Edited by Russ and Tiña De Maris
We often get piles of mail regarding a particular article that sets readers’ mental wheels spinning. In this installment we’ve also had some thoughts come in, not based on any particular story, but which still caught our attention. Here are a few to start.
Volunteers – or slaves?
Arthur Jacobson wrote, “We were RVers from 2009 to November, 2016. In our seven years owning two different RVs we volunteered or workcamped six of those years. Our experience taught us that many, many full timer RVers are older folks without either the desire or means to own a stick and brick home.
“In our travels we did find a few true nomads, RVers traveling from place to place for sheer enjoyment. Most of those we encountered were searching for a cheap place to stay. Volunteering gave them such places. For a certain amount of hours these folks, many of whom lived in “jalopy” RVs, stayed for many months or even years if permitted, in state or federal parks.
“My wife and I now know that there is no such thing as being a volunteer at one of such places. You are WORKING almost full time for no pay other than your spot. It was our experience that in every park where we volunteered the full time paid employees seem to become very scare while we were on duty. In our last national park the employees seem to be on break during our entire shift and several times even forgot we were to be relieved for lunch. We decided after our last ‘adventure’ that at ages 70 and 68 we not longer had the desire to be indentured servants. We sold the RV and its tremendous upkeep along with the toad. We are very happy to be back in our spacious (for us) stick and brick where we can spread out and not be on top of each other. We also feel that many of these parks permit homesteading by their volunteers, something that denies other RVers of the opportunity to have that kind of experience.
“To me volunteering in a hospital, dog shelter, etc, is ‘true’ volunteering and not an unpaid position. I now equate RV volunteering the same as those standing on corners holding signs ‘will work for food’.”
The downside of Boondocking
Many of our readers have suggested boondocking as an answer to RV park crowding. Reader “Kayaklake” begs to differ. “If you enjoy showering each day, starting off clean and reborn, boondocking doesn’t do it. And if you do not want the worry of finding sewer dump facilities, and locating fresh water, an RV park beats all the BLMs, LTVAs and Walmart lots. Boondocking is oversold and fine if you’re desperate for minimal cost and prefer avoiding others. But there is safety in numbers, another factor in favor of nice parks.
“Last, the call for smaller rigs is great while traveling or looking for national or state park sites, but staying in tiny rigs for six months or more is akin to living in a small, stuffy closet. When a small rig owner makes reservations at campgrounds, they all ask for length of your RV. Small RVs get the smallest, least desirable spot despite paying the same rate as the 45-ft Prevost across the way which is enjoying 2 to 3 times as much space and 50-amp service. The trade-offs are hard ones. Small RVs are sold as weekend-only units, or short trip vehicles. [Fulltiming] in one loses its novelty and owners soon long for Fivers, 36+ foot motorhomes, park units, or sticks-n-bricks housing. All come — if in nice campgrounds — with more space, privacy, and few worries about dumping and finding fresh water.”
Leaving the RV road . . .
Pete Almasi tells us, “Sad to say we are giving up on RVing after this season. We purchased an old RV put some money and sweat into it to be road worthy only to find out that to be able to book a site that you would enjoy requires one to take a day off work on the day the bookings open. And then be ready all the way up to your last computer stroke at the booking site, and hope and pray that you can perform all your key strokes within sixty seconds, or all the sites at your pick will be booked for the season and perhaps beyond.
“Thanks, but no thanks.
“We have decided to donate our rig to a young couple who have the time and patience to do so. Not to mention all the regulations coming out against RVers in general every year (ie. no filling L.P. tanks over ten years old). It was great the first year when we didn’t know better. Hotels, motels and resorts in one place and just go to as many of them as you can that time allows you to.”
. . . and on the other hand
Karen observes, “I like reading about positive experiences as much as anyone, but I would also be interested in reading about not-so-great camping experiences. Not because I’m “negative” or get off on schadenfreude, but because–like in life–it’s the challenges that strengthen our resilience and grow our character.
“Some of our less than stellar experiences: Lovebugs splattered all over our windshield; mosquitoes attacking us; being shoe-horned into a site at a sad mobile home park with a website that had deceptive photos taken OUTSIDE of the campground. But the positives have outweighed the negatives, which is why we still enjoy it. Shows like ‘[Buying RV’ are fun, mindless entertainment that sell a fantasy lifestyle, and it could well-be misleading and enticing people to impulsively buy something that will give them buyer’s remorse.
“It really shocked me to learn many owners of beautiful Class As have a monthly payment. We will happily keep our paid-off 28 foot travel trailer, which Poli Glo is keeping shiny after five years. I would also enjoy reading about amazing wildlife encounters, like seeing both manatees (a salt water mammal) and alligators (a fresh water reptile) swimming in the same body of water, or the time a mullet jumped in our boat! Or how about an article on how some campgrounds will only allow motorhomes and fifth wheels… or only RVs longer than 25 feet long… or only RVs 10 years old or less? I would be interested to hear their rationale for those rules.”
Don’t drink the water?
Finally, lest you think we only got “random” feedback this time, here’s a sample of the thinking yielded from the story, Would you dare drink the water at these RV parks?
From his experience, Dennis wrote, “In addition to bad facilities, I also witnessed a person drag his sewer hose up to the water spigot to rinse it out. The facilities at this park were first class but you cannot count out Stupid. After seeing that I carry a squirt bottle of bleach and spray everything before I hook up. You never know if there was an idiot in the place before you.”