Week of May 4–10, 2019
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Week of May 4–10, 2019
With Chuck Woodbury
I f this newsletter were about boating, I would refer to every reader as a “boater.” Yet one reader might own a bass boat, another a high-performance speed boat, another a sailboat, and yet another a 60-foot yacht. What would those readers have in common beyond owning a vessel that travels on water, not land? Not much. And yet they are all “boaters.”
And so it is with RVers: They are not all the same. Some of our readers have 40-foot motorhomes and live on $200,000 a year; others have an old trailer and get by on their Social Security. Some stay in high-rent RV resorts, others hole up in the desert for free and live a minimal existence. Others head off with their young kids for a weekend at the lake in a 15-foot trailer. Collectively, they are all “RVers.”
SO WHEN I WRITE HERE I am addressing many people with various interests. My subject one week may not ring true with some readers, but will with others. If I write about campground crowding, for example, some readers will have no idea of the problem because of the way they use their RV.
For years, decades even, I was pretty much a cheerleader for the RV lifestyle. In fact, in 2013, the RV Industry Association named me the Distinguished Journalist of the Year for helping promote RVing. I’m sure my enthusiasm convinced countless people to buy RVs.
Then, three years ago, I sold my home and traveled the United States for two years. I didn’t seek out the ugly side of RVing, but I found it. Perhaps the biggest eye-opener was discovering that the message the RV industry promotes, “Go where you want, when you want,” is bogus. It’s no longer true, as it was 20 years ago.
Now, some readers will tell me they never have a problem finding a place to stay. If, for example, they return to the same parks over and over with reservations made a year ahead, they would never experience the frustration of being unable to find a decent park on the spur of the moment, easily accomplished even 10 years ago.
See the traffic photo? That’s a road near my suburban home on a Saturday afternoon. If I had snapped that same photo 25 years ago, there would have been virtually no traffic — just a narrow two lane road through farmland.
Back then, the local chamber of commerce could have advertised “move to the peace and quiet of the country.” Could they say that today? If they did, it would be a lie.
So it is with the RV industry, with its tantalizing commercials showing RVs camping by the ocean or along a beautiful lake. Sure, some RVers do find places like that, but more often they’re packed into crowded RV parks — a third of them dumps and another third essentially “trailer parks” packed with full-time residents and workers on temporary work assignments.
Our survey last week revealed that nearly 60 percent of our full-time RVer readers could not go even a week without an electric hookup. Do you know what that means? It means they need to stay in RV parks, not on public lands or even primitive campgrounds. And that’s a lot of people, and more every year — and the RV parks are already packed.
My friend Alan Warren, who hosts a radio program called The RV Show USA, got kicked out of a bunch of Facebook forums last week (all run by one person), where he was publicly ridiculed for being too “negative” — for saying many of the same things I say here. As a result, Alan has taken heat from advertisers who he fears may abandon him.
Yet, in my mind, Alan is helping a lot of RVers, and I personally know he loves the RV lifestyle. He and his wife, Lisa, own and operate a Texas RV park. I’ll do everything I can to help keep him on the air. He cares. He’s not an editorial whore who will say anything to earn a dollar. He won’t, for example, provide a glowing review just to sell an advertisement. That happens all the time elsewhere, especially in printed RV magazines where a rave review of a new model RV, for example, could mean a $40,000 ad.
What if Alan and I went away? Where would an RVer with a brand-new lemon RV go to get attention? Read this week’s RV Horror Story; I believe by publicizing this RVer’s nightmare, the manufacturer of his RV will take action to fix or replace it rather than continue to deal with the negative publicity from this website and social media pages that echo our words.
I stand with Alan. We are the only two media people who bother to publicize the plight of RVers who are stuck with bad, even unusable RVs. We’re the only ones preaching to avoid 20-year loans on cheap trailers peddled by Camping World.
I am fortunate because 4,300 of you have become members by voluntarily subscribing to this newsletter, which means I do not need to kiss the behinds of RV manufacturers for their advertising dollars, that typically come with strings. If you are not a member of RVtravel.com yet, please consider making a contribution to show your support of what we are doing. One immediate perk is that you will receive an ad-free edition of this newsletter.
I am happy to report that due to our mission of fighting to improve the lives of RVers coupled with an aggressive advertising and PR campaign (“thank you to our members”) we added 2,600 subscribers in the last week alone. On Thursday, nearly 500 new readers signed up. Our database is closing in on 100,000 names. And with each new reader, we gain more influence in affecting positive change for you and other RVers.
Okay, I have identified a lot of problems: So what do we do about them? We’re working behind the scenes to find answers and we’ll update you as we make progress.
How to watch YouTube videos using very little bandwidth
We often show you videos here on RVtravel.com. Alas, many of you are on the road with limited data plans, so you must be very selective what you watch. Here’s how to watch many more videos without using much bandwidth
We are now holding one or two contests each week with great prizes in our RV Daily Tips Newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter here.
Coming Soon: RV Electricity Seminars
If you plan to be in the Hagerstown, MD, area on June 8, consider taking in one or both of Mike Sokol’s RV electricity seminars — Beginning and Advanced RV Electricity. Learn more or register.
Mike Sokol is having trouble with his Internet provider, so must postpone his video chat scheduled for this evening (Sunday).
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Comprehensive list of
RV-related recalls for April
The list of latest recalls on RVs and other vehicles and/or products of interest to RVers has been released by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The list includes models from Entegra, Forest River, Jayco, Keystone, Newmar, Thor and others — plus other vehicles commonly used by RVers. Is your RV or other vehicle on the list? Find out here
That was the RV week that was
• Yikes: Motorhome drops its drive shaft on the Interstate
• BLM closing popular Utah boondocking area
• Gas prices continue to climb: California has highest prices
• Cops looking for thief who stole a fifth wheel trailer
. . . and much more.
• Jayco recalls some motorhomes: Blower motor circuit may be missing fuse.
• Forest River recalls some 2019 trailers: Improperly installed wiring in A/C unit could cause fire.
• REV Group recalls some 2019 Holiday Rambler, Fleetwood motorhomes.
Developments at RV parks and campgrounds across 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.
Looking for work? Help take the U.S. Census
This may be a good opportunity to earn some extra income for RVers who are looking for work. The United States Census Bureau is currently in the process of recruiting more than 500,000 temporary workers to help carry out the upcoming 2020 Census national head count of every person living in the U.S. Learn more.
If you are a member of the Good Sam Club, you may wonder whatever happened to all the member benefits — the wonderful magazine, Highways; the national rallies; the lobbying efforts the club undertook to protect members — in fact, all RVers. … Well, wonder no more. Just look at all of the “brands” of Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of the club. Read more.
RV Horror Story of the Week
Here is this week’s Horror Story as posted on our Facebook group RV Horror Stories. It was posted by a member named Bob (last name withheld but you will see it on the group page). We edited it slightly for brevity and clarity. You won’t believe his ongoing nightmare with his brand-new Grand Design RV. Read more.
New Smokey Bear voice: Stephen Colbert!
Smokey Bear is getting old. He’s celebrating his 75th birthday this year. While he’s not retiring, he’s getting a new voice — or should we say voices — people like Sam Elliott, Stephen Colbert, Jeff Foxworthy and Al Roker. The idea is to reach younger Americans with messages that go beyond “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Read more.
How many times have you “boondocked” on public lands for more than a week outside a designated campground?
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.
How long can you go without plugging into electricity? What would you do if you won a million dollars? What time of day do you shower? When’s your birthday? In the last year, were you pulled over or stopped by the police? All this, plus a beautiful spring time-lapse video, what it means to “forest bathe” and some singing penguins, right here.
Look up – There could be a missile up there!
Cottonwood trees are rugged-looking, charming and (when they’re green) beautiful in all the ways that trees can be beautiful. But they have a dark side…. Veteran RVer Greg Illes relates a (true) story to tell around the campfire. Read more.
Briggs & Stratton debuts new portable generator
Briggs & Stratton has introduced the P4500 PowerSmart Series inverter generator. The new unit is equipped with CO Guard carbon monoxide shutdown technology designed to shut down the generator if harmful levels of CO accumulate in the generator’s operating area. Read about its other impressive features here.
Fire department trains for RV emergencies
This video from a fire department training exercise in Genesee County, Michigan, is interesting because it raises a point that most RVers never think of: How emergency medical or other personnel would act if summoned to an RV when their help was urgently needed. Watch the video.
Video: Figure 8 travel trailer races are hilarious!
Get ready to laugh as you sit in the grandstands and watch race cars towing travel trailers compete on a Figure 8 race course. This is great fun! Watch the video.
Clean deep, narrow-necked containers easily
Rich “The Wanderman” loves his morning coffee, but he doesn’t like having to clean out the large thermal carafe (pot) with a small neck which makes the bottom very difficult to clean. He bought a hybrid sponge/bristle brush, but did it work? Find out here.
Couple hopes to bring back Conestoga wagons for “glam” camping
The big deal these days in camping is “glamping,” which means glamorous camping – in other words, holing up in very “comfy” digs. A Lecompton, Kansas, couple hopes to capitalize on the trend by building campground accommodations that look and feel like authentic, full-sized Conestoga wagons, the ones that crossed America for more than a hundred years, carrying settlers West. Read more.
Poem of the Week
We received this poem from Scott Branton who, according to the email, is a graduating high school senior and RV enthusiast. We think a lot of us can relate to his message. Great job, Scott! Read his poem here.
Do you have a poem to submit inspired by your RVing? Submit it here.
Win this very cool mug!
We love giving away stuff!
You’ll be the hit of the RV park when your fellow campers see you sipping your morning coffee with this incredibly cool mug. It reads: “Of course I talk to myself. Sometimes I need expert advice.” Enter the contest.
Congratulations to last week’s winner, Phil Biggs of Tucson, Arizona. The correct answer: The Face of the Statue of Liberty. (Many of you guessed it was the mold for an Elvis Presley doll.)
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• Stop RV refrigerator fires before they start!
• How RV manufacturers hide shortcuts from you.
• Why one couple quit full-time RVing.
• RV Horror Story of the Week, April 26, 2019.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, April 26, 2019.
• How to prepare for boondocking.
• RVer Safety: Mountains, flat tires and rest stops.
• What we learned about you last week (April 20-26).
• Why isn’t converter giving a full charge while driving?
• That was the RV week that was, April 27, 2019.
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.
Did you buy a lemon RV? Here’s more about RV lemons and lawyers who will represent you if you need help.
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.
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 29, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.89. [Calif.: $3.98]
Change from week before: Up 5 cents; Change from year before: Up 4 cents.
Diesel: $3.17. [Calif.: $4.04]
Change from week before: Up 2 cents; Change from year before: Up 1 cent.
RV Fire Safety Tip
How not to test your fire extinguisher
Do not pull the pin and expel the contents to test your powder extinguisher. If you use a portion of the powder extinguisher, have it refilled or replaced immediately. When you have a fire extinguisher refilled, ask to shoot off the charge first (most refill stations have a special place where this can be done safely). This lets you see how far it shoots and how long a charge lasts.
Check out some videos of motorhomes on fire.
RV Quick Tips
Where do you connect your breakaway cable?
If you are like most people who own any type of trailer, especially a travel trailer, you likely have been instructed to connect it to your receiver where the chains are also connected. Most people DO connect it to where they connect their chains. This sounds fine and dandy. But it’s not. What’s wrong with this scenario? A whole lot.
The point of the breakaway cable is so that if your trailer should become disconnected from the receiver and hitch, the brakes will engage and your trailer will stop. This can potentially save your trailer and, better yet, it can save lives. Let’s say that your receiver fails. It literally breaks in half. (This can and HAS happened before.) If the part that the chains connect to breaks off and goes with the trailer, well, your breakaway cable will also go with the trailer. If the entire receiver comes off, the same result will ensue.
Instead of attaching it to the receiver, attach it somewhere on the tow VEHICLE. Someplace on the vehicle that is NOT the receiver. Here’s what I did for a solution. I got this idea from my friend Kerri, whose receiver DID break off. It literally broke in half. I now (as does she) attach my breakaway cable to this eyelet I connected to my truck license plate screw. I added washers on both sides of the connection point for additional support.
This could save your trailer from damage and can save another driver’s life. Just make sure your breakaway cable, wherever you connect it, doesn’t pull out around sharp turns. Do this and you should be good to go! Thanks to Kelly Beasley with Camp Addict.
Lug nut reminder
After you have tire work done, within 10 miles check that the lug nuts are tight. Then re-torque your lug nuts after 100 miles. If you have hubcaps on your wheels, put the hubcaps in your vehicle when the tire work is being performed. You’ll notice the hubcaps are missing every time you approach your vehicle and this will act as a reminder to do the re-torquing. If you don’t have hubcaps, a note on your dash will act as a reminder. Thanks to ever-faithful-sharer, George Bliss.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com
“I had to shoot him” – A (graphic) encounter between a homeowner and an intruder
A dramatic 911 recording was released Tuesday that depicts a home invasion that turned deadly. Last week, a Seattle-area man shot and killed a burglar after he awoke to find the intruder inside his home. The homeowner called 911 to report a burglary at about 2:45 a.m. Monday, April 22, after hearing glass breaking downstairs. Read more and hear the chilling 911 recording.
Ask the RV Shrink
How to deal with noisy neighbors during campground quiet time
Dear RV Shrink:
We have been RVing for a long time but recently we had an event that was a new experience for us. We were in Silver Springs State Park in Florida and about 10 p.m. a group arrived in the site next to us. They were camping in a horse trailer with a loud diesel truck as a tow vehicle. It took them over an hour to back it into a wide, straight site with little to hit except bushes…. Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.
The Business of Work Camping: Getting the perks – Part 4
With this final installment of our articles on work camping perks, you can now look forward to a better negotiating position for your next gig! This time we cover the arcade, company vehicle, generator fuel, rental discounts, investments, giveaways and more. Learn more.
Ask the RV Doctor
Replacing the RV carpet
We are considering replacing the carpeting in our motorhome with new carpeting or vinyl flooring. Should we see an RV service dealer or a carpet store? Thanks! —Carole B.
This is a recap of what Mike has published on hot-skin/contact-voltage over the last few weeks, along with some extra information on why this is such an important topic that he devotes thousands of words and dozens of hours to it. Learn more.
RV Tire Safety
Why the differences in expected tire life based on type of usage?
Question on a forum: “I was wondering if someone could cover a topic regarding travel trailers, 5th wheels, buses, semi’s and semi trailers, and anything recreational: What is the tire life for them? I have never seen this covered. Hmm!” Read Roger Marble’s answer.
Building an RV Park
I have to say “thank you” to Chuck and Diane here at RVtravel.com, and offer my apologies to our readers. I completely forgot to write my last campground update as I was busy getting us all ready for my oldest son’s wedding. Between a wedding in Vegas and having our home showroom-ready before we left, I had complete brain fog. As I backtrack over our last 4 weeks, it has been really wonderful. Read more.
The story of Shorty Harris, a colorful Rainbow Chaser
Ballarat, California, is a town on the edge of nowhere, a collection of mud huts and tin shanties in one of the most hostile deserts in the world. The town was born to serve those fortune hunters known as the Rainbow Chasers. It’s pretty much gone to dust now, and perhaps the best mark Ballarat made is, it’s the town that supplied many a great story about the legendary prospector Shorty Harris. Read more, or listen to Len Wilcox, here.
The RV Kitchen
Open Sesame Chicken Salad
Make this chicken salad different each time. This salad recipe is so versatile, it’s the Open Sesame to a treasure chest of serving ideas. Put it in mini phyllo shells for an appetizer, in mini rolls to make sliders for tailgating, on beds of lettuce for a luncheon main dish and in buns for everyday sandwiches. This recipe is ultra-variable from the get-go. Get the recipe.
RV Short Stop
Dorothy’s house from “The Wizard of Oz”
Although Dorothy and Toto blew in from Kansas in 1939, it was not until 1981 that her home was found – and it is a perfect RV Short Stop for families. A small, 1907 farmhouse outside of Liberal, Kansas, was moved to the Coronado Museum grounds and was transformed by volunteers into a replica of the house shown in the award-winning movie. Read more.
• Get a free PDF guide to Florida State Parks campgrounds and cabins. Click.
The RoVing Naturalist
How to pick out binoculars and correctly use them – Did you know this?
Sometimes we need a little help when we venture out into the natural world. Of the five senses, the one we rely on most to gain information is our sense of sight. Precious as it may be, we humans are pretty low on the ladder when it comes to how well we see, so we have compensated and invented binoculars. Here’s how to pick out the best binoculars for your needs and the correct way to use them.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Facebook Groups of Interest
Free and bargain camping
Texhoma Park, Dumas, TX
ALMOST FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. The city park has 24 sites with 50A E hookups. There is potable water and a dump station on site. Maximum stay is officially 24 hours. 2018 rate: Donation. Click here for more details.
Casino Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed, but permission from the casino is required. Multiple night stays possible with permission. Park in the east parking lot. There is a Stagecoach Grill, a pizza restaurant, and Buffalo Bar inside the casino. Click here for more details.
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.
Upcoming RV Shows
• Puyallup RV Show, May 2-5, Puyallup, WA
• Spring Hall of Fame RV Show, May 2-5, Elkhart, IN
• Central Jersey RV Show, May 3-5, Holmdel, NJ
Baseball great Babe Ruth wore a cabbage leaf under his cap to keep him cool on sweltering days. He changed it every two innings and rarely played without one during hot weather.
Silly Tourist Questions
From Cathy and John Adler
I (Cathy) volunteered at the information desk at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at the Glen Canyon Recreation Area last year. The visitor center sits above the Glen Canyon Dam with a huge window that overlooks the dam below. To the left of the dam is Lake Powell and to the right is the Colorado River. I was frequently asked, “Where is Lake Powell?” Many times the guest would say, “Oh, that’s Lake Powell? We didn’t know that’s what we were driving by when we were on Lake Shore Drive.”
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
Person of interest.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
An elderly couple who’d recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary were sitting on the sofa in their Airstream when the wife asked, “Dear, do you remember how you used to sit close to me?” He moved over and sat close to her. “Dear,” she continued, “do you remember how you used to hold me tight?” He reached over and held her tight.
“And,” she went on, “do you remember how you used to hug me and kiss me and nibble on my ear?” With that, her husband got up and started to walk toward the rear of the trailer.
“Where are you going?” she asked. “Well,” he answered, “I have to get my teeth.”
Memory is like riding a trail at night with a lighted torch. The torch casts its light only so far, and beyond that is darkness. —Ancient Lakota saying
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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This newsletter is copyright 2019 by RVtravel.com