Wednesday, July 31, 2013

RV music lesson

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I like music as much as the next guy, but campground "musicians" drive me nuts. It never fails — there always seems to be someone in camp that thinks everyone wants to hear their music. Recently we were serenaded at Glacier National Park by a young girl who knew three guitar chords and half the words to the song “A Horse With No Name” by the band America. I used to love that song, but it will never have the same memory for me again. She yodeled it about a million times in three days. We were so happy when she finally left, but our solitude was short lived. She was replaced by a guy on his sax who thought he was John Coltrane, Kenny G., and Branford Marsalis all rolled into one. We might have been in the site next to the one reserved for the musically challenged. We decided to move. Unfortunately, today's new boom boxes have speakers that can reach several loops. From our new digs we could hear Pavarotti to the east of us and Bob Seger to the west. It was like hearing Bob Luciano sing “Love to watch her strut” operatic. Please don’t tell me to contact the host or a ranger. They are both within earshot (which could be several miles) and seem to both be deaf. Perhaps they attended too many loud concerts in the sixties. --Musically Annoyed in Apgar

Dear Annoyed:
I can sympathize with you. Fortunately, most of us make the effort to preserve the solitude. I won’t even run my generator during “generator hours” because I know it’s annoying to those around us. However, there are enough people who are oblivious to the fact that not everyone shares their taste in music, inconsiderate enough to disrupt neighboring campsites, and feel they are offering legitimate entertainment while learning to play an instrument in a quiet campground setting. We just sat through a day of listening to a guy with a wooden Native American flute, accompanied by several howling dogs. We moved, but not before complaining to the host. The host's job is one of little authority in most cases. In many cases, they don’t want to be involved even if it is part of their duty. You will notice that talking to the offending party yourself is most often like spitting into the wind. They wouldn’t be annoying you in the first place if they had two brain cells to rub together. It usually comes down to relying on local rangers or law enforcement to make sure rules are obeyed, quiet times are observed, and peaceful coexistence continues within confined campground settings. Your choices are to move or try to work things out through campground management, be it host, ranger or owners. Taking the law into your own hands, trying to out blast the neighbors or becoming the campground referee, will only make things worse. Campground utopia is hard to come by.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Thursday, July 25, 2013

RV In-Laws

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been full-timers for about three years. It is a great lifestyle with few problems until my husband's parents show up. They are elderly but still traveling occasionally with their pickup camper. They will often hook up with us and spend a few weeks. I try to be patient and kind, but they are opinionated, selfish and often rude. It changes our whole travel experience. They complain if they have to stay anywhere that costs more than five dollars per night, won’t dump unless it’s free. They would be happy to spend every night in a Walmart parking lot. They also want the cheapest gas and prefer to travel about a hundred miles per day with a long nap about half way. They are always complaining it is too cold, their battery power is too low or there is no flush toilet in the five dollar campgrounds we find. Their favorite pastime is sitting around critiquing other campers who are too loud, too fat, don’t know how to raise their children, don’t know how to drive, or are rich because they have a nicer rig than their own. Am I being selfish? I want to ditch them the day after they show up. --Two too close for comfort in Corvallis

Dear Two Too:
Just because you bought an RV and hit the open road doesn’t mean you have solved all your family relationship problems. As you have found out, “You can run, but you cannot hide.” There are several ways to look at your particular problem. You have to consider that they are your husband's parents. All of us have to deal with in-laws. They may need some extra care at their age. It is wonderful that they can still travel rather independently. They are probably on a small fixed income and need to be extra thrifty when looking for services. I am not making excuses for their behavior, I am just suggesting you give them a lot of behavioral leeway. You may want to pick the one thing that annoys you the most and try discussing it with them. If that improves their behavior you can slowly move on to other issues. If they are embarrassing you it might be your baggage. Most people will see your situation and be understanding of remarks made by your in-laws. These situations can be very frustrating, but you are only making yourself miserable. Take a deep breath, bite your tongue, check your manners, and keep looking for those free dump stations, five dollar campgrounds and cheap gas.
 --Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Walmart Smart

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have spent many nights in Walmart parking lots the past several years during our travels. We call them our pit stops. Every couple of weeks we do our shopping, buy a pizza and have a movie night with a Redbox movie. However, my wife Florence is getting a little over protective of our shopping center campsites. We see people camped as though they are living at Walmart. We see people leaving trash behind. Walmart’s hospitality seems to be attracting more homeless people, eking out a living on the parking lot fringes, begging with signs and even setting up tents. It is quite a contrast to see expensive motorhomes parked near shelter tents, both attracted by the same thing, free camping. I think we should all act responsibly, but I don’t think it’s my wife’s job to referee the Walmart camping policy. She hasn’t yet started to lecture people, but she gets very upset when she sees things she doesn’t approve. I get an earful and everyone else just continues to act irresponsible. Is this normal? It always causes an argument if I don’t act as disgusted as she is.
--Going with the “Floe” in Bozeman

Dear Floe:
Many people are observing the same thing as the two of you. Eventually, Walmart will suspend overnight privileges if it becomes more of a problem than it’s worth to management. Most stores that prohibit overnight parking currently are governed by policies forced on them by local ordinance. That does not mean Walmart as a company will not suspend this “customer service” if people abuse this convenience and wear out our welcome. It is not your wife’s responsibility or place to confront people in the parking lot. I would hope she understands the dangers in doing so. Walmart is very capable of managing their property without a traveling neighborhood watch vigilante making rounds for them. I would advise always calling ahead to be sure overnight parking is allowed. Often online or print information is outdated. Also, management will direct you to areas they would like to see you parked. Always let them know how much you appreciate the space and make them aware if you are doing some shopping in their store. If ninety percent of us who use their facilities show some respect, perhaps they will overlook the ten percent that take it for granted. Usually you are parked out on the fringes of the lot. Collect stray shopping carts and park them in the corrals, “Leave No Trace” when you depart, don’t run your generator or put your slides out, don’t use your hydraulic jacks on soft, hot pavement. Maybe even pick up some of the trash around your spot. Just use common sense and hope that the majority of others do the same. Be a spectator, not a referee. If you are going to argue about the shortcomings of others, just remember, never go to bed mad, stay up and fight.  
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Auto alarms in campgrounds drive him crazy

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
It is nice that most campgrounds have "No generator" zones, quiet hours posted, and in most cases a considerate population of campers. However, I am often jolted awake in the morning by that most annoying of all sounds, the automobile alarm system. It is not uncommon for some camper to get up at dark thirty to retrieve something from their car and the blasted horn alarm goes off. Am I the only one that finds this annoying to the point of verbal abuse? Do I need to check my feelings at the threshold of an outburst response to this invasive blaring? I am sure it has no impact on the horny neighbor, but it seems to be an automatic response for me to yell at them. --Honk if you like me in Lakeland

Dear Honked:
Yelling only does one thing. It makes you look like a jerk. I would suggest you be a bit more understanding. The person that may need a Shrink is the engineer that designed that stupid system. First, do you ever think when you hear those horns blaring, “Hey, someone is stealing a car!” No, you always think, “Who was the idiot engineer that decided that was a great option for every new vehicle in the world?” Couldn’t we just have the lights flash quietly? Couldn’t we have the steering wheel quietly lock up? Couldn’t we just have the smart car, call the owner's Smart phone and report a possible abduction? I think we have all experienced an electronic malfunction with this crime fighting system. I tried to disconnect the horn on mine once, but I couldn’t find the stupid thing. I believe it was located under the bumper just so it could not be disconnected.  So instead of yelling at the moon when this happens again, try this: Picture some poor soul out in the dark, in a panic, madly pressing every button on their key fob, trying to make their car shut up. They are already embarrassed enough without you making them feel worse. Have you ever thought about the people camped near you listening to some hyena yelping at the poor devil with the malfunctioning horn?
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hubby wears same clothes every day. Wife not happy

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Now that my husband and I are on the road full-time, I have a hard time getting him to change his clothes. He says we meet so many new and different people, no one notices he has the same clothes on for a week. I don’t mind doing laundry, even though many laundromats we stop at are the pits. We work as a team and can usually knock out our washing and drying duties in a couple hours. I like him to wear work clothes while he is doing his constant maintenance on our rig, but I find him wearing his good clothes for those chores because he doesn’t bother to change. He has dozens of outfits, but he is just not fashion conscious. All his outfits end up turning into work clothes. I think I need to paste a post-it note on his forehead but he would never notice it. I don’t think I am writing you for any advice, I just need to vent a bit. —Dirty Dozen in Denton


Dear Dirty:
If your husband is happy and keeping your rig in constant repair I think you should put it into perspective. You can buy a lot of new clothing for the cost of having your rig repaired at an RV service center. For every hour your husband clocks on the rig, ring up a hundred dollars on the clothing register. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be upset about him ruining his good clothing but don’t make a federal case out of it. Buy him some nice clothes at a second hand shop, hide a couple good outfits so you can take him out in public on occasion, and think of his outfits as disposable work clothing. As for laundromats, I agree. Many are the pits, with little or no management. With many RV needs today, there’s an app for that. There are actually a couple websites that review laundromats so you can see what others have discovered before you commit your quarters to thieving machines that steal your money and deliver no hot water. If you are the type of travelers that stay in commercial RV parks, you will usually find better maintained machines. If you do have a problem you will be able to find management to correct it. The only other thing I can think of to solve your husband's lack of clothing concern would be to get on the RV nudist campground circuit were clothing would be optional. Then you would just have to make sure he showered on a regular basis. Good Luck.

—Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink