Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Joining the RV club

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are not yet in the club. We want to be full-time RVer’s but my wife thinks she will be lonely. It’s not that she doesn’t enjoy my company, she just doesn’t want to be stuck with me 24/7 without some variety of friends. I have been trying to convince her that we will meet other fellow travelers and locals wherever we wander. Am I just wishful thinking or do most people find sparking friendship on the road a common occurrence?
--Lonely Hearts in Loveland

Dear Lonely:
Trust me, it is not wishful thinking. If you are outgoing at all you will collect so many new, awesome friends, your dance card will be constantly full. You will often run into the same friends over and over as you are traveling in the same geographical areas. You will find not only camaraderie but a sharing of great information on maintenance, gear, camping opportunities, recreational options, the list goes on. In my humble opinion, the very best aspect of this RV lifestyle is the wonderful people you meet along the way, from all over the world. Let me just give you one recent example. I just started hiking the Arizona Trail from the Mexico border fence in Coronado National Monument to Utah. The problem was having my wife drop me off on the border and then worrying about whether she made it back to our motorhome safely. We were parked in a National Forest campground 20 miles north of the border. I thought about trying to hitchhike down. The dirt road south is heavily used, but it’s all border patrol trucks. There were only a few other campers, but we decided to walk around the campground and see if anyone might be going down to the Monument, and if I might catch a ride. The first group we ran into were not only the nicest and friendliest people, they were Arizona Trail members. They were section hiking the first section of the trail. They had a shuttle service from Tucson picking them up in the morning and driving them to the border trailhead, and said I was more than welcome to join them. We had so much in common, and laughed and told life stories. I call this “Trail Magic” when things happen unexpectedly while long distance hiking. You will find this same magic wherever you travel if you are open to it.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

P.S. Have no fear the Shrink is still here for questions and therapy. I have posted a few weeks of questions ahead until I reach Utah. Keep your questions coming. If not shot by a drug hauler, bitten by a rattler, stung by an Africanized bee, kicked by a Grand Canyon mule, poked by a scorpion, or gnawed on by a gila monster, I will answer them as soon as I return.

Note from Editor: You will find social RV clubs, special interest RV clubs, volunteer RV Clubs and many more listed in RV Travel's extensive Directory of RV Clubs, found here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

RV movie night

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have just started traveling and living in a pickup camper several months a year. We have two slides and find it very comfortable. At home we always watch movies. We love movies. On the road we find we seldom can. We are camping off grid most of the time. My husband does not want to pay for satellite TV. We never stay in commercial parks with cable. Seldom do we find a town with a movie theater unless we wander into a big city. I miss my movies. My husband says it is not so important. I don’t think we have to give up something we both enjoy just because we want to see the rural and natural areas of the country. Am I asking too much? Don’t you think we could find a solution? My husband is the tech guy, but he just doesn’t seem interested in working on a solution to this problem.
--Oscar the grouch

Dear Oscar:
This is not a difficult tech fix. When the sun drops early in the winter sky it is often enjoyable to go to the movies in your RV, no matter where it is parked. I will give you a few ideas to pass on to your tech guy and maybe he will become interested in tackling the project. Not knowing what you now have on board, I will throw out a few hardware/software additions you may or may not already have. You can watch movies from a computer very easily or, for about thirty bucks, cable it to a newer flat screen TV. If you don’t have a DVD/VCR player, pick one up at a second hand store. Every thrift store has a mountain of VCR movies that no one wants anymore. They are usually about fifty cents apiece. That’s pretty cheap entertainment. Libraries often have tons of movies. Some will let you check them out as a visitor, but if not there is another solution. Some will comment on this blog that this is illegal and the FBI will track you down and send you to an RV park with walls topped with concertina wire. But it is only truly illegal if you are profiting from breaking the copyright law. My suggestion is only allowing you to decide when you want to watch a movie you legally have access to. What you will need is a small hard drive. You can find one at Best Buy for about thirty bucks. It will have a Terabyte of storage, enough for a thousand movies. Rent movies or borrow them from libraries. Download a free software app called HandBrake. This will allow you to transfer movies to your computer or the new hard drive. Your entertainment center, or one you add, will not draw much 12v power. If you have strong batteries and a small inverter you will be able to watch hours of movies without firing up a generator or having electric service. If you find you are running low on 12v power, add a panel or two of solar. The solar will be the best investment you can make for the type of camping you are doing. Popcorn is something you will have to work out on your own. Various methods for making the best popcorn will have to be another column.
 --Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Waste Management

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife finds it embarrassing that I haul our waste across the campground in a plastic container with wheels. She thinks we should break camp, hitch up the trailer and haul the whole rig over to the dump. We spend most of the winter in one spot without a sewer hook-up. The dump station is only 25 yards away. I don’t mind dealing with the chore. Everything is clean and controlled. It doesn’t make a mess. I am sure a million people have these containers. I have used all the reasoning I can muster to convince her this is a normal campground activity. I told her I was writing you for therapy. Could you give some advice on “to haul or haul not?”
--Wasting Away in Margaritaville

Dear Wasting:
I would say you have nothing to hide. You might as well haul it over to the dump in your underwear. Everyone knows what’s in that “honey wagon.” They sell those things in all sizes. This year I met a guy in Big Bend National Park that built fresh and waste water tanks in his pickup bed. He is a little less conspicuous, but everyone knows what he’s hauling. I can’t think of anyone that is not producing the stuff. Someone has to be the delivery person. Your wife should just be glad you haven’t asked her to take turns making runs. You’ve got the runs and she’s embarrassed - that stinks. If you can’t work this out, my only other solution would be a Sewer Solution RV macerator. I have one for certain situations and it works like a charm. It is only about a hundred bucks, but needs a water source to operate. When at home I move waste from my tanks a couple hundred feet to my septic. Water breaks down the waste and then moves it along a 3/4 inch hose. If you are only 25 yards from a sewer connection or dump station this would be a perfect solution for you.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

RV weatherman

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I am married to a weatherman. He is now retired and we travel most of the year in a 31 ft. Airstream. He is still a full-time weatherman, he just doesn’t get paid anymore. Instead of reporting the weather to millions, he only reports to me and our surrounding campsite neighbors. His routine is the same every morning. He gets up at dark-thirty. He puts on coffee. He makes toast under the smoke alarm. He checks all his gadgets, barometer, wind antenna, various thermometers, and his rain gauge. Then he studies his favorite national weather sites online. By the time I get out of bed he has a prediction. I put up with all this craziness because it’s his passion and he is happy. However, I think he drives our neighbors nuts. I notice when we are walking around a campground people see us coming and make dodging maneuvers. He thinks it is all in my imagination. How can I convince him that not everyone is interested in his weather predictions any longer.
--Not the Foggiest in Forest City

Dear Foggy:
Most of your neighbors living the RV lifestyle probably use the touchy feely weather system. If the heater kicks on in the morning, it’s cold. If you hear pitter-patter on the roof, it’s raining. If the awning is flapping, it’s windy. It’s great that he has a hobby he enjoys, can do anywhere you go, and you never have to worry about losing your rig to a tornado. So the only problem seems to be neighbor annoyance. Every campground has a resident annoyer and sometimes you can handle them if they are not parked ten feet away and at your site every time your foot hits the ground. Making your husband aware of the fact that he might be annoying some people with too much information should be the first step in curing his over exuberance. If he just can’t control himself you may need to point out more examples of people avoiding you after first contact. Meeting people while traveling is one of the greatest benefits of this lifestyle. You will not mesh gears with everyone, but if you are never making any friends, it might be your husband is still partly cloudy on his ability to read people’s reactions to his constant reporting. If he won’t listen, give him the hot tongue and cold shoulder until he becomes a bit less windy.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink