Ingenuity is defined by Dictionary.com as "the quality of being cleverly inventive or resourceful." My own take is that proof of ingenuity can be seen in a solution to a problem or inconvenience that is not obvious to very many people. Think MacGyver, but scaled back.
As many an RV'er will convey, problem solving without ready-to-use off-the-shelf solutions is an integral part of the lifestyle. Those that can't do it had better have lots of time and cash.
Here is an example: When we decided to upgrade our portable generator, the new unit wouldn't fit in the old storage spot. There was no room in the back of the pickup, since I had two large toolboxes installed in its bed, nor would it fit in any basement compartment in the fifth wheel. It was going to take a unique solution, one not readily apparent at first look.
I realized that there would be room on the rear bumper if I could find a way to attach a cabinet or shelf back there. Also, I had had the fifth wheel's original flimsy rear bumper replaced with a sturdy steel square pipe welded to the frame after experiencing problems with it, so weight on the bumper should not be an issue. We had previously had a dual bicycle rack clamped to the bumper when we had heavy electric bikes, and when we sold the bikes I kept the racks. When clamped tightly on the bumper, several people could stand on it without sagging, so I guessed a wooden shelf would be stable.
I bought and cut 2"x8" lumber and a number of lag bolts, washers and nuts, and, after applying several coats of waterproofing, attached the boards on the bike racks. I countersunk the tops of the bolts so they would not impede anything I placed on it. Once satisfied of weight-bearing success, I removed the back of a painted steel office cabinet and screwed it down on the shelf so as to not block the license plate. I had purchased a generator that would fit side-to-side through the locking cabinet doors, and secured it onto the cabinet floor and some boards I placed inside it just for that purpose. The doors close and lock, and though it would totally prevent someone from stealing it, it makes it difficult enough. With the rear of the cabinet completely removed, there is plenty of circulation for the generator as well. The starting cord is easily available on the side and behind the cabinet, and the gas tank can be reached with a funnel just behind the top of the cabinet.
For good measure, I secured my 50 amp cord spooler down on the shelf, and now I have my pet fence sections strapped back there as well for easy access (instead of in my basement compartment.
I feel pretty good about my solution, which is just one example of a setup that took ingenuity and a bit of carpentry skill. Like I said, difficulties and clever answers are just a part of life on the road.
Nadyne has been equally ingenious on the inside of the rig. One problem we were having was with setup and tear down between stays, in other words, for before and after travel days. As frequent travelers know, anything on a counter top in the rig tends to shift, vibrate and move while on the highway. It is very time consuming to secure all of these items for travel, strapping some down on the floor, placing some on the sofa or bed, and just all-around stuffing wherever they would fit snugly. It is even more time-consuming to set everything back up for use.
Museum gel works fine on smaller items like wine bottles and knick-knacks, but not so much on small appliances like our ice maker and coffee maker, an air fryer, or other kitchen necessities such as silverware and plate caddies. She searched high and low for a solution with the common marketplaces apparently no help.
She remembered how sticky some rubber mats are and wondered if they would hold larger items. She bought a roll of rubber matting and cut some pieces just big enough for the aforementioned appliances and caddies to sit on. We left them in place on the counters on our next travel day, stopping occasionally to check for movement (or damage), and were pleasantly surprised how well things had stayed put on the mats. She found some rubberized cooking sheets that were less expensive but had the same gripping power. We stocked up, then started snipping and using them for other pieces of equipment around the rig, such as our laptops, adding machine, printer, alarm clock and even some electronics for the TV in the bedroom. Since doing that two years ago, we have not lost a single item off of any cabinet , desk or counter due to the road vibration and sway, even on the Pennsylvania Turnpike that was rough enough to break our rig's springs.
I would imagine if you ask any full-time RV'er, they can regale you with wonderful stories of their own ingenuity. Aw, shucks...
I'll leave you with this thought from American author Shelby Steele, who said, "We are a nation with a powerful investment in the idea of our own fundamental innocence. Our can-do optimism and ingenuity are based on the faith that we are a decent, open, and generous people. This is our identity."
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.