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 have a 24 foot Class C motorhome now, and we tow a Jeep behind it. We have an auxiliary brake on the Jeep, but we are upgrading to a 40 foot long 2017 diesel pusher and a small pickup. My husband doesn’t think we need to put the auxiliary brake system on it, because the motorhome is heavy enough to stop the truck. Several people have told us that’s a bad idea. What do you think, Nick?
A. For years we towed a Toyota pickup truck behind our 40 foot MCI bus conversion. We didn’t have an auxiliary brake and never felt the need for one. Then, one day in Dothan, Alabama, somebody ran a red light and I had to make a panic stop. The front wheels of the pickup ended up on the motorcycle rack I had on the back of the bus. Fortunately, I didn’t have a motorcycle on it at time. I immediately acquired an auxiliary brake for the pickup. They are like fire extinguishers and guns, you never need one until you need it, but then you really need it.
Q. How do you come up with the names of the characters in your books, Nick? A couple of them seem like names I recognized from the RV world, but I’m not sure.
A. Sometimes I steal names from Facebook, or characters on TV, using the first name from one person and the last name from somebody else. And yes, some of the characters in my books are named after real people. Roberta Jensen, the blind attorney in the Big Lake series, is named after my friend Roberta Jensen, who happens to be blind and was an attorney before she retired. In Dead Romeos, I have two characters named Mike and Elaine Loscher, who lived across the street from one of the murder victims. The real Mike and Elaine Loscher are longtime friends of ours who were fulltime RVers for many years and helped us out at all of our Gypsy Journal rallies.
Q. Gas prices were down quite a bit, but now they seem like they’re starting to creep back up. Do you think that trend will continue?”
A. If I could predict anything about any market, I wouldn’t be writing books and blogs for a living, I’d be a Wall Street investor. But in answer to your question, yes, I do believe fuel prices will begin to rise. The market has been down partly because of COVID-19 and partly because of things happening on an international basis. But the industry can’t substantially sustain itself at these low prices forever.
Q. I bought a 1987 Winnebago motorhome that has been sitting for a while and I want to get it set up for traveling part of the year. I’m not worried about doing the mechanical end of things, my father, brother, and I are all mechanics. My concern is what to do about the inside. It’s very dated, the upholstery on the couch and seats is all worn out and the carpet is some kind of grimy mixed color that looks like it will never come clean. I would like to upgrade the interior somewhat too, including new upholstery and flat-screen TVs, but our neighbor, the unofficial mayor of our street, tells me that’s going to detract from the resale value of the RV if I ever want to sell it. He says collectors only want original things. Should I keep it like it is, or upgrade it to something that suits me better?”
A. It’s a 1987 Winnebago, it will never be a collector vehicle so don’t worry about resale value. Do what makes it fit you and your needs. As far as that goes, I wouldn’t care if it was a 2020 motorhome. If it was mine, I would still adapt it to fit my lifestyle and what I need out of it.
Q. Hurricane season is coming to Florida, Nick. I know in the past you and Miss Terry have left and gone up to your son’s house in Alabama when hurricanes were headed your way. Do you still plan to do that this year?”
A. I have no idea what we’re going to do this year. It depends on the storms and how severe they are. When we have had to evacuate for hurricanes before, it has been difficult to find hotel rooms in some areas because of the demand. With COVID-19 going on, some places may not even be open. So, whether we hunker down or make a run for it will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q. In reading some of your comments on Facebook, I get the impression that you are taking coronavirus very seriously. Do you think you’re overdoing it, or do you think the people who are going out and going on with their lives because they’re tired of being isolated are wrong?
A. All I can say is, here in Volusia County, Florida they opened the beaches for Memorial Day weekend and tens of thousands of people showed up. Most of them were not maintaining social distancing or wearing masks, and two weeks later we have the highest numbers reported on a daily basis since they started tracking it. And I’m seeing that in other places where they have opened up, too. Some say it’s because more testing is being done, but I don’t buy into that. More people being exposed is going to mean more people getting the virus. For us, staying home and staying safe works just fine.
Q. Years ago we were going to attend Life on Wheels in Moscow, Idaho, and that got canceled when the man who ran it passed away. Has there ever been anything created to replace Life on Wheels? I heard it was an amazing program for new RVers.
A. This is a question I have been asked many times. Yes, when Gaylord Maxwell died, the Life on Wheels program he founded ended. We were honored to be core instructors for Life on Wheels for several years and we made many wonderful friends while we were doing so. A couple of times people tried to come up with something similar, but nothing I have seen or heard of has been close. Workamper News has an educational program every year for RVers who want to work on the road, and the Escapees RV Club’s Boot Camp is excellent. However, neither are on the scale of Life on Wheels. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it again.
Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Driving Lesson by my friend Ben Rehder. While Ben writes some excellent, mysteries, including the wildly popular Blanco County series, this tale of a boy and his grandfather on an unplanned road trip across the country is a coming of age story that will tug at your heartstrings. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – Research is formalized curiosity.