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Phrases Every Rver Should Know

Phrases Every Rver Should Know

Language is the means by which people communicate with each other. From casual conversations to complex engineering proposals, the same language might be spoken, but there are always subcategories of language with which people communicate. Politicians and government officials may use a lot of jargon to explain proposed legislation or local ordinances; mathematicians have their own vocabulary; and for those immersing themselves in the RV way of life, there is also some terminology that is unique to the lifestyle.

Many of these terms deal with parts on the RV, such as BTUs, 4 or 7 pin electrical connectors, gross axle weight rating, and many more. When you are getting ready to purchase the recreational vehicle of your choice, make sure you are familiar with the vehicle specifications, especially the abbreviations. These are helpful to know when comparing models and classes of RV to find the one that fits your needs.

But there are other terms which describe the experience as opposed to the operations. Like any lingo, these terms have a meaning outside the RV world, but certainly are relevant to the lifestyle.

Take the word “basement,” for example. The majority of the English speaking world would equate basement to be the useable, possibly unfinished, space beneath the house used for a multitude of purposes, from the laundry room, man cave, household storage, or even an extra bedroom. In RV speak, basement refers to the storage area located underneath the floor. Much like the basement in a Midwestern ranch home, it is a convenient place to store all the important (or not so important) things you need but don’t have room for in the day-to-day living space.

Boondocking is a term that means to camp without the conveniences of water, sewer, and electricity. Outside of the RV world, the boondocks is an isolated place. In other words: backwater, hinterland, backwoods, backcountry, or the middle of nowhere. That is certainly not negative, but an opportunity to leave the so-called civilized world farther behind and enjoy “roughing it” at a national or state park instead of the all-inclusive campground.Other terms for boondocking include dry camping or primitive camping. The more populated a section of the country may be, the less likely it will be to find appropriate boondock sites. There are more opportunities at locations in the Great Plains and far west than along the Eastern seaboard, but with a little due diligence, opportunities for boondocking are not that hard to find.

Another term that has meaning outside of the RV lifestyle is “cockpit,” a term more often associated with airplanes or spacecraft than vehicles which drive on the ground.Like those machines that reach for the stars, the cockpit of an RV is the place where the driver and passenger sit. It is command central for maneuvering the RV down the road in search of a place where stars are brighter or the Northern Lights can be enjoyed.

The word “dinghy” is a reference in the non-RV world to a small boat used for recreation. In RV terminology, it has a broader meaning, referring to a vehicle towed behind the RV. This could be a trailer containing a dinghy or a tow bar hauling a secondary vehicle, a horse trailer, or any other towable contraption.

If you perform regularly at luaus then you likely own a “hula skirt.” If you are driving an RV, it refers to an accessory attached to the back of the motorhome to keep debris turned up by the RV’s wheels from striking other vehicles. It is fringed, attached to the back bumper and extends the full length of the back of the RV.

Singer Billy Ocean song titled Caribbean Queen was a popular hit in 1984, and there are many ferry boats named Island Queen. But in RV terminology “island queen” refers to the configuration of a queen-size bed within an RV. In this configuration, the bed is positioned in a way to allow walking space on both sides.

We are told every situation needs a little push and pull. That may be true in the non-RV world, but when RVing, push and pull refer to the location of the motor. The term “puller” refers to a motorhome in which the motor is housed in the front. Conversely, a “pusher” refers to a motorhome in which the motor is housed in the back.These slang terms are most often associated with diesel engines.

If you were asked to define the term “shore cord” you would likely think it had something to do with boats. This term refers to a power cord that is used to hook up electricity to a ship while docked. It has the same meaning when applied to RVS. It is the cord that allows the RV user to connect to power at a campground.

“Tailgunners” fulfill a vital role in a battle. The definition of this term refers to the position of a crew member on a military aircraft tasked with operating a gun at the end of a plane in order to protect the plane and crew from attacks at the rear. In the RV lifestyle, the tail gunner refers to the end RV in a caravan.

A belly button is a reminder of the “umbilical cord” that once linked the developing child within the womb to its mother. In the RV world, the term has a similar meaning, but in a less human way. It refers to the wiring harness that connects a towed vehicle with the mother ship, a.k.a. the motorhome. This wiring harness provides power to the towed vehicle for lights, electric brakes, and battery charging. A second use of the term may also refer to the power cord connection between the RV and a campground’s power supply.

How we communicate with others is an important skill. Brushing up on a few RV terms will help you walk the walk and talk the talk among your fellow RVers, whether you are boondocking, a part-timer or a full-timer.

Lois Tomaszewski is an award-winning journalist and editor.

Aug 24th 2018 Lois Tomaszewski

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