Wednesday, August 31, 2016

RV squeak

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have a squeak that is making me crazy. My husband has a hearing problem and does not hear high pitched noise. I think it might be something to do with the furnace because that is when I hear it. Should we try to fix the furnace or my husband?
--Annoyed in Annapolis

Dear AA:
I would start with the furnace as husbands are so much harder to fix. With the little information I have I am going to guess blower fan. Clean it and lube it. It might be dirty and off balance a bit, worn or dry. If you can't do it, assign your husband to the task. If he can't do it, find an RV technician. The RV technician will make your wallet squeak. See if your husband can hear that.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Read the RV Shrink every week in the RV Travel newsletter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

RV campground jitters

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
This RV lifestyle is supposed to be relaxing, but trying to get a space in a campground is nerve-racking.

My husband and I have a method, but I am still shaking when it's all over. We have a motorhome and pull a small car. As we get close to a first-come, first-serve campground, he unhooks the car from the motorhome and waits while I go in and try to secure a site. Often I have to bother other campers and ask if they are leaving. Often there are others doing the same. It's like a scavenger hunt.

We see it only getting worse.

Do you have any suggestions?
--All shook up in Apgar

Dear Shook Up:
It is getting very interesting. More and more campgrounds are going to reservation only just to avoid all the disgruntled campers who reach a destination just to find out it is already filled to the gills.

We were just at Many Glacier campground in Glacier National Park. That campground went to partial reservations this season. The sites that remain FCFS are in high demand. Every morning there is a line of rigs stretching from the entrance gate, down the road and around the corner. Those who know how it works get in line as early as 4 a.m. At 7 a.m. the hosts come out and allow in campers as sites become available. They have already quizzed site occupants the night before, on whether they are leaving or not, and have an idea of how many sites will be available. They tell those far back in the line that they are most likely not getting a site and that they should move on and try to find other accommodations.

As sad as it is, that there seems to be more demand than supply, I thought this was a well organized attempt to take some of the pressure off people running willy-nilly through a campground almost fighting over sites and interrogating people on their intentions of length of stay.

Combat camping, campground bingo, and campground musical chairs, I've heard it all. On the front of our National Park handout, we received at the gate, it says in large type, "FIND YOUR PARK." What it should say is, "FIND YOUR PARKING SPACE."
If reservations are not an option, my only suggestions would be to pick a day to move into a campground when it might be less busy, and more likely that people would be moving on. Sunday thru Wednesday are good choices. Try none peak seasons, and arrive early.

The early bird gets to worm his way into the best sites.

My best advice is, "Never, and I mean never, let them see you sweat."
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

RV storage headache

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are now in our third week of the RV lifestyle. The excitement is starting to wear off, especially when we stop and I start opening cupboards and the refrigerator. Bouncing down the road seems to make our food items jumpy. I opened the cupboard above the dinette today and put an ugly looking dent in my husband's head, not to mention the table.

I know I am not the only first-timer that has experienced this problem. I know you can't fix my husband's head (it's way too late for that), but how about some storage advice, tips, hints, ideas?
--A bit road jumpy in Joplin

Dear Road Jumpy:
I know where you are coming from. We used to have a memorial dent in our dinette table that perfectly matched the one on my head. It doesn't take many concussions to force you to rethink your storage options.

 There are all kinds of cupboard protectors, bars and boarders on the market that help keep contents corralled. What we have found very convenient for our freezer storage are simple plastic containers that allow us to organize the space and still allow us to see the contents.

You will learn as you go that some items will ride better in certain areas than others and you will pack accordingly.

Some manufacturers do not put enough of a lip on cupboard shelves. You can remedy this by purchasing one of the items I mentioned above, or simply adding your own, using matching trim molding you can buy at any home improvement store.

Things falling out of storage cupboards can be a real headache, as you have already discovered. But a few preventive measures will solve this issue permanently.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Monday, August 8, 2016

RV home base

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are 3/4 timers. We go back to our home base once a year to maintain our property, work on our rig and see friends and family. My husband wants to stop traveling because he says it is too hard to winterize and wrap our home up every season. I say we should just go full-time and we wouldn't have to do any of it.

I know people have bigger problems than we do, but it is getting harder to own a home and still travel as we age. Any comments?
--Skipping Town in Tumwater

Dear Skipping:
The first response that comes to mind is compromising. Go home each year, but don't move into the house. Live in your RV in the driveway. Better yet, rent the house with the understanding that  you can come home for a few months a year and use the utilities. This would work out best if you had a good sized lot with some privacy for you and your tenants.

Another suggestion would be to streamline your place to make firing it up and shutting it down easier. Perhaps a few plumbing changes to make winterizing simple.
You might want to consider downsizing to a more convenient property that would still allow you to do the things you enjoy, yet eliminate much of the work like landscaping, painting, cleaning and repair.

We have a simple place to return to each year which allows us to do precautionary maintenance on our rig, enjoy the solitude of our property, invite friends to visit with their RV, and enjoy the area for a couple months.

We live in our motorhome and use the house for guests. Being a landlord does not appeal to us, but it could be a great way to earn extra income and keep the property occupied for those who would not mind dealing with renting.

All the things your husband seems to be tiring of, can get old after awhile. You both have to sit down and decide what your next move will be. Hopefully you can come up with a solution that makes you both happy and healthy.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

RV air

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We love our new trailer. We are teachers and take each summer off and head to the mountains. Our kids love the many National Parks we visit and learn so much from our travels.

One thing we never considered when planning our purchase was the summer heat. My wife wants me to add an air conditioner to our rig. I think it would be a waste of money as we spend the majority of our time camped in National Forests and Parks with no electricity. She has become very insistent on this point especially on hot days when we do have access to power.

Could you give me your take on this point?
--Hot tongue and Cold shoulder in Sandpoint

Dear Hot and Cold:
I would look at it this way. AC is not a bad investment. Even if you do not use it that often, it is wonderful to have when you need it and have access to power. It would also  help in resale value.

Another option would be a swamp cooler. They can cost as much as an air conditioner, but allow you to operate on 12 volt power. They are simple to install on an existing roof vent.

Until you work this decision out I would suggest you find a shady campsite on hot days, make use of 12 volt fans, and pick a site that may offer lake frontage or a breeze.
Another thing for people to consider on very hot days are their pets. If you're going off for the day and leave a pet in your rig, consider the extreme temps that can build in an RV if you do not take precautions.

We have a 12V fan made by the Fan-Tastic Vent company called, "Endless Breeze." It was designed for pets but we enjoy it as much as our cat.

By the way, I grew up just like your kids. My parents took us to the mountain parks each summer, in an Airstream, on great adventures. It has had a continual and dramatic impact on my life as I am sure it will on your children. I applaud you.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink