Wednesday, December 26, 2012

RV staging area

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have resisted using the government parks reservation systems because we do not like to be on any kind of schedule. We don't mind not getting in once in awhile, or having to wait a couple days to secure a site. Often we get a space but then have to move several times because we can't find a site open for all the days we would like to stay. This is inconvenient but it still beats making a reservation and being put on a schedule. That said, we find it annoying that the parks do not always have a place for us to park while we wait for our next site to open. We like to hike and can't always be back by the time we are suppose to check out of our site. If our next site is not open by the time we plan to leave in the morning for whatever activity, we need a staging area to park our rig so that we don't have to be put on a schedule, which was our point in the first place. Is that too much to ask? Am I getting crotchety in my old age?
--Musical Chairs in Myakka

Dear Myakka:
It makes sense that such a system should be available too alleviate the logistics problems that parks are now dealing with. However, some areas just do not have the space to create such a spot. Many times you can work a deal out with park personnel and find an open site to move to earlier, but some parks are more strict than others. Yosemite for example will not allow you to move until after noon. That means if your spot is open first thing in the morning you still can't move into it. That system really breaks up the day. The park system is evolving quickly as they come to terms with the growing number of RV owners who are traveling more. It doesn't hurt to become part of the evolutionary process. By being polite and trying to work out something with park officials, will at least highlight the fact that something needs to be done to address this time gap between the time the music is playing and everyone sits down. More parks are dedicating space for overflow camping not only because they see the need but also because it is a money maker for them. Most people would rather stay in a large parking lot with no hookups while they wait for a site, than leave the park and find accommodations elsewhere. So for a reduced fee many parks are offering just that. This is often the area you would be able to use while you are in campsite limbo. Staying in your site late, and making those with reservations wait, is not an option. That just makes you part of the problem and not part of the solution. --Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Smoking Neighbors

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Could someone share with me the proper protocol when you have neighbors who smoke? I'm allergic to smoke and for some reason, most of the smokers stand outside to smoke...I guess so their RV doesn't smell of smoke. However, it's right outside our windows and the smoke comes in. Consequently, we have to shut our windows to keep the smoke out. I realize that this is MY problem but the only solution I see is for us to move to another site...and hope another smoker doesn't park next to us. This doesn't happen very often but when it does it sets allergies in motion and we are forced to use the AC to keep cool. Thanks for any help you can give.
--Nick O. Tine

Dear Nick:
Chuck passed your email on to me. I just covered another smoking issue in another post a couple weeks ago. That one had to do with service people smoking in RVs they work on. Your question seems to be how to deal with RV neighbors who smoke. One of the greatest advantages of living in an RV is the fact that they have wheels. It doesn’t matter if it's a smoker that is bothering you, a rowdy bunch of party animals, karaoke lovers or barking dogs. You can easily move in many cases. It’s not like you bought a house next to someone with a kid starting a Heavy Metal garage band. Smoking is not all that common anymore. Many people who smoke prefer not to smoke in their rig for resale value reasons. Therefore, they smoke outside under the awning. I just experienced the same thing. We woke up one morning with a couple one site away from our bedroom window, smoking, drinking their morning coffee and watching the Today Show on an outside TV. They were a very nice couple spending a full two weeks in the State Park we were visiting. We never said a thing. We didn’t feel we had any right to complain. They were in their space, quietly doing what they enjoy doing. We simply moved. The smoke wasn’t as bad as the constant hacking. That said, what if you can’t move? There will be times moving is not an option. Maybe you've paid for long term parking, maybe there are no other sites available, or perhaps you are with a group. In that case, especially if you have an allergic reaction to smoke, a polite conversation would be in order explaining about your allergy. You may not get the reaction you are hoping for, but most of the time people are going to be understanding and do the right thing. Unless there is a savings for renting a space for more than one night, I would suggest paying per day for the first couple days until you get a feel for your surroundings. Often you will find that something isn’t right about the park or your space and you will wish to move.
Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Nashville Show

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We recently stopped in Nashville to take in a show. We stayed at a nice RV park near the Opryland Hotel. A couple pulled up next to us pulling a 5th wheel. He was short like Little Jimmy Dickens, with a fancy entertainer style, glitzy cowboy hat. They had a thick German accent and fought like cats and dogs the whole time they were unhooking and setting up. My wife and I sat in our rig trying not to laugh too loud. They were not using their quiet voices. They were both expert at how things needed to be done but it was obvious they had taken two different RV 101 courses. The campsite across the street was giving them the stink eye, but we found it very enlightening. My question is, do we try to help in situations like this or just butt out and enjoy the show?
--Foreign Policy Question in Guitartown

Dear Foreign:
Unless you are bilingual you are probably better off to just listen and learn. In some cultures that may be exactly how setting up a 5th wheel is done. It may seem combative to you but to them it is normal conversation. Think of the "Soup Nazi" from the Seinfeld sitcom. He had a unique way of communicating with his customers that seemed to work for him. Two people that love each other very much can often disguise those feelings masterfully while helping each other back up into a tight RV spot. Some will do a quiet burn while others are more vocal. If you see a couple back-in quietly and efficiently--MOVE, they are just not going to be any fun at all. If you hear yelling, something like, "Just tell me what the backs doing!" get the lawn chairs out. When things settle down you might want to invite them over for cocktail hour. You will usually find out they are just nice, normal people who haven't perfected the art of RV parking yet.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New RV/New Orleans

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We recently spent a week in a state park near New Orleans. It was a dump. Very mis-managed and a mosquito infested swamp. It was our first experience with our new RV. My wife always wanted to explore New Orleans and I thought this would be a great way to do it. As it turns out I was wrong. My wife is now turned off with RVing and New Orleans. I probably should have stayed in a commercial park with easier access to the city, but there were two state parks that looked close so I just picked the one, figuring it would be close to things and a short hop into the city. I am now thinking I should have left the RV home and found a hotel. Any suggestions on how to convince my wife that this is not the norm when RVing?
--Camping Voodoo in Vicksburg

Dear Vic:
Sometimes you do need the right combination of charms, herbs and poisons to have a good experience in New Orleans. Bugs can be a problem anywhere, depending on the time of year and location. Poor management is a bit harder to predict. When traveling you have to take the good with the bad. Not every experience is going to be a positive one. You need to roll with the punches. Overall you will find this is a great way to travel. Unfortunately, you struck out your first time at bat. Tell your wife you have to keep swinging and things will improve. Big cities can be challenging. Next time you should use the Internet to explore and review the experiences of others before you shove off. There are so many online sites that offer info now. You can cull reviews of parks, public transportation, restaurants, attractions, locations, and even bugs. You have to take all this information with a grain of salt. Some people will complain if hung with a new rope, but throwing all the opinions into the mix you will see some trends and glean good and bad vibes from others who have ventured out before you. If you google “New Orleans RV trip” you can read all day how others have attacked the city, discovered the best camping, found parking or public transportation, found great eateries, tours, entertainment, history, and good juju. I bet if you read the comments from this post in a few days you will hear some expert advice from Shrink readers on what to do next time. But for now, take your wife somewhere else you have always wanted to visit and do some research before you sail.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink