Wednesday, January 25, 2017

RV let it go

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have decided to spend our second winter on the road in Florida. We spent our first winter in Arizona and froze to death. We thought Arizona was like Hawaii but found out that is not the case. Now we are cold in Northern Florida and I want to go to Mexico next year. My husband refuses to take our RV into Mexico, so where the heck can I go for the winter and be warm? I might just as well stay home next to the wood stove. --Cast member from the movie "Frozen"

Dear Frozen:
If you don't want to go to Mexico and keep heading south until you find warm weather, do it in Florida. It's a very long state with lots of micro climes. The farther you head south the better your chances of finding warmer weather.

You are right, the desert gives up its warmth at night and you will experience many more cold nights and mornings in the West. The days are typically warm and sunny, but you have your windows opened at night much less than if you were in a climate like Southern Florida.

How about meeting halfway? Try Brownsville, Texas.

You may not find the utopia of weather in the south during the first couple months of the year, but it still beats chopping firewood. You could be like the cast member Elsa and just, "Let it go." --Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

RV pack rats

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife thinks I should be an exterminator. We have a fifth-wheel and she is always hearing noises. She says she hears mice scurrying around, gnawing and thumping, and our cat is always on point. I never hear anything. Then she started seeing other people in the campground putting lights under and around their rigs at night. The guy next door puts the hood up on his pickup every night with a light in the engine compartment. I think he is just proud of his truck, but my wife said he does it to keep pack rats out. Do I have to light up the world every night to keep vermin from moving in with us? If rodents are so fearful of lights why would they want to come in anyway? --Mickey Mouse ideas in Mesa

Dear Mickey:
Some say that the rat light idea is all based on urban legend. From personal experience I can say I did have a pack rat nest in my motorhome engine compartment before lights and, so far, none after. Like you, I noticed the lights around rigs in Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona and thought it might be people wanting to show off their vehicles at night.

You don't have to go overboard and light up the whole campground. I just put a short string of LED lights under my engine and wired them to my battery with a switch. Many people use rope lights and just lay them on the ground. I park my toad facing the front of the motorhome to share the illumination and hope for the best.

If your wife thinks she hears evidence of a silent invasion you would be wise to start a trapline and see if you snag anything. Better safe than sorry.

Those little furballs can do a lot of damage in a short span of time. Stay on top of it. --Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

RVing the Borderlands

Dr. RV Shrink:
This is our first year living in our RV. We are not looking for the next RV resort with a pickleball team; we prefer the wide-open spaces. The problem is one you have talked about before: border safety. We have never camped down near the border on boondock BLM land because of all the stories we've heard about problems with illegals. We keep talking about going but then back out. Are we overreacting? Should we just try it? --Gun-shy in Glendale

Dear Gun-shy:
First, stop reading the paper and cancel your satellite contract. Life comes with no guarantees, so I suggest you ease into situations you find uncomfortable. If boondocking and hiking in the desert is something that sounds appealing but makes you nervous, here's a plan that should work for you.

Spend a week basking in the sun in Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona. It is only a mile from the border. It has hikes and scenic drives that come so close to the border you can wave at our neighbors to the south.

Go on a few ranger-led hikes and drives. You will learn a lot about the desert and most likely start to feel comfortable about your new surroundings. Don't let the fact that the visitor center is named after a young ranger that was killed by drug cartel members scare you from enjoying the park and its surroundings.

Once you immerse yourself in the park doing ranger activities, then drive north to Why, Arizona. There you will find three commercial campgrounds and 1,100 acres of free BLM camping. This area will let you ease into the boondocking lifestyle. It's kind of like breaking in a new pair of boots. It won't take long and you will feel comfortable with your surroundings. You will enjoy some of Arizona's warmest weather and view fantastic desert sunsets and sunrises. You will wake up every morning to a chorus of coyotes with often a bass section of burros.

Drive down to the BLM and look around. You may feel comfortable once you notice there are dozens of others scattered around the property. Talk to them or hike with them. You might even have to drink with them. The woman that acts as the host has her own band and will assure you there are few problems you need to be concerned with. There is more border patrol personnel stationed there than cactus in the desert.

Try it, you'll like it. --Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Greta Garbo at Quartzsite

Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife wants to go to Quartzsite, Arizona, for the big gathering that takes place in January. It looks like way too many people for me. I hate crowds. We started RVing to get away from the maddening crowd. She is insisting we go. Am I being unreasonable? Should I keep dragging my feet or give in and deal with it?

I want our travels to include the things she wants to do, but this is really something that does not appeal to me. --Garboish in Glendale

Dear Garboish:
Even Greta had to deal with crowds on occasion. I know where you are coming from, I felt the same way before I finally gave in and joined the circus. I can tell you I was pleasantly surprised. Go over and find a group to camp with. Circle the wagons and enjoy some of the activities. If you park in the right place you won't have to drive much and fight traffic. We parked a few miles out and I rode my bike to town everyday.

It did turn out to be an expensive decision. I went to several seminars on RV remodeling projects. I spent the summer redoing our motorhome flooring, pulling out our dinette bench, and relocating the television. So, my advice would be to stay away from seminars if you want the summer off.

The whole experience was successful for one common RV Lifestyle reason. We met a ton of wonderful people, good friends and new friends. Admittedly, there might have been some alcohol involved, but that is optional.

Put your Greta Garbo personality in the closet for a week and try it. I only agreed to a couple days and ended up staying nearly two weeks. Had a blast. --Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink