Thursday, August 30, 2012

RV lingo

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I am abbreviation challenged. I really don't know if I can handle this RV lifestyle. Everything seems to be in code. I asked another camper where he likes to camp and he said his favorite place was the BLM. I didn't know what that was so I asked another guy. He said his favorite campgrounds where the COE's. Not one to give up easily, I asked the campground hosts where they liked to camp and they said, "We usually host for the NPS but we also stay at KOA's when we travel." Now I am totally alphabetically bewildered! These convoluted letter combinations are driving me nuts. --SOL in Salem

Dear Out of Luck:
I'm glad they didn't hire you to break Japanese code during WWII. First thing you need to do is ask more questions. People would be glad to define all these abbreviations for you. If you are not comfortable with that, there is always GOOGLE. Many campground and map books are full of abbreviations you have to understand. They will inform you of the amenities that a park may have, what pets are allowed, seasons and types of payments accepted.

You might want to purchase an acronym finder and carry it with you at all times. Don't even think about carrying a cell phone and texting friends. You will never survive that experience. Plus, texting while driving will lead to more abbreviations like MD, DOA and CT scan. LOL. It can all be very complicated, but sometimes you can use it to your advantage. I never went to college but when I fill out employment forms asking for higher education I always put down that I graduated from USMC. It gives some people the impression I graduated from USC or MSU.

So don't sweat the small stuff. It will all come naturally after you have been on the road awhile. You will feel like you have a Ph.D in abbr. Soon you will know right away to use the CAN when you have a BM at the BLM.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Controversy over laundry method

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We've been on the road traveling in our new rig all summer. We love 99% of our travels, but there are a few chores that are inconvenient. My wife and I share the laundry duty. We wish we had a washer/dryer in the fifth wheel. Finding a clean, organized and reasonably priced laundromat with working equipment is not easy. My wife wants to buy one of those small manual units that look like a miniature cement mixer. I have not convinced her that a small unit like that is not the solution to our frustrations. It looks like a toy that might wash a couple pair of underwear at a time. My interest was piqued by the guy who wrote you about his "Travels With Charlie" method of a bungee cord hanging a plastic bucket full of wash in his pickup camper. Both of these ideas sound like a lot of hand twisting to me. Do you have any other suggestions that could eliminate our need for finding a decent laundry every couple weeks?
--Shouting it out in Ouray

 Dear Twist and Shout:
Having your own washer and dryer sounds practical, but most are small units that have you doing loads constantly. Don't beat yourself up about not buying a rig with a laundry room. Although they can be convenient, I think you will be better off if we work on your head a bit. It's all about attitude. Stop thinking about the laundry as a chore. Make it part of the adventure. Make it an opportunity to meet new and interesting people, learn about local activities, and listen to local gossip. As for finding a squared away establishment that is clean, maintained and friendly, NO PROBLEM! There's and App for that. It's not just an Apple commercial. There's an App for everything now. The laundry App is free. It should take you a long way in the process of finding the kind of atmosphere you are looking for. It's not like you have to find one every day. You have plenty of time to search out an excellent spot between loads.

The plus side of the laundry ledger would include tons of magazines to read. While you are waiting for your underwear to dry, you can educate yourself about hundreds of subjects. Popular Science may even have an article about some new "Space Age" material that will soon make washing clothing obsolete. Check the bulletin board for job opportunities, free kittens and puppies, and get rich quick schemes. I use the opportunity to ask locals about the best places to eat, camp, hike, and shop. I'm not suggesting you can't get the same results with small washing appliances but by the time you twist, shout, shake, rattle and roll you will be time and money ahead going to the local watering and suds hole.

If you are just getting started, you might want to check out your computer's App store. There are Apps for finding gas, propane, camping, dump stations and anything else you may need. But be careful and speak plainly when talking to locals. I went into a gas station in Estes Park, CO and asked if they had propane. The girl behind the counter whispered to me, "Cocaine? Come back on Tuesday." You should also check out the RVBOOKSTORE for informative informational material.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink --

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Feeling Full

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are new at all this RV lingo we hear around the campground. We have people tell us all the time that they are FULL-TIMERS. We finally figured out that meant living in their RV year-round. We live in our rig year-round but some of that time is in our driveway at home. We found it so easy to live in our rig we stopped moving back into the house when home. We think of our property as one of the nicest campgrounds we stay in. When I explained this to a campground neighbor, she said, "Well, you're not a full-timer if you still own a home and go back there for a few months every year." Now I'm afraid to open my mouth when the subject comes up about full-timing. Can you define the term more precisely for me?
 --Fully confused in Folsom

Dear Folsom:
Don't feel imprisoned by definitions. If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. I just read that of 8.9 million households in the U.S. that own an RV, half-million of them are full-timers. So I guess that number doesn't include those without a household. But isn't an RV a household? I'm in the same boat (RV) that you are. I live in my rig full-time, but I occasionally make a pit stop back at my place in Michigan - Oleo Acres (the cheaper spread).
Then it gets really complicated when full-timers are working part-time. Data shows that the age of full-timers keeps dropping. More people are tired of the grind and the daily commute and decide a continual commute is better than a once a day commute, so they commute their job. The only hang-up they have is a hammock. Don't get hung-up on words. As Mark Twain once said, "Facts can be stubborn, but statistics are more pliable." You go right ahead and be a full-timer with your head held high. My wife and I always laugh when people new to RVing proudly tell us they sold everything, bought a rig, sold the house and are now FULL-TIMERS. It sounds like a secret club without the secret handshake. In the 70's we sold everything and lived on the road for several years. The definition had not been coined yet. They called us Hippies.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Phone alone

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We travel most of the year in a motorhome. We have used an Alltel air card stick, hooked to a wireless router, as our Internet connection. Alltel was taken over by Verizon but we were grandfathered into our unlimited data plan for $59.95. We recently received a letter stamped "Action Required" offering us free new equipment, fees waived, and a new data plan for ten dollars less. Now, I was born at night, but it wasn't last night. They were trying to get me to bite on saving $9.95 to give up unlimited data for 5g. I called and debated my options. Almost immediately they offered me the new 4G equipment and 20g per month. This I gladly accepted. My wife thinks I should have refused and kept the unlimited plan. I explained to her that they are doing away with the Alltel network and that we would need to do something in the next few months. They already throttle our speed because we use an average of 12g per month, and the new "Hot Spot" equipment is much newer and faster. She is still mad that I didn't discuss the options with her first. Can you help me convince her I did the right thing.
 --Disconnected in Schenectady

 Dear Disco:
I think you need to spend a little while in "time out." You've heard the old saying, "Put yourself in the other man's moccasins." Think how you would feel if your wife changed the plan without consulting with you. Not to throw too many sayings at you, but "Two heads are better than one." I think your on board communications system is a must discuss issue. I do applaud you for not rolling over and taking the first pitch. It was obviously low and outside. When you deal with service providers in this day and age you are "prey." Act accordingly. Verizon says they have 70 million subscribers. I find discrepancies on my bill almost every month. Sometimes for as little as fifty cents, and sometimes for as much as a couple bucks. I call and they immediately reverse the erroneous charges with no argument. I can guarantee you they make multi-millions of dollars every month from the subscribers who don't check their bills or do not want to waste valuable time to save a couple bucks. So think about that while you are getting the hot tongue and cold shoulder. Maybe you two can sit down every month and go over your bill. Decide together what contracts to engage in and create better communications all the way around the RV.
 --Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink