Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I was very interested in last week's column about the cold weather issue. We are new to the RV lifestyle. We left Wisconsin just before Christmas and headed for Arizona. I wanted to head straight south for Florida, but my husband convinced me that Florida was expected to experience below normal temps this winter with El Nino patterns.
We barely made it alive through Texas and Oklahoma. When we reached New Mexico we hit a white out. We are now in Arizona licking our wounds and trying to stay warm.
Our new trailer looks like a snow cone made with mud. My husband can't even unhook because the hitch is so caked with crud.
Is this what we can look forward to every year?
We are also having issues with trying to stay warm with no hookups. Our batteries keep giving out because we are running the furnace constantly.
Tell me things are going to improve.
I wish I was home in Wisconsin basking in the warmth of our fireplace.
--Disillusioned in Douglas
It can only get better from here. It sounds like you started your adventure with a real white knuckle ride through some of the worse weather experienced along your route in decades.
Like the movie, "The Perfect Storm," you never know what you might have to encounter headed for warm temps during the winter season and even headed home in the spring.
I have covered this subject many times and there is no simple answer. Trying to schedule a departure date is never easy.
Not only does weather come into play but also emotions. People anticipate leaving, have everything packed and often decide to go for it and take their chances. I would prefer doing a lot of forecast models and giving myself the best odds I could hope for when planning a departure.
It sounds like you are about as far south as you can get without heading into Mexico. I think you will find the days warming, but the nights still a bit cool. The desert tends to give up its heat quickly when the sun drops.
That brings me to your next concern. Everyone goes through this experience when the temps drop and stay down for awhile. You have several choices. Find electrical hookups in a park so that you can run your furnace fan without killing your batteries. You could invest in a generator, but that will involve dealing with fuel costs and noise. Another option would be investing in solar if you have the room for panels and battery storage.
It really depends on what type of RVing you are interested in.
If you plan to spend your winter with full hookups, you probably have everything you need. If you want to spend time off the grid you will need to add a power source. Constantly draining your batteries will eventually ruin them.
If you read enough of my past columns you will discover I lean more toward the solar solution. I find it quiet, low maintenance, efficient, and cost effective.
Only time will tell if you picked the right destination this winter, but if you decide Florida looks warmer, choose your weather window wisely and head in that direction. The southern route across can be very interesting and enjoyable if Mother Nature cooperates.
Go to a truck wash bay and get all spruced up. You will feel much better when your new trailer is sparkling again.
If you are able to watch the news you should feel blessed to have come through as well as you have. Enjoy your winter and new lifestyle. You will begin meeting a lot of wonderful people on the same journey you are on. Most are more than happy to share their experience and knowledge with you.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink