Wednesday, September 28, 2011

RV travel awareness

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have had years of trouble-free travel around North America, meeting many wonderful people. However, we recently had a scare that has my wife in a twitter. We were headed for Florida last week on a four lane road when I noticed a car pull up beside me and look over my rig, then drop back behind my toad. It seemed odd, but I didn't mention it to my wife. I kept observing the vehicle in my rear camera, wondering why he didn't pass me. After several miles, my wife noticed a man on the overpass we were approaching. Suddenly she yelled, "He's going to drop something on us." I slowed but it was too late. The guy actually ran to the other side of the overpass and tossed a balloon or bucket of red slime, trying to hit our windshield. He missed and we kept driving. Shortly, the car tailing me zoomed past. After the initial shock wore off, we put two and two together and figured they were partners in crime trying to force us to pull over and possibly rob us. We stopped later in the day and found that the red slime that splattered on the front of the motorhome washed right off. I carry a gun, but if this mixture would have hit my windshield, I would have pulled over immediately and most likely jumped out to see what happened. My gun would have been locked away in the motorhome and I would have been had. I am trying to convince my wife that this is a rare event, that we will be more on guard, but not to let it ruin our travel pleasure. She continues to dwell on what could have happened. Any advice on how to get over this potential dramatic event.
--Shaken but not taken in Tennessee

Dear Shaken:
It happens. Not just while RVing, but anywhere. You can run but you cannot hide. It is wise to stay vigilant while traveling. Rest Areas are one of the most important places to be on your toes, but not the only place. Many of our beautiful National Parks have their own jails. To get into Yellowstone National Park's jail you need a reservation on the 4th of July. Moving from a tow vehicle to an RV is another time to stay alert. I wouldn't be in a hurry to forget this episode. In fact, you should tell your story to as many people as you can. I hope you reported it to state or local police. If you are right, and these people were trying to stop you, they are likely to try again. You will never be prepared for every scenario that some low-life can think up to take advantage of trusting people. Paying attention to what is going on around you while stopped or driving can nip a lot of trouble in the bud. Seeing that car slide in behind you caught your attention. Awareness is your first line of defense. I'm sure in time your wife will reconcile her feelings about this scare, remembering all the wonderful moments, events and people that greatly outweigh this one.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

##RVT817

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Crashing at Walmart

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I know many people stay overnight in Walmart parking lots. We are rather new at this RVing and it makes my husband nervous to spend a night in Walmart or any parking area. It's not crime or security issues with him, it's runaway shopping carts. We spent a truckload of money on our new home on wheels and have witnessed two incidents where the wind has blown shopping carts into parked vehicles. He is so afraid that a rolling food rocket is going to slam into our rig he won't consider parking in a large lot with the motorhome, even to shop. It would be a huge savings for us to park in these areas when we are making time and need a safe place to drop anchor for the night. Can you shed some light on food cart phobia. Is it widespread or just something my husband is suffering from?
--Not crashing at Walmart in Wilmington


Dear Not Crashing:
Your husband has every reason to be concerned. Runaway carts are not uncommon. I think most people have noticed this potential problem. I am sure it is covered by your insurance. Do not look to Walmart for damages. They are not responsible. My suggestion is to help your husband understand that scat happens everywhere on the trail. You can run but you cannot hide. Waiting for an accident to happen is not going to make him a happy camper. When you park in a large retail parking lot with your rig or any other vehicle, be vigilant. Scout out the most sensible area to park. If you see loose cannons, secure them in the cart corral. Most stores have people rounding up carts continuously, but they can't be on top of them all. If you start adding up the savings for all your short overnight stays in legal parking space it would most likely pay to repair what damage a cart would cause. I don't have any hard data but I am guessing the odds of a cart collision are equal to actually winning money in a casino. Remember, free casino lot parking is only free if you do not go inside. But look on the bright side, no shopping carts.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

##RVT816

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

RV You Haul

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have a weight problem. My husband says my embroidery machine is too heavy to carry with us in the 5th wheel. I was fine with that until he bought a small air compressor to haul around with us. His argument was that we needed it to check our tire pressure and add air when necessary. The thing weighs more than my embroidery machine. I told him every gas station in America has an air hose. For those that cost a quarter I would gladly pay with the money I make using my embroidery machine. I love the RV lifestyle as much as my husband, but if I can't do what I enjoy, I'll stay home and embroider and he can go blow air up his tires. Can you find us some common ground?
--Tired and under pressure in Peoria


Dear Tired:
You should not have a blowout in your relationship over cargo space. You should both be able to find equipment that fits the bill of lading for an RV. With today's technology I have seen both items in a smaller size and capable of doing what you both want to do. I agree with your argument. Most stations do have available air. Often it is not convenient to reach, but often a long air hose will reach all around even a large rig. I can see having a small compressor would make it convenient to check your tires anywhere. If I were you I would compromise and take both. If, after several months, one gets little use--lose it! I think that is good advise for any items you haul. It is a matter of learning what to carry and what to leave behind. Everything should be an option. With so much storage space available in newer rigs people have a tendency to haul equipment they will never use. It takes some sorting out. Be open minded and you will soon lose more weight than you ever imagined.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

##RVT815

Thursday, September 8, 2011

RV fuel problem

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have a problem with trust. I trust my wife, I trust my dog, but I can't bring myself to trust gas station attendants that don't trust me first. I know I should be setting an example for them, but it makes me nervous. Let me explain. I pull the motorhome up to a gas pump in small town America. I get out and the first thing I am greeted with is a sign that says, "Prepay before you pump." I don't use credit cards, so I have to go into the cashier and hand he or she a hundred dollar bill. Nine times out of ten I don't get a receipt unless I ask. When I ask they look at me like I'm a pain in the keester' or that I don't trust them, which I don't. But remember, first they think I am going to fill my motorhome with gas and make a run for it. Am I being unreasonable? Should I chill out, or at least act cool about the whole thing? Should I be optimistic that I won't get ripped off? Should I have more faith in my fellow human beings even if they have pierced lips and a tattoo that says, "KILL"on the fingers of the hand that takes my money?
--Kill Bill in Cody


Dear Bill:
If you have a motorhome, you are surely going to kill most or all of that bill if you fill up today. I know it doesn't seem right or good business to not get a receipt when you hand the clerk a C note. Most large chains automatically give you a receipt to bring back for change, if there is any. You have every right to ask for and receive a receipt if you want to hassle with that. Most people would gamble on the fact that they are going to use most of it in the form of gas. That way if you ever do have a problem with retrieving your change, most of the bill went for the fill. I understand you do not use credit, but you might want to consider a debit card. It works the same way, saves you a trip in to meet the clerk and leaves you a track record of where you've been and what you spent. If you continue with the cash dash, do whatever makes you happy. You should not take a guilt trip every time you ask for a receipt before you pump. It is, in fact, the right way to do business and maybe you are teaching management a valuable lesson in customer relations.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

##RVT814