Members News for RVers #927, Sunday edition

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    Sunday, December 22, 2019
    Members edition

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    New details shed light on “Mr. Heater” death

    The tragic story of a Kennewick, Washington, man, David Dana, who lost his life in early December due to carbon monoxide poisoning, drew plenty of attention from our readers. Last week we posted a piece regarding Dana’s death, and since then have had plenty of feedback. After a thorough investigation by authorities and the heater’s manufacturer into the possible cause of the death, and extensive research by Russ and Tiña De Maris, here is our follow-up story which fills in the missing gaps, and includes what can be done to hopefully prevent such a tragic event from happening again. Learn more.


    Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?

    If so, stories you missed:
    • Can Editor Chuck Woodbury “slow down” in his RV?
    • Zero-emissions trucks: Coming to a California near you?
    • Medications + Driving the RV = No!
    • Upcoming RVelectricity Seminars with Mike Sokol
    • And the longest RV combo is …
    • New RV furnace failure fiasco – Factory refuses to fix
    • Mice messed in heating ductwork, can’t get rid of smell
    and much more

    Read it here | Back issues


    That was the RV week that was

    December 15–21, 2019

    Doing Christmas on the road in your RV this year? Expect lots of company. AAA says this will be the busiest holiday season on U.S. highways – ever. They anticipate 115.6 million Americans will take to the highway sometime between December 21 and January 1.

    The man found guilty in connection with the 2010 death of two Canadian RVers won’t be getting off a lifetime prison sentence hook, after all. We reported last week that Travis Vader had appealed his life-in-prison manslaughter conviction for the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann, with his attorneys saying he should get the low end of the sentence range. The Alberta Court of Appeal took just two days to uphold the life sentence, siding with the original judge who held Vader as a meth addict and a dangerous man. Vader’s attorneys have 60 days to appeal to a higher court.

    A tornado in Flagler County, Florida, apparently didn’t get the memo that December is NOT tornado season, nor did RVers at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area. A big twister blasted through the campground on Saturday (December 14), dropping trees over tents, and teaching Tamara Kechnie’s Class A motorhome a new trick: Roll over. Kechnie says she felt some shaking at 5:40 a.m., which continued until finally the coach rolled over. She was able to escape the rig through the front of the rig – with the windshield already knocked out. Kechnie and others sheltered in the campground’s bathroom. Neither she, nor anyone else, was seriously injured.

    Washington state drivers might soon feel less pinch at the pump – but get stuck elsewhere. With a 49.4 cents per gallon gas tax, the Evergreen State has one of the highest fuel tax rates in the country, but thrifty and eco-conscious drivers are dragging the state’s revenues down. Electric car drivers pay nothing in fuel taxes, and the higher the efficiency of diesel- or gas-driven vehicles, the less taxes are paid for mile driven. Now the state is eyeballing a “pay to play” system where drivers would pay – not per gallon – but by mile driven. The recommended rate is 2.4 cents per mile. Assuming pump taxes are killed off, those hit “worst” under the proposal would be high-efficiency drivers. We ran the stats for a motorhome getting nine miles per gallon, driving 5,000 miles per year. Presently the pump tax would amount to $274. Under the tax-per-mile scenario, taxes would drop to $120. The whole matter will fall to the state’s legislature to decide.

    Carlsbad, California, police got a missing RV report, and about an hour later, the stolen motorhome turned up nearby in an Oceanside, California, Albertsons parking lot. Two people were inside the rig, but weren’t exactly willing to come out. A SWAT team was summoned, as were K-9 units. In the end, “the bite proved worse than the bark” as the police dogs were sent inside the motorhome, and at least one of the recalcitrant occupants took a biting – before both were arrested.

    Daimler Mercedes-Benz is on the hook for $20 million in penalties to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The latter says that Mercedes didn’t keep a tight ship when running its vehicle recall program, sometimes missing the 60-day notification to consumers deadline. Additionally, the outfit’s internet tool that allowed customers to input their vehicle ID number to get recall information didn’t always work.

    Snowbird RVers – Do you ever feel unwelcome? Here’s a list of the cities with the most number of complaints about “snowbirds” on social media, developed by daringplanet.com. In order of most to least complaints: (1) Tampa, FL; (2) Tucson, AZ; (3) Phoenix, AZ; (4) Sarasota, FL; (5) Orlando, FL; (6) Scottsdale, AZ; (7) Clearwater, FL; (8) Ft. Lauderdale, FL; (9) St. Petersburg, FL; (10) Miami, FL.

    Michigan needs campground hosts for its state parks. Put in 30 hours of volunteering per week in exchange for a site. The actual selection of hosts is made by park managers; they’ll be looking for special skills or folks who are familiar with the area where hosting. A two-day training session is a requirement, to be taken in the first two years of selection. The next training session is in Roscommon, Michigan, slated for June 3 and 4, 2020. An application must be filled out for each park a volunteer is interested in serving, as is a waiver of liability. Get more info at www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on the “I Will Be: Camping” button, then Campground Host Programs near the bottom of the page.

    A guy with a Chevy pickup truck and a set of bolt cutters “liberated” a new bunkhouse travel trailer from a Byron, Georgia, RV dealer. Employees found the lock on a lot gate cut on Friday morning (December 13) and quickly figured out the trailer was gone. A distant security cam video shows the rig being towed away on an adjacent street. Got some info to share? Call the police at 478-956-2880.

    Private RV park operators in the Hutchinson, Kansas, area may have a jaundiced eye toward the official “competition” from the Kansas State Fair RV park. Fair officials are beefing up security with new electronic gates, listing the campground on reserveamerica.com, and putting together a marketing plan to “compete with almost 40 RV parks within a 50-mile radius of the area,” according to a story carried by sjnewsonline.com. The park pulls in $100,000 annually, most of it during the state fair, with nightly rates (other than during the fair) at $30. Interestingly, most of the “competition” inside a 50-mile radius is from public campgrounds; a nearby private RV park changes $25 per night.

    After 70 years of marriage, RVing couple Les and Freda Austin died – minutes apart. The Jackson, Michigan, couple married in 1949, and spent years touring about in their RVs including a fifth-wheel, which they only gave up last year. They loved touring lighthouses, and one of Les’ sons said his dad probably had the biggest collection of lighthouse sweatshirts anywhere. After celebrating their 70th anniversary last month, Friday, December 6 marked a sad change: They both were moved into a hospice facility, their beds in the same room, next to each other. On Saturday, Les slipped away in death; twenty minutes later, an already unconscious Freda joined him. Despite the sadness, their children remarked, “If they had to go, this way was about as romantic as you could get.”

    It took three tries, but developers of the proposed Bentree RV Resort finally got a go-ahead from the Travis County, Texas, Commissioners Court. We’ve reported about two earlier meetings where the court wouldn’t take action, and the opposition neighbors have vocalized at meetings. The opposition’s concerns have been two-fold: One, that the development might suck up groundwater, affecting themselves and possibly the famed Hamilton Pool, a natural swimming hole and waterfall not far from the proposed RV park site. Second, neighbors are worried that if an emergency evacuation of the area were needed, RVs from the proposed 80-site park would block the roads. In a four-to-one vote approving the park, the court answered these by requiring developers to conduct a groundwater availability study, and to widen a section of public roadway in the area.

    Mendocino County, California, voters will be asked to approve a 10 percent Transient Occupancy Tax to be levied on private campgrounds. While the estimated $1 million annual revenue could be spent on anything, proponents say it should go to volunteer fire departments. The rationale is that visitors create a big demand for emergency services and yet pay nothing toward them. Park owners who commented on the proposal were not happy campers – suggesting the proposal will hamper their businesses.

    WDBJ7.com photo

    The U.S. Marine arrested for allegedly killing his mother’s boyfriend may have hid in a motorhome while police virtually tore the rig apart in Franklin County, Virginia, on November 14. That’s the rumor that’s been circulating and now “confirmed” by Michael Brown’s attorney. Brown was arrested two weeks after police – fearing Brown might have planted explosives – tore the rig open with a tactical vehicle, searched it, and had it towed away. Brown’s attorney claims Brown was in a cabinet the whole time, and escaped after the rig was impounded. Several law enforcement agencies were involved in the manhunt and search, and all have “no comment” to make on the report.

    Social media sometimes comes in for a bad rap when used wrongly. But social media can be used for the good – and with quick results – as seen from a story out of the U.K.’s North Yorkshire region. Last Monday at 6:45 a.m., a motorhome owner in North Duffield found their rig had been stolen out of the driveway. A picture of the missing rig was posted on social media, and spotted by a local police officer. The officer reposted the photo on the police agency’s Facebook page, and within two hours it had been shared 300 times, and viewed by 80,000 people – one of whom spotted the rig parked outside a restaurant, more than 25 miles away from where it was stolen. Rig recovered, thanks to a good use of social media.

    wptv.com

    There was a triple-rip-off in Boynton Beach, Florida, where police say two crooks stole three motorhomes worth more than a quarter million dollars. In the dark of night on November 20, security cams at the Boynton Self Storage lot caught the two men as they took off with the three rigs in a little over three hours. Stolen were a 2019 White Jayco Alante, a 2017 Thor Ace, and a 2019 Ford Entegra Vision 26X. Police say a storage unit customer is likely involved to a degree, as neither the gate nor locks were jimmied, and an access code is required to enter the facility. Know something? The Boynton Beach Police Department wants to hear from you at 561-742-6100.

    Paradise fire phonies found out: Sometimes disasters bring out the best in people, but on the other hand…. A federal grand jury has indicted several people on fraud charges in connection with the Camp Fire incident in Paradise, California, from 2018. All had received FEMA funds. Read more.

    It sounded like a scene from the Old West: Robbers stole the loot from a wooden box and made their getaway. Only it wasn’t out West – it was in Evergreen, North Carolina, where $10,000 in cash was stolen last May from the Lumber River Campground. Crooks took … one was caught … months passed … and now, the second bad guy has been arrested and charged. Robert Allen Freeman (48) isn’t a free man anymore (unless he’s made bail), as he joins fellow-chargee Teddy Peppers (54) in the case where surveillance video was the witness who helped law enforcement catch the alleged crooks.


    Reader poll

    At rest areas do you use the public toilet or the one in your RV?

    Answer here and see how others responded.


    News briefs

    Camping changes, fee increases, coming to Big Bend National Park: To make it easier for park visitors to plan ahead and enjoy remote Big Bend National Park and Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, the National Park Service will soon be implementing a number of changes to improve the visitor experience. These will include expanding the park’s reservation system to allow visitors to plan their stays ahead of time and guarantee they have a campsite when they arrive. Learn more.

    Walt Disney World is adding a new experience for guests of Fort Wilderness Campground, but there’s no word yet exactly what it might be. The only clue is that it will be “a new guest interactive feature to wash sand.” So it may be some kind of activity such as panning for gold or another sand-type activity that could be brought to the resort campground.

    Because of a new online registration system, more than half of Oklahoma State Park campsites are already reserved for next summer.

    Winnebago now controls more than 10% of the recreational vehicle industry, reaching a goal it set two years ago. The key was acquiring luxury RV maker Newmar, which boosted the company’s third-quarter revenue 19% to $588.5 million over the same period last year.

    Fans of the Breaking Bad TV series can tour Albuquerque filming locations of the award-winning show in a 1987 Bounder motorhome, similar to the one featured in the show which served as a meth-cooking lab. The RV can accommodate 14 passengers. A seat costs $75. Info is at breakingbadrvtours.com.

    Thousand Trails, owned by Chicago, Ill.–based Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc. (ELS), celebrated is 50th year in 2019. Founded in 1969 with the purchase of 640 acres in Chehalis, Washington, Thousand Trails has become one of the largest networks of RV resorts and campgrounds in North America.

    Those bulky solar panels many RVers mount atop their rigs may be a thing of the past one day. A team of researchers at the University of Central Florida say their spray-on “perovskite solar cells” (PSCs) can turn sunlight into energy, just like regular silicon-based solar panels. Stay tuned…

    REV Group has reported results for the three months ended Oct. 31, showing consolidated net sales in the fourth quarter 2019 were $652.9 million, a decline of 1 percent. … Consolidated net sales were $2.4 billion for the 12 months ended Oct. 31, which was an increase of 0.9 percent over the 12 months ended Oct. 31, 2018. Learn more.


    Campground chatter

    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

    Jayco recalls some White Hawk trailers for escape window issue.
    GMC Sierra, Chevy Silverado trucks recalled for alternator issue.
    Ford recalls nearly half-million Super Duty SuperCrew Cab vehicles.
    Fleetwood motorhome recall: Slideout problem could increase fire risk.
    Entegra Coach RVs recalled: Bad weld could cause LP tank to ignite.
    Many Fleetwood motorhomes recalled for generator exhaust pipe danger.
    Jayco recalls motorhomes: Propane tank could dislodge, ignite.
    Forest River recall: Wrong coupler could allow trailers to detach.
    Jayco recalls some White Hawk trailers for escape window issue.


    Latest fuel prices

    Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of December 16, 2019:
    Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.54 [Calif.: $3.51]
    Change from week before: Down 2 cents; Change from year before: Up 17 cents.
    Diesel: $3.05 [Calif.: $3.88]
    Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 8 cents.


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    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
    Ohio RV Super Show, Jan. 8-12, Cleveland, OH
    Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show, Jan. 9-11, Denver, CO
    Gulf Coast RV Show – Mobile, Jan. 9-11, Mobile, AL
    Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show, Jan. 9-12, Grand Rapids, MI
    Knoxville RV Show, Jan. 10-12, Sevierville, TN
    58th Annual RV & Campgrounds Show, Jan. 10-12, Allentown, PA
    Washington Camping RV Expo, Jan. 10-12, Chantilly, VA
    Southern Louisiana Boat, Sport and RV Show, Jan. 10-12, Houma, LA
    Ohio RV & Boat Show, Jan. 10-19, Columbus, OH
    Pittsburgh RV Show, Jan. 11-19, Pittsburgh, PA
    Manufacturers’ RV Show, Jan. 11-20, Pleasanton, CA

    See the complete list of upcoming RV shows.


    Free and bargain camping

    From OvernightRVparking.com

    Click here to view this week’s free and bargain camping spots.

    Other resources:
    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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    24 Comments
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    Bill Harvey
    8 months ago

    Regarding complaints about snowbirds–we highly recommend the Rio Grand Valley of Texas. You are made most welcome, and are called “Winter Texans”.

    Ron
    8 months ago

    In all my years of rv’ing, I don’t think I have yet to see a urinal in a public restroom that the floor around it is not covered in piss. Men in general, are total slobs when it comes to aiming and shaking. As for toilets in public restrooms….oh hell no! As mentioned before, hardly anyone washes their hands and the sink and door handles are just covered in really nasty bacteria. Thanks but no thanks, I’ll use my own facilities.

    Hoss Smith
    8 months ago

    On the poll question today one more answer was needed. I go inside the rest area and use the public restroom and my wife goes into the RV.

    Adam K.
    8 months ago

    Always have to chuckle when reading any of your articles regarding USA gas prices. I live in Sidney on Southern Vancouver Island, BC (British Columbia) Canada and the price of regular unleaded here is the equivalent of $3.92 converted to your US dollar for a US gallon. And diesel is only pennies cheaper.
    Believe it or not, recently the prices went down from what we were paying earlier in the year, which were approximately 10 – 15% higher depending on location.
    I’ll add as a caveat though that BC has the highest prices in Canada. So any RV’ers planning on visiting our beautiful Province, fill yer tanks to the brim before you get here! As a tip though, if you have to fill up here, you’ll find that gas prices are usually less away from the metro areas of Vancouver and Victoria. However the farther north that you may travel, the prices will start rising as transportation costs (many of which involve a ferry) increase especially on any of our Gulf Islands.

    Robbie
    8 months ago

    Washington state may become the same for us as California with their added fuel taxes. We try to avoid California, and buy fuel in adjoining states before traveling there.

    Terry Brown
    8 months ago

    Regarding the mileage tax. It should only apply to miles driven in Washington. If I buy fuel in OR or ID the tax money stay in the state (fed. tax not affected). In your example of a 5000 mile trip but I drive 4000 miles outside of WA do I still pay the mileage tax? A visitor to WA will be taxed how?

    I think this idea will be involved in many court battles.

    Ian C
    8 months ago

    Excellent article on the Mr. Heater death.
    Is R V Travel the only one reporting this incident?
    Keep up the excellent work

    Sink Jaxon
    8 months ago

    It seems everything I read about California (not just RVtravel) is about raising taxes or the homeless problem. Maybe a connection??

    Sharon Boehmer
    8 months ago

    As I sit in south Texas, “the valley” I notice Texas was not on this list of top 10. I was in Florida last month and made the comment that folks don’t seem as friendly as other places I have been to. I guess it was not my imagination.

    Kenneth Fuller
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Sharon Boehmer

    I love the people of south Texas! For the past 9 winters, they have always been welcoming with their arms wide open for us.(Even for someone from northern NY, lol)

    tom
    8 months ago

    Interesting on the snowbird issue. Perhaps the people complaining about snowbirds need education on the amount of money the snowbirds contribute to the local economy. And, this money is used to provide tax dollars that stay in the area.

    Gene
    8 months ago
    Reply to  tom

    Maybe it doesn’t matter what snowbirds money does for the area. Maybe we just don’t want the heavy traffic, car accidents, crowded restaurants & movie theaters. Just food for thought.

    Bob p
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Gene

    I’ve never experienced a business or politician that felt that way, maybe you should run for office to officially oppose snowbirds in you area, you could also get the R.V. parks on your side so they only allowed locals to use them. I hear your wheel squeaking but I doubt you’ll see any grease soon.

    Goldie
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Bob p

    The politicians are part of the problem. Many of us locals vote out those seeking to expand tourism in our area. Perhaps you don’t understand the services necessary to provide for those seasonal visitors use up all of the supposed income they provide. Most locals stay home a lot more rather than fight traffic and crowds for seats in restaurants. Somehow we manage to keep those business open the rest of the year. Those seasonal jobs that are provided evaporate come spring but the workers still struggle for housing and food. A year round economy allows for development of a steady workforce and adequate housing – not folks with dreams who are left high and dry when snowbirds leave. If TX loves their “Winter Texans,” we encourage more of you to go there. Please let Florida suffer without your $$.

    Sharon Boehmer
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Goldie

    WOW REALLY! There is so much wrong with that comment. To keep this civil I will say
    “Snowbirds come to south Texas where you are welcome, appreciated and there is room for you. We will call you family, our Winter Texans.”

    tom
    8 months ago

    On the Washington State “mileage tax”. Once installed so EV’s pay their “fair” share, and the money starts rolling in, anyone want to bet, next will be hybrids. Then, it will be pile on to every other type of vehicle. Bicycles, anyone?
    Regardless how politicians state how the money will be used. it will be directed to “other” favored uses. The political class is very good at spending your money on their projects.

    Glenn
    8 months ago
    Reply to  tom

    The article states that the mileage tax will be for everyone from the get go. The tax on fuel would probably be rescinded completely.

    Gray
    8 months ago
    Reply to  tom

    The federal gas tax will remain on the pumps; anybody willing to bet that at least a portion of the WA state gas tax will also remain on the per-gallon meter at the pump, in addition to a new per-mile assessment? After all, they’ll have to pay for all the collection and accounting expenses involved with the new per-mile tax.

    Also, I’m betting there will be an additional fee for setting up official “odometer” stations to verify and report the mileage each year … or a mandatory annual mileage estimate to be paid in advance, with penalties for under-estimating. Also, I suspect there’ll be no mileage exception for trips driven out of state. Everything on the odometer will count for WA charges. And lastly, will it be assessed annually, or paid monthly to speed WA revenue collection? It all boggles the mind; it will be a bureaucrat’s dream come true!

    Bob p
    8 months ago
    Reply to  tom

    This would be beneficial to tourists if they eliminate gas tax. I guess they’ll have check points at each possible border crossing to record your odometer reading coming into the state and leaving to tax your driving In the state. Of course with modern vehicles that use electronic dashes simply pulling a fuse stops the speedometer from recording mileage just like our toad does to prevent mileage when towing from appearing on the odometer. Nobody ever accused politicians of being intelligent enough to know that everything they think of someone else will counter them.

    Steve Kniceley
    8 months ago

    Is there a way to stop the pop-up asking me to sign up for the newsletter I’m already reading?

    Bill
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Steve Kniceley

    I agree. A real nuisance for sure. It’s as bad as big advertisements in the middle of the page.

    Bill Coady
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Bill

    I agree. Should be able to write code that identifies current subscribers and not ask them. Only ask folks that are not on the subscriber list.

    Jere
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Steve Kniceley

    steve I had the same problem—I changed to Google and the problem went away. hope it will work for you

    Jeff
    8 months ago

    There used to be an EDITING Feature on the Comment Section! What happened to that?