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Sunday, December 22, 2019
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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
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.
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.
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.
At rest areas do you use the public toilet or the one in your RV?
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.
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
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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