Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Is RVer being reasonable or a curmudgeon?

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I recently visited Big Bend National Park and discovered I may be a curmudgeon. There are a lot of fossils there, but I didn't want to be one of them. I began to suspect I was getting old and crotchety when I asked a young ranger with a diamond in her nose about a location I wanted to hike to. She pointed to an obvious point on the map as if I was directionally challenged, then kind of raised her eyebrows.

Without saying a word, she was screaming "idiot" with those raised eyebrows reflecting in her nose jewelry. When I pointed out the fact that I had already been to the point on the map and that it wasn't actually the historical location, she again pointed to the map as if I had missed it the first time. It was then I asked for a second opinion. She disappeared into the back office and came back with the suggestion that I buy a book about the historical location I was inquiring about. I explained that I had already read the book and that is what prompted my question. I was trying, with all the patience I could muster, not to be a curmudgeon, but I think I failed.

I know these rangers get all kinds of stupid questions from the visiting public, but once they become shell shocked the Park Service should give them a little R&R. Maybe with some time off they would actually get to know the area they are expected to be doling out accurate information.

This seems to work for the volunteers managing the visitor center desks. They seem to know everything and actually want to talk to people. They must all be a bunch of curmudgeons like me.
--Burnt in Big Bend

Dear Burnt:
You have to put everything in perspective. Maybe this person was having a bad day. Maybe she just had six people before you ask her why there wasn't a escalator to the top of Emory Peak. Maybe she just came off a three day search and rescue that didn't turn out well. Rangers wear many hats. I am not making excuses for those individuals who truly are rude from over exposure to park visitors. They show no professionalism and are obviously in the wrong career field. If you could read the reports of things that go on that are generated every day in the Park Service system, you would appreciate more the task that rangers have to hold it all together to preserve and protect. I agree with you about the volunteers. They have become a integral part of managing our National Parks. There is nothing wrong with being a curmudgeon. It is a vital part of personal evolution. Just be careful you don't get persnickety, that's when you become a fossil.

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RV Fuming

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have a gas problem. Unlike most people I don't need Gas-X. I can't get enough gas. My motorhome has a 75 gallon tank. The problem is, most gas pumps will only give me $100 dollars worth of gas before shutting down. I'm throttled at the pump. I took my frustration out on an attendant and she told me it was the card company. I called the card company and they told me it was the merchant. I know the old saying, "The buck stops here," but my buck stops at 100 and I find it very frustrating. My wife tells me to, "Just get over it." I know I shouldn't let minor details bother me so much. I'm retired, have all the time in the world, move slower than I used to, but I can't get my mind wrapped around today's gas prices and the fact I can only buy 25-30 gallons at a time.

There was a time that I supported a wife, two kids, a dog and a mortgage on less than $100.00 a week. Now I can't even fill my gas tank. Help me Doc. I need some couch time.
--Fuming in Flagstaff

Dear Fuming:
It is a bit of a catch-22. The card company won't honor a fraudulent purchase over $100 dollars, so the merchant is only trying to protect himself by making you swipe twice so that no one swipes his gas once. You can go into the station and let them swipe your card. That action is considered like any other large purchase and allows you to put one large dent in your balance with one quick swipe. With your size tank you can consider other fueling strategies. Using online gas pricing information makes it possible to save considerable money by not filling completely until you find a real bargain. Smaller rigs with smaller tanks often have to make a purchase every two or three hundred miles.
Other than that just decide if it is better time management to go inside and have a short visit with the attendant or swipe a couple times at the pump. At today's price that could be three swipes. It is more expensive to go inside if you have a hard time getting past the coffee and donut counter.

Another suggestion is to go to the several online RV forums and study the fuel strategies of others. One important lesson is to keep your foot out of the carburetor. I would also suggest you stop taking your frustration out on the attendants. Like your wife, they are just laughing at you.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Morph into an RV

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been living in our fifth wheel for just over a year. We've been to many wonderful places we've always dreamed of visiting. My wife and I love this lifestyle and have adjusted well to living in a small space in comparison to our home. I keep talking about downsizing even more into a smaller rig and my wife will have none of it. My reasoning is gas savings, getting into areas with length restrictions, and traveling roads that will not accommodate our big rig and truck. Gas at this time is pushing four bucks, we couldn't get into Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona because of our length, and the River Road into Big Bend National Park from the west was a nail biter. Do you think she is being closed-minded or should I just be happy with what we have and stop trying to re-adjust our mode of transportation.
Morph and Mindy at Montezuma's Castle

Dear M&M:
There are no right or wrong answers to your question. There are so many variations to the rigs that people are traveling in today and it has created a new pastime. You will notice people walking the campgrounds at night looking at other rigs and re-evaluating the decisions they have made or would like to make. It is very natural to want to adjust or morph into something different. Since you have just started to travel, your perspective is beginning to change as you add more pieces to your experience puzzle. Everyone has different travel styles and interests. You just have to work together to find your niche. It is fun to observe and study others and see if parts of their lifestyle work for you. I have met people happier than a corn borer in a peach in the smallest Casita and the biggest motorhome. Recently I met a couple with a semi tractor with a smart car on the back, pulling a fifth wheel, pulling a trailer full of ORV's. They were parked next to a really interesting guy full-timing on a bicycle with a one-man Hilleberg tent. Both seemed equally high on life. Sometime all we need is an attitude adjustment. Don't make any quick decisions, but continue to dialog and dream. You may never get it completely right but the journey is often much more interesting than the destination, both geographically and mentally.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink