker shock. My husband now wants to do what he calls “stealth camping.” He likes to park in crazy places when we are traveling that cost little or nothing. I know many people spend nights at Walmart and other retailers who seem fine with short term camping, but my husband is now starting to look at hospital, church and VFW Hall parking lots as his personal KOA’s. He claims “we pay our taxes” and pulls off into fields that he thinks are government run public lands. I am as nervous as a squirrel in a bird feeder most of the time. I can’t relax when we are parking in suspect spots. Maybe I watched too many horror films when I was young. Every time I hear a noise I think it’s Eddie Scissorhands at the door asking us to leave. I swore, one night in Texas, I heard a chainsaw outside our rig. I keep telling him, “If we can’t afford to stay in RV parks we shouldn’t be traveling.” Please give me some ammunition to argue my point. Often times I don’t think we are safe.
--Sleepless in Seattle
Dear Sleepless:
Stealth Camping, Boon-Docking, or whatever else you want to call it, is fine to a point. It sounds like your husband might have an addiction to free camping. Safety should be your first priority. Walmart is a great pit stop when making time and looking for a safe harbor for the night. Most have security and welcome RV’ers for overnight parking. If your husband is insisting on staying in areas you feel are not safe, and it makes you feel uncomfortable, you need to let him know that you are not going to continue this practice. My suggestion would be to become efficiently involved in finding reasonably priced RV sites. Use freecampgrounds.com, various campground books, start a database of nice places you find and places other campers tell you about. Most are not actually free, but very reasonable. Invest in discount camping services, get your senior camping pass from the government if you are seniors and US citizens. Some states, for example New Mexico, sell reasonable annual passes for state park camping. There is a whole host of ways to save money and camp in amazingly beautiful, safe places if you work at it. There is a difference between frugal and free. There is safety in numbers and usually if it’s a good idea, some other RV’er has already figured it out and will be there camped alongside of you. If you are nervous about being asked to leave in the middle of the night, ask in advance. Many Walmarts will not allow overnight parking because of a City Ordinance. You have to help your husband understand that there is a difference between an RV’er and a person who is homeless. Don’t let your husband sleep soundly while you are up all night worried about every little sound you hear. Wake him up and say, “Did you hear that?” He didn’t, of course, because he was sleeping and there was no noise. After you do this a dozen times a night he will think twice about parking in places where you can’t sleep.         
 --Keep Smilin’, Dr. R. V. Shrink

##RVT786