Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Old couple caught parking

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I am very upset with my husband. We were just fined $150 for illegally parking overnight in a Florida marina parking lot in the middle of nowhere. He says it is partly my fault because I should have seen the sign. I'm 78 years old. I'm just happy if I can see tomorrow. I told him when he decided to spend the night there that it didn't seem right. If it was legal why weren't there several other RVers enjoying this same spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico. My husband is tighter than a wax dolls ear canal, so he convinced me it was fine. When the officer rousted us in the middle of the night and issued a ticket, he pointed out a sign about the size of a small business card. I think it bordered on entrapment. I would be curious as to how many others have been issued this same fine. I could have stayed at the Ritz for that kind of money. I have been giving my husband the hot tongue and cold shoulder for a week for trying to put the blame on me. Do you think I should be mad at him or the Gulf county Florida authorities.
--Too Old to be Caught Parking in the Panhandle

Dear Too Old:
If you were parked where I think you were, I wouldn't place the blame on your husband. I've seen that sign and it always left me with the impression that the county couldn't afford a normal sized sign or they had other motives. Your experience is something many of us dedicated boon-dockers have experienced. Usually it is a verbal warning, but these are hard times and many local governments are feeling the pinch and pinching more people to plug up their economic plumbing. There are areas that you should always be suspect. The whole state of Florida is one of those areas. It does not have the wide open spaces and massive Federal lands of the western states. It is brimming with RVers in the winter who have already worn out the boon-docker welcome. If it looks questionable, and you have internet and cell connection, call the local authorities and check. You would be surprised how many nice places exist for safe overnight parking by just checking in with the local authorities. They can also give you a heads up if there has been any problems in the area lately. Many small towns have city and county parks that are free, or reasonable, just to welcome visitors. Part of the problem today is that those same authorities are dealing with their own residents who have lost their homes and have moved into these parks with RVs as a means to survive. So, c'est la vie! Scat happens. You will make it up with the next dozen free nights you can find. Think of boon-docking like geo-caching. Most of the time you find a treasure, but on occasion you get skunked. I know it stinks, but you just got skunked.

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Camping free now has fee

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been RVer's for many years. My wife and I would be considered "on our way to forever together." We are both well into our golden years and think alike. Lately we grumble more often about the cost of things we enjoy, especially camping fees. Is it just our age? We remember when increases were 3-5%, but now they seem to jump 20-40% at a crack. We have watched camping fees rise over the years at a steady normal pace but now we see some of our favorite places almost doubling in price, while at the same time cutting service and maintenance. Are we just getting crotchety in our old age or do we have a valid concern?
--California Dreamin' of the good ole days

Dear Cal:
It is normal for aging RVer's to remember cheap gas, less crowds, inexpensive camping fees, and less bureaucracy. The dynamics of RV travel seems to be changing at a faster pace now for a couple or reasons. First, the "boomers are coming." Many of the offspring of the "Greatest Generation" are beginning to retire and hit the road. So supply and demand will play an ever increasing part in price leveraging as this wave of aging demographics swells into a tsunami. Let's not forget the implications of the "Great Recession." Government large and small trying to cover budget shortfalls are squeezing every potential penny they can from services rendered. We are already seeing federal, state and county run camping areas increasing fees, sometimes as much as 100%. This has a ripple effect on economies that rely on tourist dollars.

(Recent News On Californnia Parks)

The headline two years ago was, "Arizona with a multimillion dollar shortfall to close most state parks." As it turns out, states found that it cost them even more to close the parks because they had accepted money from the Fed to develop them and would have to reimburse. But it also brought to the surface how many small businesses rely on these parks for business survival. Although many parks of all sizes have opted to remain open in the face of financial woe, many have been forced to apply the large percentage increases you are seeing.
Remember adversity builds character, but also innovation. I can remember my father saying in the fifties, "Someone should start a chain of trailer parks." That was when we would park our Airstream at AW Root Beer stands, gas stations, or anywhere else my dad could get an electric hookup. Soon we had KOA.
Now we are seeing groups like the Escapees develop membership parks, friends buying property as co-ops, and as I have mentioned in other blogs, people staking mining claims to use as legal camping while they supposedly search for gold.
RVing is still a great lifestyle and your prospective of it depends on how long you have been at it. For those on a tight budget, you just have to think outside of the box. (No pun intended).
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Horsin' around in a new RV

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have been wanting a new stove and refrigerator for a long time. I should have been more specific with my wishes. My husband just bought me both but they came wrapped in a new 35 foot motorhome. He has been talking about doing more traveling and hinting at buying an RV. I just think this is a rotten way for him to get his way and make it look like I wanted it. I think I should just go out and buy the horse I have always wanted and not even discuss it with him.
I am mellowing out a little. This month I started talking to him again, but in short sentences. We took the motorhome for a trip and I really enjoyed it. I am just hesitant to admit it as he will then think this is acceptable behavior. How can I let him know I love this idea of traveling in this beautiful new RV and not encourage him to use this same tactic in the future.
--Frigid but thawing in Bethesda

Dear Beth:
That type of action is not the best way to shore up a relationship, but it does show an inventive side to your husband. It reminds me of one of my clients with a husband who loved boats. She hated to sail, so he bought her a land yacht. You might as well tell him you love the motorhome because he is going to see that eventually anyway. You could demonstrate your new understanding of how to communicate in this relationship by fighting fire with fire. Wait for him to mention he would like better mileage with this new rig and go ahead and buy him a couple horses, maybe a horse trailer too. What a great combination. There are so many wonderful places to camp with a new motorhome and ride horses. I can see this relationship has a bright future as you ride off into the sunset.
Happy Trails to you.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Thursday, January 5, 2012

RV solar searching

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have created a monster. My husband and I bought a nice used motorhome to do some traveling. It's very comfortable with a couple of slide-outs. We bought one short enough to ensure we could still roll into some of our favorite National Forest campgrounds that are often a tight fit. It came with a generator, but I wanted a solar panel. My husband thought they were too expensive and called them "toys". Finally, tiring of hearing me yak about them, he ordered a 123 watt panel. I was a happy camper until he bought the second one, then a third. Then we needed inverters, special batteries, fancier control panel, the list goes on. He has always been this way. Twenty years ago I finally talked him into going fishing with me and now he has hundreds of lures. He enjoys collecting lures more than he enjoys fishing. Now everything is solar. We have solar night lights, solar patio lights, and his latest addition a solar camera battery charger. We never have to plug in, people can plug into us. What concerns me the most is he is now contemplating the purchase of a small wind generator. It drives him nuts that once the sun goes down he's no longer capturing free energy. What can I do?
--Solar Bipolar in Sedona

Dear Sedona:
Let me start with a quote from Albert Einstein, "Only one who devotes himself to a cause, with his whole strength and solar, can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person."
I don't think you have to do anything. It sounds like he has already bought everything on the market. Until they start retailing that new paint full of solar nano particles you should be safe. Let's hope they offer colors other than mellow yellow. Look at the bright side (pun intended), you are truly off the grid. You should leverage your husband's interest and abilities into cash. Farm him out as a solar consultant to other RVer's. The use of solar on RV's is a perfect application. Your husband has put you way ahead of the curve. Just don't let him attach a wind generator to the roof ladder unless you want a vibrating bed that doesn't take quarters to activate. And whatever you do, don't encourage him with any more of your great ideas.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink