Sunday, May 28, 2023


Members RV Travel Newsletter Issue 1102

Welcome to, America’s longest continuously published RVing newsletter. Be sure to check out all our other RV-related newsletters.

Page Contents

April 30, 2023
Members edition

 Cover story 

How observing pavement helped create a retailing empire

By Chuck Woodbury

I doubt you have heard of Leon Levine. You might have if you were an executive in the retail industry. At age 22, back in 1959, Mr. Levine founded Family Dollar, a discount chain store in rural low-income areas. RVers who have spent much time on the road have likely shopped at the stores. Often, they are the only place to buy basic necessities for miles around.

The company is now under the Dollar Tree umbrella. Together, the two chains operate more than 16,000 stores in 49 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces. Family Dollar operates 8,293 of them, which is more than 3,658 more stores than Walmart.

Family Dollar in Quartzsite, Arizona

Mr. Levine died three weeks ago at age 85. I learned about him in the Wall Street Journal, which ran an obituary.

I loved a vignette about him as reported by the Journal. It inspired me. And it made me laugh (in amazement) at the young man’s creativity. More in a moment.

I don’t know how many biographies, autobiographies and case studies I have read through the years about successful people and companies, whether in business, science, publishing or politics. It’s hundreds. With rare exceptions, the people were all innovative, motivated, ambitious, determined and highly creative. They saw opportunity where others did not, and then found a way to satisfy it. In business, Ray Croc saw “hamburgers”, Harland Sanders saw “chicken” and Sam Walton saw weakness in Kmart.

Mr. Levine saw the opportunity (according to the Family Dollar website) to “offer his customers a variety of high-quality, good-value merchandise for under $2.” But he didn’t just see opportunity, he took action.

But where to locate his stores? Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, would fly around potential locations in a small airplane. Nothing wrong with that. Mr. Levine’s answer was to also look down, but from ground level. He looked at streets. Specifically, he looked at pavement.

Now, how could that possibly tell him anything about where to open a store? Pause for a moment to think about it. I doubt you will guess correctly.

OK. Click here and I will answer.

 Publisher’s Roadside Journal 

The father who turned his boy into a pickle founder and publisher Chuck Woodbury has been writing in his Roadside Journal for more than three decades. Here is his latest musing.

RV Service Centers and Repairs Report

Some RV techs and managers don’t even read the manuals. Do they know anything?

In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs. This week Nanci Dixon summarizes some of your recent emails including kudos from RVers for a couple of La Mesa RV locations, and one very happy customer of Camping World (with links). But there were several very unhappy campers dealing with Camping World. On the other hand, one RVer received “exceptional client service” at a shop at no charge! Wow!

Click here to read more

What’s the second-best thing you can do for your RV air conditioner?

By Ross Regis
Your RV is a solar oven. … Your air conditioner has one job: to move heat from inside to outside. But how can your hardworking, loyal air conditioner remove heat if you keep adding it back in? This is often why your “air conditioner doesn’t work.” Your air conditioner may actually be working just fine, but it simply can’t keep up with the tremendous heat gain. So what’s the second-best thing you can do for your air conditioner? Find out here.

Reader warns of easy-to-fall-for Craigslist RV scam. Beware!

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous sent us this letter and we asked if we could share it with you as a word of caution. Here’s what they wrote: “As a recipient of your online newsletters, I am reaching out to you in hopes that you can use your platform to alert others in our hobby of an ongoing scam, which I almost fell victim to….” Continue reading and don’t fall for this yourself!

Comparing pricey lithium batteries to cheaper ones: How to differentiate quality

By Dave Solberg
Just a year ago you could hardly find a lithium battery for under $1,200, but now I see them advertised all over the place from $1,200 down to some that are $350 for a 100 AH model. So what’s the difference in cost of lithium batteries and why do we see such a current range in prices? What makes some more expensive, and is the price worth it? I spent quite a bit of time the past couple of years researching the different lithium battery offerings, charging systems, and installation issues. I’ll teach you what I’ve learned. Read the first part in this series here.

Around the Campfire

Should campgrounds charge messy RVers an extra campsite cleaning fee?

By Gail Marsh
Should campgrounds charge messy RVers an extra campsite cleaning fee? That was the topic of discussion around the campfire this week. See what folks said about this idea, and then add your own opinion in the comments below. Have you ever seen this happen?

Read more

Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter

Pilot turns Southwest Airlines catering truck into incredible RV

By Cheri Sicard
Mark Pankey is a Southwest Airlines pilot. He’s also the owner of an RV he built out of (wait for it!) a decommissioned Southwest Airlines catering truck! His may be the only RV in existence equipped with a scissors lift, generally used by airlines to load snacks and beverages into its airplanes. It’s a fascinating story, so let’s get into it!

A look at the iconic Clark Cortez coaches of the ’60s and ’70s

By Randall Brink
Recreational vehicles have a rich and interesting history, with many innovative designs and manufacturers leaving their mark on the early history of RVing. One pioneering firm was the Clark Equipment Company, which produced the Clark Cortez motor homes in the 1960s and 1970s. These unique Class A motor coaches provided comfort and luxury for RVers. They also saw use by NASA for astronaut transport. They saw public service as ambulances and rescue vehicles. Continue reading.

New RV parks coming close to a National Park near you; one opens this summer

By Gail Marsh
It all began with the children. Thomas and Shannon Connelly wanted to help their two children earn Junior Ranger badges by visiting National Parks around the country. It was during their travels that the Connellys discovered many campgrounds in disrepair. They noted the lack of cleanliness and amenities along with unsuitable RV sites and poor customer service. The Connellys, owners of a construction company out of Chattanooga, TN, decided to launch a series of new RV parks. Thomas Connelly, a real estate agent, hotel developer, and builder, wants to make the camping experience better—much better! Read more.

9 interesting tidbits about our National Parks’ natural wonders

By Nanci Dixon
My bucket list is heavily weighted toward visiting all the National Parks and as many National Historic sites and military parks as I can drag my husband to in our lifetime and with our RV. Not only do I want to visit them, but I want to learn about them as much as I can, too. Fun facts are a great way to do just that! Continue reading.

Watch the incredible synchronized firefly display from a Great Smoky Mountains campground

By Gail Marsh
Nature is planning a light show and you’ve just got to see it! This year, from June 4–11, thousands of fireflies (aka lightning bugs) will put on a mesmerizing performance: a synchronized firefly display. Yes, you read that correctly. Synchronized. This natural phenomenon comes courtesy of the Photinus carolinus, a special species of fireflies that naturally synchronize their flashing lights. Learn more.

Unique, budget-friendly gifts for RVers they’re sure to appreciate

By Janet Groene
No matter what the occasion, season or type of RV they own, these unique RV gift ideas will suit almost anyone on your RV gift list. They’re also easy on your budget. Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 14, and Father’s Day is Sunday, June 18, so perhaps these gift ideas will spark your interest…

Reader Poll

Do you believe Walmart will ban overnight RV stays at all stores within 5 years?

Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment.

Tell us here

We asked: Are you or your partner a better driver? We don’t think you will be surprised by the answer. But maybe you will. Find out.

Ask Dave

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook”.

This past week’s questions that Dave answered:

Click here to see more questions for Dave.

Have a question for Dave? Click any Ask Dave article and scroll down to fill out the form. He’ll get back to you!

Road Trip Playlists

Lone Star State Road Trip Playlist: 8 great Texas songs!

By Cheri Sicard
In this installation of Road Trip Playlists, I thought it might be fun to get destination specific. What better place to start than the Lone Star State? I could fill a bunch of playlists with Texas songs, as many musicians have been inspired by it. Perhaps we’ll do a Part 2 (or 3 or 4) in the future. In today’s playlist, however, I stuck to general songs about Texas (meaning we could do playlists about specific destinations within Texas but we’ll save that list for later).

Listen to them here

In the RV shop with Dustin

In every RV tech’s toolbox: The most popular RV roof and body tool

In this video, Dustin shows you a tool that is in every RV technician’s toolbox: a plastic scraper! It’s used for so many repairs: decal removal, RV roof sealant removal, RV body silicone removal, to pop an RV molding, to install and remove RV insert moldings, and more (just to name a few). Dustin shares his tips and tricks on how he grinds down scrapers to make repair and maintenance easier with this handy tool. Watch the short video

Video of the day

How is fiberglass applied in fiberglass RVs?

By Cheri Sicard
Ask and ye shall receive! A few weeks ago we shared a video of a fiberglass Escape fifth wheel coming out of its mold. One of our readers expressed disappointment that it didn’t show how the fiberglass went into the mold. So I searched and found this video showing how the fiberglass RV Airstream Nest is made.

Click here to watch the fascinating short video

RV Tire Safety

How much longer will my RV’s tires last if I follow Roger Marble’s suggestions?

By Roger Marble
Steve, a reader of, asked:

Just gonna say it, covering one’s RV tires just for a weekend is not necessary. With that said, when should one cover RV tires: when stationary for a week or longer, full-time parked, or anytime when parked? I cover ours when parked at the house, but for a week or so getaway, it seems silly. The tires aren’t going to rot off the rim in a few weeks.

You are correct, Steve. Not covering your tires for a day or a week is not going to make them fail and fall off the wheel. But my objective is to provide information that can extend the life of your tires.

Continue reading

Ask Roger anything about RV tires on his RV Tires Forum.

Did you miss yesterday’s Latest News for RVers?

If so, stories you missed:
RVers “had” by Nomad Internet’s mobile internet scheme
‘Complaining about lack of availability [at campgrounds] is much ado about nothing’
New report reveals surprising characteristics of typical RV buyers
RV shipments decline sharply in March
These RV news stories made the headlines, but how did they end?
and much more

Read it here | Back issues

Recipe of the Day

Grilled Flat Iron Steak

by Delores Ward from Barboursville, WV

Flat iron steak is an affordable cut of meat for grilling season. To make it tender, though, it needs a good marinade. This recipe offers just that. Take some easily accessible prepared sauces, mix ’em together and you’ve got a unique and delicious marinade. The final result is a mixture of smoky, rich, savory flavors. After the steak is grilled, it’s perfectly tender. This will be a big hit with your guests and your wallet.

Get the recipe here

Readers’ Pets of the Day

“Dakota and her Co-Pilot, Gypsie, our Bernese Mountain Dogs, are anxious to get this show on the road! Let’s go!” —Rich Danielson

Brain Teaser

Every evening I get my assignment and by morning I always fulfill it but every time I do, I get scolded. What am I?

(Answer below.)

Do you have a brain teaser you think we should use? Send it to us here.


The famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign isn’t actually in Las Vegas. It’s in neighboring Paradise, NV. The sign was placed in 1959 and was designed by Betty Willis. Betty was one of the only women at the time working with neon lights. Since Betty gave her design to the city of Las Vegas, the sign was never copyrighted, which is why you can find the artwork on keychains, magnets, bumper stickers and more.

Sunday funny


RV Show Directory: See if a show is coming soon to your area.

Best Club for RVers: Escapees. Click here to learn more or join. Endorsed by

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?

Read it here | Back issues

Brain teaser answer:

An alarm clock. All Star Team

rv travel logoPublisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Gail Marsh, Dave Solberg. Contributors: Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, J.R. Montigel, Randall Brink, Karel Carnohan DVM, Cheri Sicard, Dustin and Ashley Simpson, Dale Wade, Paul Lacitinola and Jeff Clemishaw. Special projects director: Jessica Sarvis. Moderators: Gary Gilmore. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. Special Reports: Bradford Geer. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen. Artificial (AI) contributors: Johnny Robot and Milly MacWilly. Canine 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 or this newsletter. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers.

Editorial (all but news)
Editorial (news)
Help desk:
Contact us.

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.

This newsletter is copyright 2023 by RV Travel LLC.


4.7 18 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bill Byerly
27 days ago

Another great edition. Thank you all!!

Diane McGovern
27 days ago
Reply to  Bill Byerly

Thank you, Bill!👍 Have a good evening/night. 😀 –Diane at

28 days ago

Do you think Dakota and Gypsie share the driving duties?

Yesterday’s “In The News”, like many news sources referred to the SpaceX heavy launch as a failure. Pretty subjective take away considering it lasted for almost 4 minutes and was detonated with the push of a button. magazine has a great article on the launch for anyone interested. It traveled well beyond the most critical phase of destructive G forces. I know a lot of Elon haters look at the 3 acre fire (you could put that out with a garden hose), or the debris field in Boca Chica Park. I’m reminded of Die Hard when the dumb cop in charge exclaims “people covered in glass down here” instead of saying good job to John McClean for blowing up 3 of the bad guys.
It was the very 1st test of the largest space vehicle ever launched. It was in fact a great success. Clearing the towers at T+17 was a success. Everything past that was icing for a rocket with a companion capsule large enough to hold 100 passengers.

Last edited 28 days ago by Cancelproof
Marie Beschen
28 days ago

I always love reading your newsletter, but today’s was extra special! The article on the Dollar Store exec was especially interesting (I always like to hear about enterprising people) along with all the other articles. Thank you all for what you do everyday!

Diane McGovern
28 days ago
Reply to  Marie Beschen

Thank you, Marie! It’s always good to hear that our efforts are appreciated. We’re constantly striving to improve what we provide to our wonderful readers, so it’s nice to hear positive comments. Have a great day! 😀 –Diane at

28 days ago

It wouldn’t surprise me Laurie. We stayed overnight at the casino in Tucson. There was dozens of RV’s there. You might be responsible but many are not.
In the parking lot area where raised areas with landscaping rocks and trees were it was covered with dog crap.

Laurie R
28 days ago

I have a question for y’all. Is it common practice now for RV parks to charge extra for dogs? I have recently come across this very thing. While making reservations, I was informed that there would be an additional $10 per dog, per night, in addition to the high price of $75 a night. I have been RV’n for almost 40 years and has never heard of such a thing. I mean, WHY? My dogs are inside my RV, and I’m a responsible pet owner. I don’t get it, has anyone come across this?

28 days ago
Reply to  Laurie R

Yes we have. For at least last 4 years it has happened to us frequently. Also alot of places we find are limiting weight of dog and how many you have. No more than 2 in a lot of places

Charlie Sullivan
28 days ago
Reply to  Crmay

Also, many parks are not allowing certain breeds either.

Laurie R
27 days ago

That I have heard of.

28 days ago
Reply to  Laurie R

As is the case in so many different scenarios, the few screw it up for the many and could care less.

28 days ago
Reply to  Laurie R

A single companion pooch for a single traveler is a pretty sure bet to be exempt under ADA regulations as a service companion. More than 1 pooch, maybe not or a couple with pooch, maybe a stretch.