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Week of November 23–29, 2019
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With Chuck Woodbury | Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
Ijust returned from three hours on the road in the morning rush hour — driving my daughter Emily to the Seattle airport, about 75 miles round trip — that’s an average speed of 25 miles per hour — most of it on I-5 and I-405.
People do this every day in cities across America. What an incredible waste of one’s life! I vowed as a child to never commute like that. I had watched my father spend two hours driving from his office in Los Angeles to our suburban home 21 miles away. “I’ll never do it,” I promised myself, and I never did.
Think about this: Anyone who spends two hours a day commuting, who works five days a week for, say, 20 years, will spend, over those years, a full year and two months sitting in their car doing basically nothing.
I don’t know about you, but I bet many RV Travel readers commuted to work at least part of their life. “Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.” I know…
If you want to know why so many of us are forced into this behavior, read the superb book Suburban Nation, which is subtitled “The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream.” It’s an eye-opener. From its description: “For a decade, Suburban Nation has given voice to a growing movement in North America to put an end to suburban sprawl and replace the last century’s automobile-based settlement patterns with a return to more traditional planning.”
In the mid-1980s, when I bought my first motorhome, I did so to explore and write about the rural American West, where the nearest traffic jam would be at least 100 miles away (or more). I recall driving U.S. 50 through Nevada (“the loneliest road in America”), listening to radio station KNX in distant Los Angeles. The traffic reporter was talking about car crashes and traffic jams. I felt like I was in another world. Back then some of those commuters were spending six hours a day in their cars driving to and from work. I bet some still do.
But, me, out there in that wide-open sagebrush country, I would look out my motorhome’s window and often not see a single other vehicle. I could stop right on the road for five minutes or longer to snap a photo without anyone else coming near. To this day, this is where I am happiest, not in a big city with all its noise and congestion.
I BET A LOT OF RVers share my love of being away from the crowds, driving non-congested two-lane roads. And when civilization does appear, it’s a one-street town with a lone gas station, general store, one-person post office, and a cafe where the local geezers and cowboys gather each morning to talk about politics and maybe cows. if they’re young cowboys, they talk about young women and maybe cows.
The food servers in these cafes, always women, still don’t mind being called waitresses. They chew gum and call you “Hon,” and at least half them are named Betty (maybe not anymore). I wish I were in a cafe like that right now. I recall being in one in Prescott, Arizona, years ago. A guy walked in and asked the waitress if the business sold cigarettes. She said no, and then she pointed across the street. “They sell them there — at the health food store.” I am not kidding you! (Experiences like this are what make traveling so much fun!)
Those old places still exist. Alas, there are far fewer than when I first untethered myself from permanent city living a few decades ago. So, to you I say: Get out now to explore rural America before McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell run every Mom-and-Pop eatery out of business.
NICE MEMORY DEPARTMENT
Once, long, long ago when I was a young roving reporter, I was having coffee and pie at the counter in a cafe in Dubois, Wyoming, population 900. A young cowgirl (about my age) with stunning blue eyes, parked herself on the stool next to me. She was really pretty and friendly, too. Sitting next to her was much better than sitting by a cowboy. We struck up a conversation and decided to meet up that evening at the steakhouse (there were three restaurants in town, and this was the classiest joint).
Mind you, I was single and traveling alone back then and hadn’t enjoyed any female companionship for quite some time. So having dinner with a pretty cowgirl was a huge treat, better than even a campsite by a trout stream. We had a swell time — lots of talk, wine, steaks (what else in Wyoming?), and the night went on and on and as I recall we shut the place down. Well, I could go on, but I think I will leave it at that.
Oh, before I forget, Gail, Archie-dog and I are headed out in our motorhome next Wednesday. We’ll start off down the incredibly beautiful Oregon coast. I’m not sure where we’ll end up, but I’m hankering to head over to Death Valley in January. We should be out for about two months. I’m looking forward to it — tired of sitting at home.
P.S. See you tomorrow in our new Sunday newsletter. You may enjoy my essay “How can you live normally in California anymore?”
UPDATE FROM 5 P.M. FRIDAY: The day is done and I’m half-crazed after slinging words all day long. What has happened to my mind? I can’t turn it off! I try to explain if you want to read.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
- Even if I were a billionaire I would still eat this.
- Ziploc bag helps me remember my father. (rerun from mid-2017)
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• Are RV manufacturers finally “wising up”? New project suggests “maybe.”
• How can anyone live normally in California anymore?
• Recalls from Thor, Forest River and Gulf Stream that involve propane danger, fridge fire risk and seat backs that could collapse.
• Glimmer of hope over RV technician shortage.
PLUS: Campground news and updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV Shows • Free and Bargain camping locations • Reader survey … and lots more.
Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• Hanging heavy TV on inside wall of RV.
• Filling your fresh water tank when boondocking.
• Motorhome buying? Don’t go “upside down” with a new coach.
• A case for RV driving school.
• Winterizing the RV – More than just plumbing.
HAVING A BAD DAY? If so, look at this (it may make you feel better).
Uncle Sam wants to know where you live. Do you know?
While it’s still months away, April 1, 2020, will be a significant day across the U.S. Yes, we know, it’s April Fool’s Day. But more significantly, it’s also National Census Day. That once-every-ten-years event is mandated by the Constitution, and there are plenty of folks interested that the “count” goes in their favor. But where is your actual residence if you’re a snowbird or a full-timer? It’s all explained here.
10 Essential RV cleaning products
By Emily Schneider. Think automotive engineer + cars + OCD and that’s my husband. Muddy paw prints, dirty hands, sand and stomped-on Cheerios drive him crazy. The RV only amplifies his zaniness (poor guy) because the cramped quarters with five bodies gets smelly and dirty quickly. Luckily, he has developed a system for keeping the RV shining and the interior tolerable (it’s impossible with three kids). Learn how.
Weird and Wacky RV photos of the week
Face it, today’s RVs, no matter who makes them or where they’re made, look a lot alike. Well, that’s not always the case, as you will see in a new feature here at RVtravel.com. We’ll round up a handful of photos each week that should bring a smile to your face or the comment “No way!” Check out this week’s offering.
Are we the only “intelligent” life in the Universe?
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 two weeks. CLICK HERE.
What we learned about you last week
True or false: Is there a person in your life you just can’t please no matter how hard you try? Has Facebook made the world a better place? Do you attend church services while on the road? If the price of gas/diesel went up by $2 a gallon, how would it affect your RVing? Do you like to dance? How important is cell service when choosing a place to camp? How well academically did you do in high school? All this and more, right here.
Sleeping around: Spend the night in a Wienermobile
Most of us are perfectly comfortable sleeping in our RVs. We don’t want a fancy hotel. Heck, we try to weasel out of invitations to stay in friends’ guest bedrooms when we visit — just give us the driveway for our rig. But every once in awhile an opportunity comes along for a night out that is just too tempting. Like how about spending the night in a genuine Oscar Meyer Wienermobile? Learn more.
Making holidays special while on the road
Being away from family and friends on holidays can be difficult, particularly when first starting to full-time or snowbird. Remembering the smell of turkey in the oven, stuffing enough to feed an army, the decorations and family gathered around the holiday table can make even the most ardent RVer sigh. … But there are ways to bring that holiday feeling home to your RV. Nanci Dixon explains here.
How to fix a sticking black tank valve
Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. While he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor, a reader asked him about the black water handle on his 2012 Entegra getting more difficult to pull. He wondered if there was any way to ease this or prevent it from getting even more difficult. Chris explains how to fix it here.
Popular articles from last week
• If you own one of these trailers, do not tow it!
• Couple could face jail time for living in RV in their driveway.
• I want to live on vacation.
• Judge issues gag order on Padre Island murder comments.
• New car debuts with windshield made of air.
• The Quartzsite “Crud” and other Snowbird tales.
• Controversial “parks” committee shut down.
• Visit Mexico in RV? Husband says “No.” Wife says “Si.”
• RV Doctor: Can RV be stored off-level without damaging the fridge?
• What we learned about you last week (November 9-15).
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, November 16, 2019.
• The second most important step in buying an RV.
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 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.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
Ask the RV Shrink
Shopping for an RV? Forget the “free” hot dog
Dear RV Shrink:
We have been shopping for a new motorhome. I would like to find a nice used unit, but my husband is insisting on a brand-new one. He thinks coming straight from the factory we will have fewer problems. He says buying used we will end up with someone else’s problems. I just find RV salespeople as shady as used car salesmen. …
Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice. (Can you guess where a hot dog fits into this?)
Ask the RV Doctor
How to winterize an RV washer and dryer combo
Please tell me the best way to winterize a washer/dryer combo. Thanks! —Jack
Parallel generator neutral bonding
Hello Mr. Sokol,
When pairing two inverter generators do you use a neutral/ground bonding plug on each generator or will one suffice? Thanks. —Dave Hoffmann
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
AC meter basics. How to use a digital meter.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
Are sidewall cracks a cause of tire failure?
From Roger Marble: “I recently read an RV forum post about sidewall cracks. From the picture, it appeared the tire had what I would call Ozone or UV cosmetic cracking. The owner was concerned about the tire durability as he had suffered a couple of ‘blowouts’ previously.” Read Roger’s response, including some ways to prevent sidewall cracks and tire failure.
Income tax information for Canadian snowbirds
Accountant Neil Seidler answers a question about how long Canadians can stay in the U.S., and what are the income tax implications? Read it here.
Building an RV Park
When it rains, it snows!
Machelle reports on the progress of the long and involved planning and permitting process for their new campground. Find out what they did with their firewood stacked on their front porch after receiving so many very helpful comments from you folks! And why does Machelle feel like a child seeing Santa for the first time? Plus, read some of the fun activities they have planned for their visitors. All that and more here.
The RV Kitchen
Pronto Pasta Parmesan
Have this pasta dish pronto. Talk about adaptable! This one-pan meal can be made for more or fewer folks, using white or dark meat chicken from scratch, from a can, or thawed, fully cooked, unbreaded chicken bites from the freezer. Cut chicken small and add more cans of mac and cheese to feed a crowd. Get the recipe.
The Digital RVer
Listen to TV thru your smartphone with Tunity
At a local pub to watch your favorite team playing on their big screen TV but the sound is muted for your game? Or want to watch TV at home but don’t want disturb other folks in the room? Well, here’s a nifty free app that the Geeks on Tour have discovered that allows you to get the TV program sound you want on your smartphone. Learn more.
The Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the oldest continuously occupied public (and municipal) building in the United States. It was built in 1610. Have you seen it?
Bumper sticker of the week
“Poor gas mileage for a vehicle, great for a home” – on the back of a motorhome.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
There’s a new reality show where flat-earthers are trying to find the edge of the world.
They’ll be so disappointed when the finale is not a cliffhanger.
“The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.” —Abraham Lincoln
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Emily, Woodbury, Russ and Tiña De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Bob Difley, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
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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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