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Learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. This newsletter, now in its 19th year of continuous publication, is funded primarily through advertising and voluntary subscription contributions from our readers. Thank you!
Week of September 14–20, 2019
If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.
This issue was originally scheduled for last Saturday (Sept. 7). We delayed it because of website problems at the time.
With Chuck Woodbury | Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
ur RV Electricity expert Mike Sokol and I making some changes. It’s time.
I met Mike about 10 years ago at the Hershey RV Show. He was working at the time in the Pro Sound industry, where he was (and still is) highly regarded. As a sound engineer he worked on big-time rock concerts and several Presidential inaugurations.
At the time, nobody was writing about RV electricity other than an article here and there. I asked him if he would write for us, which he agreed to do.
Gradually he became known to RVers. We know from letters we’ve received that what he’s written has saved lives. Others have been saved from serious shocks, not to mention costly damage to their RV’s systems. Mike has championed the use of surge protectors. I have personally benefitted from that advice, having hooked up to miswired power pedestals several times — in each instance protected by my Progressive Industries device.
Three years ago I began paying Mike. By then, the company he worked for in the Pro Sound industry was sold, and Mike was out of a job. I believed it was critical that his voice continue in the RV community. By then I knew that Mike was, by far, the leading expert on RV electricity in North America.
MIKE AND I HAVE STRUGGLED to attract sponsors with little success. He is often asked for his expert advice but, with rare exception, the companies want him to work for free. Mike has spent thousands of hours writing about RV electricity and speaking at seminars, most often for no pay or only a token payment. Read his guest essay in the last newsletter.
He’s speaking every day this week at the Hershey RV Show, the largest show in America. Even though he pulled in large, enthusiastic crowds last year (as he is this year), the show isn’t paying him anything but his expenses this year. But he’s doing it anyway because he wants RVers to know the right way — the safe way — to manage their electricity.
A couple of years ago we provided a platform for him with a newsletter, RV Electricity. RVtravel.com has funded it ever since, with virtually no industry support. Thanks to our own donors for making it possible.
He also spends countless hours answering readers’ questions. “I have 200 emails right now from people who want my advice,” he told me yesterday. What does he earn from answering those emails? Not a penny! Is that fair?
I have spent a great deal of my own time worrying about keeping Mike around. He is not ready to retire. Just this past month, he was responsible for postponing a change in the RV electrical code that would have put some RVers in danger of being shocked, even electrocuted.
I could never have afforded to pay Mike without the support of our RV Travel volunteer subscribers, our members. But, still, I cannot pay him anywhere near what he is worth. But at least I have helped keep him around until now.
Mike is still in high demand in other industries, and I believe if he can’t get paid for the valuable service he is providing to RVers, then he has no choice but to go elsewhere. What a loss that would be to you and me!
Hopefully, he will continue to write for RVtravel.com, where our large circulation helps him educate far more RVers than he could ever do on his own.
At the risk of losing some of our own donors who support us in part because of Mike, I have hounded him for some time to ask those he has helped through the years to step up and support him as well.
If you have ever felt a tingle when touching your RV’s front door, then you know from what Mike has written that the RV is experiencing a “hot skin” condition, a term most of us never even heard of until Mike came along. When conditions are just right, an “electrified” RV can seriously shock or even kill an RVer. It’s largely because of Mike that this danger has been brought to the attention of the RV community. Read a sad story about how a hot skin condition killed a three-year-old boy.
Mike must remain with us. He must! If he is unable to get the support of the industry, then he must get it another way. And that is where you come in. To lend your support, please consider pitching in with a donation. One-hundred percent of it will go to Mike. Please consider a monthly pledge. Join me in keeping his voice alive. He is so incredibly worth it.
P.S. Beginning this coming week our RV Daily Tips Newsletter will expand to five issues a week from four, with a new Friday edition. Sign up here if you would like to receive an email reminder for each new issue.
Did you miss the last RV Travel?
Economic prospects for RV industry dimming
The economic health of the RV industry is being viewed more pessimistically in recent months. Stock prospects of big manufacturers and retailer Camping World looked dimmer on September 3, after Bank of America Merrill Lynch issued a dour assessment of the industry’s prospects after months of decline. Learn more.
Camping World stock slides, closing dozens of stores
Marcus Lemonis’ bold plan to expand his recreational territory isn’t playing out as well as expected. With Camping World stock sliding 40 percent this year alone, Lemonis announced on September 2nd that CW will shut down somewhere between 27 and 37 of its stores that don’t directly sell RVs. Read more.
That was the RV week that was
• Retail sales of towable RVs continue to decline.
• Train demolishes towed RV in Springfield, Oregon; no injuries.
• Road closure at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
• Colorado’s Spinney Mountain State Park closed down due to storm.
• A lucky visitor to the Hershey RV Show will win a 2020 Rockwood travel trailer.
• Campgrounds at California’s Joshua Tree National Park reopened early.
• RV catches fire in Utah, driver in SUV hits fire truck at scene.
and much more …
• Keystone Carbon toy haulers offer new travel trailer options.
• Towable RV registrations continue to decline.
• Lance announces enhancements for 2020 trailers, truck campers.
• Airstream adds longer version of Globetrotter trailer.
• Cooper recalls tires for defect that could cause rapid tire failure.
• GM recalls almost 3.5 million trucks, SUVs due to brake problem.
• Lance recalls truck campers for refrigerator fire risk.
Last two weeks’ featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• How to help ensure a pet’s safety in a campground.
• A quick way to freshen your face after a long day of driving.
• Don’t forget about this storage space.
• Shower stall handy for storage.
• Ways to spot drunk drivers.
• Burner too hot? Lift off the pot!
• Buying a home? Can you park your RV there?
• How to use slide-out room stabilizers.
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.
“Largest RV Show” is on now
The newest RVs are on display at Hershey, Pennsylvania’s sprawling Giant Center for America’s Largest RV Show through Sunday, September 15. Gates open each day at 9 a.m. With more than 1,400 RVs covering 33 football fields, America’s Largest RV Show offers an excellent opportunity to compare or even buy a new RV. The show offers the latest RV accessories, gadgets, camping products and services, and educational seminars every hour. Learn more.
Remembering 9/11 and wondering what happened to us since then
Before going to bed the other night, radio host Alan Warren read something about “what happened 18 years ago this morning”. It was sobering and sad as he recalled the people and events of September 11, 2001. “Maybe that’s why my Spirit was moved to get up at 4 a.m. and reflect on the events of that day and how they changed our lives forever,” he wrote. Read more.
Consumer advocate, RV dealer Gigi Stetler wins battle with GE
Gigi Stetler and her company RV Sales of Broward has won a hard-fought battle with General Electric Commercial Distribution Finance (GECDF) for breach of settlement. Stetler represented herself during the eight-day trial. Read more.
A tragic reminder to keep children seat belted in an RV
This is something that no parent or grandparent should ever have to experience. … [M]aybe someone reading this will strap their child in a seatbelt next time instead of allowing him or her to be unrestrained. Learn more.
Forest Service waives camping fees for those displaced by hurricane
As we reported on September 5, the U.S. Forest Service says it will waive campground fees throughout the Southern Region of the U.S. for those displaced by Hurricane Dorian. Those needing accommodation should pick a National Forest, then call or check online to see if any of the campgrounds in the Forest are closed. Read more.
Keep that expensive battery bank alive – It’s easy!
Batteries are black boxes we don’t think about much. Not until the rueful day comes when they don’t respond as we want them to, and we’re off to buy new ones – and maybe driving 50 miles “out of the dingles” to do so. Maintaining your batteries saves money and frustration, and it doesn’t take much to do. Learn how.
When was the last time you weighed your RV?
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.
What we learned about you last week
Do you have a 30- or 50-amp RV hookup at your sticks-and-bricks home? When buying fish, do you care if it’s wild-caught or farm-raised? Do you have an electric blanket on your RV’s bed? Will you winterize your RV this winter? All this and more, right here.
Just what does a “grade” sign mean?
Get out of the flat country and hit the hills, sooner or later you’ll find a sign warning of a “steep grade,” often associated with a percentage number. Road grades seem mysterious at first, but really are simple. Read more.
Satellite users could face hometown blackouts, says RV group
According to a news release from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), the organization is still hot on the trail of federal lawmakers who are on the cusp of a decision that could affect satellite TV-watching RVers. Read this, and then weigh in on the online form provided.
Travel Lite RV pauses production for restructuring
Restructuring is taking place at Travel Lite RV, industry websites are reporting. Calls to the company ring without a live person answering at extensions, and The Goshen News has not been able to speak to anyone with the company. Learn more.
Motorhome erupts in flames. Ammunition starts popping!
An RV fire is one (very bad) thing, but when the fire ignites ammunition that’s far worse. That’s what happened August 26 on Washington state’s Blewett Pass highway. As a result, traffic was halted for three hours. Check it out.
The cutest little (micro) trailer you have ever seen
Not only is this tiny, tiny trailer cute, it fits on your desk. From there it will only go where you take it, although “towing it” is by hand, not behind a motor vehicle. This must be one of the most unique, fun, RV-related products we’ve come across. Check it out.
GM recalls almost 3.5 million trucks, SUVs due to brake problem
General Motors is recalling almost 3.5 million 2014-2018 model year Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra and GMC Yukon vehicles. In some circumstances, these vehicles may have a condition in which the engine-mounted mechanical vacuum pump output may decrease over time, decreasing the amount of vacuum/power brake assist. Learn more.
Camping World oversized flag issue still unresolved
Camping World/Gander RV CEO Marcus Lemonis says by his reckoning, at the end of August his company owed $20,000 in fines over a flag-flying issue in North Carolina. The fines are just a piece of the seemingly intractable situation between Lemonis and a majority of city council members in Statesville, a city of 25,000 near metropolitan Charlotte. Read more.
This may be the biggest travel trailer you’ll ever see!
Now here’s an RV with room to roam, not just on the roads but inside the RV! We posted this photo 10 years ago, but somehow the page disappeared — until now, that is. It’s huge!
RV begins tearing apart, sinks into septic tank
We found this bizarre news item in issue #43 of RVtravel.com, published January 26, 2003. We figured most of you missed it. It’s just too good to not pass along again. Find out why.
Spend the night in Barbie’s dream RV
Now, this is not an opportunity that comes along every day! The only problem is you’ll have to fly or drive to Mexico City to take advantage of it. But what a deal for anyone who grew up loving Barbie or still does. Mattel and the Hilton Mexico City Santa Fe have partnered in celebration of Barbie’s 60th birthday this year and transformed a guestroom into the ultimate Barbie-themed glamping experience. Read more.
Pocket gas sniffer can keep you from blowing up
With LP gas such a major supplier of energy in our rigs, sooner or later you’ll probably have to deal with a gas leak. Left “unfixed,” as quick as you can say “Hindenburg!” your dream rig can go up in smoke, taking you with it. Learn how easily this gas leak detector works.
Win this large scale road atlas
We love giving away stuff!
Give road-weary eyes a break with this spiral-bound 2020 large scale edition road atlas. It contains maps of every U.S. state that are 35% larger than the standard atlas version plus over 350 detailed city inset and national park maps and a comprehensive, unabridged index. Road construction and conditions contact information is included. Enter the contest.
Congratulations to the last winner, Nick Vagel of Grants Pass, Oregon.
Popular articles from the last issue
• Thirty- and fifty-amp GFCIs in campgrounds – not a good idea.
• Desperation sale at Camping World?
• Tow truck drops off junky RV in suburban neighborhood.
• You’ll laugh at this!
• Do you believe the activities of humans are contributing to global warming?
• RV and RV-related recalls for August 2019.
• That was the RV week that was, August 24–30, 2019.
• Do you leave your porch light on?
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, August 30, 2019.
• RVer Safety: Do you hate guns? Alternatives for self-protection.
• What we learned about you last week (August 24-30).
• The Business of Work Camping: Theft in the campground.
Our Facebook and RVillage Groups: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping. And please join our group on RVillage (like Facebook except just for RVers).
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.
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 their owners 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 September 9, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.55. [Calif.: $3.49]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 28 cents.
Diesel: $2.97. [Calif.: $3.88]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 29 cents.
RV Quick Tip
Best time of the year?
The next month may be the best time of the year to travel with an RV. Kids are back in school so most family vacations are finished for the season. The weather is still good, and many campsites are available, so reservations are generally not necessary. It’s a good time to visit popular tourist attractions, which won’t be nearly as crowded as in the busy summer.
Let’s review safety and security ideas
We have discussed several ideas for RVers’ safety and security over the past few months, so let’s recap a few of the ideas for those who may have missed some. And it would be great if our readers would add their suggestions so we can all learn something new. Read more.
Ask the RV Shrink
Black tank outlet cracked – Can it be fixed?
Dear RV Shrink:
We just started a trip that will last two months. We have a 1989 travel trailer. It seems our exposed plumbing outlet for the black water tank is cracked right where it is connected to the tank. It is a slow, steady, smelly drip. Every time my husband tries some new super-duper glue or filler, he tells me it’s fixed. Every time I tell him it’s leaking again he gets mad and frustrated. …
The Business of Work Camping
How to stay healthy when RVing
Work camping is a miniature version of our former sticks-and-bricks life. Most of the things we do while living in an RV are similar to the things we do living in a house. However, in an RV we do not have the luxury of space, so the weight bench and elliptical are out. How does a work camper stay fit? Here are some tips.
Ask the RV Doctor
Can I paint and paper my RV’s interior?
Can you paint and/or wallpaper the inside of an RV? A service person said it will cause mold under the painted or papered area. I would love to brighten up the interior of a fairly new travel trailer. —Patty K.
Don’t fix a blown fuse like this!
Mike saw an alarming photo of a fuse box which prompted him to write this article all about fuses and their purpose, and what not to replace them with. You won’t believe the photo! (Maybe it was a hoax – we sure hope so!) Check it out.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Powering a fridge in RV 40 ft. from house outlet. How do you power up your refrigerator in the RV out in your driveway from your house outlet that’s 40 feet away? Easy!
Sign up for Mike’s RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
Are Hankook tires any good?
Question on an RV forum:
“Looking to replace the tires on my 33′ MH. Was thinking about Hankook as I only put 3500-5000 miles per year on them. I have seen a lot of negative reviews for Hankook tires on cars but not seeing much on RV tires. Any suggestion? Thanks.” Read Roger Marble’s answer.
Building an RV Park
We had a party! And an update on park plans
From Machelle James: What I am learning living here in a small town is patience. I was told we would have the first set of park plans before this week’s article and we did not physically get them until yesterday! I have to remember that our timeline is definitely not as important to other people as it is to us. It seems to be more of a super-relaxed schedule where communication is not relayed in a timely manner. And when we did pick up our plans, they were only half completed. Read more.
The RV Kitchen
Crock o’ Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Cheesy does it. Macaroni and cheese is a long-time favorite comfort food and perfect for RV travel because it can be made from a box and served as is, or gussied up with a medley of cheeses and by adding tuna, cooked meat or vegetables. When you have a slow cooker on board and a day of fun ahead, this easy recipe cooks carefree while you’re out playing. Get the recipe.
Facebook Groups of Interest
• See The USA via Road Trips
• Florida RV Camping
• Living the RV Dream
PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping.
Free and bargain camping
Rabbit Valley Recreation Area, Mack, CO
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed, but it’s best for small RVs. No hookups, no potable water, and no dump station. BLM says there are tables, grills and toilets. Lot is not level and unlit. Some areas open to Off-Road Vehicles, which may be noisy. BLM states season is March through mid-December. No reservations. Maximum stay: 7 days. Click here for details.
Arrowsmith Park (South Park), Gibson City, IL
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Well-maintained city park has 9 paved back-in 20/30A E/W sites (one has 50A), each with picnic table and fire ring. Big-rig friendly. Restrooms, showers and a dump station on-site, free to all. Shaded trees, playground, pavilion, and pets are allowed. Open Apr. 1 – Oct. 31. No reservations. Max. stay one week, longer with city permission. 2019 rate: $10/night. Click here for 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
• Hershey RV Show going on through Sunday in Hershey, PA.
• Great American RV Show – Colorado Springs, Sept. 12-14, Colorado Springs, CO
• Portland Fall RV & Van Show, Sept. 12-15, Portland, OR
• Southwest RV Supershow, Sept. 12-15, Dallas, TX
• Maryland RV Show, Sept. 12-15, Timonium, MD
• Georgia RV & Camper Show, Sept. 13-15, Atlanta, GA
Australia’s 31,000-mile-long coastline is connected by more than 10,000 beaches. That means you can go to a new beach every day for more than 27 years!
Bumper sticker of the week
I don’t care what your religion or political beliefs are. Just use your turn signal.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Joe and Ed, both from Duluth, Minnesota, were standing in the shallow end of a swimming pool at the Fountain of Youth RV Park at California’s Salton Sea, discussing how happy they were to be in sunny California rather than back in frigid Minnesota. As they were talking, Ed noticed something funny about his friend’s ear. “Joe,” he said, “do you know you’ve got a suppository in your left ear?” Startled, Joe replied, “I have a suppository in my ear?”
“That’s right,” said Ed. Joe immediately pulled it out, then said, “Thanks, buddy. I’m glad you saw this thing. Now I know where I put my hearing aid.”
“Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.” —Charles Kuralt
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, Emily Woodbury, Bob Difley, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Sam Suva, Mike Sherman, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. 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 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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