Thursday, June 27, 2013

'Am I too easygoing?' RVer asks

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have to tell you I read your column every week. Mostly for the chuckles, but also to see what people are complaining about. I love your line, “Some people would complain if they were hung with a new rope.” I just wanted to write and tell you how abnormal I am. I’m a full-timer with a small retro Airstream. I go wherever the wind blows. I never seem to have any of the problems the other folks experience. I think maybe they are thinking too hard. If I get neighbors with a yapping dog, I block it out. If someone decides to take a shower at the dump station while I’m waiting, I just read a book until they are done. If I get party animals camped next to me I plug in my earbuds and listen to country music. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. I read that somewhere, because I’m just not that creative. Anyway, keep up the good work. Every Saturday morning I love to read about what I'm missing. —Happy Go Lucky in Lake Louise


Dear Lucky:
You are a breath of fresh air. You remind me of two kids who were total opposites. One a total optimist and the other a total pessimist. Their father asked me if there was anything I could suggest to maybe even them out a bit. It was near Christmas so I told him to buy the pessimist a fancy new bike with all the bells and whistles. Spare no expense and get him all the options. For the optimist, I suggested he fancy wrap up a large box of horse manure. I told him that should even them out just fine. On Christmas morning I happened by their house. There on the sidewalk was the pessimist. I said, “What did Santa bring you?” He said, “I got a stupid ole bike with so much junk on it I can’t even find the pedals.” I turned around and the optimist was running out of the house and jumping off the porch. I asked him the same question. He went screaming around the house, “I got a pony, but I haven’t found him yet.” I think you might be pony boy. Happy travels, as if you need the encouragement.

—Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Friday, June 21, 2013

RV Coach Couch Potato

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are parked next to a guy who loves to watch TV. He thinks he has to run his generator all the time his TV is on. We have a generator but we use it very conservatively. They have their place, but not running continuously. I have tried to explain to this guy that his TV is not drawing much power. He is just clueless. He also runs his generator half the day because his batteries are low. He must spend more gas powering his rig when it's parked than when he’s driving. We’ll be driving in the morning. Can’t take another day of this idle chatter. Just needed to vent. Thanks. --Asphyxiated in Alpine

Dear Asphyxiated:
It can be annoying. It only takes a bit of knowledge and tweaking to better manage power. I still do not understand the popularity of convection ovens in many of the new rigs. That dictates a generator run every time you want to cook something. It sounds like your neighbor might have failing batteries. Another mistake a lot of people make is trying to charge dead batteries by running the generator, allowing the converter to trickle charge the batteries. Much more efficient to power an automotive battery charger with the generator. I have both generator and solar, but if I could only choose one, it would be my 300 watts of solar. Many campgrounds today offer non-generator loops. We always opt for that. Besides running the generator for air conditioning occasionally or a quick microwave nuke, I run it under a load to exercise it when I’m out in the boondocks. This way I won't bother anyone else that might be seeking a bit of solitude. “Use it or lose it” is the theory behind air conditioning and generator precautionary maintenance. There is a reason you are seeing more “quiet hour” signs in campgrounds.

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

RV decisions, decisions

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have been fixing up an older Class “C” motorhome for several years. My wife and I are both retiring soon. We have talked often of traveling a good portion of the year in this rig I have invested so much time and money. Now that we are closing in on our voyage, my wife is balking. She thinks we should shop for a newer Class “A” with more room and less miles. I can understand the desire for a newer rig, but I think it is crazy to spend money on a new motorhome when we already have one that works perfectly well. Please give us your two cents worth.
--Frugal in Fresno

Dear Frugal:
Both sides of this argument have merit. The advantages of traveling in a rig that is paid for, functional and familiar would be the strong part of your argument. On the other hand a newer rig can mean many amenities that you probably do not enjoy currently. The majority have slides if your current model does not. This can make a big difference in square footage without going longer. Basement storage is a huge plus. Having plumbing enclosed in a cabinet instead of hanging down below the frame is another wonderful feature. Newer rigs are usually better insulated and you may even find better mileage with a newer engine and body design. Ultimately, you and your wife will have to work out the finer points of personal affordability. You may want to start with the motorhome you have. I assume you have used it enough to know what you are looking for in a home on wheels. Perhaps your wife already knows she would not be happy living in the current rig for a longer period of time. I would not rush into a decision. The longer you shop and compare, the better decision you will ultimately make.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

RV glass half full

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
All the headlines lately seem to point to the fact that although the housing industry is still making a slow recovery, the RV industry is smoking hot. I also read often in your column that campgrounds are full and some impossible to get into without a reservation. Is the future of RVing going to be degraded because of its popularity? Is there really “Combat Camping” in my future if I plan to buy an RV and travel?
--Paranoid in Peoria

Dear Paranoid:
Think of the RV lifestyle as a revolution. I have watched it evolve for over 50 years. It is no different than any other supply and demand issue. It is pretty simple math. You multiply numbers and divide resources. However, we are a creative, entrepreneurial bunch. Some people see the glass half empty, while others see it half full. What we are seeing now is the tip of the iceberg. “The boomers are coming, the boomers are coming.” This aging demographic will change much more than the RV business. It is also creating many business opportunities. I believe we will see many creative solutions to the crowded campground situation, how RVs are perceived by local governments (last weeks column), and infrastructure to handle this tsunami of rolling homes. There are still plenty of great RV adventure opportunities without the need to book yourself into a tight schedule. Sometimes you have to think outside the box, roll with the punches, and go with the flow. When you add up all the good, the bad and the ugly of traveling the “Blue Highways," I still tell people it’s, “Sucking the juice out of life.” Try it, you will like it.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink