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Week of April 27–May 3, 2019
If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.
With Chuck Woodbury
Iwas sick last week, a bad cold, the worst one I’ve had in awhile. For two days I stayed in bed with the electric blanket cranked up. Fresh air poured in from my window, birds sang their spring songs. It wasn’t bad for being sick. I got in a lot of thinking time and did some writing (in bed), and now, on Friday, I’m on the mend.
I was happy to be at home in my own bed. A long time ago, during a period of similar discomfort, I was in my own bed but it was the one in my Tioga motorhome. I had eaten some bad potato salad in a Kanab, Utah, cafe. I think the mayo was on its second or third life. It attacked me a few hours later with a vengeance after I had settled into a beautiful campsite in Zion National Park. This was back when you could show up at a popular National Park without a reservation and easily find your perfect campsite.
For the next few days I was best friends with my toilet. I had never been that sick before and haven’t been since. During the ordeal I found one reason to celebrate: I was in an RV and not a tent: There was no way I could run to the park potties every time I had the urge to purge (OMG, it would be really bad if they were pit toilets!). But because this was back when our national parks and other campgrounds were not packed like sardines, I could stay as long as I wanted. Today I’d need to leave when my reservation ran out to make room for the next guy who probably booked a year before.
FINALLY, I FELT WELL ENOUGH to drive to the hospital in Cedar City, Utah, pausing along the way for meaningful puking experiences with my toilet buddy. I managed to restrain my auto-retching mechanism at the hospital emergency room, where I was told by a nice nurse (aren’t they all – most, anyway?) that I probably had food poisoning. I had two choices, pay $250 to be admitted and they’d tell me the same thing, or wait another day and see what happened. I waited. I got better. Now that I think about it, I should have removed that toilet when I sold the RV to display at my future Chuck’s Roadtrip Museum along with my beloved red coffee pot (circa 1985 to 1995).
Two years ago, now a full-time RVer, I got sick again. It was a head cold, not real bad but I felt crummy. I was in an RV park with two days left on the reservation. At exactly 11 a.m. on the day of departure, well before my “well again” ETA, my spot would be claimed by another RV enthusiast, and I would be due 300 miles away at another park.
But all I wanted was to remain in my cozy bed until I felt better. I didn’t want to unhook, pull in the slides, fight with the rear right leveler that always got stuck, hook up the tow car, and then drive to the next campsite and then do it all in reverse. I just wanted to be in my little cozy home and bathe in Gail’s attention and heal with her yummy chicken soup.
But I had to leave. No choice – definitely a thumbs down experience.
Alas, this is the way it can go these days. If you like to travel often from place to place – you know, “Go where you want, when you want” to see America as the almighty RVIA promises in its ad campaigns to sell a billion RVs next year – you have to spend a lot of time making reservations. And sometimes those reservations imprison you, so even if you are sick and the last thing you want to do is pack up and leave, you have no choice. That’s not freedom to me.
So what’s my point? Am I just whining again? Maybe. But I think there’s a moral to my story. It is:
With so many campers these days, the freedom to do “what we want, when we want” is not as easy as it used to be before every 10th person owned a recreational vehicle (okay, that’s an exaggeration). This is something new RVers should know, at least those who plan to move around a lot. RVing can be great fun, but those who aspire to the lifestyle need to know there’s another side of the experience, too.
If you’ll be in the Seattle area this coming week, stop by the Puyallup RV Show. Gail and I will be meandering around on Thursday, checking out rigs. If you see us, please flag us down so we can meet you. The show runs Thursday through Sunday. More here.
RESERVE YOUR SEAT NOW
If you plan to attend one or both of Mike Sokol’s RV Electricity seminars in Funkstown, MD, on June 8, you can now reserve your seat. The morning seminar will cover the basics of RV electricity ($15 for our members and $25 for others). The afternoon session ($100 for members, $125 for non-members), will be longer and cover more advanced topics you simply will not find easily available elsewhere. Members see the special discount code directly below.
Members (that’s you). If you plan to attend either or both classes, use this coupon code to obtain your special discount: RVT20
Seating is limited, so please make your reservation ASAP. Click here to learn more and/or register. We are still undecided about whether we will offer a live webcast. If we do, we will announce it in a week or two. We do know that an archived recording of the advanced seminar will be available at a later date for a reduced fee.
Also, Mike will be available on live video chat on Facebook tomorrow, Sunday, at 9 p.m. Eastern time (6 p.m. Pacific). Click here to watch (you will need to be a member of the Facebook RV Electricity group to participate), ask questions, and join in the live chat.
Last but not least, Mike’s monthly RV Electricity Newsletter arrives tomorrow morning. If you’re not subscribed already, be sure to sign up here so you don’t miss it. Issue #18 is a good one!
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Stop RV refrigerator fires before they start
Of all the RVing videos on the internet, perhaps the most frightening are the ones that show a rig burning up. You can practically hear the popping, smell the smoke, and feel your heart shudder when you think about how the owner is feeling as his rolling home turns into a pile of ash. But now comes what may be one of the most significant pieces of equipment that can enhance fire safety and refrigerator longevity. Read more.
That was the RV week that was …
• RV sales continue their slide
• Campers less likely to go online
• Four people headed to slammer for illegal RV park booty
• RVer gets stuck with RV but no ownership papers
Win these folding high-power binoculars
We love giving away stuff!
Congratulations to last week’s winner, Ruth Turski of Kissimmee, Florida.
The correct answer: None of the above. No, the Russian cosmonauts did not see a partially eaten ham sandwich drift by while on a space walk.
Developments at RV parks and campgrounds cross the USA
Janet Groene is reporting each week on developments at RV parks and campgrounds. Lots of good information here that you can use to plan your travels. Read the current installment of “Campground Chatter” here.
How RV manufacturers hide production shortcuts from you
Here’s a great example how an RV manufacturer can cut costs without the customer finding out. They save a dime wherever they can when the work will be hidden from view, where few buyers will ever bother to look. Here’s one example how some lazy production work affected an RV’s heater performance.
RV Horror Story of the Week, April 26, 2019
This was posted at our Facebook group, RV Horror Stories, a place where RVers with defective RVs that dealers and manufacturers can’t fix or refuse to fix in a timely manner outline their situations.This reader recently paid cash for a new Coachmen trailer, but it has a faulty slideout and has yet to be repaired. Read more.
Why one couple quit full-time RVing
Most accounts of full-time RVing on YouTube present a romantic picture of going “where you want, when you want,” and doing so affordably. And, yes, sometimes that’s true. But for these two veteran travelers, the reality of full-time RV living was far different from what they expected when they set out in their fifth wheel trailer…. Watch the video.
Full-timers: How many days can you go comfortably without plugging into electricity?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. We’ll post the final results in next week’s newsletter. CLICK HERE.
Is there a magic spell on Emily? Will high gas prices affect upcoming RV travels? Do you have a will? How often do you dine at fast food restaurants? What color is your hair? How much would you spend on a cup of coffee? All this and more, right here.
Scamp. Boler. Casita. We could go on and on, but the names are evocative of a smaller travel trailer niche community. These are rigs built of fiberglass that pop out of molds and are generally lightweight, almost never develop leaks, and are – well – just plain cute. Add to your list of names for egg-RVs – the Barefoot. Read more.
A portable, size-adjustable bag dispenser – with bags!
[Since Rich’s ISP was down last week, we’re running this again for those who didn’t see it.] Rich “The Wanderman” uses lots of plastic bags onboard his RV. Shopping bags from large chain stores aren’t all that durable. He found this nifty gadget which is a self-contained dispenser that allows you choose the length of your bag and then simply cut it to fit. Read more.
How to prepare for boondocking
You can boondock as long as your on-board resources hold out. There is basic equipment for dry camping (without hookups), and adding a few optional items can extend your boondocking stays. Here are some tips to get you started boondocking.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• “Real ID” Act may soon complicate RVers’ lives.
• Pilot Flying J launches new app for RVers, other motorists.
• RV owner angry over treatment by Heartland RV.
• Hitch Pitch: Take the pain out of RV leveling.
• Good Sam CEO Lemonis included in lawsuit.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, April 19, 2019.
• The badger who got a whole lot of sh*t!
• What we learned about you last week (April 13-19).
• RVer Safety: Nothing but the truth…
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.
Common RV-related terms: If you’re an RVer newbie, you should know the meaning of these words.
The RV Show USA
Listen each Wednesday evening on Facebook or YouTube for the live taping of America’s only syndicated radio program about RVing.
Did you buy a lemon RV? Here’s more about RV lemons and lawyers who will represent you if you need help.
Motorhomes on Fire
This is not pretty – dozens of videos of RVs burning up. But the point is to help viewers understand that RVs burn fast, and they need to practice good fire-prevention habits and practice an escape plan … just in case.
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.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of April 22, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.84. [Calif.: $3.95]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 4 cents.
Diesel: $3.15. [Calif.: $4.00]
Change from week before: Up 3 cents; Change from year before: Up 1 cent.
RV Quick Tips
Store your sewer hoses with the fittings in place
Confound these fancy new sewer hoses. They’ve got nice fittings with 45-degree angles that you can see through but, hey, what happens when you try to stow them in the rear bumper? The fittings don’t fit – you have to take them off and stuff the hose in the bumper. For those travel trailer folks who use 20-pound (five-gallon) LP cylinders, here’s a mod that will save you all that hassle.
One clever RVer in this situation obtained a plastic LP cylinder cover with an access hatch (allowing one to reach in and turn off the LP valves), designed for 30-pound cylinders. The thing fit right over the top of the 20 pounders, with space at the top. He cut a piece of plywood to make a snug fit over the top of the valves – leaving a platform over the valves. Now he simply opens the access hatch and drops his sewer hose – with fittings attached – onto that plywood platform. Here’s a link to his instructions. And here’s a tall LP cylinder storage container cover on Amazon.com.
Free up freezer shelf space
If things are a bit tight in your RV freezer compartment, get help – from the office supply store! Grab a box of oversize binder clips and hang those bags of frozen veggies and other goodies from a shelf. Makes it easier to see what you’re looking for without having to unpack a huge stack of bags that normally “jump out” every time you open the door.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com
Being flexible is a part of RVing. We set out on our journey with plenty of fuel, food, first aid kit, water on board, fully charged cell phone, maps, weather reports, traffic reports and perhaps reservations at your favorite campground. … But what if your engine starts to overheat, you get a flat tire, you start to feel nauseated for some reason? As luck would have it, there is no cell service. Let’s take a look at what you can do to help ensure your safety and security. Read more.
Ask the RV Shrink
Pros and cons of RVing with mother-in-law
Dear RV Shrink:
We have had a large motorhome for many years. I always thought that after I retired, my wife and I would travel several months during the year. Now that I have retired and have all my ducks in a row, my wife refuses to go because her 83-year-old mother would be left alone. My mother-in-law is healthy and active but my wife is afraid she would feel abandoned if we were gone that long. …
Getting the perks – Part 3
The perks of work camping can make or break a gig. This week we discuss laundry, firewood, cable TV or high-speed internet, year-end bonus, camper port and onsite restaurants as possible perks. Read more.
Ask the RV Doctor
Why isn’t converter giving a full charge while driving?
I have a converter that doesn’t properly give a full charge while driving. I have a Dodge Sprinter chassis with the Mercedes turbo. The converter is an older model by Parallax Power Supply. The two 12-volt house batteries are new and I’ve only used the rig for less than four months. Is there a better converter that I should buy? —Glenn C.
RV Electricity updates, plus: Power principles – 50-amp shore power
Mike updates us on his latest projects, including his popular RV Electricity Facebook Group. He also explains how 50-amp shore power works, including what is a 50-amp RV outlet, how is it powered, how much power can you get from a 50-amp outlet, and much more. Learn more.
This week’s Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.) Session: How much does it cost to run an electric heater?
RV Tire Safety
ST tire speed rating, and why you should stay under 65 mph
The Tire and Rim Association load formula used by the industry for ST-type tires is based on a 65 mph max operating speed. They even identified inflation increase and load capability reductions necessary to operate up to 75 mph. Neither P- nor LT-type tires have stated max speed associated with their load formula or calculation. Read more.
The significance of the Battle of Washita River
The story of the American West is a checkered one, with heroic struggles and devastating misdeeds. It’s war and peace on an immense scale, spanning a continent and hundreds of years. Here’s part of the story of why the Battle of Washita River was significant to the development of our country as we know it today. Learn more.
The RV Kitchen
Make pie your main dish. Make this crusty pie mild or spicy, meaty or meatless. Make and bake it on the spot or assemble it in advance, wrap and chill up to two days and pop it in a preheated oven when you’re ready. It’s a good way to have a main dish pie on the first night out. It throws together quickly, bakes to toasty perfection and brings happy grins to the pie lovers in your crew. Get the recipe.
RVing in New Zealand
After 15 years of RVing in the U.S., Chris and Jim Guld, Geeks on Tour, decided to try something a little different. As part of a 5-week trip to Australia and New Zealand, they rented a motorhome for 2 weeks in New Zealand. If you’ve never been to New Zealand, you might want to plan a trip there after reading/watching this.
RVtravel.com is interested in hosting your blog. Increase your audience hugely in most cases. No need to abandon your current blog: Just post highlights with us (and watch traffic to your existing blog soar). Contact email@example.com to learn more.
Facebook Groups about RVing
Free and bargain camping
Unnamed SR 162 Gravel Turnout, Laytonville, CA
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. No signage. Huge, wide turnout, not separated from the highway, on two levels (each with room for many rigs). Level, unlit, and appears safe. There is possible traffic noise from nearby U.S. 101. The lot is on the banks of Eel River, so be aware of river stage and recent rainfall. Click here for details.
Point Cadet Plaza Parking Lot, Biloxi, MS
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. RVers park overnight here regularly while patronizing adjacent Golden Nugget Casino. Casino security told one RVer that local police overlook RVs parked here unless they stay a week or longer. The lot is level and well-lit. Click here for details.
•Walmarts that do not allow overnight RV stays.
Overnight RV Parking, with more than 14,000 locations listed, is the largest and best resource for locating free and inexpensive places to spend a night in an RV. For membership information and a demo of the site, click here. A modest membership fee required, but try the free demo. Watch a video about OvernightRVparking.com.
Museum of the Week
The Bunny Museum
The Bunny Museum in Altadena, CA, is truly the “hoppiest place in the world.” You’ll want to see all 35,777 bunny objects and pet the live rabbits hopping around the museum. You’ll find ceramic bunnies, stuffed bunnies, cookie-jar bunnies, parade float bunnies, freeze-dried bunnies (it does say that preschool children should be warned…um…) as well as everything else non-living bunny related, such as rabbit-ear antennas, bunny TV shows, dust bunnies, magic-hat bunnies, lucky rabbit feet, and more. Is this museum cute or creepy? Ya know, we’re really not sure… Visit the museum website here and watch the video of the couple who gifts each other one bunny object each day.
Upcoming RV Shows
• Puyallup RV Show, May 2-5, Puyallup, WA
• Spring Hall of Fame RV Show, May 2-5, Elkhart, IN
Grand Canyon National Park statistics:
Park size: 1,217,403.32 acres (487,350 hectares), 1,904 sq. miles (4,950 kilometers)
Length: 277 river miles (446 km)
Width: Minimum at Marble Canyon 600 feet (180 m)
Average Rim to Rim 10 miles (16 km)
Maximum Rim to Rim 18 miles (28.8km)
Depth: Average 1 mile (1.6km)
Elevations: South Rim 7,000 feet (2100m)
North Rim 8,000 feet (2400m)
From Dennis Prichard:
At Mammoth Cave (Kentucky) there is an aquarium with blind cave fish in it found in the underground river system. At about 2″ long, these tactile fish hide under rocks for protection. After a couple read the interpretive panel on how the tiny fish evolved without eyes, the man exclaimed, “I don’t see no invisible fish.” His wife answered, “That’s because they’re blind, silly.”
Have you overheard a silly tourist question at a National Park or other well-known tourist location? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Bumper sticker of the week
Watch out for the idiot behind me.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
A couple is sitting in their living room, sipping wine. Out of the blue, the wife says, “I love you.” “Is that you or the wine talking?” asks the husband. “It’s me,” says the wife, “talking to the wine.”
“There are people who want to be everywhere at once, and they get nowhere.” —Carl Sandburg
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editor: Russ De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Greg Illes, Bob Difley, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Dave Helgeson, Chris Fellows, Dennis Prichard, Len Wilcox, Sam Suva, Mike Sherman, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising director: Emily Woodbury. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
REGIONAL AND LOCAL ADVERTISING: We can now run banners on RVtravel.com in your town or in a designated area near you, for example to readers within 100, 200, etc., miles of your business. Contact Emily Woodbury at advertising(at)RVtravel.com .
About the RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for three decades. In the ’90s he published the quirky travel newspaper Out West, and was an “on the road” writer for the New York Times Syndicate. His book, “The Best from Out West” is available at Amazon.com. Woodbury’s RVing adventures have been profiled on ABC News, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, and in People Magazine, USA Today and in hundreds of newspapers. He is the host of the Better Business Bureau DVD “Buying a Recreational Vehicle,” the definitive guide to purchasing an RV the right way.
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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