Monday, June 18, 2012

Wife thinks RV has "Beverly HIllbillies" look

Dear R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I like to kayak. We both have our own kayak which I have been strapping to the roof ladder on the back of the motorhome. My wife says we look like the Beverly Hillbillies with our bikes and boats all roped on. She is constantly complaining but has no suggestions on how else we can carry all our toys. She thinks storage engineering is my department, and I think I have already found the best solution. Should I ignore her subtle jabs about my kayak configurations, change them, sell them or continue to be frustrated? --Up a creek with too many paddles in Paducah 

Dear Up a Creek: 
Hauling toys is a problem for everyone. I am always walking campgrounds and amazed at how people have figured out how to haul boats, Harleys, four wheelers, tow cars, bicycles, golf carts, horses, ladders, and various other individual necessities. I do not know what type of motorhome you have but it sounds like you are dealing with two of the lightest toys on the list. I personally do not care to strap things to my roof ladder, but if it works for you, and done in a safe manner, more power to you.

As for appearance, that is a personal choice you and your wife will have to work out. We use a Sea Eagle inflatable that fits in our basement storage. It tracks very well on rivers. It is a bit more high profile so catches wind when lake paddling. There are also kayak/bike combination racks available that could solve the storage and appearance problem. It places both the kayaks and the bikes in a vertical position, all supported by the motorhome's hitch. Another suggestion would be to carry the kayaks on the tow car if you pull one. If none of these arrangements make your wife happy there may be a toy hauler RV in your future. That way you can take everything in your garage and no one will even notice.

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

Losing your hard drive

Dear R.V. Shrink:
My husband likes to be in charge of navigation. He controls the GPS, reads the maps, plots our course, and likes to drive the Blue Highways of North America. The problem I have is his disorganization. He never remembers to set everything up and have all his route information figured out before we shove off. We get a few miles up the road when he starts asking me for directions. He forgets to set up the GPS, loses his map and takes it all out on me. I know he is just frustrated so I tell him to find a wide spot, pull over and get his head straight. Do you have any suggestions for a disorganized husband and RV pilot? --Lost in Lone Pine

Dear Lost:
I do not know your age, but in the sixties we were told not to trust anyone over thirty. There was a reason for that. Studies show that after 30 a neurological condition develops called CRS (Can't Remember Stuff). It's like a computer virus that starts erasing the memory in your hard drive. Your husband may have a problem keeping his hard drive straight. Let him be the Captain and the Navigator if you have no desire to take either position. It sounds like his only problem is preparation.

Many people develop a checklist that includes important reminders like putting the antenna down, taking things off the counters, and making sure the jacks are up. You can add to this list things like setting up the GPS, placing maps strategically, studying the days route, and figuring fuel stops. It is easy to forget some of these things when you are busy making sure the hatches are all secure before take off. Even if you think you know where you're going, it is a good idea to double check before pulling out. With bigger rigs it is sometimes hard to find a place to turn around. A mistake can also cost you a few bucks if you have to go several miles out of your way because of bad planning, a confused GPS dialog, or maps you can’t put your hands on. Like the Boy Scouts always say, "Be Prepared.”

Keep Smilin’, R.V. Shrink

RV Propane Detector

Dear R.V. Shrink: 
We live six months at a time in a 35 foot fifth wheel. Recently our propane detector started acting weird so my husband just disconnected the wires. He failed to inform me of this repair technique and I was content that it was working properly again. When I finally discovered that it was disconnected I had a fit. I want the safety features all up and running while we are living in our rig. I will put up with the constant false alarms if that's what it takes. It drives him crazy when the buzzer goes off and we cannot find any gas leak. I think they must be very sensitive and we should just deal with it like everyone else. I am not confrontational. How can I convince my husband that they put these systems in for a reason? I want to know when I have gas. --Alarmed and Dangerous in Detroit 

Dear Alarmed:
You need to be a bit more confrontational. Do not accept anything less than a functioning detector. Propane detectors are like milk, they go bad after awhile. This is probably what is happening with yours. The sensor goes bad and it starts giving constant false alarms. It could also be bathroom sprays, refrigerator smells or the dog passing gas. My guess is you need a new detector. It is well worth the sixty clams to replace. Make sure your fire and CO2 detectors are up and running also. Ask your husband if he thinks you should drop your vehicle and health insurance. You can YouTube a couple videos of rigs burning and melting to the frame. That might get his attention. Order a new detector and wire the old one back up. Deal with the false alarms until the new one arrives.

Keep Smilin', R.V. Shrink

Monday, June 11, 2012

RV Family Problems

Dear R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I have been traveling for a couple years and have now decided we like this RV lifestyle enough to pull the pin and sell our home. The problem is we have many family heirlooms that we just can't sell. We have been cultivating our detachments for several months, but there are many family items we just can't part with. Is this a common problem? How should we handle the family jewels? --Family Problems in Florida

Dear Family:
These items are called heirlooms for a reason. You give them to your heirs. Now sounds like a great time to do that. Another way to handle it is to pretend you're dead. Now that you're dead, what is going to become of the family heirlooms? That should give you some direction as to where they will end up.

Another more expensive option is storage. For those on the fence in deciding whether full-timing is for them or not, storage seems to be the better choice. You may decide to drop anchor again, buy a house and furnish it. At that time you may miss the family heirlooms. A combination of these ideas would be to let your heirs store them for you for a couple years. You may have a family member that has extra storage room or may want to use some of the items in their home. If you don't have any heirs, turn these items into oral history. Sell them at an auction and tell stories about them for the rest of your life. I know how you feel. It is hard to give up things that have good memories attached to them.

My dad had stuff. My mother always said he would go to the dump with one load and come back with two. When he died he had three generations of stuff. I had a yard sale just so older people would stop by and tell me what some of the items were. Even though we live full time in a motorhome, we still have a small place for stuff. You might consider down-sizing. We have a beautiful natural piece of property, low taxes and one of the best campsites in Michigan. We come back a couple months every year to regroup. I enjoy being able to work on the rig and have all my tools handy. It is surprising how each year things become less valuable to you. It's like throwing out ballast to keep the balloon airborne. Think of this as an opportunity to be creative with your lifestyle. Don't do anything rash. There is always more than one way to skin a cat. Take your time and consider all your options before deciding what is most important to you.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RV travel debate

Dear R.V. Shrink:
Every time I get the urge to do a road trip my wife throws cold water on the idea by asking me how much it will cost in fuel. I tell her it is all relative. With our motorhome the biggest expense is getting there. After we arrive we spend virtually nothing. She tells me about people that travel cheaper with smaller rigs, do not tow a car, or have diesel. I'm tired of defending my position. I really think we are as economical as the next RVer when you compare apples to apples. Can you please give me some backup? --Up Late to Debate in Des Moines 

Dear Des: 
Don't fall for the bait in the debate. I agree, compare assets to assets. I debated with a guy who wanted to compare his traveling in a Prius to my motorhome. When I nailed him down to what he spent on a three month winter trip, I was miles ahead and dollars behind him. When you compare the cost of running an RV at 8 to 10 miles per gallon, you have to look at all the expenses of taking the same trip in some other fashion.

If you decide not to tow a car you can add a mile per gallon, just don't forget to subtract all the miles you accumulate going to the store in the RV for a gallon of milk. I often talk to people who think it is terrible I would spend $1,500 in gas to take a 3,600 mile road trip. But the same people think nothing about giving Amtrak twice that to reach the same destination When I get there I still have my berth, theirs' is heading down the rails.

You can look at this expense a hundred ways. It all boils down to what it's worth to you to travel the RV lifestyle, with your own belongings, in a comfortable setting, being fully self-contained, and staying in areas you could often not enjoy any other way. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for squeezing every penny in the travel budget. Once you and your wife decide on what and where makes you happy, I would ease out of the driveway with a big smile on my face and "Move It on Down the Road."

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