Tuesday, June 30, 2015

RV community

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I want to start living on the road for extended periods of time but my wife is afraid she will give up community. She likes our social life and is afraid she will not know anyone if we are moving all the time.

We spend the winter in three different RV parks and have many friends. I am trying to convince her we will meet people in a travel mode, but she says it won't be the same.

Can you shed some light on this subject, so we can expand our horizons?
--Community Centered in Carbondale

Dear CCC:
Community comes in all forms. It sounds like you two are very outgoing, so finding friends will be no problem whatever you decide to do. Community does not have to be local, such as an RV park or home and city.

As you are out doing things you enjoy, you will meet people who like the same things. You can connect with these same people year after year. With all the social media available today it is so easy to keep in touch with people you meet on the road.

You will make life-long friends while doing something as simple as a ranger walk. Every time you move to a different location you will end up with new neighbors. You will have ample opportunity to meet like-minded people whatever mode of travel you choose.

My advice is to expand your base and raise your peak. The world is your oyster and you will find it full of pearls if you open yourself to meeting new friends as you travel.

The only downside could turn out to be your wife not wanting to ever come home again.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

RV singing telegram

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I love living in our small, secure, warm and dry space. Sometimes I feel like we live in a space capsule. We find these incredible places to park. The weather can turn sour, yet we are still warm and happy in our 5th wheel home.

This might sound petty, but it is driving me nuts. My problem is noise pollution. It doesn't bother my husband, but I can't take it any longer.

Because of our small square footage, I can't escape the annoying sound coming from our water heater. It is a high pitch, constant squeal. My husband insists it is normal because the water heater still works fine. But I never heard this before. It only does it when we have electric hook-ups.

Am I being too fussy? Is this something I should try to block from my mind? Is it a sign that something is about to happen? Should I sing in a high pitch to my husband to demonstrate how annoying I find it?
--Sounding Board in Bozeman

Dear Boze:
Singing to your husband will just complicate a very simple situation. It should never come down to solving annoyance with annoyance. What you have is a failing heat element. It could be solved by flushing the tank and cleaning the element, but if you are going to the trouble of pulling the element, you might just as well replace it for twenty bucks.

It really doesn't make any more noise than when you are heating with gas, but I agree the pitch could drive you nuts.

I would explain to your husband that he will be dealing with the problem sooner or later. There is no time like the present. Your husband is in hot water right now, but the singing telegram you are getting is a sign you will soon be changing your tune to the "Sound of Silence." I can't remember all the lyrics, but it goes something like this, "Hello darkness, my old friend, there's no hot water once again..."

It is a good idea to flush the tank at least once a year. If you have a tank that is not aluminum you might want to consider adding an anode rod to help prevent future buildup on the heating element.

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

RV go si'

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I know it is only June, but I am in a heated discussion with my wife about where we are headed this coming winter. We have tried all the supposedly warm southern destinations in the U.S. and are often holed up in the motorhome because it is too cold outside.

The problem is, I want to go as far down the Baja Peninsula as possible and spend the winter where I am guaranteed warmth. My wife watches too much news and thinks everyone that goes to Mexico is in grave danger. I am not ignorant of the facts, I just know that a lot of RVer's go into Mexico every winter and seem to have no problem.

Am I asking too much? Do you think I would be putting my wife under too much pressure?
--Baja in a Bounder from Boise

Dear Bounder:
Before you go, I think you should both be comfortable with it. Having your wife spend the winter out of her comfort zone would defeat the whole purpose of living the RV dream.

It will take some studying on your part. You'll want to make sure you know the rules and regulations of entering and traveling into Mexico. Carry the right insurance, have your passports, and take no weapons. That is just the beginning of what you should be aware of. My suggestion would be for you to read and study the many up-to-date forums and blogs of RVer's who do this every winter. I would share this information, good and bad, with your wife as you progress.

Knowing that thousands of others are doing the same thing might make her begin to feel more comfortable about the adventure. Many people who RV to Mexico will tell you they have never had a problem. This might very well be true. However, if you read the U.S. Embassy Report online, you will find it's not true for everyone that travels there.

You might want to find others to caravan with. Safety in numbers can be a much less stressful way to travel into Mexico. Most people find services very accommodating in Mexico, some say more accommodating than many of the snowbird areas of the U.S.

The bottom line: There is a lot of insanity in the beautiful areas just south of our borders. Caution is advised, but with the right preparations you are most likely not to have any problems. Traveling close to the border in the U.S. can have its own dangers, but you will find a heavy law enforcement presence and the insurance that they are there to help you.

It's not like the old western films in Mexico where the good guys wear the white hats and the bad guys wear the black hats.

It's a personal choice. My only suggestion is that you are both comfortable with the decision before going.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

RV carpet concern

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband thinks I am stuck in a groove. He says I keep playing the same song over and over. The problem is I want to be a carpetbagger.

I don’t know why RV manufacturers even put carpeting in rigs. Carpet starts out looking nice, but quickly becomes soiled, path worn and matted. I want to rip ours out and replace it with tile or linoleum.

My husband continues to resist the idea. He thinks it would make the trailer look bare and less warm. He also contends that it might have some function to play with the slides, since it is only carpeted where the slide comes in. I think it is a catchall for dirt, hair and everything else that hits the floor.

I am constantly sweeping handfuls of droppings from the tiled sections of our trailer, so I know that the carpet is just as dirty, holding onto this collection of debris in the fibers.

The other problem is we seldom stay in parks with power. We have solar and love to find remote places to spend time. The only option we have for vacuuming is to fire up the generator and annoy everyone near us that came for the same reason we did, quiet and solitude.

Should I just learn to live with this stuff? I am not a germaphobe, but I do like a clean trailer. We live in a small space and I want it spotless. I would appreciate any advice you could send my way.
--Not so magic carpet in Kalispell

Dear Kal:
If you are sounding like a broken record it is obvious you are not solving your disagreement in a satisfactory way. Manufacturers tend to offer what people want, what sells and what adds value to different models. I agree that a smooth surface is much easier to clean, but carpeting does have its plus sides. If removing it is not an option, you should start brainstorming about ways to deal with it that make it more desirable.

A couple things come to mind immediately. There are many 12V hand vacs on the market that do a good job of sucking up carpet debris. Another option would be area rugs. Not only for the carpeted sections, but also the smooth surface areas. They offer the advantage of removing and beating them outdoors. When they become too worn, or you tire of the design, it’s a simple matter of replacing them with another throw rug.

Because of the constant pounding a carpeted area takes in a small space, you might want to consider raking the carpet before you vacuum. A small scrub brush works great for this. It yields a lot of hair and loosened debris you would otherwise miss.

Having the carpet completely removed and replaced with tile is very doable. You would have to check with your manufacturer on your slide system. There may be some consideration as to how it rides in areas you want to redesign.

Don’t sweep your disagreements under the rug. Get them out in the open and make some decisions that both of you can live with.

If you don’t get your way this time, you will just have to “suck it up.”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

You might want to read Richard Carlson’s book: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.” --Keep Smilin’. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pedal paddle or battle

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We live full-time on the road with no garage. We have a mid-sized motorhome and pull a small car. I love to pedal and my wife loves to paddle. The problem is I don't think we can carry both bikes and boats. She wants me to store kayaks on the motorhome roof, but I think that is inconvenient, dangerous, and a nightmare waiting to happen every time I need to get them down.

How do you think we should solve this issue? Taking one of each is not an option.
--Toyless hauler in Harrisburg

Dear Toyless:
Many people go through this same process when first starting out in the RV lifestyle. Where there is a will, there is a way. The process should begin before you even choose a rig. Thinking ahead as to what equipment you may need to bring along and how to organize it is very important. In this situation I can think of several solutions you may consider besides arguing.

Inflatable kayaks would be easy to fit into a storage bay or car trunk. Hard-sided kayaks could be racked on the car roof. I have even seen racks that fit kayaks vertically on the rear of motorhomes. Same with bikes. Rack them on the car or the rear of the motorhome.

If you use the car for hauling, you will often want to off-load when stopping for some length of time and slide the boats under the motorhome.

Having a bike rack for just the motorhome can be a problem when you want to transport them to a trailhead. Having the capability to transport both with your tow car will be convenient in many situations. I have seen people hauling everything you can imagine.

There are all kinds of racking systems. You are working on a common combination with many workable solutions. They even have kayaks with pedals. Check out Hobie Cat kayaks.
Good luck.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink