Monday, May 26, 2014

RV park amenities

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I get real irritated when I feel like I’ve been scammed. Lately it’s happened when I spend time at commercial RV campgrounds. I use online website information to make my decision where to stay. Often they list all their amenities with enough creative writing to make the intent vague. Often “Wi-Fi Available” means just that. It’s available for an extra daily charge, or you need to sign up with a local service. We just paid for a month in Florida with the expressed understanding that the pool, hot tub, recreation hall, and wood shop would be available to us through the month of April. Mid-month they started mothballing these facilities for the season. It took a lot of complaining to convince them we had a verbal agreement plus advertising stating what we could expect these amenities to be available to us for the entire month. I’m starting to feel like an old curmudgeon, but if I don’t complain they take advantage. My wife says I should just “go with the flow.” But I always seem to blow. What say you?
--Laid Back Screamin’ in the Sunshine State

Dear Screamin’:
It takes some time to see a pattern, but once you find it, make a simple call and ask the hard questions. Wi-Fi is very important in this day and age. Data is expensive, so park owners may opt to charge extra as they do electricity. Regardless, it should be clearly stated in their list of amenities. You need to perform due diligence when investigating charges before making your parking decisions. As far as getting cranky, it can sometimes become necessary. We just spent a month in a park with absentee management. The volunteers running the place were mathematically challenged. I first had to give them a lesson in prorating a monthly charge, and then in placing the decimal point in kilowatts on the electrical bill. Their math added $40 dollars to my monthly bill and $30 dollars to my electric bill. I was flabbergasted that they were running a park with hundreds of spaces and did not understand how to do sixth grade math. It could be good for the bottom line of the business if customers do not pay attention to their charges. I know they thought I was a jerk, but they probably didn’t like their math teacher in school either. Once you have an understanding on what the actual charges and amenities are you have every right to expect just that. I would suggest you start your questioning with a very understanding attitude. If all else fails sometimes a lively debate will begin to get results.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Happiness is California in the rearview mirror

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband will not spend much time in California. I have family there and I love visiting the Redwoods. We arrived for a visit this spring and our first fill up was $4.99 a gallon. Our first campground was $35.00 a night with electric service so low our surge protector would not allow it to fire up the motorhome. As we left the campground we went to dump and it was $10 extra to dump. My husband refused to pay the additional fee. Later that day we found another dump for $12. He was ready to head for the state line, but I made him settle down. Can you explain to him that California is no different than any other state.
--California Dreamin’ in Lee Vining

Dear Lee:
I’m sure if you continued on, you would have found cheaper gas on the other side of the Sierras. I can’t say that California is like all other states. It’s all about supply and demand. Since there are 20 million+ people living in just the southern half of California, everything is more expensive from taxes to dump stations. Wait until you stop at a California state park - don’t forget Redwoods National Park campgrounds are all state campgrounds. My only advice would be to plan ahead as much as possible. Buy gas before crossing the border, use your RV dump apps to find cheap or free dumpsites. Some California rest stops have free dumps. Use apps that help locate the cheapest gas, campgrounds, and propane. Cost will continue to rise, so your best offense is a good defense. California is not like Vegas. What happens in California does not stay in California. Just remember, in ten years these will look like bargain basement prices. The good ole days are now. Enjoy them while you can.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Smokin' down the road

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I’m a recovered “inhaleaholic.” I smoked for thirty years. Now that my wife and I have retired I would like her to quit also. We just bought a new fifth wheel and take delivery by mid-summer. I think it would be great if she would quit before we start using the new rig but she is not open to the idea. She says it is too late to quit, too difficult, and too frustrating to think about. I totally understand, I was there once. Should I give up or keep trying to convince her?
--Butting Heads in Tobacco Row

Dear Butting:
I can think of several good reasons to quit smoking besides your wife’s health. Start with resale of the rig. When I was a kid I worked for the biggest Airstream dealer in the country. In the sixties the interior was a fleck paint coating. When we took in used units it was my job to refurbish, shine the exterior and clean the interior. A trailer owned by a smoker would be the biggest challenge to clean. I would spray the painted surface with a cleaner and the yellow nicotine would melt off. It was so thick you could see a distinct line where I had cleaned. Today most RV’s have more fabric interiors that will hold the nicotine smell forever. If she cannot quit, you may want to work out an agreement where she smokes outside only, or perhaps tries the new vapor Ecigarettes. Unlike Bill Clinton, I “really” never have inhaled, but I can imagine how hard it is to quit any type of nicotine delivery system. In the long run you will save a lot of money giving up this expensive habit that may eventually increase your medical expenses also. If safety, health and cleaning reasons will not help your wife decide to quit, and she doesn’t go for the smoking outside program, you will have a second hand fifth wheel full of second hand smoke. Good luck.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

RV Bookie Joint

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife thinks we are a rolling library. Our travel trailer reminds me of the “I Love Lucy” episode where she sneaks rocks into the trailer without Ricky knowing. I am an avid reader also, but I jettison books I have already finished. I donate them to libraries or thrift stores, or give them to friends. My wife thinks she might want to read them all again and stuffs them in every nook and cranny she can find. I think she is a literary packrat. She thinks this behavior is perfectly normal. Can you help me knock some common sense into her.
--Bookie Joint on Wheels in West Texas

Dear Bookie:
First of all, “we don’t knock.” I would think in this day and age you can both have your way. Have you ever suggested she buy a Kindle or other such device for her reading pleasure? A lot of people say they do not like reading on a screen device, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. You can put hundreds of books on such a device, or add cloud service or memory and keep unlimited numbers. That will solve the storage problem. You can get free or reasonably priced ebooks from Amazon, BookBub, and even borrow from your library. Amazon also has the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library with over 500,000 free Kindle books available. This is a lending process so you will only be able to borrow the book, not keep it. You’ll need to be an Amazon Prime member to take advantage of it. I’m sure there are other sources I’ve never used. You can even share books with friends. You will also find many RV maintenance and campground directories downloadable online and search active. Most RVers find being paperless with banking, taxes, manuals and all other reading materials saves time, helps organize and becomes a great convenience. In your case it is also going to save so much gas when you remove the Smithsonian Institute from your trailer. Buy her a unit as a gift and get her hooked on Nook. It may take a little time, but my guess is she will wean her way off the hard copies pretty darn quick. She doesn’t have to go “cold turkey.” There are still a lot of good book deals at thrift stores. I just bought a great book in New Mexico at a thrift shop. It is the story of Butch Cassidy after his misspent youth. Supposedly he wasn’t killed in Bolivia. Anyway, it was a buck. They were having a special and knocked 40% off. Then they looked at me and gave me the automatic, you don’t even have to ask, 50% Senior Discount. They even had a deeper handicapped discount and I’m blind in one eye. I didn’t go there. I was happy with my thirty cent book. The secret is to get your wife to stop hoarding. If you can get her to take one load of books to Goodwill and she comes home with two loads, she may need more therapy than I am capable of administering.
--Keep Smilin’ Dr. R.V. Shrink