Thursday, June 30, 2011

RV Banking at Walmart

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband and I are having financial problems. We have plenty of money, we just can’t agree on how to manage it while traveling nine months of the year. We have one credit union account from our hometown, but every time we use the ATM it costs us $3+ dollars. I want to open an account with a major bank that we can find most anywhere but my husband will not change. We have had our credit union account for thirty years and he is used to it. I’m banking on you to give me some advice that might persuade him to move to another financial institution.
Bonnie in Clyde, OK

Dear Bonnie:
You have the easiest financial problems that exist. Maybe I can help you meet your goals and keep both you and your husband happy. I would suggest you use your credit union debit card for most purchases and Walmart for your ATM. You will find more Walmart stores than you will any major bank. When you check out just get cash back using your debit card and keep a few hundred on hand. There are no fees and it is as simple as hitting a single key at the check out register. If you do a little research you will find a treasure trove of offers from retailers that can save you money, but the Walmart cash back program is the best ATM I can think of. Oh, did I mention free camping and a Red Box?
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

RV stargazing

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We bought all the hardware for satellite TV, and all the promises a young salesclerk lavished on us on how easy it is to be connected anywhere. I think my husband spends more time aiming our dish than watching TV. He has pointers and compasses like you would find on a NASA rocket but often no reception. Luckily we are on a month to month, no contract basis with the service provider. I want to trash the whole mess and start finding our entertainment some other way. My husband is addicted to Nightly News and does not want to give up the dish. He is afraid he might miss some disaster around the world. I think we can do without blow by blow coverage of the latest disasters. Your opinion would be welcome, as he reads your column every week.
--Receptive to Ideas in Idaho

Dear Receptive:
Traveling in a modern RV means you do not have to give up things you enjoy. As the tech revolution rapidly evolves, things change everyday in equipment and service. Dish services are not foolproof but if you look around the campground you will find many people willing to put up with a little frustration to connect to their favorite channels. You might consider watching the news on a computer. A good strong cell connection is necessary. As companies build out their fourth generation networks over the next few years, that choice is going to gain a lot of momentum. All reasonably priced systems have glitches at this time. You have to decide whether you have the patience for them or not. I am not sure what you mean by, “Start finding our entertainment some other way.” That could be a whole other column. I would say, let your husband enjoy his news. Satellite aiming may turn him into a stargazer - both movie and planetary.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

RV support team

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Now that we have a perfectly comfortable home on wheels, my husband has decided he wants to walk from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide Trail. I am to be his support team, traveling along and camping nearby. He says he will come off the trail every 2 to 10 days as we move north through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. I want him to check this off his bucket list, but I’m just not comfortable camping in remote areas by myself. He says I will be fine, but he doesn’t have the same fears that I have. How should I handle this so that I can be a good support team spouse and still feel comfortable as I move through some rather remote areas of the Rockies.
--Reluctant Loner in Laramie

Dear Reluctant:
You have come to the right head doctor for this answer. First, you have every right to feel your own fears and your husband should lend an understanding ear to those feelings. He is lucky that you are willing to support him, and not refusing to travel along at all. The way most long distance trail hikers work out the support system is through the postal service. They reach a town stop and have a package waiting for them with food and gear they will need for the next leg. In your case you will be that system. You do not need to wait out in the boondocks. Along the CDT there are beautiful small towns with safe and friendly campgrounds. You can enjoy the town atmosphere, libraries, movies, restaurants and people, while you wait for your husband to arrive.
It will be a great adventure for both of you. My wife and I did the same thing in 1999. We wrote a book together and you can read it online for free (Click Here) or buy it on Amazon. If you are like my wife. She enjoyed my absence so much she had me keep walking all the way to Jasper, Alberta. She just said to me the other day, “There are things about you I love so much that you never do anymore.” I said, “Like what?” She said, “Like being gone!”
You will find that taking a hike can strengthen not only legs, but relationships.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Thursday, June 9, 2011

RV part time/full time relationships

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I retired two years ago and began traveling in a new RV. It was something we had dreamed of for years. We both love history and hiking. This lifestyle is perfect for discovering and enjoying both. The only confusion we have is our relationship has changed. We seem to argue more now than we ever did during our forty years of marriage. It’s insignificant little squabbles, but they seem abnormally frequent. I always thought we agreed on almost everything but I am finding that not to be the case. Do you think it has anything to do with our new lifestyle. 
--Confused on the Loose in Louisiana
Dear Confused:
It’s really quite simple. You used to be part-timers and now you are full-timers. I’m not talking about your RV lifestyle, I’m talking about your marriage. During your working life, one or both of you worked. That meant you didn’t spend most of your waking hours together. When you were together you had a lot of catching up to do and no time for insignificant problems. You had to fry all the big fish and move on. Now you are full-timers. Living in a small space together 24/7 with all kinds of time to discover each other all over again. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It takes some work. It takes some understanding. It takes some compromise. After two years you must be making some progress. Many people find they can’t make those adjustments and stop traveling or find ways to pare down the togetherness and cultivate alone time. Separate hobbies like photography, crafts and sports can accomplish this. Volunteer work and part-time jobs can also help. You sound like you have a wonderful relationship so maybe you both need to accept that you are the same people you have always been and stop letting the insignificant differences you are discovering annoy you.  
 --Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

RV Prayer Chain

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We pull a 31 ft. Airstream and our truck broke down in the Badlands. My husband was out staring at the engine when an old guy showed up in a small diesel pickup. He looked like an old prospector. He asked us what was wrong. My husband told him the engine was knocking. He told us to start the engine. I was so relieved when he sounded like he was a mechanic. When we fired it up he said, “Yup, she’s knockin’.” After that surprise the man offered to tow us back to Wall, South Dakota. We dropped the trailer and an hour later we made it back to a local garage. The mechanic there said we probably had a bent rod. While my husband was talking to the mechanic I discovered the old timer was a traveling Baptist minister. He had us hold hands and said a prayer over our engine. My husband came back and poured what he called, “Mechanic in a Can,” into the crankcase. We started the engine and it purred like a tomcat in a creamery. I believe in the power of prayer, but my husband insists it was the additive he put in. Now he makes a joke of it by saying, “If you believe so much in the power of prayer, why didn’t you ask for a new paint job too?” This has become a real issue with us. I can’t seem to let it go? Any advice?
--Up Against the Wall in South Dakota

Dear Up:
Don’t let this get you down. My best advice would be to follow your heart and pray about it. It’s an amazing story and I don’t think “Mechanic in a Can” works those kind of miracles. The other thing you can learn from this experience is that you can’t always tell a book by its cover. Help comes in many mysterious ways, from those you would least expect to be your savior. Anyone who is on the road any length of time, will have similar experiences and meet some wonderful individuals who are willing to put themselves out just to lend a hand. These are all the stories you never see in the media. I’m sure your husband, at a deeper level, is questioning this experience. Prayer chain or timing chain that is the question.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink