Wednesday, April 24, 2013

RV time out

Dear RV Shrink:
Like most couples, my wife and I have occasional disagreements. At home we can go to different parts of the house to calm down, but it's more difficult in our trailer. When we get into a heated argument, she storms off to the bathroom and stays there for an hour or so. She has a little electronic game in there and plays draw poker. I can hear it beeping, which drives me nuts. On a nice day, I just leave the RV and take a walk, but in the winter when it's cold or rainy I have nowhere to go. Do you think this is a good way for her to let off steam? Am I overreacting?
--Jim in Buffalo, New York

Dear Jim:
I guess it depends on the size of your rig. If you travel with a Casita there could be a problem trying to take a time out in your separate corners. In a bigger rig it could be convenient. Everyone needs a little time alone. I’m a long distance backpacker. My wife said to me last year, “There are things I love about you that you never do anymore.” I said, “Like what?” She said, “Like being gone.” Living long term in a small space can challenge the best of relationships. Having your own space can be a bonus many people do not think of when deciding on rig size. Having separate interests can be a good thing. Arguments are nothing uncommon. Everyone handles them differently. If this is your spouse's way of cooling off, get a pair of earphones or plugs and wait it out. A twenty-five pound backpack works pretty well too.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Back off

Dear RV Shrink:
My husband is a terrible driver. He tailgates so close that I am always nervous. He says he's comfortable driving close and gets  perturbed when I tell him to back away. I especially get nervous when he's close to a big truck. He has joked that he's "drafting" off it to get better gas mileage. I don't laugh and tell him he's putting us in serious danger, but he either doesn't respond or gets mad. I know how to drive our motorhome but he will hardly ever let me do it. I love my husband, he's a wonderful man, but I'm scared to death to ride with him. Do you have any idea what I might say to him to get him to back off?
--Susan, Carson City, Nevada

Dear Susan:
If you are convinced your husband's driving is putting you at serious risk, don’t get in the passenger seat. Either drive or refuse to ride. The drafting joke is funny to a point. If he wants to be a NASCAR driver, have him get a sponsor and drive alone at the track. If he wants to save gas have him get his foot out of the carburetor and back-off. Tailgating will only assure that you are the first one to the accident. It’s funny that I received this question today. I just read a blog I have followed for two years about a couple RVing full-time. I was shocked to see a photo of their truck and trailer upside down in the median on an interstate. A trailer in front of them spewed metal wheel parts that they could not avoid. It blew their right rear tire and somehow set their trailer brake. The trailer tipped over first, eventually flipping the truck on its side. It then skidded across the median and ended up facing the opposite direction upside down. It is not just a sudden stop that can get you into trouble when tailgating. Most RVs do not stop on a dime, are not quick to maneuver, and are not designed to do either. Your husband is putting more people in danger than just his wife. I think he needs an attitude adjustment and I think you should be the one to administer it. Good luck.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

RV foreign affairs

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I don’t think you have heard this one before. I read about a lot of women questioning their husband's actions after retiring. Since we've started RVing, my husband is a nut in a good way. Yet sometimes I also wonder if he is going off the deep end. His newest hobby is pretending to be a foreigner. It’s his opinion that foreigners get better treatment at the state and national parks we visit. When things get dicey and we may not be able to get a campsite, he becomes a Frenchman. He can’t speak French he just makes up his own words with a French accent. After babbling on and acting confused, the ranger usually just finds someplace for us to park and we have to be French for a few days or not speak to anyone. This week we are German. I talked to him about his behavior and he did stop for awhile. Then one day my computer went haywire and he called for tech help. He couldn’t understand a word they were saying. He hung up, called back and began to stutter. Now they couldn’t understand him. Immediately they transferred him to an English speaking tech rep who solved our problem. Other than this theatrical flare for getting his way, he’s a funny, friendly guy. I’m just not sure what nationality we are going to be when we pull up to a park gate.
-- RV UN ambassador

Dear Ambassador:
I think I have heard it all and then your email shows up. Now every time I run into a foreigner in a campground I’m going to be suspect. It is getting harder every season to get into popular parks. Maybe your husband is on to something. Perhaps only the dramatically challenged will be left spaceless or in overflow. I have never noticed foreign campers getting preferential treatment. He should be careful because park service employees are often bilingual and he just may get called out one of these times. You aren’t in Nevada are you? I just camped near a couple from Alberta with an Aussie accent. I don’t think that put them any further ahead in the queue for a campsite, but who knows. Since you are partners in verbal disguise, I think you should have a say in what nationality you are going to be at each stay. I think the perfect situation would be to secure a position at a park that needs volunteers for historical reenactment. They would provide you with a site and you could be someone else. Life is full of possibilities. They say you can be whatever you want. I guess your husband is proof of that.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cabin fever on wheels

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I think we are normal but lately I have second thoughts. Since we started traveling all winter in our fifth wheel our social life has changed significantly. We like to camp in remote, quiet areas. The sun disappears early during the winter. I tend to go to bed with the sun and rise with the sun - that sometimes means 10 hours! The problem is my husband wakes up before the sun, gets up, turns the local farm report on, and makes toast under the smoke alarm. When the smoke alarm goes off so do I. After I give him the hot tongue and cold shoulder for a sufficient amount of time, we have our coffee and try to figure out what we are going to do all day. At home we are always busy, but on the road I think we have too much time on our hands. Do others have this problem too? 
--Cabin fever on wheels

Dear Cabin:
Some people find the transition from a sedentary life to one on the road more difficult than others. Like many other situations people write to me about, your answers are probably parked right next to you. Talk to your fellow campers. There are as many lifestyles on the road as off. Some people are more social than others. Some are couch potatoes whether the couch is stationary or rolling. I’m in a beautiful National Forest campground right now. The neighbors I have met so far have varied interests that keep them constantly busy. I even met a couple the other day hauling a two-seater paraglider. That’s a room fan attached to a parachute. They fly all over the place and often boondock at small airstrips. Another guy is a wildlife photographer with a lens that looks like a real cannon. Then there is a lady who walks around with a pick axe all day. She is a rockhound. I asked her if she'd found anything exciting and she started feeling around in her bra looking for a nice agate she had just found. I didn’t ask any more questions. The woman one loop over is a thrift store scouter. She finds bargains and sends them home to her daughter who runs a resale shop.  The point I am trying to make is you need a hobby, part-time job or some interest that will keep you occupied whether you are at home or on the road. I have seen professional people retire, then sit at home watching soap operas all day until they keeled over in their la-Z-boy. As far as going to bed too early, you might consider playing a card game, reading, campfires, watching downloaded movies on your computer, working on genealogy, or anything else you enjoy doing at home. If you can keep your husband awake until 10 pm, maybe the smoke alarm won’t go off until 7 am.  If your home life is more social because you have more friends get out and meet some. The world is full of wonderful, friendly, interesting people. You have some parked near you right now. Take a walk and meet them. Go on a ranger led walk and meet them. Grab your binoculars and pretend you are looking at birds, you will be surprised at how many people will wonder what you’re looking at and start a conversation. We were in Cottonwood campground in Big Bend National Park this winter. Every evening a crowd would gather at dusk to watch a Great Horned owl pair mate. They were like clockwork. As odd as that may sound, we made a lot of great friends watching horny owls. That’s how easy it is to change your lifestyle.    
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink