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Sunday, November 24, 2019
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How can you live normally in California anymore?
RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury poses this question based on repeated evacuations of citizens from their homes due to deadly wildfires. How would you live your life if you knew that you could be ordered to evacuate virtually overnight? How many of these people will say “the heck with it,” and buy an RV, which can be easily moved when danger threatens? Woodbury offers his thoughts.
Hundreds of RV inspectors and technicians get diplomas. That’s good news!
An independent RV technician training program just graduated more than 400 RV inspectors and technicians. The RV Industry Association (RVIA), which should have done something similar years ago, has dragged its feet and done nothing until just recently, but has yet to graduate a single student. Meanwhile the independent National RV Training Academy (NRVTA) has been running effective teaching programs that may soon make a difference in resolving aggravating repair issues. Read more.
Are RV manufacturers finally wising up? New projects suggests “Maybe!”
Are America’s RV manufacturers finally “getting it”? It’s possible. At least that’s an inference we can make from a property rezoning hearing in Goshen, Indiana – ground zero for RV manufacturing in America. The rezoning is to accommodate an independent plant that would be used by different RV manufacturers to do a final inspection on their RVs before they’re shipped to dealers. Sounds good, but the reality is that only a fraction of the RVs produced in the area could be accommodated. More.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed: Madness on the freeway – RVers want something else • Uncle Sam wants to know where you live. Do you know? • Making holidays special while on the road • Shopping for an RV? Forget the “free” hot dog • Weird and Wacky RV photos of the week • and lots more …
That was the week that was
November 24–30, 2019
Last week we reported on the Mississippi couple, the Navaris, who said they faced possible jail time for living in an RV outside of their burned home, in violation of home owner association rules. New details have been revealed which shed an interesting light on the story. A local FOX affiliate station had asked the homeowner’s association for comment, and was turned down – directed instead to the local code enforcement officer. According to the news report, Miriam Ethridge, the code enforcement officer, said the Navari family was cited for zoning issues, had been given a court date, and failed to turn up for it. Because of that failure to appear, the judge issued a bench warrant. “They haven’t been levied any fines, they haven’t been threatened in any way, they’re going to get to tell the judge their story, and he’s going (to tell them) what they have to do,” Ethridge said. “You’re only hearing one side, and it is an exaggerated side. I can promise you, all this is going to come out sooner or later.”
We earlier reported on Tesla’s announcement of its foray into the electric pickup truck field and got a mixed reaction from readers. Now the stock market has taken its eyeball of the situation and the response is – well – jaundiced-eyed, at best. Tesla stock fell more than 1 percent following the announcement of what Tesla’s chief, Elon Musk, called a “cybertruck” and a “Blade Runner” pickup. One market reviewer, Emmanuel Rosner of Deutsche Bank, spoke up: “Based on previous comments, starting price could be <$50k, high-end versions could feature 400-500 miles of range and 0-60 mph acceleration <3.4 seconds, but very little has been disclosed about the actual design of the truck.” Rosner added the Cyborg-like appearance might put off “traditional pickup buyers, leaving it a lower-volume niche product.”
VIDEO: A commuter train traveling through Santa Fe Springs, California, early Friday morning slammed into a class C motorhome that had stalled on the tracks. The RV immediately caught on fire with the flames charring a car on the freight locomotive on a parallel track and destroying the RV. See the news video that shows the moment of impact.
A “fallen through the cracks” Vietnam veteran in San Antonio, Texas, now has a new home to live in – for the first time in more than a decade. The unnamed veteran had been living with her father in his mobile home. Sadly, he died and the vet couldn’t keep up the payments on the home and was reduced to living in a shed. Recently San Antonio’s Adopt-A-Vet organization got wind of her situation and worked with Team Depot Foundation (an offshoot of Home Depot) to refurbish a donated fifth-wheel, as well as installing decks and ramps.
New highway use guidelines in Pennsylvania will may hit some winter-driving RVers. When inclement weather causes speed restrictions to be posted, RVers pulling trailers, like commercial drivers, will be forced to use only the right lane. Specifically, travel trailers and fifth wheels are written into the law, and “passenger vehicles” towing “vehicle trailers.” If weather further deteriorates, other vehicles will see right-lane-only use including “recreational vehicles and buses,” so presumably, a motorhome, even not towing a vehicle, might be included at this stage. This is a “draft” plan that the state will use and evaluate over this winter. What future winters will hold is still in the balance.
Caseville, Michigan, city council members have beat a hasty retreat from a plan for the city to put in a 25-site RV park when constituents complained. Council members initially thought the project would be a moneymaker – but citizens didn’t see green, they saw red, and complained in person and by letter. Many said the location for the RV sites, Pointe Park, should be left alone, fearing the park’s “atmosphere” would be ruined. The city is now looking for new ways to bring in the gold.
A BLM campground north of Canon City, Colorado, just got a facelift. The Bank Campground, part of the Shelf Road Recreation Complex, had 50,000 campers drop by in 2018, so the BLM has added 20 new campsites, a host site, and a couple of vault toilets to work on accommodating the load. What makes for the traffic? The Bank has become a major rock climbing destination for recreationists.
In an odd case of “delayed reporting,” Pennsylvania State Police finally got around to reporting the deaths of two RVers found October 22, only making the report on November 15. Bruce Frenchak (57) and Sheliene Frenchak (54) of Huntington Beach, California, were found dead in their RV at the Blue Mountain Travel Plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Newburg. Their rig had been parked there evidently as early as October 20. Troopers and firefighters broke into the rig after spotting a non-responsive person inside. An October 28 autopsy has not revealed a cause of death. The two were reporting missing from California.
It’s lousy timing for Winter Texans, as managers of Spring Creek Park in Tomball, Texas, say they’ll have to shut down camping until the turn of the year. Seems a grease trap tank at the barbecue pavilion acted up, creating a need for an upgrade at the sewage treatment plant. That sidelined campsites, too, until the repairs can be completed. Adding to the misery, county officials decided they really needed to add a new shower house in the scout camp area – that too, would tax the treatment plant. Repairs will run more than $86,000 – and who knows how much revenue will be lost from campsite fees during the closure.
An enterprising criminal couple went out of their way to “vanish” an RV they stole in Horry County, South Carolina. Jordan Swinson (28) and Sara-Megan Tuttle (30), both of Surfside Beach, were arrested and charged with grand theft after they admitted to swiping two rigs from a Socastee, South Carolina, RV storage lot. They went out of their way to hide the deed, not only switching license plates on one of the rigs, but giving it a new paint job as well.
Washington state officials are taking some flack for allowing RVers to park and live in their rigs along a scenic parkway under their authority. Deschutes Parkway is a curved boulevard running alongside a reflecting lake in the view of the state’s capitol building in Olympia, Washington. One local tour company owner finds the practice “very jarring … very upsetting,” and wants state officials to rout the ruinous RVers. One of the denizens responded to local media this way: “I know these residents are mad, I do. But Olympia is the state capital and if you’re going to be heard, or if you’re going to get under somebody’s skin, this is where you’re going to do it,” Zaneen Hoover told KIRO 7 TV. “If that governor can’t help me with my resources and lets me fall through the cracks, then I’m going to sit here and I’m going to make it ugly. Here I am.” State officials are taking a survey of residents’ views prior to formulating a potential rule on the matter.
RVers visiting California’s Mendocino County may have to dig deeper in their wallets if their stay includes an RV park. County supervisors are asking county voters to approve an ordinance that would include RV parks and tent sites in the transient occupancy tax code. As of now, if you book a room in any motel or hotel in the county, you’ll be charged an extra 10 percent. If voters approve, that 10 percent tax will hit RVers and other camping visitors.
You kidding us? A fiery incident last week involving a large motorhome damaged a power pole and caused power outages in the area of downtown Bryan, Texas. Firefighters told KBTX-TV that a candle inside of the RV caught a curtain on fire. The driver quickly attempted to pull off the road and ended up hitting several utility wires and snapping a power pole. The RV driver was not injured. But, really. Burning a candle while moving?
A Eugene, Oregon, tow truck company owner says he’s suffering from a glut of abandoned RVs. Clayton Trzesniewski runs Alpha Towing and Recovery and says he has five dead RVs on his lot that he can’t afford to get rid of. Trzesniewski reports that scrappers and landfills won’t touch the units until they’ve been cleaned by a hazmat service – with a price running into thousands. Got a solution?
And they say cats have nine lives. A “lucky dog” in Australia survived a wild ride when his owner stepped outside of their motorhome and the parking brake got loose. The motorhome then headed off down a rocky plunge toward the sea, near Kiama Light in New South Wales. Happily, the motorhome hung up before hitting the ocean and workers were able to successfully rescue the roller coaster pooch.
It looks as if there’ll soon be another publicly operated RV park on Oregon’s south coast. Curry County Commissioners are in discussions on how to pick up a lease on the existing Beachfront RV Park in Brookings. The park is one of the few located directly on an ocean beach in the state. The county sees it as a moneymaker, and would upgrade all RV sites to 50 amps, and likely bring up the number of sites by seven to a total of 170. According to media reports, the likelihood of a lease deal is good.
At least one Walker County, Texas, commissioner got his feathers in a knot when he supported a proposal that would make RV parks in the county upgrade their roads to pavement. Apparently most parks there are graveled, but Commissioner Bill Daugette spoke up in a public meeting on the matter. He reportedly said, “RV parks today are different than they were a few years ago … people buy them to live in them, so they become neighborhoods,” urging the passage of the ordinance. Local park owners pushed back, at least one calling out the rules as “So much more than what is necessary,” and suggested they are “Overstepping the boundaries of the citizens of Walker County.” At least one other commissioner agreed with the sentiment so the commission promptly tabled the matter until November 25.
RVers who habituate Washington state’s Snake River country may be dismayed to hear that Fishhook Park, a U.S. Army Corps project, will be closed through the 2020 camping season. The Corps says it will be doing a major fix-up, including making it a better place for larger RVs, renovating rest rooms and beefing up the sprinkler system. Charbonneau and Hood parks nearby will remain open. Questions? Call the Corps at 509-547-2048.
There’s a new home for the “buffalo” to roam: South Dakota’s Badlands National Park opened a new area for bison in October. It’s kind of an experiment, as bison haven’t had access to this stretch of land in 150 years. The park population was wiped out by overkill decades ago, and they weren’t seen there again until 1960 when 50 were reintroduced, growing to a population of 1,200 now. But this new area, some 22,000 acres, obtained by the Park Service in 2014, has been bison-barren for a very long time. The question is, how will the bison react to the land – and vise versa? Over in Yellowstone National Park, the bison herds form up in a huge mass, cropping vegetation, and turning over the soil. After they move along, new plant life flourishes. Will the same thing happen in the Badlands? Will a seemingly barren landscape fill with lush plant life? It’ll be something to see.
A motorhome driver backed into a parked car in a Seattle, Washington, neighborhood, doing relatively minor damage. For the car owner, Bob Ramstad, the trouble was the RVer had no insurance, nor driver’s license, and wasn’t interested in giving his name. Ramstad called for police, stalling the RV driver 90 minutes, waiting for police, in vain. Finally, the RV driver jumped in his rig to take off – aiming straight for Ramstad. With no time to dodge the accelerating motorhome, Ramstad jumped up, and splatted like a bug on the motorhome windshield – eye to eye with the RV driver. “Dead expression, staring straight ahead. He was looking past me,” Bob Ramstad said. “He carried me down the street.” That lasted for 30 yards, after which Ramstad fell off, suffering only minor injuries. Police are looking for the now hit-and-run vehicular assault suspect.
Bonner County, Idaho, planning commissioners are considering easing up on restrictions against RV use and park development. Principal among the suggestions – dropping a 120-day occupancy limit on RV dwelling, as the commission recognizes it’s unenforceable. Landowners have already been able to apply for full-time RV living, but planners say they’ll likely reduce the fees for a permit, and make the process less intrusive; additionally, they’ll likely allow two RVs on a parcel. Some have objected on social media, fearful the county would require RV dwellers to hook up to sewer and water systems; but a spokesman for the commission says they don’t have that idea in mind. Other proposed changes are seen by some as making it easier to develop commercial RV parks.
Authorities from Wasco County, Oregon, are investigating the deaths of a pair of RVers found dead in their RV near The Dalles last Tuesday. Brian Thomas Paulsen (48) and Deon Louise Patterson (47) and their dog were found dead after family members reported them missing. A HAZMAT team checked out the trailer before first responders entered the trailer, and said they could find no hazardous substances. Although no autopsy report has been issued, authorities theorize carbon monoxide may have been what killed the three. Do you have an up-to-date carbon monoxide detector in your rig? They have a limited “shelf life,” and must be replaced to work at saving your life.
He said his name was Demetri Rasputin, a fisherman from Russia who entered the country illegally in Texas. Wait, his name was Demetri Nishye – yeah, that’s it. The man who came out of a travel trailer in which he was living west of Colorado Springs, Colorado, had a thick Russian accent – that is – until police said they wanted to fingerprint him. Somehow the “Russian” accent turned suddenly quite North American, and “Demetri’s” facade slipped as he shouted, “You don’t want to f— with me, Dawg!” Turns out that “Yuri Efimovich Renkov,” who also asked for a Kazakh interpreter, didn’t really need one. The real Dakota Stewart was a humble American who failed to register as a sex offender – and one who had trouble keeping his stories straight. Last Monday, a judge told him he’d have 41 months to get his identity sorted out, while doing time in prison for failure to register.
Utah – the Beehive State? Nah, now it’s the Bear Den state. As of November 7, state wildlife officials have taken reports of 53 black bear incidents in Utah – nearly double the 27 they noted for the entire 2018 calendar year. Most bear “incidents” involved food or garbage, both in campgrounds and in residential neighborhoods; however, two children were unwelcome recipients of bear contact. One sleeping in a camp chair had their face bitten; another was scratched while snoozing in a tent. Officials say they think the shoot-up in figures points to an increased bear population in Utah. “More bears mean more conflict,” they conclude.
Did you see the results of yesterday’s survey, where we asked readers if they believe we’re the only intelligent life in the Universe? The results (and comments) are very interesting.
Washington and Oregon state parks are offering free admission on the day after Thanksgiving. The offer in Washington does not include overnight stays or rented facilities, and fees still apply on National Park Service, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Department of Natural Resources land. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will also be offering free fishing, crabbing and clamming statewide for the day.
Forest River has adopted a four-direction rotating table mechanism made of aluminum and composite materials for all 2020 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Class C motorhomes. It allows the tabletop to be rotated a full 360 degrees, providing space on demand for owners.
Want to do something other than crawl the malls on Black Friday? If you’re up Indiana way, park officials suggest you spend it “Opting Outside” with all Department of Natural Resources facilities waiving gate fees, and all inns or lodge restaurants giving a 20 percent discount on meals. When dining, tell your server that you’re “opting outside” to get the discount.
A bill which would pump up to $6.5 billion into the $12 billion National Park Service backlog passed out of a Senate Committee on Tuesday. The Restore Our Parks Act is similar to one that passed out of a House committee in June, but political soothsayers aren’t betting either measure will make it through the full Congressional process.
The Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association (CRVA) reported that RV wholesale shipments into Canada for the third quarter that ended September 30 were 6,244 units compared to 10,141 for the same period in 2018, a decrease of 38.43%.
Air pollution issues may kill off about half the camping now allowed at Oceano Dunes, in Oceano, California. Camping in the foredunes apparently stirs up dust, and the state park service is already under fire for not meeting an air pollution requirement agreement.
Prevost has announced that it is marking the opening of its largest North American service center, 67,000 square feet, in Hayward, Calif.
A family-owned auto and RV store in Medford, Ore., closed without notice this past week. A notice on the door and a voice-mail stated the store was no longer open. Now some customers are concerned about what that means for their warranties. All that’s left of Western Auto Sales & RV are a few RVs and an empty room.
An argument about walking their dog landed an Ocala, Florida, RVer in jail earlier this week. A woman told deputies that she and 52-year-old James Scott Pilger were arguing while she searched for their dog’s leash. The woman claimed Pilger pushed her, bruising her chest. Pilger was charged with battery on a person 65 years of age or older.
Camping World Holdings Inc. has extended its title sponsorship of the NASCAR Truck Series through 2022. That ensures that Camping World will own exclusive rights as title sponsor for 14 consecutive years.
Visitors to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground will have to forgo carriage rides until sometime next year due to changes to the Trip-Circle Ranch. The Wagon Ride will still be available as a walk-up only offering from Monday to Thursday and as a bookable experience Friday to Sunday. Pony Rides remain available daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Residents of Siesta RV Park in Imperial Beach, California, are worried that a plan to develop the area will leave them homeless. Park owners notified the mostly low-income residents several months ago the place many have called home for decades would be redeveloped. Most residents live in old RVs and say they can’t afford to live elsewhere.
A Pittsburg, California, man suspected of selling illegal drugs from a motorhome was arrested along with a dozen others during a raid earlier this week, police said. Police did not immediately identify the other 12 but said they were arrested for an array of offenses including drug sales, prostitution, possession of a stolen vehicle, and conspiracy to sell illegal narcotics.
RV Country has opened up a new location in Sparks, Nevada, the 11th dealership for the Fresno, California-based company formerly known as Paul Evert’s RV Country.
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.
Some of the campground news this issue:
• ALABAMA STATE PARK PRESENTS COUNTRY MUSIC ICON
• INDIANA CAMPGROUND GETS NEW LIFE
• NORTH CAROLINA STATE PARK ADDS NEW RV SITES
• ARIZONA OVERFLOW AREA NOW A REAL CAMPGROUND
• SOUTH CAROLINA PARK WINS AWARD
RV recalls posted since our last newsletter
Thor recalls some Class C RVs: Seat backs may collapse
Because of an improperly assembled recliner mechanism, Thor Motor Coach is recalling certain 2019-2020 Magnitude and Omni motorhomes. Due to the manufacturing defect, seats may have reduced strength and may not adequately restrain an occupant in a crash, increasing the risk of injury. Read more.
Forest River recall: Bad wiring install could cause trailer fridge fire
Forest River is recalling certain 2020 Cherokee Alpha Wolf Travel Trailers. The wire supplying the 12V power for the refrigerator may have been connected incorrectly to the circuit breaker. More.
Gulf Stream recall: Defect could allow propane to seep into trailer
Gulf Stream Coach, Inc. is recalling certain 2020 Amerilite, Conquest, Innsbruck, Grand River, Kingsport and Trail Master trailers. The gas refrigerator compartment may not be properly sealed, potentially releasing carbon monoxide or flammable unburned Liquid Petroleum (LP) gases throughout the trailer. Learn more.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of November 18, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.59 [Calif.: $3.85]
Change from week before: Down 2 cents; Change from year before: Down 2 cents.
Diesel: $3.07. [Calif.: $4.00]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 21 cents.
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Free and bargain camping
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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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