Monday, February 25, 2013

Murphy's Law

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife is a closet pessimist. She seems positive most of the time, but she has this irritating habit of calling tiny incidents “Murphy’s Law.” It’s harmless but it drives me nuts. I always know when it’s coming. We will be driving across flat, empty Texas for hours without seeing another vehicle and just when I come to a narrow bridge I will pass a semi-trailer. I hear from the passenger seat, “Murphy’s Law.” The dump station will be empty all morning as we prepare to leave a campground and just as I pull up to dump, someone else will pull in ahead of me. Again, I hear from the passenger seat, “Murphy’s Law.” The examples go on and on. I just can’t take it any longer. Do you think there really is a “Murphy’s Law?” Is there any way of breaking “Murphy’s Law?” I just can’t take wave after wave of Murphy. Please help me.
 --Murph the Surf in Medford

Dear Murph:
I think it is called the law of averages. It’s the glass half full - half empty syndrome. Why not make a game out of it. You seem to know when it’s coming, beat her to the punch. Every time you cross a narrow bridge and do not meet another vehicle, ask her “what happened to Murphy?” When you arrive at the dump station and have it all to yourself, tell her Murphy must not have to dump today. It might be fun to keep score and see how often Murphy actually rears his ugly head. If this is your only problem traveling together, I think you are doing just fine. If you pull into a campground and the last site has just been taken by the RV in front of you, well, that’s just “Murphy’s Law.”
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Flaming the RV Fan

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I think I need a drink, but I am going to start with you. I just left a Camping World store in Texas. I think there is an old Country Western song called, “Happiness is Camping World in the Rear view Mirror.” I will be singing that for some time to come. Six months ago I had a Camping World store put a Fantastic Fan in my trailer. I also bought hitch bars from them. The fan motor (still under warranty) died and one day slowing to a toll booth all of a sudden my hitch bar dropped. Camping World told me they couldn’t honor another store's warranty. I finally made them call that store and they agreed to pay for a new motor for the fan. Not a new fan, just a motor. They refused to stand behind the hitch bar problem, accusing me of backing up improperly. In fact, a defective bolt had cracked and broke in two places. I was treated as if I were a pain, and they showed not a hint of customer service. Is this what RVer’s should expect from a company that pretends to be one of the big players in the industry? Are they setting an industry standard of sub par service? Have I set my sights too high in expecting decent service at a decent price? What is the use of a warranty if no one stands behind it?
--Flaming the Fan in the Lone Star State

Dear Flaming:
RV service is much like the Old Wild West. You never know when or where you might get rustled. Every service event should be a lesson added to your list of experiences. You have to let a bad experience go, but don’t ever forget it completely. I am always suggesting that people use the now convenient RV Service Review sites. Just google them. There are several. Find reviews for most any service center you are near. Read them all. It’s like buying product on Amazon. Read all the reviews and take a consensus. Some people will complain if they are hung with a new rope. You can also use these review sites to vent about your vent fan. Let others know how you were treated at the service centers you have used. You can’t put a lot of stock in the name Camping World. They have now franchised their brand and most stores are RV dealer franchises. You are going to get service consistent with what a particular dealer's management style is. You cannot expect service consistent with one company's policy unless you actually deal with a Camping World company store. There are plenty of great service people and companies out there, you just have to be careful, do your homework, if you have the option, and make the best decision with the info you have. Never, and I mean never, let them see you sweat.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shoe in RV Reservations

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband is the suspicious sort. Always coming up with a conspiracy theory. I swear one day I am going to catch him talking into the heal of his shoe. Recently we have been camping in Florida State Parks. We seldom use reservations and are always playing campground Bingo on the computer to get in, or stay in a park we like. He just discovered that several campground sites in each park are not registered on the reservation site. He asked for one of these sites early one morning and was told there was nothing available. An hour later one of the sites was sold to another walk-in customer. He continues to obsess over this issue. How can I convince him to forget it and get a life. I don’t want to travel if it means stressing over finding a piece of real estate every night to park our rig.
--Maxwell Notso Smart in New Smyrna

Dear Notso:
Your husband will make himself crazy before he ever makes sense of the campground reservation system. The sites marked with a white “W” on many reservation sites, including the NPS sites, means walk-in available. But try to get one. As for Florida State Parks and others, they always have several sites out of the reservation loop to use for mistakes in the reservation system, special situations, volunteers etc... When not in use for one of these categories they will be assigned to those who ask. It is similar to winning the lottery in some popular parks. Knowledge is king. Your husband is on the right track as far as learning all he can about the system. Discovering these Phantom sites, and the fact that they can be made available, can help you negotiate a site in the future. A great source of information is to talk to a host. They often have worked in many campgrounds in many states and have the inside scoop on campground site management. It can be frustrating. Some National Forest campgrounds now charge up to $9.00 to make a reservation. That can be for as little as a one night stay. If your husband didn’t get one of the extra sites that eventually went to another later arriving camper, it could be that he was hanging around the registration office too often talking into his shoe.
 --Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bugs in new RV

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We bought a very expensive fifth wheel and it won't even keep the bugs out. We recently were camped in Florida and little no-see-ums were invading. It seems like they would design these rolling mansions to keep nature at bay. We had to shut all of our windows and run only the fan. Should I expect more for my money or is this as good as it gets?
--Finding bugs in our new RV

Dear Bugsy:
I have no hard facts, but I assume RV manufacturers install standard screen mesh in all units. This material is designed to keep the majority of critters at bay, but not all critters that come off the bay. Tiny no-see-ums are a challenge. If you had custom mesh applied I am sure it would reduce your ventilation to a point that would make you unhappy more often than having to deal with screen crashers. You might try dropping your darkening shades and dimming or turning off your lights while leaving the windows open. The screen door is also an area to check for openings that might not be tightly closed. Insects have been known to drive people mad as well as make people mad. I know folks who have installed finer mesh in selected windows. That way when things get maddening they only use those openings. Insects have also been known to drive people to drink. That entails going inside, shutting everything up, turning on the air conditioning and enjoying cocktail hour from inside your enclosed, bug free RV. While you're drinking, set a glass of wine off to the side for your no-see-um guests. This little trick works quite well. They love this fruity drink and dive in and drown. 
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink