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Week of July 13–19, 2019
If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.
By Russ Veillard
The author is a voice actor who divides his time living in the Seattle area and Japan. Among his many acting credits, he is the voice of the AFLAC duck in Asia.
RVing in Japan! The RVs are smaller, but the level of fun the same
Looking for someplace fresh to explore? Why not try Japan? Okay, Japan is a bit beyond your favorite spot on the river — and until they build a bridge or bore a tunnel long enough for your rig to navigate, you’ll have to fly at least eight hours or longer to get started. Trust me, though … you’ll be glad you came. Come in fall for bursts of mountain colors and spring for the classic pink carpets of cherry blossoms. Every season in Japan has its charms, so why wait?
Once you get on the ground, most probably at Tokyo’s Narita or Haneda international airports, you’ll need your RV, or what the Japanese call a “Camping Car.” They rent for as little as $80 USD per night to more than $200 for a “motorhome” — something like the smallest Class C in America. Depending on the country you’re from, Japan requires most RV renters to obtain an International Driver’s Permit prior to entering the country.
Japan’s roads tend to be narrow, so camping cars over 16 feet long are not permitted. Shucks, because I like narrow roads and I’m great driver. So, lost is a hint of the freedom we Americans take for granted — to go anywhere in anything.
Camping cars in Japan come in small, smaller and smallest, yet they hang onto many of the interior appointments many of us feel we can’t live without. At 6’2”, I’m definitely a giant here, but I find that just a dab of butter on the elbows eases my squeeze into any of these, well … “riggettes.” Hey, maybe I’ve coined a new RV class: Riggettes would fall somewhere between your camper van and a smart car.
No? Anyway, this smaller lineup obviously gives up some muscle, so load yourselves and payload thoughtfully. Oh, and please drive on the left side of the road in Japan, because everyone else does.
SO, OFF WE GO … to the great “camp-jo”! Or, in other words, the Japanese campground. Japan’s sophisticated highway system (yep, you have to pay a toll) gets you there, with most major signage in English, thankfully. If you’re still weary from that long flight and can’t quite make it to the camp-jo before sundown, be sure to pull into the popular “Michi no Eki,” or rest area. Overnights are free and offer convenience stores and clean restrooms with nearby hot spring facilities for bathing.
If you haven’t yet soaked in a Japanese “Onsen,” or hot spring, the rest of your trip may have to be modified — to soak away under the stars, savoring fresh sashimi while sipping your new favorite Japanese sake. Honestly, I’m still not a big fan of raw fish, but the menu is broad enough for all.
Whoopee! We finally made it to the camp-jo! You might be right on the ocean, deep in the mountains or, for me, straight across the lake from iconic Mt. Fuji. Japanese campgrounds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with many featuring the same facilities you’re used to in America. Expect to pay anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 Japanese yen per night, or roughly $35 to $75. If you’re not into rowing the lake or traipsing up Fuji, rest easy, for there’s plenty to see and discover. Or just sit right back at the BBQ and smell what’s cookin’!
So, you’ve been teased with just a glimpse of what the world of camping cars is all about in Japan. Take the next step and see it for yourself.
JOIN US NEAR SEATTLE
As you may know, Gail and I will be camping on the beautiful fairground in Enumclaw, Washington (near Seattle and Mt. Rainier), during the upcoming Enumclaw RV Show on August 1-3. If you would like to camp with us, contact the show. Each campsite comes with show admission for two for each day. Ask to be located in the RVtravel.com area, which has 30-amp hookups (most others are 20 amp). Those sites may already be sold out, so act fast to grab what may be left. Mike Sokol will teach three classes on RV Electricity, one per day. See his topics and the schedule here.
AN UPDATE ON OUR MANY PROJECTS
We have tossed out many ideas about how we at RVtravel.com can help kick-start some projects that will benefit RVers, not the manufacturers who build them. Our latest was for the creation of a group called the North American Association of RV Owners, NAARVO.org. Learn about it by clicking here (and be sure to sign up for updates on our progress).
Editor’s Roadside Journal
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
How other RVers judge you based on your RV
So you live in an RV … but have you ever thought about what your RV says about you? Like, what’s the impression you give when you pull up to the campground? Well, look no further. The Virtual Campground (Liz Wilcox) is here to tell you all about how people are judging you from their camping chairs. (Is she pretty close in her analysis?) Find out here.
That was the RV week that was
• Retail sales of new motorhomes took a nosedive.
• Two pooches in stolen RV chase in May find new forever home.
• (Naked) RV squatters in Saanich, B.C.
• Gang of street racers beat up RVer in San Diego.
• Volunteers needed at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum.
• Poetic justice for a bank robber in Kansas.
and much more …
• Thor recalls 1,554 motorhomes. Slideout could move unexpectedly.
• Last month’s rundown of RV recalls. See if yours needs fixing!
Most recent featured advice in RV Daily Tips
• Full-timing in your future? How to leave sentimental objects behind.
• Battery drain culprits.
• What’s better than a carabiner? Well, an S-Biner, of course!
• Take care with your RV generator.
Please tell your friends to sign up to read this newsletter every week.
Developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA
Janet Groene reports each week on developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA and Canada. There’s a lot of good information here that you can use to plan your travels. Read the current installment of “Campground Chatter” here.
RV parks bending policies to avoid “mobile home” park rules?
The RV Industry Association (RVIA) … recently told the Washington Post that there are a million RVers living full-time in theirs. A post on Facebook states: “For those Full Timers that are spending months at locations several RV parks are now going to 28-day or 4 week rentals instead of calling this monthly. This will make your year 13 months long. So budget an extra ‘month’ just in case.” Read more and let Chuck know if you’ve encountered this potential trend.
Keep little kids from falling out your RV’s front door
Here are two simple but very important safety tips to keep kids from accidentally opening and falling out your RV’s front door, as well as keeping them from falling backwards down the steps when they open the door from the outside. Learn how.
If you could turn back time, would you want to go through high school again?
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.
Looking for bargains? Goodwill outlet stores offer plenty
Ever wonder what happens to the stuff that doesn’t sell at a Goodwill Store? Wonder no more. After a few weeks, things that don’t sell make their way to an outlet store. Sometimes these warehouse-like places are called Goodwill Outlet Stores, or they may go by another name. But why should any of this interest you? Because if you like digging for real bargains (and “digging” is sometimes literal) then an outlet store is your bag. Learn how to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Free RV electricity seminars near Seattle, Aug. 1-3
Mike Sokol of RVtravel.com will teach three seminars about RV Electricity at the upcoming Enumclaw RV Show in Enumclaw, Washington (near Seattle), August 1-3, 2019. All are free with a paid admission to the show. Learn more.
Editor at Ground Zero of yesterday’s Northwest earthquake
Little did RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury realize when he went to bed Thursday night that he was destined to be at ground zero of an earthquake a few hours later. Read more.
Headed to Canada? An easy way to convert kilometers to miles
Driving to Alaska means you have to first drive through a large part of Canada, a real treat. However, Canada is a separate country with differing customs, and, for about 40 years now, uses the kilometers of the metric system instead of the miles that Americans are so familiar with. Here’s a simple tip to help you.
Win this great portable air compressor
We love giving away stuff!
Plug this EPAuto portable air compressor into your cigarette lighter. Use it to inflate tires on bikes, midsize automobiles and SUVs. It features an auto shutoff when reaching the desired tire pressure. Very highly rated. Enter the contest.
Congratulations to last week’s winner, Mark Strovink of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who won a very useful NOAA Emergency Weather Radio.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• Marcus Lemonis and his big, illegal flag.
• How would you respond as a driver to a tire blowout? (Popular for second week.)
• Telltale signs full-time RVing is not for you.
• RV and RV-related recalls for June 2019.
• The many uses for WD-40.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, July 5, 2019.
• How to locate roof leaks.
• That was the RV week that was, June 29 – July 5, 2019.
• What we learned about you last week (June 29 – July 5).
• Going solar? Be realistic about your power needs.
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.
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.
The RV Death Spiral
Read the eight-part series of editorials by Greg Gerber that the RV industry never wanted written. Download the PDF.
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.
Save bandwidth while watching YouTube videos
How to watch YouTube videos using very little bandwidth.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of July 8, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.74. [Calif.: $3.63]
Change from week before: Up 3 cents; Change from year before: Down 11 cents.
Diesel: $3.06. [Calif.: $3.95]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 19 cents.
Dan Marino’s Weekly Tip
Did you know that, when purchasing a new RV with an Onan generator on-board, a mandatory oil change by a certified Onan dealer must be completed in the first 20 hours of use? Otherwise, the warranty will be voided.
— Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino is a spokesman for The RV Advisor.
Look up when you park
We have talked about guns, shootings in state campgrounds, and natural hazards that can invade our peaceful campsite like tornadoes or floods. But there is also a silent killer that rears its ugly head from time to time, and we need a reminder to look up when we pull into our campsite. This story is a heartbreaker. Read more.
Ask the RV Shrink
Avoid pulling a flat-tired toad – or you’ll be sorry
Dear RV Shrink:
We tow a Saturn behind our motorhome. I think we should have some type of alarm system or indicator to warn us if a tire goes flat on the Saturn. While driving I can’t see or feel the car. It only weighs 2400 lbs. I know my husband can’t see it either, but he refuses to look into a system that will give us some warning if a tire goes flat. …
The Business of Work Camping
Seasonally returning to the same campground
Work camping is the financial vehicle that allows an RVer to experience the thrill of the open road, new places and new people. What happens when that perfect work camping gig has us turning back around and working for the same campground season after season? Read on.
Ask the RV Doctor
How to fix stripped threads on RV water heater anode
This pertains to the anode rod threading in a Suburban water heater. I cannot get the new anode rod threading to “catch” and screw in straight. It’s been getting more difficult every year but this year I’m stymied. Can you help me? —David B.
Better 30-amp power connectors
We woke this morning with no electric. The issue was a poor connection of the electric cord to the RV. I tried to disconnect the electrical cord from the RV, but it would not release (it is not the screw on connector being on). I am at a loss of how to get it removed. …
Sign up for Mike’s popular RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
Why inflate motorhome tires differently than trailer tires?
Roger Marble found the following comment in a thread on an RV owners forum after there were comments about the advantages of inflating trailer tires to the tire sidewall inflation number but inflating motorhome tires based on the measured load on the tires: “Such a hard concept for most to understand.” Here’s Roger’s explanation.
Building an RV park
From Machelle James: Since we moved up here to Heber-Overgaard, AZ, full time, we have all had to have an adjustment period. Visiting our 5th wheel and living in it are two separate situations. I will share that our daughter, Jenna, had a mental health crisis when we moved up here full time. The doctor asked us if anything had changed recently and we were both nodding, “YES!” Read more.
Morro Bay, Calif.: Popular with birds, butterflies and tourists
Morro Bay is a small fishing town with about 10,000 residents. It’s on the coast about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Its famous landmark, Morro Rock, is one of thirteen volcanic plugs along the Central Coast. There are more than 200 bird species in the area, not to mention tens of thousands of Monarch butterflies roosting in the winter in Morro Bay State Park. There’s so much to see and do. What a great place to visit!
The RV Kitchen
Killington Mountain Lodge Gourmet Chili
Not just another chili recipe. Janet Groene says: Entire cookbooks contain nothing but chili recipes, so I thought the last thing I needed was one more. Yet this one sang out to me for its bold complexity. They call this outstanding recipe from Killington Mountain Lodge in Vermont “Gourmet Chili.” I’ll drink to that. Get the recipe.
The RoVing Naturalist
Snakes can be our “friends”
Snakes! Our worst fear? Not necessarily. Snakes rank right up there at the top of the list for people’s biggest fear – right behind public speaking. … Yes, snakes, at least the venomous ones, should be respected for the powerful weapons they have, but let’s examine their other qualities that make them survivors, and even our “friends.” Plus, Dennis has a couple of funny snake stories to tell you. Read more.
RV Short Stop
Step up to the bar … and to Raquel Welch’s bra
This week’s RV Short Stop is a most unusual one — a tip about visiting Nevada’s oldest bar in Genoa (near Reno). There, you’ll not only enjoy your favorite libation while soaking up history, but have the rare opportunity to lay your eyes on one of America’s sexiest women’s undergarments — er, her bra. So how did it end up in such an odd place? You’ll need to click here to find out.
The best way to connect a tow bar to your vehicle
In this video by Andy Pargh, the Gadget Guru, you’ll learn how.
Facebook Groups of Interest
Free and bargain camping
Southcentre Mall, Calgary, AB
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Go to Admin/Security office in the mall and they will issue you a pass, good for one night. Well-lit, level, but possible street and highway noise. There are regular security patrols in the lot. More than 25 eating places in and surrounding the mall. Click here for more details.
Forest Road 525 Dispersed Camping, Cottonwood, AZ
FREE! Overnight parking and dispersed camping is allowed on this U.S. Forest Service Land. We recommend scouting this road in toad or tow vehicle before taking RV there. This is a small, circular turnout. Most rigs will need to turn around without backing up. The lot is nearly level but unlit. Light traffic noise from highway, and hikers use this spot as a trailhead. 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
Swim fins were invented by Benjamin Franklin. They were wooden flippers he wore on his feet when swimming. He had earlier devised lily-pad-shaped wooden palettes to wear on his hands while swimming.
Silly Tourist Questions
From Don Bledsoe (heard in caves from San Antonio to the Blue Ridge Mountains):
• How much of this cave is unexplored?
• Is it this dark in here all the time?
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
Real RVs don’t leak … they just mark their territory.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Ready for some more church ladies with computers? These sentences (with all the bloopers) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services.
From Tom Hart
• Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say ‘Hell’ to someone who doesn’t care much about you.
• Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
• Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
“I can’t believe how old people my age are.” —Anonymous
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, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Dave Helgeson, 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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