Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Looking for RV nuggets

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I follow your column each week and find it informative and thought provoking. However, I cannot always figure out the things you suggest. In the past few weeks my interest was piqued with the suggestion of a Medigap Plan F High Deductible plan, and last week the mining claim idea. I had never heard of either. In researching both I find little information. Do they really exist or do you just make this stuff up? --Mrs. Doubtfire in Deadwood

Dear Doubt:
Both these ideas are way too bizarre for even me to make up. Let’s begin with the fact that signing up for Medicare is not for sissies. I stated in that column that insurance companies function profitably by keeping customers and potential customers confused. There is little money in Plan F HD. Many companies do not really sell it, they just use it as bait to get you to bite. Once they have you on the hook (get you to call) they send you to a high-pressure salesperson, stuffed into a cubical, to sell you something you do not want or need. To make things even more complicated, rates and coverage vary by state and even counties.

My suggestion would be to call your state Medicare office and ask them to give you a list of companies that actually say they sell Plan F High Deductible. Your troubles do not stop there. It will be the last thing they try to sell you and the premium will change faster than their lips move. It must be good if they don’t want to sell it to you, so stay at it, be persistent. Hang in there like a bulldog.

After you get all insured, head for the gold fields so you can pay for your new medical coverage. I am no expert on mining claims. I have met a couple people who have done this and they seem to be happy campers. One bought his claim on eBay. If you check eBay you will see sellers with mining claims up for bid. This looks like the expensive way to stake a claim. Doing your own paperwork and finding your own claim would be much cheaper ($200+). Check with a BLM office near you.

From my understanding you need to work the claim, which might mean using a metal detector occasionally. I have also read that it does not give you the right to a private chunk of land. You only own the mining surface rights. Anyone can come out and camp next to you, they just can’t look for your Mother Lode without your permission. Really, that’s not so bad. You might get lonely out there looking for nuggets and want a bit of company.

Remember, if you find gold, don’t tell anyone. If you don’t find gold and want to sell your claim, get a gold tooth and smile broadly at each prospective buyer. This may be a way of finding a cheap place to camp in the desert for the winter, but I think staying on BLM land would be a lot easier, with no paperwork. Remember, the guy that made the most money during the Gold Rush was named Levi, and he sold pants.

--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Looking for RV Oz

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been 3/4-time RVing for several years. We feel like we have seen everything that interests us. We like biking, hiking, kayaking and nature watching. Our travels have been mostly National Park/Forest hopping. We are at a point in our lives when we would just like to sit somewhere warm and natural for a few months in the winter. We are turned off by commercial RV parks. The South is full of them. We are not into potluck dinners, line dancing, pickle ball and all the rest. We just want dark, quiet nights, natural surroundings, and interaction with like-minded people. Is there such a place, or are we pipe-dreaming? Maybe finding this place with a quaint nearby town is not being realistic. Any advice on how to be happy with what we can find?
--Looking for Oz in Arizona

Dear Ozzie:
I don’t think that is asking too much. The problem is finding the right fit. I assume you have considered continuing your present mode of travel and just staying at your favorite parks for the full allowable time limit which is usually 14 days. That would only move you a dozen times a winter from one awesome place to another. You could also consider volunteer work in a park you really love. That would give you the opportunity to stay much longer in one spot.

You might consider looking for a home or lot to rent in an area that fits your needs and allows RV parking. If you spend the time and money to become as self-contained as possible you could find a quiet place on BLM land that would allow you to stay much longer. Many sites are near small towns that you might find interesting. I know people that have registered mining claims, just to have privacy and boondock-type surroundings, with room enough to invite friends to stay.

You might consider buying or leasing land with others who are looking for the same camping opportunities you are. Having a small private campground with people you enjoy can be a great opportunity to enjoy the place you love, make a small investment, plan your own parking space, and enjoy the things that interest you. Not very different from a condo, a time-share or investing in a lot in an RV park. It just gives you a bit more control over your surroundings.

While you contemplate what will make you happy, I would just keep doing longer stays in parks you enjoy. After 14 days, you probably need to dump and water-up anyway. Find the primo parks you love, reserve your whole winter in the sites you like the most, and continue to enjoy the lifestyle you always have.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

RV magical mystery tour

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We will begin our great RV adventure in about a year. We are what you would call “wet behind the ears” when it comes to RV traveling. My husband thinks it is going to be this magical mystery tour. I think he might be building himself up for disappointment. I am trying to throttle him a bit. Is this unfair? Should I just let him dream his dreams and let him find out the hard way that it’s not all utopia out there? --Balloon Bursting in Burlington

Dear Bursting:
Don’t rain on his parade. It can be whatever he wants it to be. Everyone will create a different experience, pursue different interests, follow different highways, pick different places to camp and live. You two will have to find your own way.

I like to think of this lifestyle as utopia. If I were to suggest reading material it wouldn’t be a road atlas. I would suggest starting with Steinbeck’s "Travels with Charlie." I read it in high school and found it very helpful. I lived in my truck for a summer traveling across America. I used Steinbeck’s method of washing my clothes. He hung a plastic bucket with a lid from bungee cords. After a hundred miles of sloshing around you stop and put the rinse water in. It works great.

My second suggestion would be one of my favorite writers, William Least Heat-Moon. He will inspire you to look for that which is not obvious as you travel. Start with "Blue Highways," then "Here, There, Elsewhere." If he inspires you then continue with "River-Horse" and "PrairyErth."

There is adventure around every bend in the road if you have the right mindset. Don’t be afraid to explore, meet people, try new things, expand your horizons. We just set crab traps and caught monster fish off the coast of California, and we don’t even like seafood! But now we have stories to tell and memories to tuck away. There may be some trying times. We just drove up a one-lane curvy road to a beautiful National Forest campground. There were a few hairy moments when our motorhome met cars coming down. Sure they think we are nuts, but we are having cocktails tonight in one of the most beautiful places in California. My point is, don’t let anxiety turn you into a main road traveler. The magical mystery tour will be found along the “Blue Highways.”
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink