Dear RV Shrink:
I think I may be too old to travel. I just spent a half hour with a Robo Ranger trying to pay my camping fee at a National Recreation Area in Arizona. My eyes are still in good shape, but the plastic screen on the Robo Ranger was sun bleached and almost impossible to see through. I was on my knees, holding my hand over the screen trying to create enough shadow to read the crazy thing. Every time I reached the point where the machine wanted to charge my credit card it froze and reset itself to the beginning without charging me or issuing my stub.
I finally discovered I had to wait until I reached that point in the transaction to slide my card.
I had a lot of questions as to where I should park, but no ranger or host to ask. I am sure my government is saving a ton of money not having any personnel to pay, vehicles to transport them, buildings to house them, and pensions to someday pay them, but why do my campground fees continue to rise? Is it to pay for all the vandalism here?
Should I take a computer class in campground check-in, or just sell my RV?
I would move to a nearby Forest Service, concession-run campground, but they have already closed for the year. Concession-run campgrounds close as soon as seasonal numbers drop, even though the weather is still perfect for camping.
I’ve heard you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That must be true in my case, because I can’t even figure out what these bureaucrats are thinking.
Do you think now is a good time to sell my trailer? —Tech protest in Page
I feel your frustration. It does entail a continual learning curve to survive in the camping world. But think of it as exercise. It is probably good for your knees bending to address a Robo Ranger. They say challenging your brain is your best defense against Alzheimer’s. Figuring out how to give money to the government will someday be as easy for you as using a self car wash. They both soak you, and there is no one to complain too.
You bring up a great point about the concession-run, forest service campgrounds. There should be a contractual stipulation that makes them operate earlier in the spring and later in the fall. Most have no water system to freeze — they just do not want to be burdened with the cost of running them without continued high occupancy.
Maybe the government will eventually do away with concessioners and implement more Robo Rangers. It might be a wise move to take those computer classes now if you are going to hang onto that trailer.
In my humble opinion, an Iron Ranger makes a lot more sense. No moving parts, the customer fills out all the paperwork, it doesn’t use electricity, it’s maintenance free, you can still use your credit card, and they even take that stuff that people once carried — CASH! —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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