Monday, August 24, 2015

Cat in the RV Hat

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We live in a moderately sized motorhome most of the year. At the present time we have one cat on board. We love this little furball, but he does cause a lot of anxiety. He also causes a lot of arguments.
I seem to be more attached to him than my husband. He enjoys the cat, but doesn’t enjoy the hassles that come with pet ownership. Our biggest problem is playing “Hide and Go Seek.” Every time we pull up anchor and set sail, the little bugger hides. We spend a lot of time trying to find him so I am assured he hasn’t jumped out. This last time he was wedged under the front dash. This drives my husband nuts because I won’t leave until I know my cat is safe.

Is this asking too much? He gets as much companionship from the cat as I do. I would love to hear your take on our situation. --Cat Calling in Calgary

Dear Cal:
Traveling with pets has its pros and cons. It should be decided upfront if the companionship is worth the effort involved in taking proper care of your animal(s). They can crimp your style if you want to be absent for any length of time. They have to be fed, watered, exercised and cleaned up after. These are all responsibilities that are required if you live in an RV or not. It is obvious that you have already discussed these matters and came to some type of decision because you have a cat on board.

I am an expert on “cat search and rescue” missions. I have been on many in campgrounds all over America. Our last cat was self-taught. She learned how to slide the screen open and jump out. Many times we gave up trying to find her. In a sea of RVs she would always find her way home, climb up the ladder to the roof and cry at the vent. We finally had to tape the screens shut.

Hiding is a cat thing. I think you should just allot time to do a thorough cat scan before traveling. Put it on your departure list. It is no different than waiting for the jacks to go up, or insuring the awning is down. Our cat likes to climb in any cupboard or closet we leave open. So checking to make sure the cat is in sight even if you leave for a short hike will assure you never have a cat-astrophe. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

Pets can add a lot of joy to your life if you have the right attitude toward them. That means both of you. A little give-and-take will solve a lot of small problems that seem more complicated than they are. Our newest cat has never escaped and seems to have no desire to jump out. When they constantly have that urge, they can be much more challenging.

Hiding in the coach is a much easier problem to deal with. Once you know all the usual places it’s as easy as finding a two-year-old.

Let’s not forget the financial pains of pet medical care. We just spent $328 to find out our cat had the “Big C.” Yup, he was Constipated!

--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

RV tail gunner

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband gets so upset when driving our motorhome all day. He is constantly talking to people that annoy him and it gets on my nerves. Someone is always doing something stupid in his opinion. It doesn’t make traveling pleasant when he is grousing all the time. He does all the driving and I sometimes think I should let him vent, but it gets old after a while. He says some pretty obnoxious things.

Do you think I should sit quietly by while he goes through his ranting or continue to work on administering anger management?
--Annoyed in Annapolis

Dear Annoyed:
There is a big difference between driving all day and riding all day. Nowadays a driver has to be alert and driving defensively every minute. That can lead some people to fatigue and anxiety.

There are so many fellow drivers on their smartphones texting or with their heads up their Apps that if you aren’t paying attention constantly you might be their next contact.

If you can’t put up with your husband’s constant vocalizations, you might want to buy him one of those steering wheel sound simulators. With the pressing of a couple buttons he can fire a burst of machine gun fire, a rocket launcher or short bursts of sniper fire. This would let him vent his anger without loud, R-rated outbursts. Although this may drive you more crazy!

Part of compatible traveling includes understanding your traveling partner’s needs, wants, dislikes and idiosyncrasies. Working together to meet in the middle of any issue will take you a long way into the realm of Happy Camperdom.

Keep working on his anger management, be a supportive co-pilot and eventually he will mellow, knowing it bothers you.

I just had another thought. You could work together: He can be the pilot, and you can be the tail gunner.
--Keep Smilin’. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

RV Corps of Discovery

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We found your articles while surfing the web. We are thinking about buying an RV and traveling like so many others. Our biggest question seems to be how much money it costs to live on the road. Can you give us some idea of the expenses we might encounter? Is there a rule of thumb, like the 4% rule of making a retirement nest egg last and not outliving your money? Any input would be greatly appreciated. --Bean Counter in Bend

Dear Bean Counter:
One size does not fit all. You can’t lump everyone’s RV cost of living budgets into one figure, anymore than you can lump together the sedentary lifestyle cost of living budgets.

Wherever you weigh-in on the financial scale you can find a niche in the RV lifestyle. Put pen to paper and create a road budget. It is so easy to find regional costs online for fuel, camping, maintenance, food and services.

You should be able to calculate your capabilities into a travel scenario that fits the ideas you have. From the type of rig you plan to travel with, to the type of camping you plan to do, will make a huge difference in your cost of living. You may not get it right the first time, but experience will reveal to you the possibilities of a nomadic lifestyle that fits your interests, needs and means.

So many people never get out of the driveway because of the unknown. The adventure is the unknown. The steeper the learning curve the more fun it is. Once you get it all figured out it becomes less exciting.

There are many sayings that originated with the flintlock rifle. They are all well suited to beginning a life on the road in an RV. “Going off half-cocked, ” “Flash in the pan,” “Straight as a ramrod,” Lock stock and barrel,” and “Keep your powder dry.”

These come to mind because we met a couple just beginning their own RV lifestyle at Fort Clatsop, the winter encampment for the Corps of Discovery. It was their first volunteer job and they were doing reenactments. All those sayings were part of their program.

I thought how ironic, Lewis and Clark, two of the first North American explorers, are being historically represented by modern day North American explorers.

So do your homework and come join the rest of us in the Corps of Discovery.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

That blew that RV theory

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
It is not nice to fool Mother Nature, or fool with her. Don’t you think you should be more careful stating that you can always leave at the drop of a hat during a natural disaster?
--R.V. Shrink

Dear Me:
Yes, I am writing to myself. It’s okay, I have been talking to myself for years.

If you read last week’s Shrink column, you would have seen my advice on trying to foresee coming natural disasters and moving out of harm’s way. In my feeble attempt to be funny I closed with, “When you think about it, you only have a few conditions to worry about -- wind, heavy rain, hail, tornado, fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, blizzard, sand storm and maybe a dust devil or two.”

Well, I left out Mesocyclone and the very next day Mother Nature reminded me.

We were at the Traverse City, Michigan Film Festival, inside an auditorium, watching the new documentary film, “A Brave Heart, The Lizzie Velasquez Story” (which I highly recommend). Unbeknown to us a vicious storm was raging outside the auditorium. We emerged to a street full of broken trees covering broken cars. Our car was parked a block away and we hurried to find our vehicle unscathed but surrounded by downed branches big enough to heat a house for a winter.

It was a labyrinth working our way out of town. We were turned back several times by large trees blocking roads. We passed the Traverse City State Park and it looked like a box of broken match sticks. We could see the pop-up camper pictured above and feared we may be headed for the same kind of surprise.

Our motorhome was parked in an open area next to a couple large trees that had the potential to do damage. Luckily we found our rig intact. Although a couple dozen trees had been broken or uprooted within 50 yards in all directions of our motorhome, nothing had come close to causing us damage. The point I want to make is, you can run, but you cannot hide. This storm came in so silently and quickly that there was no choice but to ride it out, wherever you were, and to find safety wherever you could.

This has little to do with whether you RV or not. Disaster can strike anywhere and at anytime. This whole region of Northwest Michigan has been reeling from this storm, and its aftermath, all week.

Our next stop is Glacier National Park and the fire there is still burning. You just have to roll with the punches, be as careful as possible and hope for the best.

Last year, at the Winnebago factory in Iowa, a beautiful motorhome pulled in next to us with cannonball-size dents, broken windows, and hundreds of chips in the full paint finish. They had run straight into a storm dropping large hail.There is no way to ever predict this type of event. It is the reason we all have insurance coverage.

Do not let the possibility of something like this scare you from a life of adventure on the great open road. If you don’t go out and find a storm, one will come looking for you. Either way you will have to deal with it.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink