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Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Disgust, alarm, sadness on an Oregon beach
RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury is currently traveling on the Oregon Coast. What he discovered Friday on a beach near Newport alarmed him so much he felt slightly nauseous. What did he find to upset him so much? Click here to find out.
Mr. Heater user dies from carbon monoxide – Could you?
A van dweller and his dog in Kennewick, Wash., have died from what authorities say was carbon monoxide poisoning. David Dana, 61, and his Labrador were found dead on December 5. What was the source of the CO poisoning? Conflicting media reports muddied the waters. Read what we’ve learned.
Towable RV sales down 6.2 percent for first 10 months
Year-over-year towable RV sales dipped 6.2% for the first 10 months of 2019, according to the latest report from Statistical Surveys Inc. Find out who the towable and travel trailer sales leaders were here.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed: A thought-provoking story from Chuck Woodbury to “remember to stop and smell the roses” • Are RVers eco-pigs or eco-conscious? • Small Kansas town has big plan that could set pattern of RV relief • A few of Mike Sokol’s favorite things • RV Doctor: Why does one bathroom sink stink and the other doesn’t?
That was the RV week that was
December 8-14, 2019
It’s every RVer’s nightmare: Scrape the pavement and break a holding tank fitting. Imagine (or remember) the embarrassment! Now you can multiply all this by a big factor in the real-life situation from Nanaimo, British Columbia. Passengers were more than upset when they were told there would be a delay in the sailing of the ferry Queen of Coquitlam due to “an environmental spill” from a motorhome. An unknown amount of sewage spilled onto the car deck after the motorhome was loaded, and it created a two-hour delay while cleanup crews did their thing. No word on if the motorhome occupants joined the rest of the passengers, or just hid out in the rig for the duration of the voyage.
If you’re planning a visit to Utah’s Zion National Park, don’t be surprised to see odd-looking VW camper vans. A startup firm, retroVWs, is now renting out the hippie-era transporters to park visitors from its agency in nearby Hurricane. Since the park has a policy of gently discouraging large RVs, the agency’s owners think that renting out the small “set for camping” rigs will be a big hit. Per night costs range from $40 to $190. For more info you can phone 435-990-586.
Is winter the time to put away the inspect repellent? Depends on where your travels take you, according to Consumer Reports. Some tick species don’t mind the cold, and mosquitoes can be active in winter in warmer parts of the states. The blacklegged (or deer) tick and the western blacklegged tick both transmit Lyme disease and need only a slight weather warm up (35 degrees F) to get nipping in winter. Mosquitoes generally quit work when the weather drops below 50, but you’ll find those temps in the south end of the states even now. Florida, Texas, and Louisiana were found by the CDC to have active mosquitoes that transmit very unhealthy (or deadly) viruses to humans year-round. Protect yourself, and your pets, from these biters if you’re in a danger zone.
Don’t feed the wildlife. That’s a park ranger mantra, and out of Death Valley National Park, the reason is made clear by a sad story. Last November 26, a female coyote was hit and killed on the park’s Artists Drive. Evidently the coyote was a frequent “star,” showing up and making her way to car windows to beg for goodies. The Park Service caught a photo of her just days before she was accidentally struck and killed. Rangers say it’s a matter of education. Since they haven’t been able to educate the coyotes with hazing, they’ve been trying to educate park visitors, sometimes with citations. “A fed animal is a dead animal,” said Chief Ranger Rob Wissinger. “Coyotes are smart. They know how to look pathetic and trick people into feeding them. But if they get accustomed to getting food from humans, they can become dangerous to pets and humans.”
The man convicted in the possible homicide of two Canadian RVers has appealed his life sentence with an unusual argument. In 2016, Travis Vader was convicted of the manslaughter of Lyle and Marie McCann. The McCanns’ bodies were never found, but their burned out motorhome was recovered. Vader used the McCanns’ cell phone, and bought items with their money after their disappearance. Because a firearm was discharged in association with the McCanns’ case, the original judge gave Vader a life sentence with no possibility of parole until 2020. Vader’s attorney argues that since there are no bodies, there is no way of knowing how they died – from gunshots or by other means. That being the case, he argues that if they died by the other means, than Vader would not have been clearly aware of the likelihood of their deaths. That being the case, the appeal says Vader should have been handed a sentence on the lower-end of the manslaughter range, eight to twelve years. Prosecutors argue that by bringing a firearm into the robbery that Vader was proven to have committed, made perfect sense for the life sentence. The whole matter hinges on “moral culpability,” which will be decided by an appeals court. The McCanns vanished in July 2010, and Vader continues to argue he did not kill them.
Guaranty RV’s body shop in Junction City, Oregon, got a surprise visit from the local fire brigade last Sunday. At about [2:30] in the morning firefighters responded to a fire that destroyed five new RVs – and one unexpected casualty – a used RV the dealership had no knowledge of. Turns out that Russel Alexander (63) was living in his RV on the lot without permission, taking advantage of water and electric on Guaranty’s dime. Alexander told authorities he’d been smoking methamphetamine, fell asleep, and woke to the fire. He tried pitching his belongings out of his trailer and was nearly overcome with smoke. Authorities determined he was responsible for the fire that created at least $100,000 damage and have charged him with reckless burning.
If you’ve got money, laws don’t matter. That’s the message some say Tesla’s Elon Musk was transmitting when he whipped out of a fancy restaurant in Malibu, California, on Saturday, December 7. Musk rolled into Nobu, a high-end Japanese restaurant, in his shiny Tesla Truck prototype, and had the parking valet put it away. Of course, it ended up front-and-center. When it was time to go home, Musk jumped in his ‘lectric lizard and shot out of the parking lot, making an illegal left turn. In the process, he took out a traffic control pylon. Evidently for a man who drives a “bullet-proof truck,” he must figure he is, too.
An Alaska RV rental company is on the hook with the state’s attorney general. A suit has been filed against Alaska Motor Home, Inc. in which the company is accused of “unfair and deceptive business practices.” The suit says the company often failed to disclose rental contract terms until out-of-state clients arrived to pick up the rig and had no choice but to take the terms or cancel their vacations. Excessive fines came in for a rap: $300 per hour for late returns or $1,000 for a fish in the refrigerator. But the company tried to sweeten the deals for themselves by offering customers a gift card in return for a positive online review. The company expressed complete surprise about the attorney general’s move against it.
We reported last week that Travis County, Texas, officials were struggling to decide if a new RV park would be allowed to be built near the historic Hamilton Pool Preserve, an ancient and popular swimming pool. After hearing concerns from locals over potential water pollution issues, and fears that park traffic could create danger if an area evacuation was required, the local Commissioner’s Court put the decision off to December 10. The 10th has come and gone – and still no decision. More fears from neighbors pushed the body into asking developers to work up a secondary egress route from the park, and to look into whether or not enough water from the aquifer was available to supply the park without creating problems for others. No date to re-hear the matter has been set.
Why don’t pumas walk on the ice? It should be obvious: They’re afraid of swimming in ice water! The whole thing is perfectly clear from a strange incident from Canada’s Lake Winnipeg. Last Sunday a Puma travel trailer, its associated tow vehicle and four other trucks broke through the ice on the lake at Balsam Bay. Ice fishing is popular there, and one local said the ice seemed safe – but proved otherwise. Three people went in the water but got out on their own before rescuers arrived. Authorities there say they’re all in favor of ice fishing, but implore frigid-weather piscatorians to wait for an official approval of ice conditions before sallying forth. Our thanks to George Bliss for the tip on this story!
Army Corps campground fans will likely be dismayed to hear a $555,000 chop in federal funding to the Kansas City District office of the Corps will make for some changes. All Corps campgrounds at Harry S. Truman Lake (Missouri) will close from December through February. Berry Bend Beach is permanently closed, although the campground will continue to operate. The Corps will turn over operations of Berry Bend Equestrian and Talley Bend campgrounds to private operators. Sparrowfoot Campground will not open for the 2020 season. The Corps will have an open house to discuss the closures and answer questions from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Harry S. Truman Visitor Center, 29027 Visitor Center Road, Warsaw, MO.
A down-on-the-heels government-owned RV park in Brookings, Oregon, may be getting a new life. Beachfront RV Park has been operated for years by the Port of Brookings Harbor, but port officials say they don’t have the money to keep the place up – and as a result, the main restroom and shower facility has been shut down. Now port commissioners have approved plans to negotiate a lease for the park, with the county parks department taking the place over. Not everybody is happy with the idea, one port commissioner feeling that a “money making” operation shouldn’t be so easily turned over to another entity.
Back in early November we reported that city officials in Lincoln, Nebraska, were thinking about shutting down an RV campground there that had been in operation since 1962. The city owns the land on which Camp A Way sits near Interstate 80 – and the lease expires in 2025. City fathers think maybe more “significant architecture” would be a better fit. But the park’s owners said not to worry, they were working on a plan for a bigger park nearby outside city limits. That plan is now in limbo, as the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission was shy two votes in favor of approving Camp A Way’s special permit request. Local citizens were vociferous in the opposition to the campground’s plans. The meeting ran so long, two commissioners had to leave before a vote could be taken during the December 4 consideration. No word on what’s next for Camp A Way.
Walmart shoppers at Fishers, Indiana, had more than the usual trouble finding a parking space Saturday morning (Dec. 7). The local fire department rushed units in to handle a Class A motorhome fire on the lot. Fortunately nobody was in the rig when flames broke out, but a Good Samaritan was checked out by paramedics on scene after he tried to get into the flaming rig to see if anyone needed help out.
We reported earlier on how New Mexico‘s oil boom had created a huge pollution issue – and nothing to do with oil itself. Rather, the vast increase of unregistered “man camps” has brought sewage pollution to many. State officials report that of the hundreds of camps with sewage disposal issues, only about 20 percent are working to clean them up. Their solution to this pollution? They’ve hired a third enforcement officer to try and get a handle on the non-compliant camp owners. Eddy County health officials have also formed a closer working relationship with Carlsbad, New Mexico, enviro-cops.
The would-be construction of an RV park in Burnett County, Wisconsin, has been handed a setback in the form of a temporary restraining order, halting all construction pending the completion of a lawsuit against it. Wood Lake Camp and Retreat was previously a Bible camp, and was bought by Patrick and Judi Kinsella in 2018. The Kinsellas had intended to transform the 234-acre property into an RV park, and applied for two conditional use permits: one for a large development, the other smaller. In March 2019, the permits were “tabled,” as local authorities said they didn’t have time or resources to make a determination on either plan. A local citizens group was formed and filed suit against the Kinsellas, arguing their continuing development of the property was unlawful as the camp’s original use permit had been issued as a Bible camp. They claimed since no such camp had operated in more than a year, all work should be stopped. While the court found the citizens group had no standing in the suit, individual members did, and granted the stop-work injunction until the entire matter can be sorted out.
Legally beleaguered Hide-A-Way Lakes campground near Yorkville, Illinois, remains in the crosshairs of at least one Kendall County commissioner. The decades-old campground recently came under official scrutiny when a patron was mowed down at the park in what law-enforcement suspects may have been a homicide. Other issues came to light, and the camp was nearly closed down due to a variety of zoning violations, but managed to come back into compliance. Even now, according to the Chicago Tribune, the county board chairman, Matthew Prochaska, says he’d like to see the place shut down anyway. The critic says Hide-A-Way Lakes still has issues with abandoned RVs, junk, and possibly guests overstaying legal time limits in the campground. Prochaska earlier tried to revoke the campground’s license, but discovered the commissioners didn’t have the authority to do so.
Look up – and look out! One of our readers, Mike Sherman, passed these photos along taken a couple of weeks ago at Sunset State Beach, near Santa Cruz, California. The left image is that of an otherwise healthy tree – not brought down by wind, but, says Mike, from excessive rain. On the right is another one that “took out” the food storage locker. Glad nobody was under either one of these two behemoths!
Do you carry tire chains in your RV or tow vehicle in the winter? Respond here.
See the current tally from yesterday’s poll: “Do you own a pickup truck”? First take a guess: Is it about 40%, 60% or 80%? Find out.
Have you decorated your RV for the holidays?
Do you decorate your campsite and/or your RV in celebration of the holiday season? If so, we’d love to see. Send a photo (or two or three) to Emily (at) rvtravel.com. Send pictures of interiors or exteriors. We’ll post as many as we can. Thanks!
Did you miss this in yesterday’s RV Travel newsletter? RV travels down icy highway with slideouts extended. We found this photo on a Facebook group called RV Fun Stuff. We think this is really more like “RV scary stuff”! Don’t miss this again.
The Walmart at 3939 Rochdale Blvd., Regina, Saskatchewan, will likely be closed until after Christmas due to an arson fire set by a 12-year-old boy on December 11. We assume there will be plenty of space for overnight RV parking in the meantime – just don’t abuse the privilege.
A body believed to be the last of three children swept away in a flooded Gila County, Arizona, creek on Nov. 29 was found Friday, Dec. 13. The bodies of two of the three children (they were 5 years old; this child was 6) had previously been found after a family attempted to cross the overflowing Tonto Creek in a military-type vehicle that was overcome by floodwaters. There is no bridge at that location, and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said earlier this month that he will work to find the money in next year’s budget to help build a bridge over the creek.
If money is tough, it’s rough to be in the buff. That could be the story in Hudson, Florida, where the owners of the Eden RV Resort have put the 84-site “clothing optional” park on the sales block. The price is anything but skimpy: A cool $2.2 million, which might not be bad if you can bare it.
A park ranger in Canyon de Chelly National National Monument found two cold-to-the-touch, unresponsive puppies in a cardboard box at a park campground. She managed to warm them and get them to the Arizona Animal Welfare League in Phoenix, where they have been undergoing medical care. The staff named them after Disney’s Frozen characters, Elsa and Anna. They will be available for adoption tomorrow.
Residents of luxury condos overlooking the ocean at Deerfield Beach, Florida, say they have a major headache. It’s an “eyesore,” they say; one that devalues their property. Looking out their high windows, down below on the beach, what is it? It’s Kristina Clothier’s motorhome, tucked into an embankment – a motorhome with quite a view. Read more.
An Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident got a poopy runaround when she called city hall for help. Evidently a rude RV owner dumped their holding tank on the street in front of her home. When she called city hall for help, she got plenty of “not my department” answers, until she called the mayor’s office. A hazardous waste contractor was sent on the city’s dime.
The city of San Francisco has opened its first homeless RV parking lot in the hopes of getting vehicles off the street. The latest count in San Francisco shows there are more than 700 occupied vehicles parked on city streets, up from2018 when there were 432 inhabited vehicles. The new parking lot on San Jose Avenue will start providing a new home for 30 RVs with plugs, showers, water, office services – all on site with 24/7 security.
Thieves stole three motorhomes valued at $256,000 from a Boynton Beach, Florida, storage facility. Do you have any information? Learn more and watch a short news segment and surveillance video showing the RVs being driven from the storage lot.
The Albertsons supermarket in Jackson, Wyo., has posted signs warning RVers who park in its lot while they take a bus to work or a local ski resort that “it will be subject to being towed at your expense.” In the past, the supermarket had been lenient in enforcing RV parking, even for overnight stays.
Remember Edward Hayden, the 91-year-old South Kingston, Rhode Island, man arrested for blocking a Home Depot store while protesting a bum-generator deal? Hayden’s charges have been dropped, and after he called Ryobi, the generator manufacturer, and told them his story, the company – unlike Home Depot – took action. Ryobi sent Hayden a new working generator right away.
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.
RV recalls posted since our last newsletter
• Ford recalls 231,664 Super Duty F-250, F-250 and F-450 trucks.
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Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of December 9, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.56 [Calif.: $3.58]
Change from week before: Down 2 cents; Change from year before: Up 14 cents.
Diesel: $3.05 [Calif.: $3.90]
Change from week before: Down 2 cents; Change from year before: Down 11 cents.
Upcoming RV shows
South Texas RV Supersale, Jan. 2-5, 2020, San Antonio, TX
Tarrant County RV Show, Jan. 2-5, Fort Worth, TX
Austin Boat & Travel Trailer Show, Jan. 3-5, Austin, TX
South Carolina RV & Camping Show – Greenville, Jan. 3-5, Greenville, SC
Free and bargain camping
Click here to view this week’s free and bargain camping spots.
• 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.
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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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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