Tuesday, January 29, 2013

RV Party Central

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are becoming a bit disappointed in the National Park Service in the Everglades. Perhaps it is budget cuts or personnel shortages. We just spent a couple weeks there and every weekend seems to be party central for the locals. The park gate is wide open all night so people come and go with no one to challenge them. We can deal with most noise during normal hours, but we expect quiet during quiet hours. The park does not seem to enforce any rules regarding quiet time. My wife finally went over to a noisy site and asked them politely to tone it down. They were belligerent and continued with louder music, screaming and yelling. My wife then asked the host to approach them and they did not want to get involved. Park law enforcement never showed up and the partying continued into the wee hours. The next weekend a rerun. Even with budget cuts how expensive can it be to have a ranger drive through the campground a couple times a night and do some volume control work, or ticketing and evicting intoxicated campers and visitors that refuse to follow what most of us would consider rules of courtesy. Many never even paid to come in. That money could help fund more law enforcement. I'm deaf in one ear and nothing bothers me, but I have to deal with my wife who expects everyone to be on their best behavior.
--Partying with the pythons in the park

Dear Python Party:
It is often easy to let rudeness go on and put up with the noise and hope that someone else complains. I give your wife credit for going over and making an attempt. I think she was right to then go to the host. At that point the host should have brought in the Cavalry. I see no excuse for the Park Service to be lax in enforcing any rules they seem fit to create in the first place. Being as close as they are to six million people, they must be aware of the popularity of the park to locals. It only takes a few citations to get the word out that this kind of behavior will not be condoned in the National Park. The Park System does not have partying as any part of their mission statement. My suggestion would be to do all future campers a favor and contact the Park Superintendent. The host is only there to explain the rules, but they have plenty of access to law enforcement who are usually not shy about laying down the law. 
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book'em Danno

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I’m married to a guy they call “Wild Bill.” Trust me, there is a reason for that nickname. Recently we drove our motorhome to Florida, arriving late on the Keys. We tried to find a camping spot at John Pennekamp State Park. It was dark, and the campground gate was already shut and locked. We drove in when the gate went up as a registered camper who had the combination went in. After a quick swing through the campground, and seeing no open spaces, "Wild Bill" decided we should just camp in the marina parking lot for the night and register in the morning. As it turns out they call that “defrauding the inkeeper” down here. We were rudely awakened at seven in the morning, issued a ticket for $80.00 and denied access to Florida State parks for six months. Don’t you think that is a little extreme? I know we crossed the line, but we were tired, willing to pay, and just wanted a safe place to spend the night. 
--Busted for Boondocking

Dear Busted: I have said many times in this column, “there is no more boondocking in Florida". Someone is constantly trying, and all the excuses have been used. You are what they call an example. They want you to tell your experience to everyone you run into. Florida is not the land of walk-ins. I would bet Pennekamp State Park is totally booked for the next four months. I would also bet there were signs that said, “No Overnight Parking” in the marina parking lot. Just a guess on my part. I had not heard of the no camping in Florida State Parks for six months penalty before, but it does get your attention. Head for the Everglades National Park, Okeechobee Corps of Engineers and North Florida National Forest campgrounds. Keep your nose clean, I don’t know what national campgrounds do when you break the rules, but I hear Federal prisons are much nicer than State.
 --Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Thursday, January 17, 2013

RV campground itch

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
You have had several questions recently about annoying campground neighbors. Here is one for you to take a whack at. We just spent two days parked next to a guy that wanted the whole world to listen to his sick attempt at child rearing. It was all I could do to get my wife from going over and shoving a sock in his mouth, or at least sock him in the mouth. He was belittling his young daughter constantly. She could not do anything right according to his warped sense of logic. We could tell the young teen was embarrassed by his remarks, taunting and cruel degradation. As they packed up on the third day we gave each other a high five, but still feel sorry for the young lady that has to endure another few years of his self-inflation by way of putting her down loudly and constantly. We do not like conflict but my wife thinks we should have given him a piece of our mind. What do you say?
-- Itchin' for a fight in Florida

Dear Itchin':
Ask any cop that has to jump into a domestic violence scene. More times than not you become the bad guy and the whole group turns on you. The right solution, like most of the other situations, would be to move. Child abuse comes in many forms, this one was most likely not reportable. Besides the annoyance of listening to a loud mouth, you have to suffer along with the kid knowing what they must be dealing with. There are millions of stories in the campground world. You will become part of many of them if you travel enough. Don’t try to be a referee, be a spectator. If you tire of being a spectator, round ‘em up and move ‘em out. Depending on the severity of the noise or abuse, the only other suggestion would be to report this behavior to park officials. Do not try to become the law west of the fifth-wheel. It’s not your job.
 --Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dumped on

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have a question about RV dump etiquette. My wife just yelled at me for asking a guy at the dump station to hurry it along. I’m not bold or rude. This guy just pushed my wrong buttons. First he dumped, then he did a complete scrub as if he were going to deliver a baby next. Then he filled his very large water tank, which took about fifteen minutes. I was a little annoyed, but still had my anger in check at this point. It wasn’t until he started washing his motorhome windshield and the rest of the front end with a little dish scrubber. He could have done that at his site. He was treating the dump station as his own personal truck wash, while the rest of us patiently looked on. I know everyone else in line felt the same way I did. I felt it was my duty, since I was the next up to bat. Do you think I was within my rights? My wife thinks I should just have done the slow burn and waited my turn.
--Sewer Skewer in Laredo

Dear Skewer:
I would usually say to turn the other cheek and wait a person like that out. However, when someone shows no courtesy for those waiting in line, a little educational priming might go a long way in breaking rude habits. Even in this rare occasion there is no need for you to come across harsh. I would politely ask this person if they were aware of the line and suggest they wash their rig somewhere else. If that effort is met with resistance, I would find a park manager to handle the situation. You do not have to be the dump station referee. You will probably never have this happen again. If anything, most campers hurry along because they know they are holding you up. You never want to end up in a fight with a guy packing a sewer hose. Patiently waiting in line stinks, but sometimes in life you have to deal with a little dung and it can be a total waste of time.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ripped off RVer

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Maybe I’m naive and too trusting, but when I spent $250 for a surge protector I didn’t buy the extra plastic lock box. In hindsight the $20 investment would have saved me a bundle. I had the surge protector for less than a month when it came up missing at a state park where we stayed a week. I never noticed it gone until we were packing up to leave. It could have been lifted by anyone. Do you think this is a common occurrence? Should I be suspect of every camper around me? I don’t want to be paranoid, but now I lock up everything I own. I won’t even go to the trash without locking the trailer door. Has this low life thief ruined me for my entire RV life? --Ripped Off in Richmond

Dear RIP:
Let this experience be a lesson, not an anchor. Forget it and move on. Taking precautions and using common sense is your best bet, but don’t let one bad egg ruin your whole barrel of fun. There is a lot of crime in the places you feel most secure. Yellowstone and some of the other large National Parks have their own jails. The bad guys know people let their guard down in camping areas and often find easy pickings. There is a reason surge guard manufacturers sell those little lock boxes. They help keep the honest people honest. A better idea if you are buying a new one is to try the model that you wire in directly. They are a bit cheaper and a simple install. With that model your investment isn’t hung out on your electric post screaming, “Steal me.” It’s a pain to lock everything up in anticipation of the small percentage of dishonest people you will run into in park settings. I tend to lock storage areas with expensive tools and toys. Everything else I leave unlocked until I park in non-park settings. You have to find your comfort level. Good luck.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink