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Sunday, October 27, 2019
Camping World put on bankruptcy danger list
It’s been a tough year in the retail industry. Some 7,000 stores have closed, and 16 major companies have filed for bankruptcy – and the year isn’t over. What are the chances of a company going bust? That’s a big question among investors and, sure enough, there are companies that make their bread by calculating such risks.
Internet news publisher retaildive.com recently published findings from one of those companies, CreditRiskMonitoring, who produces a metric called a FRISK score that figures out the risk of a given company filing for bankruptcy in the next 12 months. On the list of “Retailers with a high chance of bankruptcy” is Camping World. It’s not a long list – only 12 other retailers occupy that ignominious roll …. Learn more.
Seattle homeless “RVers” dumping a million gallons of raw sewage into local waterways.
Listen to a three-minute radio news item.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, some of the stories you missed: • Campground reservation rip-off • Quick Q & A on using RV antifreeze. • Ugly Campground Award • Your Fifth Wheel: Leave it hitched or not? • Using an RV for business and tax deductions. • Reader asks: “Why is my pet not allowed in certain RV parks?” • Surge protector types • 16 surprising ways to use toothpaste.
That was the week that was
October 20-26, 2019
Your chances of dying in a vehicle crash have gone down a bit, says the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. In a report covering 2018 statistics, the agency says 36,560 people were killed in traffic crashes on U.S. roadways during 2018, a 2.4 percent decrease from 37,473 in 2017, which came after a 0.9 percent decrease from 2016 to 2017. “This is encouraging news, but still far too many perished or were injured, and nearly all crashes are preventable, so much more work remains to be done to make America’s roads safer for everyone,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.
Another good reason to keep your RV fully “ready” as a self-contained unit: Folks in Northern California, already hurting from power outages designed to prevent wildfires, may expect to see a bit more of them – up to a decade’s worth. Pacific Gas & Electric says “preemptive power outages” can’t be stopped until the company is able to rewire its distribution system to allow for precision outages, limited to areas of most need. As well, the company will need to invest in more resistant power line insulation, and have a much better handle on vegetation control. The company envisions at least ten years will be needed to make such changes. Meanwhile, California’s Public Utility Commission is not happy with how the company has performed with outages so far. “This is not hard,” the Commission’s President Marybel Batjer said during a meeting with PG&E executives. “You guys failed on so many levels on pretty simple stuff.”
Branson, Missouri, firefighters went the extra mile in helping an RVing couple whose rig caught fire October 16 at the ABC Campground. The couple were in the rig when they heard a beeping noise, opened their bedroom door and found the rest of the rig filled with smoke. They were able to get out safely, but the rig was wiped out. After the fire was extinguished, “The firefighters that were assigned to that call worked diligently to dig through some muck and other stuff to locate the occupant’s wallet, the occupant’s wife’s purse, her hearing aids, some of his medication, his contact lenses and those types of things,” Assistant Fire Chief James Lannan told local media reporters. “They wanted to make sure those folks knew what we were about here in Branson.”
Plenty of RVers think that RV manufacturers are tone-deaf to consumer complaints. Maybe Airstream has seen the audiologist. The big silver bullet company has fired up a new program, the Airstream Customer Council (ACC), populated with 12 RVing members including full-timers, part-timers, and weekend Airstream users. The group meets from time to time to give feedback to Airstream management on service experience, product quality and dealership experience. The members range from 39 to 70 years of age and have a wide background of experience. They came from an original applicant pool of 850.
A couple building an RV park in Trenton, South Carolina, have seen their dreams demolished by vandals. James Deaton says he and his girlfriend have invested all their money and more than a year’s labor working on the new park, only to find someone had vandalized their work, breaking windows, slashing tires, and cutting loose with spray paint. They also stole equipment and supplies, leaving Deaton at a loss. His rough tally is that damages could exceed a quarter-million dollars, and none of it recoupable, as they had yet to obtain insurance.
Folks who want to use e-bikes (low speed electric bicycles) on National Wildlife Refuge sites can now do so. The agency has ordered that wherever traditional bicycles are welcome on a refuge, e-bikes are welcome as well. Fine print: The propulsion unit must be no greater than one horsepower and be used only as an assist; that is, the cyclist must also be pedaling to propel the bike. The exception to the latter point is that e-bikes may be fully propelled by the electric motor where motorized vehicles are allowed.
Fulltime RV group Escapees RV Club is getting a deeper foothold on RV education. The group has bought up the rights to the RV internet education course “Roadmap to Full-Time RVing,” and added it to its stable of coursework in its RVers Online University. Not only did Escapees buy the course, it took on the underlying website RV To Freedom, and its associated Facebook group.
And the survey says. . .
How many glasses of water do RVtravel.com readers drink each day? According to last Thursday’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter poll, what percent of them drink two glasses or less. Is it 11%, 23% or 51%. Find out here.
Yellowstone’s Thermal Area Preservation Program (TAPP), which dredges up litter stuck in the park’s iconic hot springs, pulled out an astounding 438 hats this summer alone — as well as 16,404 pieces of litter, park rangers said in a Facebook post Wednesday. “Most people know not to throw things into hot springs, but many of the impacts we’re seeing seem accidental,” said Megan Norr of TAPP. “So hold onto your hats!”
An Ohio state park campground has closed for safety improvements. Beaver Creek near East Liverpool closed down earlier this week and will get safety improvements, and better mountain bike trail access. Originally built on a strip-mine site, officials were concerned that a highwall, a construct somewhat like a cliff, was a safety risk. Runoff material from mining operations also created stagnant water areas; this will be rerouted and trapped for improvement. Views should be improved with the addition of some tree planting, and lighting will get a makeover. The state will also add 1,200 feet of new fencing.
Looking to winter camp in the Pacific Northwest? Washington State Parks officials say they’ll have more than 100 parks open for camping this winter. While those on the list will be open, there may be some restrictions – some will have a reduced number of sites, some might not have water available. Check out the full list and details here.
Some Michiganders with long memories might recall the Timber Shores RV Campground in Leelanau Township, Michigan. A popular spot from the ’50s into the ’70s, it had a big swimming pool and employed a lot of locals. But when the oil embargo hit, Timber Shores took a hit of its own and the gates closed. Now a downstate developer wants to revive the place adding features undreamed of back in the day, including a floating sports park in the bay. The planning commission will meet with developer representatives to get their first earful on plans.
Have you seen this couple? Fulltime RVers James and Michelle Butler of Rumney, NH, are missing. They were last seen around noon at a park in Corpus Christi, Texas. Relatives said the Butlers checked in with them almost daily since leaving New Hampshire until last week. It’s believed they were heading to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The two were driving a 2018 silver Chevrolet 2500 pickup truck with New Hampshire license plate 3738968. The truck was pulling a white Cedar Creek RV with New Hampshire license plate number T533534. If you have information about their whereabouts, please call the Kleberg County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office at 361-595-8500. The Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office Case Number is 19-004326.
The RV Industry Association’s (RVIA) September survey of manufacturers found that RV wholesale shipments totaled 31,639 in September, an increase of 2.2% from the 30,969 units shipped last September. Through September, RV shipments have reached 309,938 units; they are down 18.2% from the 378,718 units at this point last year.
Ontario snowbirds may find a bit of a crimp in their style at the turn of the year. On January 1, OHIP, the provincial health care plan, will stop making reimbursements for out-of-country health care for plan members. Under the plan now, residents are reimbursed between $200 and $400 per day for emergency inpatient services and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient services. The move will make Ontario the only Canadian province to completely cut all reimbursements for out-of-country care.
Voters in Mountain View, California, may be asked to vote on whether or not to ban RV parking on most of the city’s streets. Earlier this week, city councilors voted to ban RV parking on any street less than 40 feet wide. Barely had the measure been voted in when some Mountain View citizens and homeless activists began a petition campaign that, if successful, will force the council to either repeal the ordinance or ask the voters to approve or deny it. The petition-promoters have 30 days to get 3,700 valid signatures – a number equivalent to 10 percent of the city’s registered voters – in order to force the action.
Durham, North Carolina‘s infamous “Can Opener” bridge, the 11-foot-8-inch railroad trestle that’s torn the tops off RVs and semi-trucks, will soon be losing its teeth. The bridge has been closed down and won’t reopen until the clearance is raised to 12-feet-4-inches. It’s as much as the height could be raised without creating major headaches for surrounding rail tracks and, as it is, North Carolina Rail Road will spend $500,000 to make the upgrade. One bridge follower says there’s been an average of one incident per month of a “high load meets low bridge” in typical spectacular fashion. Never mind, since North Carolina law permits even higher loads than the new height, no doubt there’ll still be yo-yo drivers who think “they can make it” and creating backups – just not as frequently.
After years of discussion, Centennial, Colorado, city council members have finally settled on an RV parking ordinance they hope locals can live with. Under their latest vision, RVs can be parked on city streets for up to 14 days. The new ordinance shoots down a proposal that would have forced residents to park their RVs off-street on concrete or asphalt; it also supersedes a prior law that allowed street parking for only 48 hours, with a 24-hour “away” time in between. Those parking RVs must park directly in front of their own residences.
Albuquerque, New Mexico’s big balloon festival is barely behind us, but tickets for RV parking for the next one – in October of 2020 – are nearly sold out. Tickets can sell out in minutes, so Douglas Setzer thought he had really done something when he managed to get tickets booked for 13 days at the site. Trouble is, when he “checked out” on the website, the site indicated he’d be paying $40 per day. Then he got an e-mail, demanding payment of $100 per day. Festival officials admit something went wrong – the tickets, they say, really are $100 per day, but some kind of glitch in the system gave him the $40 quote. Setzer may be thinking that balloon festival officials are full of hot air because they won’t back down from the $100 figure. He has 30 days to make the payment, or watch his reservations float away to someone else.
Jefferson County, Idaho, commissioners are pondering a problem at a local boat dock. The Mike Walker boat ramp, west of Menan, is equipped with a six-site RV camping area, and the commissioners were told too many folks overstay their limits, and some fail to pay for their site on the honor system. What’s needed, says the county’s parks director, is an on-site camp host. But the host site will need utilities and, of course, that requires money. The commissioners countered perhaps it would just be easier to yank the RV sites out. In the end, commissioners decided to look into costs and funding proposals for a potential host-site construct, sometime in 2021.
Winnebago posted its fourth quarter financial reports this week and, not surprisingly, revenues and profits are down. Revenue dropped a little more than 1 percent, down from $536.2 million to $530.4 million. Profits shrank nearly a percent, down to $83.2 million from $83.8 million. Still, fourth quarter income was up 7 percent to $31.9 million. The company experienced a surge in towable sales, up more than 6 percent, but those sales were decidedly offset by Titanic-like sinking in sales of motorized units, which were down almost 18 percent.
Tragedy after power outage: The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says two boys, 14 and 15, brought a portable gas-fired electric generator inside a travel trailer after storms knocked out area power. The younger boy’s father went to check on them and made the horrifying discovery that both had perished, evidently from carbon monoxide poisoning. The incident took place in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma.
If your travels take you through Pflugerville, Texas, don’t plan on parking your rig in town and taking a snooze. The city council is hatching a new ordinance, a city-wide ban on camping. You may not think overnighting in a parking lot to make yourself safe for the road is camping, but the devil is definitely in Pflugerville’s details: “The erecting of a tent or shelter of natural or synthetic material, preparing a sleeping bag or other bedding material for use,” says the proposed ordinance, including the “parking of a motor vehicle, motor home or trailer for the apparent purpose of overnight occupancy or sleeping” is how “camping” is defined. A council member says the group isn’t being reactionary but, rather, wants to take “proactive” measures in light of the city’s rapid growth. A second reading and passage of the measure is expected soon.
Will there be a day when FedEx drops a package off at your RV – via drone flight? It may be closer than you think, as the quick-delivery firm just made their first drone-to-residence delivery in Christiansburg, Virginia. The October 18 delivery had the blessing of the Federal Aviation Administration and was carried out by Wing Aviation.
Surrey, British Columbia, may be joining many cities from the Lower 48 in cracking down on overnight RVing on its streets. The city’s council was considering a proposed law that would ban people from “occupying” RVs on city streets by night. Get caught in an RV between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and face a ticket or watch your rig be towed. If passed, the proposal would also set restrictions on RVs parked in daylight hours, “adjacent to businesses, public parks, schools, churches or residences.” But the council has sent the proposal back to staff after public backlash, some suggesting the proposal was an attempt to run homeless people out of Surrey. Staffers will be asked to provide an ordinance with a little more flexibility.
While many RVers spend time touring the country sightseeing or pursuing hobbies, one couple uses their motorhome for a most unusual pursuit: Recovering the bodies of drowning victims. After a 13-day fruitless search for a man who vanished in Alberta’s Lake Newell was called off for weather, Idaho RVers Gene and Sandy Ralston made the find. The couple has spent several years tracking about North America in their motorhome, towing a boat equipped with search equipment, helping families get closure by locating drowning victims. As of last year, the Ralstons had found 113 such lost ones. The Lake Newell victim was found last weekend.
An Edmonton, Alberta, man is cooling his heels in an Alberta lockup after leading Canadian Mounties on a merry chase in a stolen motorhome. Bradley Stephen Kazmirk, 51, wouldn’t stop after Mounties flagged him near Fort Assiniboine, Alberta. Officers responded by deploying spike-strips, which brought the rig to an abrupt halt in a ditch. As Mounties approached, they allege Kazmirk pulled a weapon, then lit the rig afire. He’s now facing a variety of charges including arson, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, pointing a firearm, and flight from a peace officer.
Scamming potential RV buyers isn’t limited to the U.S. Spain’s Civil Guard has broken up a 10-member gang of crooks, accused of scamming people out of close to $200,000 by taking “deposits” on RVs. At first the men put up advertisements for non-existent RVs, but later rented motorhomes, put for sale ads on them, and sold them for upwards of $45,000 each. Complaints flew into the federal police agency from around the country, and eventually “La Guardia Civil” officers tracked down their men. They also recovered five motorhomes. No word on how much – if any – money victims will get back.
RV recalls posted since our last newsletter
Thor recalls dozens of motorhome models for wrong weight labels
An inadvertently overloaded motorhome due to an incorrect carrying capacity listed on the label can increase the risk of a crash. Learn more.
Jayco recalls Alante motorhomes: Missing heat shield could cause fire
Jayco, Inc. is recalling certain 2016-2017 Alante motorhomes built on the Ford F53 chassis. A heat shield may have not have been installed, allowing the hydraulic lines to be exposed to excessive heat. Read more.
Jayco recalls motorhomes for dangerous position of hydraulic line
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling 1,160 model year 2014-2018 Precept motorhomes built on Ford F53 chassis. The hydraulic lines may have been incorrectly routed too close to the exhaust without a heat shield. Learn more.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of October 21, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.64. [Calif.: $4.03]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 20 cents.
Diesel: $3.05. [Calif.: $3.98]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 33 cents.
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Upcoming RV Shows
Panhandle RV Show, Now through Oct. 27, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
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West Palm Beach Fall RV Show, Nov. 14-17, West Palm Beach, FL
Great American RV Show – Conyers, Nov. 15-17, Conyers, GA
Free and bargain camping
Sentinel Eastbound Rest Area, Dateland, AZ
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. State of AZ allows overnight parking in rest areas. Camping, however, is not allowed. The lot is well-lit with 12 marked long-vehicle parking spaces, restrooms, picnic tables, vending, and a pet area. Click here for details.
Al’s Oasis, Oacoma, SD
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed but permission is required. Park in one of 15-20 marked long-vehicle spaces in paved lot across SR 16. The lot is level with a good surface; marked spaces are big-rig friendly. It is well-lit and fairly quiet. The business complex has a motel, restaurant, gift shop, grocery store, convenience store, clothing store, and gas station. Free Wi-Fi is available. Click here for details.
• Walmarts that do not allow overnight RV stays.
• Walmart Directory (paid link): Best printed directory of Walmart locations
• Guide to Free Campgrounds (paid link): Best-selling directory, year after year.
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.
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Emily Woodbury. Senior editors: Diane McGovern, Russ and Tiña De Maris.
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