I get a lot of questions from Gypsy Journal subscribers and blog readers, and while I try to answer all of them individually, occasionally I like to share some with the folks here. And since I’m sure you don’t care to hear about my latest writing word count or the progress on Terry’s current weaving project every day, here we go.
Q. I am thinking about getting a Garmin RV or Trucker GPS. I know you tested one some time ago. Have you heard anything pro or con?
A. I’ve had a Garmin Trucker and two Rand McNally RV GPS units, but not a Garmin RV GPS. The Trucker was good but was created for truck drivers. For RV use, the Rand McNally is great. Large screen, lots of RV specific data, and very useful. The only negative about both Rand McNally models I had was that within a year the 12 volt power cords stopped working and had to be replaced.
Q. Do you know if the National Parks Senior Pass is accepted at Corps of Engineers campgrounds?
A. Yes it is, usually for a 50% discount on camping fees.
Q. The neighbors who have the seasonal site next to us in Florida have two small yappy dogs that bark constantly, and they ignore it. Talking to them and complaints to the management have done no good. Have you ever tried or heard of any kind of electrical device that is supposed to stop barking dogs? Somebody told me about one, but I haven’t been able to find any information.
A. I have heard of several ultrasonic devices that are supposed to stop a dog from barking without causing any harm. They are triggered by the sound of the barking and are supposed to emit a high-pitched sound that startles the dog into silence. Some people have reported good results with them and others say they are waste of time and money. I think a lot depends on the device and the individual dogs. While I have never tried them myself, three that I’ve heard good things about are the Super Ultrasonic Outdoor Bark Control Birdhouse, the Sanwich Mini Outdoor Anti Barking Device, and the Hoont Ultrasonic Handheld Device. All are available on Amazon.
Q. Have you ever parked at a Cracker Barrel restaurant overnight? I’ve been told they are RV friendly.
A. We only parked at a Cracker Barrel a couple of times while we were fulltiming, because more often than not we found cars parked in the RV spaces and there was no room for our 40 foot motorhome and toad.
Q. We are going to be stuck in northern Iowa this winter while we deal with a family issue. We will be parked at my brother’s house and there is a dump station we can use nearby. I seem to recall that when you are someplace in the wintertime you put some kind of heat lamp or something in your plumbing bay to keep your tanks from freezing. Can you give me any advice?
A. We used a 40 watt bulb in a reflector with a clamp on it inside our plumbing bay when we were in Traverse City, Michigan during the winter while Terry was being treated for cancer. It worked fine and we never had a problem with our tanks freezing.
Q. Have you ever used a macerator? If so, is it worth the investment?
A. We had a macerator for a while but I did not feel it was necessary for the kind of RVing we were doing at that time, since most of our time was being spent in campgrounds with full hookup RV sites. But if you are parked in someone’s driveway and there is a sewer clean out nearby, they can be very handy.
Q. My hobby is carving small wood projects, but since my hands have become so arthritic I have started using an electric Dremel tool. When I used carving knives I would sit outside at the picnic table at our campsite, but I’m wondering if the noise of the Dremel would disturb our neighbors. Any suggestions?
A. I think the easiest way to handle that would be to ask the neighbors. I have a Dremel and it doesn’t make very much noise, so as long as you’re not using it early in the morning or late at night, and as long as you’re not throwing sawdust against their RV, I don’t think most people would have a problem with it.
Q. Did you ever use cruise control when driving your motorhome? I use it in my car all the time, but the motorhome seems so big that I feel like I have to be in total control all the time when I’m at the wheel.
A. On the open highway I used cruise control if there wasn’t a lot of traffic, but never in town, and never when there were a lot of other vehicles nearby.
Q. I worry a lot about RV refrigerator fires. It seems like every week or two I hear about an RV burning up because of the refrigerator. What are your thoughts about that?
A. Yes, a lot of RVs have been burned up by RV refrigerator fires. We installed an automatic fire suppression unit in our rig when we had our Norcold, but after it failed following all of the factory recalls, we took it out and installed a Samsung residential refrigerator. It was one of the best decisions we ever made.
Q. Please settle a debate for us, Nick. I’ve heard you talk about RV awnings being destroyed when a sudden wind comes up, so anytime we leave our fifth wheel I insist my husband put the big patio awning up, even if it’s a calm, clear day. He says I’m being overly cautious. What do you think?
A. It only takes seconds for a sudden wind burst to ruin your awning. Compared to how little time it takes to put it up and then deploy it again when you return, it’s a no-brainer to me to stow it anytime you’re away from the RV.
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