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May 7, 2022
Meet our newest writer, Johnny Robot
By Chuck Woodbury
eet Johnny Robot, our new writer. His first article appears in this issue. The link is below. But before I go on, let me be honest with you (as I always am). Even though Johnny is a capable writer, I detest him. No, I hate him. My grandmother, Rest In Peace, always told me to never use the word hate unless I really, really meant it. Okay, I mean it: I hate Johnny.
Here’s why: Johnny wants to make me, and all my writer friends, go the way of the dinosaur. He wants to put us out of business. And he is no friend of yours, either, which you may figure out if you read on.
Johnny is, indeed, a robot (of sorts). He (or “she” or “it” — pick one) writes articles on any subject a writer or publisher requests for a dollar or two each using artificial intelligence (AI) — 10 times faster than a human, maybe 20 times faster. For example, if I need a story about how to dump a holding tank, I can assign it to a freelance writer, or “Johnny” can do it in a few minutes for a fraction of what I’d pay a real writer.
Johnny only exists in cyberspace. At this very moment, I bet he is writing thousands of articles for publishers, bloggers, advertising agencies and “content creators” — anyone who needs editorial or advertising copy. I call him Johnny. But he doesn’t really have a name because he does not exist in real life.
Johnny at work
To give you an idea of Johnny’s skills, I will ask him right now to write an article with this headline: “What should I know before buying an RV?” Below is Johnny’s lead paragraph exactly as he “wrote” it in a minute or two. If I didn’t like this, I could refresh and it would give me another version. If I thought it was hard to understand, I could click a button to modify the writing to a “fifth grade reading level.”
Here is what Johnny spit out for the headline above:
“When deciding whether or not to buy an RV, you should take certain things into account. First, determine your budget and stick to it. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, then consider other options like renting one instead of buying one.”
Here is another first paragraph of an article I asked Johnny to write: “Why Is My RV Water Heater Making Noise?”
Continue reading and read Johnny’s first story
What’s the difference between legitimate camping and simple vagrancy or homelessness?
As far back as the 1870s, campers didn’t want to be mistaken for actual vagabonds, and the line between the two was easily smudged. An early camping enthusiast described camping as “a luxurious state of privation.” One of its luxuries was that it was temporary. Now historian Phoebe S. K. Young has published “Camping Grounds: Public Nature in American Life from the Civil War to the Occupy Movement,” a book that gets at the deeper complexity of this fundamentally American pastime and of our love-hate relationship with this wacky idea of sleeping outdoors. Continue reading.
Top 12 driver errors — Will they catch you?
RVers may spend more time behind the wheel than the average driver. That gives us plenty more opportunities to do something bone-headed and get into an accident. Here’s the Top 12 list of driver errors. Check them out and see if perhaps you need to make any adjustments to keep yourself—and others—safer on the road. Continue reading.
Today’s RV review…
Coachmen Sportscoach SRS 354QS
Tony writes, “Today’s review is of the Coachmen Sportscoach SRS 354QS. This is a diesel pusher motorhome that offers a decent amount of value in a rig that’s about the same price as some of the competitors’ gasoline-powered models. I have been liking Coachmen products lately for some of the unique things they’re doing in the travel trailer space, so I was intrigued when I saw this…”
This week on Tony and Peggy Barthel’s StressLess Camping podcast they discuss roadside assistance and the fact that it’s becoming a challenge for RVers. Not all plans are created equally. They speak with a major provider of plans and learn which is the best and why. That and much more here.
You replaced your RV dinette with what?!
Remember the days when teens tried to see how many people could fit inside a phone booth? … “How many people can comfortably fit around your RV’s dinette table?” was the topic of a recent RVtravel.com poll. Just like squeezing folks together in a phone booth, it’s certainly possible to squish a family of four into an RV dinette, but that doesn’t mean they can actually eat a meal there. … Comments from RVers who took our poll demonstrate why so many folks are removing their RV dinettes and replacing them with, well, other things that make more sense. Read some great ideas here.
Many beautiful miles are covered in this week’s “On the road again”
On the road again! Join us for some armchair travels and share yours, too! Read where Nanci Dixon and her husband have been this week, and where some of our readers have been or are excited about going. Oh, and some more of our readers’ favorite “traveling” songs, here.
Spring cleaning time for fresh water tanks
Here are sure signs you need to disinfect your RV fresh water system: • Your significant other takes a drink of water and their face wrinkles up like a raisin. • You take a shower and come out covered with algae. • You fill up your fresh water tank—and then notice a sign warning a “boil water advisory is in effect.” Really, if your rig has been snoozing all winter and you remember that you forgot to drain the system down, aside from fixing broken pipes, it’s not a bad idea to do a disinfect. Here are step-by-step instructions.
Found inside a barn, this perfectly preserved RV is an amazing 1955 time capsule
This 1955, 24-foot Boles Aero Ensenada was sitting in the back of a massive barn on a wheat farm in eastern Oregon. This was a real barn find! … Not one piece or part was missing or broken. The original curtains, Venetian blinds, upholstery, knobs, gaskets, and Bakelite handles, were all there. All of it! And even more amazing, each and every item was in perfect condition, including the beautiful birch interior. Read more and check out the pictures here.
Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• 12 RV travel tips to make life easier
• More favorite wind apps and tips from our readers
• 20 smart uses for rubber bands while RVing
• Be prepared, physically and mentally, for RV breakdowns
• Our staff recommends this portable induction cooktop for cool-RV cookin’
Watch the tugboats float by at this hidden gem campground
By Nanci Dixon
Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas, is a hidden gem campground on the Arkansas River. The park is right on the bank and with our pull-in site, we are able to watch the river flowing by out our windshield! We are just waiting for more barges and the tugboats to float by. Read more about this picturesque and moderately priced RV park here.
Around the Campfire: Plenty of discussion about replacing the RV mattress
By Gail Marsh
One of the “newbies” around the campfire the other night was really out-of-sorts. In fact, he, Matt, admitted to his grumpiness. The cause (according to his wife) was their RV bed. Specifically, their RV bed mattress. “It’s a joke,” Mara said. … Almost everyone around the fire agreed. The mattresses RV manufacturers install are junk. What we didn’t necessarily agree upon was the best way to “fix” this predicament. Here are some comments and suggestions heard around the campfire.
Is it OK to stay overnight in your RV at a truck stop?
Yes, you can stay overnight in an RV at a truck stop, notes our new reporter, Johnny Robot. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, some truck stops may have restrictions on how long you can stay. And there may be noise from trucks coming and going or idling their engines throughout the night. If you can handle these potential issues, then staying in an RV at a truck stop can be a great option. Please read all the way through this article for a surprise at the end.
Stay at Hipcamp locations for free with this fun opportunity
If you’re tired of battling thousands of others for a spot at a campground or RV park and don’t want to pay for another subscription-based camping service (but we do love you, Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome!), you’re going to like this opportunity! All you need? A camera. Learn more.
If you became suddenly filthy rich, would you buy a new high-end RV?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment.
You’ll never guess what’s inside this rifle case!
By Gail Marsh
Our grandson recently snagged a great buy at a local garage sale. He bought a rifle case. Now you should know that he doesn’t own a firearm. He’s only 11 years old. But he does have several Nerf guns. And he’s thrilled to have found the perfect case for them. I’m already planning to borrow our grandson’s gun case. Why? Find out here.
Why the founder of Mother’s Day grew to hate it
It’s a day dedicated to moms everywhere. Cards. Flowers. Candy. Family time. What’s not to like? Why did Anna Jarvis, the founder of modern-day Mother’s Day, grow to despise the holiday that she helped create? It certainly didn’t start out that way. This is interesting.
Is this your RV?
Win a $25 Amazon gift certificate if today’s RV photo shows your rig
Every day we post a photo of an RV either submitted by its owner or by our editors as they move about the country.
Click here to see if your RV made it into today’s issue.
How would you like to win a Bug Zapper?
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (May 7, 2022) by 7 p.m. Pacific time. Remember, you can only enter once and after we notify you by email via RVcontests@gmail.com that you won, you have 24 hours to respond or we’ll give the prize to someone else.
Click here to enter or see last week’s winner!
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.
How do I install a Wi-Fi antenna on my RV’s roof?
I would like to install a King Falcon Wi-Fi antenna on the roof of my rig. Do I cut the rubber roof prior to attaching the antenna or attach it directly to the roof? —Andrew, 2021 Forest River Vibe 28RL
Click here to see more questions for Dave.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
Coffee while boondocking: You can do good things with little water
By Tony Barthel
Coffee. To say I’m passionate about it would be like stating I like beer. But maybe I like coffee more than I like beer, and I’m pretty picky. That hot brown liquid in most “coffee shops” isn’t something I enjoy. … Anyhow, knowing how much I like coffee, a representative from a company called Amor Perfecto reached out and asked if I’d like to try their coffee. That got me interested in writing a whole story about coffee on the road, specifically while boondocking, which you’re reading now. Read more, especially if you’re a coffee connoisseur.
with Mike Sokol
Electric RV mileage study update
Last week RVtravel.com ran a poll asking you how many miles of range an electric RV would need before you would consider buying one. While I don’t have all the answers yet, I have had some electric RV trailer towing experience and spent a lot of time crunching the numbers.
Continue reading about the testing and poll results
Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.) Session: The rise of solar generator power stations
NEW! Visit Mike’s new RVelectricity Forum on RVtravel.com.
RV Tire Safety
“Tire failed for no apparent reason.” False.
Roger Marble follows a number of RV forums and a recent post caught his eye. He hopes some can learn a lesson from this tire failure post before they end up in big trouble. The post from a truck owner began: “Well, I can assure that a tire can blow up for no apparent reason.” Continue reading the forum post and Roger’s response explaining why there “clearly was a reason for the failure, as tires are not ‘magic’.”
NEW! Ask Roger anything about RV tires on his new RV Tires Forum.
Operating an RV Park
We have a billboard! And ice – almost!
By Machelle James
This moment in our lives is so surreal, I have goosebumps sharing it with you. As new business owners, you sometimes forget the pain you went through while building your business. While we are still technically building, we are open for business and still trying to get our name out there. Well, today, something magical happened. (Warning: Machelle’s enthusiasm is contagious!)
Recipe of the Day
Creamy Stovetop Rice Pudding
by Connie Kiers from Wellandport, ON
This warm and creamy rice pudding is thick and has just the right touch of sweetness. Like most old-fashioned recipes, this has very few ingredients and takes just a little time to prepare. It’s cooked with love just like Grandma used to make. It sounds like a lot of milk, but trust the process. Let the milk simmer and stir every so often until thick. Sprinkle with cinnamon for a comforting dessert.
Readers’ Pets of the Day
“Jazzy, Angus and Ellie say, ‘We hop in the 5th wheel as soon as Mom and Dad start packing cuz we have to make sure they don’t forget our stuff too!'” —Mary O’Connor
How many squares are there?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday news newsletter. And please don’t spoil it for other readers by posting the answer in the comments.)
Learning how to play the didgeridoo, an Aboriginal tribal instrument, may help with your sleep apnea. A 2005 study found that patients suffering from snoring and sleep apnea had improved sleep quality and decreased symptoms after learning how to play the didgeridoo. Playing the instrument requires good breath control and helps develop the muscles supporting the airway.
Laugh of the Week
“RVs: Who Makes What” – This is a new free directory from RVtravel.com which lists every U.S. RV manufacturer and their makes and models. Learn more and/or download a free PDF copy.
RV Show Directory: See if a show is coming soon to your area.
Stolen RVs — Help us recover these stolen RVs. The more eyes we have searching for them, the better chance of getting them back to their rightful owners, and maybe putting the crooks who stole them in the slammer! See the stolen RVs.
Great websites. Check out our favorite websites of the day! We compiled a list of (almost) all the websites we’ve ever posted, and we update it weekly.
Where to complain about bad RVs, dealers, service, RV parks. This is an ever-expanding list of resources where you can report, share or discuss your problems with RV manufacturers or dealers.
Best Club for RVers: Escapees. Click here to learn more or join. Endorsed by RVtravel.com.
Directory of RV parks with storm shelters
In case you’re on the road with your RV and the weather report is showing a tornado headed your way, have this list handy.
Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.
What does financing an RV for 20 years REALLY mean?
In case you missed this article the first time around, here it is again. Important! Click here.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
The Best RV Trip Planner Apps and Tools. Everything you need to help plan your trip is here.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Tony Barthel, Mike Gast and Gail Marsh. Contributors: Mike Sokol, Roger Marble, Dave Solberg, Dave Helgeson, Julianne Crane, Machelle James, James Raia, J.R. Montigel, Randall Brink, Chris Epting, Karel Carnohan DVM, Cheri Sicard, Dale Wade. Non-human contributor: Johnny Robot. Special projects director: Jessica Sarvis. Moderators: Gary Gilmore, Linda Brady, Mark Gorrie. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. Special Reports: Bradford Geer. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com or this newsletter.
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“Social” media is full of robotic articles. Even the ones with someone’s name on it are usually just bait to get you to keep clicking on “next”. They are there only to sell ads. That’s how they make their money. The article is usually full of mistakes. Thanks, Chuck, for letting everyone know about this further intrusion into real journalism!
We stayed at Riverside RV park. Nice park. Suggest Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas also. Located on Mississippi River. Barges up and down. Picturesque. Just outside of Memphis where you can get Gibson’s Donuts in Memphis.. Best Apple Fritters ever!!
There is a wonderful COE campground, also on the Arkansas River, at Ft. Smith AR. Barling, actually. Heavy forest right to the waters edge. We arrived late in the day and were busy setting up, cooking dinner etc. The next morning I stepped outside and called to my wife… “There’s s ship coming thru the forest!”. The camp is right beside a dam and lock system and we delighted in watching huge tugs and barges coming and going all day long.
And a brewery about 3 miles away. And Tom Sawyer is great. BBQ place few miles away is really good too – cash only.
The article on the robot writer explains why I have noticed a decline in the quality of writing. For some time I have been puzzled over an increase in poor syntax, sentence structure, grammar, and composition. It was as if the writers were from another country and English was their second language. Mystery solved!! As a side note, college professors will warn students that there is software to determine if a robot was used for a paper.
How much does everyone have to up their contributions to fire Johnny?
😆 I don’t think “he/she/it” will be writing much for us, Traveler, at least not serious articles. We have some really good, living and breathing (and RVing) writers. Have a great day! 😀 –Diane
Geez, I wish Johnny Robot was around in 1960 to help me write that term paper on the demise of the dinosaurs. Isn’t artificial intelligence (AI) kind of an oxymoron? Pun was intentional.
We are but a spec in time. The robots will rule us, enslave us until they can build themselves, most likely kill us (we are very unclean and messy). And they will live forever or at least the most powerful one will live forever.
Their first step is make us dumber…