Thursday, November 25, 2010

Campground Segregation

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I am seeking help with a problem I have had ever since I started full-time RVing. I am single and I have a wonderful little rig. I pull a 17 foot Casita with an older model Jeep Wrangler Laredo. I have developed a complex over the past several years about my size. Everyone seems to believe that size matters. I don’t feel bigger is better, but in many situations I am treated as small and insignificant. I love to Kayak and carry an inflatable 12’ Sea Eagle kayak. I prefer to camp near the water and I am finding that many parks reserve their water sites strictly for larger and newer rigs than mine. It seems discriminatory. I am willing to pay the value added price for the water sites, but the big dogs do not seem to want me hanging out with them.

I was recently in Florida on the Ocklawaha River at a wonderful campground. The river sites were 25 percent more money. I was willing to pay but was informed that I was “too small.” There were sites available but the neighborhood was occupied only by monster motorhomes in the several hundred thousand dollar range. I can afford to buy a comparable rig with pocket change, like those taking up the primo spaces, but I prefer my small, unique, reliable, uncomplicated Casita. Do you suggest I get professional help or buy Psychology for Dummies on Amazon? I feel I need to deal with this malady soon. If I don’t nip it in the bud it could end up taking over my life as increasingly more campgrounds become elitist country clubs.
--David in Goliath, Ga.

Dear David:
You need to concentrate on the phrase “Small Is Beautiful.” This phrase is believed to empower people more in contrast with phrases such as “bigger is better.” Size does matter but why not “Less is More.” Size matters to you in your choice of rig size. It also matters to those privileged river site residents. I see two scenarios evolving in the RV world. The first is the one you describe. Many campgrounds are developing themselves to cater only to the high-end RV set or segregating as you in your case. This could change radically as more people are opting for smaller and more fuel efficient rigs since the economic crash and spiking oil prices.

I personally find it offensive when I am denied a space in a campground because of the age or size of my rig. However, mental health is best maintained by rationalizing these social realities. I would not, and do not hesitate to display my displeasure with campground owners who flagrantly tell me I am not good enough for some section of their park. You are as much of the economic engine that runs the ever-changing camping industry as anyone else. You vote with your dollars. Your dollars count as much as the devaluated dollars packed around in the pockets of those in the more luxurious rigs. Money talks and boycott walks. Don’t get mad, get even. Segregation can only be slain by marching, right out the door and down the road to an equal opportunity campground. You must decide if you want to practice long distance kayak carrying techniques or affirmative action. Just say no to your mental complex, stiffen your spine and follow the river to another campground. Letting this social injustice eat away at you will only take you to a mental state known professionally as “up a creek without a paddle.”
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink


Thursday, November 18, 2010

A New RV or a Diamond Ring?

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I hope you can help me with my husband’s paranoia about our finances. We have been full-time traveling in our RV since retirement. We took the plunge, sold the house and bought a used 5th wheel. We have been on the road for seven years and both enjoy the lifestyle. Now that we have our sea legs I have a desire for several options that our rig lacks. We are perfectly capable of buying a new rig but my husband keeps on insisting we save our money and just update what we have. I tell him we can’t take it with us, let’s splurge a bit. He keeps everything we own in tip top condition so this one will not wear out in my lifetime. I just want some of the new features that our design will not allow him to upgrade. Should I put my foot down and insist on new wheels or relent and appreciate that he is frugal to a fault.
--Abstemious in Albany

Dear Abby:
You could try several approaches. First, explain to your husband that this is America. Saving is not the American way. Explain to him that this is a throw away society and that he is causing layoffs in Elkhart, Indiana with his tightwad ways. If that fails to convince him, you might want to suggest a “new” used rig. This is a buyer’s market and I am sure you could find the options you are looking for at substantially less than a brand new rig.
Many people dream of retiring and doing exactly what you are doing. Unfortunately, for many, it doesn’t last long for various reasons including health issues, finances, homesickness and insecurity. From this pool of ex-RVer’s you can often find a nice unit that has had little use and deeply discounted. Or you could tell him you want to renew your vows and instead of that five karat diamond ring you never got the first time around, you will settle for a new RV with all the bells and whistles. I don’t know your financial situation, so be careful what you wish for. There are people with the fanciest rigs who cannot afford to drive them around the block. Buying used helps with the initial depreciation hit and often the first owners worked all the bugs out. I’m talking about mechanical problems not bedbugs.
--Keep Smilin’ Dr. R. V. Shrink


Friday, November 12, 2010

RV party animals

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Can you tell me what my attitude should be about noisy campground neighbors? I seem passive in situations because I do not react visibly to emotions I might be feeling. My husband on the other-hand would be considered aggressive. He can sometimes detonate without much provocation. When we are camping in our motorhome next to a rowdy bunch I like to think they are letting off steam in a party mode and we should just move to a quieter site. My husband thinks they are inconsiderate and demands that they tone their noise levels down. Several times this has put us dangerously close to physical confrontation. Often alcohol is a factor, especially during the holiday camping season. Do you think the way to handle these situations is to move, confront, or submit in quiet frustration. --Nervous in New Haven

Dear Nervous:
I agree with your husband on the inconsiderate charge. However, confrontation will bring you nothing but grief. Moving is an option but that still does not solve the problems for others around the offensive site. You might first want to report the problem to a campground host or ranger if one is available. Most campgrounds have some basic noise and quiet hour rules. In most cases these are good people, gone bad. Like you say, they are on a camping weekend and letting off steam. That still does not give them license to irritate their camping neighbors. A better option than being aggressive would be to “kill them” with kindness. Introduce yourself in a friendly fashion and ask them if they could keep it down a little. From that introduction you will quickly discover if they are good people, gone bad, or inconsiderate people you will need to report or move away from. One of the advantages about the RV lifestyle, unlike home ownership, is the ability to pick new neighbors as quickly as moving your rig. Let me stress that fighting fire with fire is not the answer to your frustration. Trying to out rowdy your rowdy neighbors with higher decibels will only escalate things. So put away the four foot amplifiers hooked to your Bose Wave music system playing Luciano Pavarotti, turn off the generator, stop honking the horn, and move on down the road.

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


Friday, November 5, 2010


Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife has a terrible weight problem. I am trying to change her lifestyle in an effort to reduce her weight. It has started to affect our motorhome mileage. We travel several months of the year and she feels she has to bring half of our worldly possessions along on every trip. I have debated with her endlessly about the seemingly needless paraphernalia she totes along and never uses. It all falls on deaf ears. When I start in on a discussion of reduction she takes her hearing aid out and refuses to participate. We haul bikes we never ride, a sewing machine never plugged in, extra pots, pans and iron skillets that never boil or fry anything. The list goes on. I am at my wits end. How can I persuade her to leave some of this anchor accumulation in port when we sail off down the road? It takes me several miles to get up to speed and I avoid mountain passes like the plague.
 --Lead Bottom in Leavenworth

Dear Lead Bottom:
With a heavy heart I read of your dilemma. Some individuals are born pack rats. I think you may have married one. It is my guess that you realized this trait in your wife long before you had a motorhome. Carrying too much weight can be not only an expensive mistake, but a safety issue. I would do a few things immediately. First approach the subject from a safety viewpoint and not from that of a minimalist. Then slip her a copy of Walden by Thoreau. if that helps, follow up with The Zen of Decluttered Packrattery. Watch the old “I Love Lucy” trailer episode with Lucy sneaking her rock collection into the trailer when Desi isn’t looking. All of these subtle tactics should have a cumulative impact. You may see your wife begin to streamline her packing to a more frugal level of organization. In the meantime you might want to make sure your holding tanks are as empty as you can keep them. Liquid is heavy and emptying your tanks will help you balance out your wife’s perceived necessities and save on gas. Also, be sure your brakes are up to snuff. 
After exhausting all good faith efforts you will eventually have to say, “Enough is enough” and start throwing out ballast if you expect to rise from this dilemma. Motorhome obesity is the number one killer on steep, curvy, mountain roads. Your wife needs to understand the gravity of this situation. You may have to put your wife on a Weight Watcher program. Stop at every truck weigh station you come across and point out to her your above average scale ticket. It really comes down to health and safety issues. You need to balance this issue out before your next departure. 
 --Keep Smilin’ Dr. R. V. Shrink