Wednesday, February 26, 2014

RV wedgie

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I have spent most of the winter in a fourteen foot travel trailer with two dogs. We just wanted to see if we would enjoy this RV lifestyle. We do not. I think it is because we started the experiment with a camper that is too small. I could kick myself. It was my idea not to spend a lot of money on a bigger rig until we knew if we were going to like traveling this way or not. Now I think we would love it if we had more room. My wife is just plain fed up with the whole experience. I can’t convince her that most of our problems and discomfort have developed because of our cramped quarters. We thought we were going to arrive in the sunny south to paradise and the temperature would be perfect everyday. We discovered that it can often be cold and we end up trapped in our little box. I jokingly call it “two dog days” but my wife fails to see the humor in it. Any suggestions on how to proceed in my attempt to convince her it could be a totally enjoyable adventure if we just had a bigger rig?
--Cramped in Las Cruces

Dear Cramped:
First, tell her she is your main squeeze. See if that breaks the ice or your jaw. To proceed from there I would go for a long walk around the campground. If the small space is truly the only problem, you and your wife should be able to look around any campground and observe how others are coping. The choice of RV floor-plan's is endless. You should be able to find one that would fit your personal needs. Some people need more space than others. Walking the campground and studying RV options is a hobby for many new RVer’s. It is a great way to compare what particular things you dislike about your setup and what you may need to solve them. Once you get a 14 ft. trailer started down the road, it won’t cost much more to roll a 24 ft. That extra ten feet can give you a bigger kitchen, bigger bath, bigger sleeping quarters, bigger living space all around depending on the floor plan you choose. You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. If your wife finds other issues with this lifestyle other than cramped quarters, a rock star bus won’t solve your problems. You need to have a heart to heart talk, discover the real issues and tackle them one at a time. If you can get out of the dog house, you both might find this is the perfect lifestyle.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's 5 o'clock somewhere

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Now that my husband and I are retired and traveling full-time, he never wears a watch anymore. Every time I ask him what time it is, he never knows. He wore a watch for 40 years. Wouldn’t you think that would establish a habit? He says he doesn’t care what time it is anymore. That sounds cute, but having a watch doesn’t necessarily put you on a schedule. Am I being silly? Do all retirees dispose of their timepiece? I thought the old tradition was to receive a gold watch when you retired.
--Timed out in Tucson

Dear Tucson:
This sounds like an easy fix. Buy yourself a watch. I think it’s time for a change. If he has been the timekeeper for 40 years, you do the next 40 then switch. I don’t know where the tradition of getting a gold watch at retirement started. I know my dad received one from the telephone company. Today retirees are just happy if they get their pension. Actually, a watch is not as common as it used to be. Some kids can’t even tell time if it’s not digital. Like so many other devices - cameras, GPS, flashlights, radios, and calculators are all being replaced with Smartphones. Retirees now should get Golden Google Glasses or at least a Smartwatch. I think one of you should carry the time. You don’t want to miss cocktail hour. Of course, it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere!
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

RV theft

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I learned a lot last week reading various comments to your column on securing the “toad.” You might also want to mention tow vehicles. We had our pickup stolen right out of a busy campground. Locked up, no key inside, never found. I never gave it a thought before it happened to me. Now I use a kill switch and a wheel lock. My wife thinks I am a bit paranoid about the whole issue. We were made whole by the insurance company, but you never recover the time, effort and mental strain of being targeted by thieves and having to replace a vehicle. The experience can really put a damper on your travel experience.
--Ripped off in Rockford

Dear Rip:
Your experience is not uncommon. We are presently camped in Big Bend National Park. We met a couple last week with a beautiful 5th Wheel and a 2013 Ford Dually all decked out for towing. They had found a great deal on the truck with extremely low miles. We got their email so that we could keep in touch. Unfortunately, the first email we received reported they had their truck stolen a couple days later in a San Antonio city parking area. Ford pickups are at the top of the stolen vehicle list in the US, but any vehicle can be a target. Manufacturers are adding techie devices to make it harder to accomplish, but an accomplished thief is hard to deter. I personally do not put any trust in electronic security devices. I have had tow truck drivers open my vehicle without getting out of their cab. If they have some type of scanning device that opens vehicles you can bet the bad guys have them too. Like I said last week, if you read the comments after this column you will get some varied and great advice from people who have given a lot of thought to holding on to what they have. The National Parks actually have a lot of crime. The bad guys know that people are traveling and often have their guard down. Common sense and staying alert can save a lot of grief.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Don't worry, be happy

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We travel in a Class “C” motorhome and pull a small sedan. My husband is always paranoid that someone is going to steal the car. If we stop for the night at a Walmart or other stopover, he pulls the keys. I think we should leave them in the ignition in the correct position so that if we have to leave in the middle of the night we do not have to exit the motorhome. His arguments are that the battery can drain and someone might be tempted to steal the car when they see the keys. I say let them have the car. It would be more dangerous to go out in the middle of the night and fool with it. Am I the one being paranoid? Do most people lock everything down at night? Should we both just “chill” and not worry so much?
--Nervous Nelly and Bullheaded Bill in Biloxi

Dear Nelly:
RV travel should first and foremost be relaxing and enjoyable. There is no guarantee you are not going to be a crime victim whether you are traveling or at home at the mall. I have only met one couple that lost their toad. They stopped to shop at a Walmart in Mexico. That proves it can happen. I find most Walmarts that allow overnight camping very safe. They are well lit, have security cameras, and many even have security guards. You make a good point about not having to exit the motorhome in the middle of the night if asked to leave a site. If someone were up to no good, they could easily decommission your vehicles some other way. If they are after your toad they are probably going to get it one way or another. My personal mode of operation is to leave the toad in the tow positions. That means the key is in the ignition. With a good battery you should be able to drive a few days without draining the battery, but a simple kill switch is cheap insurance. It not only insures you will not drain your battery, it is also another deterrence for a thief. You can make your own for about ten bucks or buy one for fifty. I suggest you take all the precautions, then just relax. Make sure your storage doors are locked, your car is locked, don’t leave expensive electronic devices out in the open, and be alert to any situation that doesn’t feel right. We spend most months every year on the road and have never had an incident. When making time or a pit stop for groceries we have stayed at many non-campground parking areas. We talk to other RVers every day. I seldom hear of any problems. Again, life offers no guarantees, but don’t dwell on being a victim. If you find that you are not comfortable in these sites it might be easier on you to always find official camping sites. If you read the comments for this column you will most likely find others sharing their procedures and predicaments.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink