It’s been a while since I’ve run a blog featuring some of the questions I receive and my answers to them. While I try to answer all questions individually, from time to time I find some that are worth sharing here.
Q. The plan was to go to Alaska this summer, and at the last minute my 15-year-old daughter invited her 15-year-old cousin to come along. She’s a nice girl and the two get along very well, but I’m wondering what kind of legalities are involved in taking a young girl who is not our child through Canada. Do you have any idea what we will need to do or have with us when we get to the border?
A. Make sure you have all the proper documentation on hand before you leave home. Here is a link to an article from the Canadian government about the requirements for minors crossing the Canadian border that you might find helpful.
Q. We want to go to the Grand Canyon this summer but are finding that the campgrounds there are already booked full. Somebody said we could boondock near the entrance, but that’s not our thing. Can you recommend a place we might stay within a close enough distance to the canyon that we can go there on a day trip?
A. I would recommend you stay at one of the RV parks in Williams, Arizona and ride the Grand Canyon Railway train up and back. It’s a great trip and the scenery along the way is awesome. Don’t worry about those train robbers that show up sometimes. As outlaws go, they are pretty nice fellows.
Q. My 2010 5th wheel 7 pin connector is at rare times losing connection with the truck connector and was wondering if the electrical spray you had mentioned a while back might remedy this? As such I have forgotten the name of the product.
A. I use Strike Hold on everything from metal to electrical connections with good results. No RV should be without a can or two of it.
Q. A friend of ours recommended we join Passport America and said we could save a bundle on campgrounds. But other people have told us that there are a lot of restrictions and it’s worthless. What do you think of it?
A. We are life members of Passport America. Like anything, it’s a good investment if you use it. A lot of people recoup their small annual membership fee on their first RV trip. Yes, there are restrictions because each campground is individually owned and sets their own rules. These are usually things like not giving the Passport America discount on weekends during their busy season. That makes sense as a business owner. Why would you rent a site for half price when you’ve got people lined up to pay the full rate? Still, if you read the guide and understand what is allowed and work your schedule around it, you can save a lot of money.
Q. We were approached by somebody who works for a company that helps RV owners rent out their rigs when they are not using them. My wife thinks it’s a good idea, and this guy says that we could easily make the payments on our motorhome by renting it out a few weeks a year. But I’m just not comfortable with that and I’m wondering what you think, Nick?
A. I would not let my best friend or my kids use my motorhome, let alone some stranger. RVs are complex machines with complex systems, and simply driving or towing a big RV takes a certain amount of skill that the average renter might not have. If they get in an accident or break something, what recourse do you have? The rental company may say you are covered, but will you really be, without having to hire an attorney? Besides which, your insurance company and the bank or credit union that holds the loan may not approve of you renting the RV. There are too many things that can go wrong for me to ever be comfortable with this.
Q. I have driven trucks for many years, so I am comfortable driving our 36 foot motorhome. But the idea of getting behind the wheel of it scares my wife to death. Experience has taught us that I’m not the right person to teach her anything because I am too impatient. I know there’s an RV driving course or school somewhere, but I don’t know how to contact them. Can you give me any advice?
A. The RV Driving School has been training RVers how to safely drive in their own units for over 25 years and is an excellent resource. They have instructors scattered around the country, contact them and I am sure you will be happy with the results.
Q. We had hoped to be touring the Midwest now, but with all the terrible weather we are having second thoughts. But it’s getting too darned hot to stay in Phoenix. What would be your recommendation for a two or three month summer excursion?
A. My first choice would always be the Pacific Northwest coast. From Brookings in Southern Oregon along US Highway 101 all the way north to the tip of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula you will experience some of the most beautiful scenery known to man. It is absolutely my favorite place to spend the summer.
Q. A guy was telling me about something called a Mapleleaf or Goldleaf or something like that that hooks to a computer so you can keep track of things with your diesel engine while traveling. Do you know what he’s talking about, and is it worth it? And where can I get it?
A. It’s called a Silverleaf engine monitoring system and I found it very useful. Basically, it’s a harness that plugs into a port under your dashboard and is connected to a computer. Software monitors everything from fuel mileage to temperature readings to horsepower, fuel economy, and much more. You can learn more about it at the company’s website and order it from Amazon at this link.
Q. Our new diesel pusher motorhome has an automatic patio awning that is supposed to roll itself up if the wind gets too high, but I don’t completely trust it. Have you ever had one of these, Nick, and did you trust it enough to leave your awning out when you were not home?
A. I have seen too many awnings destroyed by sudden wind gusts that came up and damaged things before an awning could ever roll up automatically. Anytime we weren’t home our patio awnings were always retracted before we left.
Q. We have a very lovable two-year-old pitbull who has the sweetest disposition in the world. We realize these dogs have an unfair stigma attached to them and have been told that when we start fulltiming we might have difficulty at some RV parks that will not allow them. Do you know if this is true or not?
A. Unfortunately, many RV parks as well as apartment complexes and communities with homeowners associations have rules banning certain breeds of dogs, including pit bulls, German shepherds, Dobermans, and others that are deemed aggressive breeds. This is usually because their insurance companies restrict them. We ran into this a few months ago when we acquired a beautiful German Shepherd and then found out that the insurance company for our community would not allow us to keep her. It was heartbreaking, and unfair, but there was nothing we could do about it.
Thought For The Day – I am starting to think I will never be old enough to know better.