Here’s the latest news about RVing and more from the editors of RVtravel.com. This newsletter, along with each of our daily online publications, is funded in part by the voluntary subscription contributions of our readers. Thank you!
Sunday, November 3, 2019
Missing RVers found dead, ruled homicide
A New Hampshire couple boondocking on the beach on Padre Island, Texas, has been confirmed dead after being found in a shallow grave, the victims of a homicide. The decedents have been identified as James Lawrence Butler, 48, and his 46-year-old wife, Michell Elaine Butler, of Rumney, New Hampshire.
Their bodies were discovered Sunday evening at Beach Marker 263 about 3 miles south of Bob Hall pier after a Kleberg County Deputy found what appeared to be human remains. “Their camper was literally parked right there,” said James Butler’s sister Deborah van Loon. Read more.
California wildfires a warning to all of us
When we went to bed last night (Wednesday), there were three major wildfires burning in California. When we got up this morning, two more fires of “national news” level had broken out. Thousands of acres have burned, hundreds of homes destroyed, and countless lives have been interrupted – and that’s only in this “fire season.”
People from all walks of life have been affected. Rich folk with ocean-front properties have watched their multi-million dollar homes go up in flames. On the other end of the spectrum, homeless folks, too, have been affected – some having no way to quickly escape oncoming flames end up taking their chances on smoke-filled sidewalks. Just how have RVers been affected? Read more.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed: Taking a gamble on free RV parking • How to winterize an RV using a “Schrader valve” • Pedestal voltage readings • Spare tire is wrong size. What to do? • And much more
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 Forest River, Heartland, Keystone, Jayco (several), 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 week that was
October 27 – November 2, 2019
“The Profit” takes a major loss: Camping World’s Marcus Lemonis has sold the former RV World site on Jacksonville, Florida‘s Beach Boulevard to Travel Camp RV of Jacksonville, at an apparent net loss of nearly $3 million. Camping World Holdings bought the site in January 2018 for $5.4 million, and operated it as a RV World-branded site until shutting down last February. Late this month, Travel Camp RV bought the site for $2.65 million, according to county records. Camping World has indicated it will shut down 37 of its locations.
JUST IN: The Gander Outdoor store in Greenfield, Indiana, is also closing. Camping World opened the store in a bankruptcy buyout less than two years ago.
A motorhome from Bend, Oregon, got an unusual transport assignment. Volunteers from two animal rescue agencies boarded a Class C motorhome and drove to northern California to help rescue animals dislocated by the Kincade Fire. They returned last Wednesday after two days, bearing a load of 52 dogs and one cat.
Many RVers have felt the big impact of Amazon.com – finding prices for all sorts of RV-related gear on its site often less expensive than anywhere else. But many RVers in Mission Viejo, California, will soon find Amazon will create a big impact in their lives in a completely different – and, for some, unwelcome – way. Amazon is buying up a major RV storage operation on Jeronimo Road. RV Storage Depot is a huge outfit that offers outdoor and indoor storage space for RVs, boats and other vehicles. No, Amazon isn’t going into the storage business; the big internet retailer says it will convert the operation into a logistics hub. An announcement says that RV Storage Depot management “is working with RV owners to relocate their vehicles.”
High winds and crashing trees forced the closure of two campgrounds in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Last weekend, sustained winds of 30 miles per hour with gusts to 50 brought down trees at Cades Cove Campground. Meanwhile, heavy rains and rising water called for the evacuation of Elkmont Campground. Crews worked quickly to get the downed trees cleared, and Cades Cove was reopened Sunday.
A wildfire in Arizona’s Coronado National Forest has shut down the Molino Basin Campground. The fire broke out last weekend and spread to about 400 acres by Tuesday. It started in deep and steep terrain, causing fire fighting management to take a wait-and-see attitude about initial attempts at battling the blaze, fearing for the safety of firefighters sent directly to the flames. The highway to Mount Lemmon is open, but officials want drivers to use caution, as crews will be deployed alongside it. Investigators believe someone blasted a shotgun at rocks, creating a spark that set the blaze. They have not identified anyone as the possible shooter, nor do they know if they would be prosecuted if found. The campground itself was not hit by flames, but is being used as a staging area for crews.
Mark your calendars for November 11: That’s Veterans Day, but it’s also free admission day to America’s National Parks and monuments, the last day of the year to avoid paying to enter. Alas, while admission may be free, no such luck with campsites: they’re regular price.
Northern California’s Kincade Fire has caused grief for many residents; but visitors, too, are feeling the effects. California State Parks has closed or restricted use of several parks in the area. Here’s the list: CLOSED: Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Austin Creek State Recreation Area, Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, Fort Ross State Historic Park, Jack London State Historic Park, Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve, Marconi Conference Center State Historic Park, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Olompali State Historic Park, Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, Salt Point State Park, Sonoma State Historic Park, Sonoma Coast State Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and Trione-Annadel State Park. LIMITED SERVICES: Angel Island State Park, open but no ferry service. China Camp open for day-use only; the park’s s pier is closed due to damage from waves. Samuel P. Taylor State Park and campground open but no power available. Tomales Bay State Park open but power is out. The situation is fluid, officials suggest you call before coming.
The Walmart in Rohnert Park, California, brought in portable toilets and washing stations to accommodate RVers and cars who holed up there after evacuating their homes due to the Kincade wildfire. The fairgrounds in Santa Rosa not only accommodated hundreds of people but also about 1,000 large animals including horses.
RVers who find golf suits them to a tee may want to check out a 12-hole par-three course coming to Buckeye, Arizona. The course will be part of an 800-site RV park that has proved to be a bit of a challenge to designers not familiar with RVing. The terrain of the site is sloped and rocky, and golf course designer Forrest Richardson didn’t initially know how this would affect maneuvering and parking of RVs. Richardson says this became part of his “learning curve,” as he laid out the course and resort. The course itself highlights the desert terrain and flora, including saguaro cacti. Your last three holes will take you out behind a mountain. Construction starts next year, and the “On the Rocks” course and resort is slated to tee-off come 2021.
A planning commission in Alberta, Canada, has given approval for a new campground near Milo, in Vulcan County. Compared to the push for “glamping” so popular in the Lower 48, the new 175-site RV park will evidently be for those who don’t mind roughing it. Electrical hookups will be limited to 30-amp service. You wanted water, eh? Well, water is available, at an extra charge, as it will be hauled in from a nearby village water treatment plant. Need to dump your tanks, eh? No problem. No on-site hookups, but evidently a dump station will be available.
Dodging “gators” on the freeway is nothing new for RVers. But switch away from the rubber-tire-remnant gator to the reptilian version. RVers arriving at the KOA Campground on South Padre Island, Texas, last Sunday got an unusual greeting. In the chilly morning air, an alligator found sunning himself next to the street was just great – until humans ruined the routine. “We didn’t want a tourist to just happen to walk up on him because he was pretty close to the road,” KOA assistant manager Laura Walton told The Valley Morning Star. “We called the local police department and they got the local alligator sanctuary involved and they came down and got him for us and took him down there. His name is now ‘Brooks.’ After our GM here in the Park. That’s Tom.” Brooks – all four feet of him – was soon relocated to the sanctuary.
Richmond, R.I., police said the owner of the Wawaloam Campground suffered gunshot wounds Thursday (Oct. 31) during a confrontation with a resident, Daniel Brown, 77, who was found about an hour later in Exeter, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to The Sun. The police said they were told that Brown, who had lived in the campground for several years, became agitated after being notified that he had to leave the park.
Do you love camping so much you’d like to buy a campground? Well, you’re in luck: The 133-site Pigeon Forge Jellystone in Tennessee is for sale. It’s only a mile from Dollywood, so a great location. But maybe it’s beyond your budget? It’s listed at $11.5 million. That works out to $86,466.17 per site.
With toll roads now in 35 states, it was bound to happen: RVers can now buy a toll-route transponder for their RV, that, according to the sellers, will save them money in the long-run. TransCore’s new “multi-protocol tolling transponder” will help you pay tolls without having to stop, and in many cases, you’ll find the toll is cheaper than paying with cash. The transponder is a small “tablet”-size unit which mounts on the windshield of your motorhome or tow vehicle. The company produces units for double- and triple-axle motorhomes, and for double-axle travel trailers. The cost is around $95, and “typically pays for itself in a single trip,” puffs a company press release. Visit rvtollpass.com for more information.
Last week we reported on the disgruntled woman who used her motorhome as a battering ram against a North Las Vegas, Nevada, casino. Jennifer Stitt (50) is back in the news. Stitt is alleged to have driven her motorhome through the entryway of the Cannery Casino shortly after she was “86’d” from the establishment for “disorderly conduct.” Not only did Stitt wipe out the casino’s front-end, she also is said to have accelerated her older Winnebago motorhome in an apparent attempt to mow down a casino employee. The employee was seriously injured, and now charges of attempted murder have been added to Stitt’s file. She’s being held pending the posting of $100,000 bail.
There’s still fallout from the 2018 California wildfire dubbed the Camp Fire – only this is good news. Woody Faircloth from Denver, Colorado, was so moved by the tragedies of so many, he bought an RV in Colorado, filled it with relief supplies, and drove it out to California, planning to give away both the supplies and the RV. By the time he got there, others had heard of his large-heartedness: One person donated another RV, and an RV park donated space for both RVs. In the end, Faircloth formed a non-profit relief group called RV4CampFireFamily. Now news outlet CNN has recognized Faircloth, making him one of its Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2019. He’ll receive a $10,000 award, and is in the running with the other nine to possibly receive an additional $100,000 for the cause.
RV recalls posted since our last Sunday newsletter
Jayco recalls fifth wheels, suspension system may fail
Jayco is recalling some 2017 Pinnacle Fifth Wheel trailers. The suspension system may fail. If the suspension system fails, a sudden loss of vehicle control can result, increasing the risk of a crash. Read more.
Forest River trailers recalled: Axis may contact chassis
Forest River is recalling certain 2020 Shasta Oasis SST30QB and SST31OK trailers. The trailers may have been built with an incorrect length axle hanger, allowing the axle to contact the chassis while moving. Learn more.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of October 28, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.60. [Calif.: $3.95]
Change from week before: Down 4 cents; Change from year before: Down 22 cents.
Diesel: $3.06. [Calif.: $4.00]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 29 cents.
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Upcoming RV Shows
Tampa Bay Fall RV Show, Nov. 7-10, Tampa, FL
West Palm Beach Fall RV Show, Nov. 14-17, West Palm Beach, FL
Great American RV Show – Conyers, Nov. 15-17, Conyers, GA
Fall Clean Sweep RV Show, Dec. 6-8, Ft. Myers, FL
Free and bargain camping
R.J.’s Chevron, Atmore, AL
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Park in truck parking area on NE side of property, without obstructing movement by other vehicles. Park as far to the outer edge as possible so trucks can turn around. No dump station or propane. Diesel fuel available. At I-65, Exit 57. Click here for details.
Apple Annie’s Country Store, Willcox, AZ
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. The lot is shared with adjacent Cochise Visitors Center, with AZ Highway Patrol Station next door. Level, not lit, and there is moderate traffic noise from I-10. I-10, Exit 340. Click here for details.
• Walmarts that do not allow overnight RV stays.
• Walmart Directory: Best printed directory of Walmart locations.
• Guide to Free Campgrounds: 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.
In the News
RV News from other sources
• RV Park is last resort for families on the edge, but eviction looms.
• 10 crazy expensive RVs that take glamping to a new level.
• Lego-like camper van conversion kits let you build the RV of your dreams.
• On the road: RVers enjoy travel so much, some make it a permanent abode.
• City of Berkeley in process of opening safe overnight RV parking.
• As some Millennials look to live the van life, these companies are filling the niche for custom rides.
• Faribault (Minn.) police searching for suspect who vandalized motorhome.
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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