I’m back with more questions from blog readers about RVing, what’s happening in our lives since we hung up the keys, and all kinds of other things. While I try to answer all questions individually, I also share some here occasionally.
Q. We are new to the RV life and not sure what the accepted protocol is when trying to strike up conversations with fellow RVers. If we see them sitting outside on our walk we smile and wave but worry about overstepping boundaries by doing any more than that.
A. When we were fulltiming the accepted rule was that if you were open to visitors when sitting outside, you turned your chair to face outward toward the road or street. If you were having a private conversation, reading, or just did not feel like talking to anyone, you turned your chair so the back was toward the street.
Q. We miss seeing you at Elkhart Campground and wonder if you miss the Midwest during Florida’s hot summers?
A. We miss all of our friends at Elkhart Campground, but really, the difference in temperature is not that much. Yesterday in Elkhart it was 91° with 75% humidity, and today the forecast for there is 86° with 76% humidity. Here in Florida yesterday the high was 92° with 78% humidity, and the high today is supposed to be 92° again, with 68% humidity. In real terms, with the humidity and temperature only a few degrees or percentage points apart, I am going to be hot either way. But when you factor in the cooling breezes we get coming off of the ocean and the fact that in December and January we are on our pontoon boat in short sleeve shirts, it’s a trade-off I’m more than happy to make.
Q. Are you familiar with RVing in New England? We’ve been told the roads are narrow, campground spaces are small, and hard to come by in the summer. We would love to visit there but don’t know what to expect. How about places to dry camp?
A. In our trips to New England in our 40 foot motorhome we found that many of the secondary roads were small, and campsites could be small and in high demand. However, major highways are not bad at all, and if you plan ahead and make reservations before your trip, at campgrounds that can accommodate the size of your RV, you should be okay. As for dry camping, there is not a lot available. If you belong to the Elks and Moose, there are several lodges in New England that allow overnight RV parking.
Q. We have a Flying J RV discount card which gets us something like a nickel a gallon off fuel. My husband always wants to use Flying J’s, but sometimes they don’t have RV islands and maneuvering our 36 foot gas powered motorhome with a dinghy behind it through the regular fuel islands can be downright difficult. I keep telling my husband it’s not worth the hassle to save a few pennies a gallon, but he disagrees. What’s your opinion on that, Nick?
A. I’m with you. Whenever we could get in and out of a Flying J without any difficulty, we would use it and take advantage of the discount. But you have to factor in how much lost time and frustration you will be dealing with at some of their locations. If you have a 100 gallon fuel tank and you’re at the quarter tank level, the discount will save you $3.75. And that’s assuming you run your tank that low, which I’m never a fan of. If you have a smaller tank or don’t need to buy 75 gallons of gas at a time, is a couple of bucks really worth the hassle? Not to me.
Q. In your book Black Friday you mentioned some kind of an ink pen that can also be used as a weapon for self-defense. I gave the book to someone else when I finished reading it and can’t remember what it was. Both my daughter and my daughter-in-law are nurses working at the same hospital in a dangerous area of their city. Recently two different women were attacked in the hospital parking lot, even though they supposedly have security on duty there. I would like to get them each one of the pens, but I can’t remember what they were. Can you help me out, Nick?
A. I’ve mentioned two different tactical pens in the past. One is the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen, which is very well made and can even break a car’s window glass. Some consider it a bit pricey at $63.86, but what’s your life worth? Another tactical pen is the Atomic Bear. It looks to have the same features as the Gerber and costs a lot less. Both are available on Amazon at the links provided.
Q. In yesterday’s blog you said something about releasing four new books a year. How the heck do you do that? My 30 year high school reunion is coming up and we are all supposed to write a one or two paragraph biography of our lives since high school. It took me a week to get just one paragraph done, then I wadded it up and threw it away.
A. I always tell people that the secret to being a prolific author is to buy a lot of expensive toys and then have to work like hell to pay for them. The truth is, writing takes work, just like anything else. For some of us, it’s easy work, and for others it can be a real challenge. I usually have two or three books rolling around in my head at once, and when it’s time to sit down and write, most of what I want to say is already in my head and just needs to get from there onto the computer screen.
Q. When you’re in a campground do you put everything away at night, like your lawn chairs and portable barbecue and things like that, or is it safe to leave them out and unsecured?
A. Overall, campgrounds are some of the safest places you can ever be. However, that doesn’t mean every person in an RV park is honest, so why tempt fate? Besides which, the local thieves are always looking for something quick and easy to steal, and we have been in campgrounds where they warned you every night to lock up anything that you wanted to still be there in the morning. As the old saying goes, better safe than sorry
Q. I found an old copy of your Gypsy Journal RV newspaper in a campground laundry room in Nebraska. But going to your website, it looks like you no longer publish it. Is that true, and if not, how can I subscribe?
A. We stopped publishing the Gypsy Journal in November of 2017. After almost 18 years of fulltiming and publishing it from the road, we bought a house in Florida and retired from the RV lifestyle.
Q. We are looking at a 2006 Tradewinds diesel pusher motorhome that the seller is asking $98,000 for. It looks very nice inside and out, and only has 35,000 miles on it. It hasn’t been used in over five years, so there’s been a bit of a musty smell, but aside from that everything looks good. Do you think this is a good deal?
A. A 13-year-old motorhome that has been sitting for five years is never a good deal, and especially not at that price. The worst thing you can do to an RV is to let it sit for prolonged periods of time. At the very least, you can expect to have to replace all of the tires, both the coach and house batteries, and possibly belts and hoses. In a quick search on RV Trader I found four of them, all priced considerably less than what you quoted me.
Q. Is it safe to park in an RV overnight at truck stops and Walmarts and places like that? We worry about crime in unknown areas.
A. We spent many, many nights at truck stops, Walmarts, even roadside rest areas, and never had a problem. As long as you use common sense, keep your doors locked, and if at truck stop, don’t park in the area where the truckers need to be, you should be just fine.
And finally, when a friend shared this picture with me, I had to share with you. I think every schoolteacher in the world feels this way during summer vacation, don’t you?
Thought For The Day – If I had a Delorean, I would only drive it from time to time.