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TODAY: Chatting with Chuck
RVtravel.com founder and publisher Chuck Woodbury meets up with his readers, talking about RVing — sort of like sitting around a campfire, except no campfire (not allowed in cyberspace). Please join him via chat or just lurk and learn a little and have some fun. Starts at 10 a.m. Pacific time (1 p.m. Eastern), today, Oct. 29. Watch on YouTube • Watch on Facebook.
October 29, 2022
The story of America’s most-loved roadside attraction
… and a testimony to the power of ice water!
By Chuck Woodbury
he story of Wall Drug always inspires me. If you have never heard of Wall Drug, then you have not spent much time traveling the West or reading about America’s roadside attractions. Wall Drug is along I-90 in western South Dakota, about five miles from Badlands National Park.
Wall Drug is a major tourist attraction. It now takes up one full block in Wall, and is far more than a drug store. Dine at the restaurant or buy toy Indian drums, trinkets, quality leather attire, a silver belt buckle, sporting goods, and fine Western art. Need cowboy boots? How about Western jewelry? Or maybe a scoop of ice cream? It’s all there. Be sure to get your picture taken atop the giant jackalope. And if you wish, pause in the peaceful Traveler’s Chapel right in the middle of things. Oh, yes, the drugstore is still there.
WALL DRUG WAS PURCHASED in 1931 by Ted and Dorothy Hustead. It was the only drugstore in town, and there wasn’t much of a town, only 326 people, or as Ted once said, “326 poor people.” Most were farmers who’d been wiped out by the Great Depression.
Friends and family advised against buying the store, but Ted and Dorothy bought it anyway. They gave themselves five years to make it work. It’s good they had patience, because their life for the next four-and-a-half years was a struggle. Then, on a blazing hot day in July 1936, one inspired thought transformed it from a near failure to a fabulous success.
It happened like this: Dorothy told Ted she was going home to take a nap. An hour later she returned. “Too hot to sleep?” Ted asked. “No,” said Dorothy. “It wasn’t the heat. It was all the cars going by on the highway.”
Ted said that was too bad, but Dorothy didn’t think it was bad at all. It gave her an idea: She told Ted that those motorists were likely very thirsty, dealing with the extreme heat in their cars that back then had no air conditioning. “They want water, ice cold water,” she said, noting that she and Ted had an unlimited supply. “Why don’t we put up a sign on the highway telling people to come in here for free ice water?”
So Ted, with the help of a local high school boy, did just that—they put up a sign with Dorothy’s poetic message: “Get a soda/get a beer/turn next corner/just as near/to Highway 16 and 14/free ice water/Wall Drug.”
“I have to admit I felt somewhat silly doing it,” Ted recalled later. But by the time he returned to the store motorists were already stopping by to refresh. While there, they bought ice cream and other items.
AND THAT WAS THE BEGINNING of what is now a hugely successful, world-famous business that draws more than two million visitors a year. It’s still run by the Hustead family, although Ted and Dorothy are now gone.
Ted once recalled that his experience with the business had taught him a valuable lesson. “No matter where you live, you can succeed because wherever you are you can reach out to other people with something they need.”
Anyone who drives across South Dakota today on I-90 literally cannot pass without knowing where to find the store. Hundreds of billboards, all hand-painted, span the state. Some still advertise free ice water and the store’s legendary five-cent coffee. You can see many of the signs here. But the signs don’t end at the state’s border. Through the years they have appeared throughout the world, even one inside London’s Underground.
P.S. If you’ve been following along with Cheri on her long, long road trip, you’ll know she was at Wall Drug recently. You can read about her experience, along with many other unique nearby South Dakota attractions, here.
Here is today’s edition of our photo contest. Please vote for your favorite. Once you’ve voted, please submit your own photo for consideration. Winners receive a $50 Amazon gift card. Good luck!
Please read the updated rules here. And don’t forget to submit a photo!
Psssst: Remember, you can vote through next Friday! If your photo is selected, share it with your friends and family. Everyone can vote once per day.
We want to know…
Have you ever left a campsite because you felt unsafe?
Have you ever felt unsafe or even just so weirded out that you had to leave your campsite or campground? Tell us why you made the decision to get the heck out of there.
Nudist RV resorts more popular among RVers than you’d think
By Tony Barthel
Would you stay at a clothing-optional or nudist RV resort? That was a question we posed in a recent poll, and a surprising number of you said you would. In fact, based on the comments, a surprising number of people said that they had! This lead to questions by us about the experience and motivation, so we sought out a few people to find the bare facts and get the naked truth about clothing-optional RV resorts. Tony bares all here. (Eek!)
Cedar Creek 371FL front living room 5er
Tony writes, “This is a large, high-end fifth wheel with a living room up front over the pin box. These Cedar Creek fifth wheels are also built differently than most RVs. This isn’t something you’re towing with most pickup trucks—you’re going to need something larger.”
This awful RV horror story puts Halloween tales to shame!
By Karel Carnohan, DVM
While traveling in Oregon this past week I met a lovely couple, Vivian and Mike, who had quite an RV horror story to tell. They were on the road in their new Tiffin Phaeton and told me why it was new—their first coach was stolen after only nine months of ownership. Not only was it stolen, but it was also set ablaze. Here is their tale of woe.
RV engineer answers: Is maximum towing capacity just smoke and mirrors?
By Ross Regis
You will almost never tow what you think you can. To those of you who have owned RVs for years, this isn’t breaking news. Some of you follow the 80% Rule of Thumb: Your “real-life” towing capacity is around 80% of the advertised maximum. But is that margin even sufficient? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. And if you remember nothing else, remember this: Payload capacity, not towing capacity, is the real limitation of your tow vehicle! Learn all about it here, from an RV engineer.
Around the Campfire: RV parks are no place for political banners… are they?
By Gail Marsh
Everyone knows the mid-term elections are near. By now, most voters have made up their minds about who they’ll vote for and why. In fact, many folks may have already voted. Knowing that we’d be away on Voting Day, my husband and I were happy that in Missouri we were able to vote early. … With all of that in mind, it was kind of a surprise to see so many political flags and signs in our most recent RV park. We talked about it around the campfire: Should political banners and signs be in RV parks? Read what some campers had to say here.
RV Service Centers and Repairs Report: Still waiting on parts? Call to make sure they were actually ordered…
In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs. We’ll tell you all: the best, the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are this week’s unbelievable accounts of poor or nonexistent service, including a customer taking a display model of a required toilet when they were told it would take three weeks to get the same one in stock. And then there’s the report of one of the reasons, told to an RVer confidentially, why parts aren’t available to repair RVs. Lots more here.
Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter
- Tips for using RV forums, blogs, and social media
- How to prevent damage to your RV furniture
- 18 brilliant ways to use pipe cleaners while RVing
- What is the cost of replacing my RV’s refrigerator?
- Can you both get the rig home?
RV Manufacturer Warranty, Part 6: I have something to admit…
By Dustin Simpson
In September, I started writing a 5-part series on RV manufacturer warranties. After the fifth part was released, I thought I had put that topic to bed. Little did I know, a decision I made earlier this year would come back to haunt me. Watch Dustin’s video confession here.
That stink in your RV is probably the unsuspected gray water tank
By Nanci Dixon
The tech kept telling me, “That might just be the gray water tank. It can smell as bad as the black.” Actually, at least three or four techs told me that every time I brought up how BAD it smells inside the motorhome when we are traveling. Three of them said to add Pine Power to the tank. I am diligent about flushing out the black water tank. Over and over again until the water runs clear. I am the “flusher” in the family. My husband would not have the patience or perverse delight to watch “it” all go down the drain. Keep reading Nanci’s stinky story.
Uses for your RV that don’t involve traveling
By Gail Marsh
To my way of thinking, there’s no better way to vacation than with an RV. But if you’re fortunate enough to park your RV on your property with electric, you’re in luck! That’s because RVs aren’t just for traveling anymore! Read about some unconventional ways to use your RV. Do you have any other ideas for them?
How NOT to sell your RV
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
The RV pundits told us that after the big rush of the COVID pandemic buying surge slowed down, there’d be a change. They said too many people would find out what RVing was really like, and wouldn’t find it to their liking. They projected a time would come when plenty of used RVs would flood the market. Seems like they’re right—there are plenty of used RVs on craigslist. That doesn’t mean it’s a buyer’s market. It could be, but too many people trying to sell their RVs have taken the Heloise Home Course on How to Hack Off a Potential RV Customer. Continue reading. (You won’t believe this.)
Have you ever been so poor you had to go to bed hungry?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment.
POPULAR POLL FROM THIS PAST WEEK
We asked: About what time do you most often go to bed at night? What do you think is the most popular bedtime among other RVers? 9 p.m.? 10 p.m.? 11 p.m.? Guess, and see if you’re right.
Is it possible to get locked INSIDE your RV?
By Gail Marsh
The game “Ding, dong, dash!” made the rounds in our stix-n-brix subdivision a while back. What happened was some pranksters decided it would be funny to run up to a home, ring the doorbell, and then quickly run away. … [T]his reminded me of something… Some time ago I read about pranksters in an RV park who locked several RVers inside their rigs. How? Find out here. Could it happen to you?
The best sourdough biscuits by an old Sourdough himself
By Randall Brink
One of my favorite things about being an old RV prospector and Sourdough is maintaining and using the live, active sourdough for all types of cooking and baking. The culture of flour, natural yeasts, and beneficial bacteria make bread dough rise and result in a fragrant, delicious camp staple with an origin story going back to the 14th century. Read more and get Randall’s recipe for delicious Sourdough Camp Biscuits here.
New Feature: ‘The Diabetic Cyclist’: Introductions are in order!
By Keith Ward
When I was a kid, having a bike was everything. It meant freedom—freedom to travel, freedom to explore, freedom to see new things and go new places. Sound familiar? Yes, bicycles have a lot in common with RVs—more than you might think. They both enable us to go on adventures and enjoy the beauty of nature. Just like your travel trailer or fifth wheel, bicycles are recreational vehicles, and a great way to get around. That makes them a perfect topic for this new RV Travel column. Continue reading and join the conversation.
RV boo-boos – This rental 5th wheel comes to grief
Oh, to be an RV rental company. Imagine the messes you can clean up. Somebody left a fish in the refrigerator—with the cooling turned off. Customer forgets to lower the TV antenna before leaving the RV park. And then you get the really nice ones—like this week’s entry for RV boo-boos. Check out this “parking job.”
Halloween Specials (some from years past)
Video: Awesome, easy Halloween RV decorations, recipes, and more!
If you plan on taking the RV out for a Halloween camping trip, these easy, amazing ideas for Halloween RV decorations, easy-to-make recipes, and outdoor Halloween tips will be sure to spark some spooky creativity. Click here to watch.
Oh, my gourd! These Halloween RVs are too cute to spook
Happy Howloween! We asked you to submit a photo of your RV if you’d decorated it for Halloween. These submissions will surely make you smile. You did a great job decorating!
Halloween horrors! Beware of pets and chocolate
Halloween and the Fourth of July are the busiest times in the veterinary ER clinic, and Halloween is just around the corner. It can be a scary and dangerous time for pets. What are some of the things you should be aware of to prevent a costly trip to the emergency clinic? Find out here.
The long, long RV trip
Week 21: Through Montana and RVing on the Washington and Oregon border
By Cheri Sicard
This week’s stops in Montana and along the Washington and Oregon border include Montana rest areas, fairgrounds camping, Montana’s “best” huckleberry shakes, awesome pizza at Anelare Winery, Nirvana Cannabis Company, McNary Dam Army Corps of Engineers Camping and John Day Dam Army Corps of Engineers Camping. Lots of interesting stories to read here.
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.
How would you like to win a Drone?
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (October 29, 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.
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook”.
This past week’s questions that Dave answered:
- Quick RV Tech Tip: Why is my fresh water tank filling up when hooked to city water?
- I woke up to a shower full of water. How do I find the leak?
- When water pressure is low, will pressure regulator further reduce it?
- Why does water I add to fresh water tank drain into black tank?
- Is the white “gunk” in RV’s water hose causing low water pressure?
Visit Dave’s forum on RVtravel.com. Ask him a question or help answer one from another reader. Click here.
with Mike Sokol
DIY generator neutral/ground bonding plug
In response to several inquiries about how to make your own neutral/ground generator bonding plug, here’s the full DIY generator bonding plug article I wrote nearly 10 years ago.
Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.) Session: Using a 15-amp bonding plug in a 20-amp generator outlet
Video of the day
Top 10 most haunted campgrounds and parks in the U.S.
By Cheri Sicard
WatchMojo.com has produced a list of the top 10 allegedly haunted campgrounds and parks in the United States.
You won’t want to tell ghost stories around the campfire in these creepy locales. Well, with current fire season restrictions, there may not be a campfire, but you get the point. Either way, these locations are known for having the most ghost stories of their own.
RV Tire Safety
Tire autopsies of run low flex failure and impact break
By Roger Marble
I thought it might help to show a couple of examples of what was observed while doing a “tire autopsy.” A tire would be received with a complaint letter. The letter might say something like, “I was driving down Route 66 at 55 mph when suddenly I had a blowout. I wasn’t speeding and had checked the inflation just that morning. What is wrong with the tires? There must have been a defect.” Learn more. Helpful pictures included.
Ask Roger anything about RV tires on his RV Tires Forum.
RV Short Stop
“American Military Heritage” NPS free on Veterans Day
By Julianne G. Crane
Veterans Day, Nov. 11, is the last National Park Service’s “fee free” entrance day in 2022. It is a perfect occasion to visit American Military Heritage parks that include battlefields, military parks and historic sites. “The National Park Service has the honor of preserving battlefields, military parks, and historic sites that commemorate and honor the service of American veterans. What better way to honor those who served their country than to visit a national park that preserves the places where they fought?” Learn more.
RV Fire Safety
An emergency fire plan that can save your life – Part 2 of 13
Having a solid fire escape plan may help you replace panic with logical, life-saving actions if a fire occurs. Knowing exactly what to do and doing it quickly can make a big difference in an emergency situation.
Recognizing the signals from each type of detector is important because different reactions are required for each type of alarm. With smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, stay low when they sound. LPG gas gathers low, so the best action is standing upright when you hear the LPG detector. An easy way to remember what to do is to observe the placement of the detectors. If they’re placed high, then you should stay low, and vice versa. Weekly testing will also help you become very familiar with the varying sounds of each so you’ll know how to respond.
Courtesy of Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy
Recipe of the Day
by Elizabeth Lancaster from Naples, TX
Want a fun snack mix for Halloween? Well, this is festive and has a nice mix of flavors and textures. The salty popcorn and peanuts are a tasty contrast to the sweet candy corn and chocolate candies. We loved the candy corn. They’re slightly chewy compared to the crunchiness of the mix. Fun for a movie night or on Halloween.
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“Our Boxer, Snubby. They don’t come much cuter than this! Loves to travel. Loves EVERYONE, and eats like a lion. Nose pattern is unique. Love the blue tint in the eyes. Looking forward to many happy traveling trips.” —James Foucault
The person who built it sold it. The person who bought it never used it. The person who used it never saw it. What is it?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday news newsletter. And please don’t spoil it for other readers by posting the answer in the comments.)
The White House is said to be haunted by many famous ghosts, with Abraham Lincoln the most popular haunt of them all. Longtime White House staff member Jerry Smith was the first to describe a Lincoln encounter. What he described was so eerie it was written about in a 1903 newspaper. Many additional sightings have occurred over the years, most often in the Lincoln Bedroom or the Yellow Oval Room. It’s been said that White House dogs often bark at nothing. President Ronald Regan and First Lady Nancy Reagan’s dog, Rex, would never go into Lincoln’s bedroom—instead, he’d just stand outside it and bark.
Laugh of the Week
A young Montana cowboy was walking a pretty girl home from the Saturday night barn dance. He was falling in love, and it was a beautiful, romantic evening. “Edna, I bet you’ve been out with a lot of worse-looking fellows than me,” he said, bashfully. Edna didn’t answer. He tried again. “I said I bet you’ve been out with a lot of uglier fellows than me.”
“Would you keep quiet,” Edna said. “I’m trying to think!”
Current smoke and fire report for where you live or where you are traveling.
“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.
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.
Dustin Simpson RV Repair and Maintenance Articles: Incredibly helpful!
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Meet Earl and Burl Squirrel, from the mind of RVtravel.com friend R.L. Crabb.
RVtravel.com All Star Team
Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Tony Barthel, Gail Marsh, Dave Solberg. Contributors: Mike Sokol, Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Mike Gast, Julianne Crane, Machelle James, J.R. Montigel, Randall Brink, Karel Carnohan DVM, Cheri Sicard, Dustin and Ashley Simpson, Dale Wade, Paul Lacitinola, Jeff Clemishaw and Johnny Robot. Special projects director: Jessica Sarvis. Moderators: Gary Gilmore, Linda Brady. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. Special Reports: Bradford Geer. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen. Mascots: Archie and Astor (the Disaster)
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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