Members RV Travel Newsletter Issue 929

    16

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    January 4, 2020

    If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.


    Editor’s corner

    With Chuck Woodbury | Chuck (at) RVtravel.com

    Welcome to 2020. Glancing at that date the other day I thought it must be wrong, a bad dream. Could the decades since my birth have possibly passed so quickly?

    I’ll never forget a comment by Andy Rooney a few years before he died. He talked about walking through Manhattan and seeing his reflection in a store window. He thought to himself, “Who is that old man?”

    I know the feeling. . .

    chuck

    I can still vividly recall my first trip in my own RV (I had rented and borrowed before). The photo here was taken during the first week. I set up my tripod behind the RV, and set my camera on its timer: I raced into the motorhome, sat down and pretended to type (on a typewriter!). I was less than half my present age. It seems like yesterday. A few days later I developed the black and white film, and then printed it in a dark campground with my compact enlarger on my dinette table.

    In my “darkroom,” I’d play my stereo loudly and drink cheap beer. I loved that barebones darkroom. I’d marvel when a magazine would send me tear sheets of a story I had written for it with the photos I’d taken and printed. My checks of $50, $150 or sometimes more would arrive back home, helping me fund the dream life I envisioned — traveling in a self-contained “home,” writing about what I discovered. The only person I knew doing it was TV journalist Charles Kuralt.

    Hardly anybody my age traveled with an RV then except on weekends or short vacations. It was not cool. RVs were for old people. You may remember the common bumper stickers of the day: “Grandma and Grandpa’s Playhouse,” or the wildly popular “We’re Spending our Children’s Inheritance.”

    My favorite roads, then and today, look like this — U.S. 6 through Nevada, truly one of the least-traveled highways in America.

    There were very few full-timers, a tiny fraction of today. I never, ever made a campground reservation. I could easily go “where I wanted, when I wanted,” which is almost impossible today (unless you are content staying in Walmart parking lots) even though the RV Industry Association keeps preaching it in its syrupy commercials. The president of the industry group should dispatch one of its executives on a long trip to report back how clogged RV parks are these days, and how so many of them are populated with permanent residents, often in junky RVs because it’s the only housing they can afford. Some of the parks are downright ghettos, reminiscent of seedy trailer parks of yesteryear.

    I AM ON THE ROAD NOW with my partner, Gail, in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. We have modified our way of traveling since our two years of full-timing in 2016-17. We now stay longer in one place before moving on, almost always with a reservation secured ahead. My days of moving on a whim are over.

    * * *
    This website and newsletter have prospered in recent times. I believe it’s because we’re the largest voice talking honestly and expertly about the RV lifestyle, not just blowing hot air with predictable, canned articles penned by copywriters who never even stepped into an RV. Our subscriber database now exceeds 105,000. Our website contains nearly 7,000 articles. RVtravel.com is now among the 6,400 largest websites in the USA — and that’s out of millions.

    * * *
    I wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous 2020. My hope is this is the year Americans start talking to each other again with respect, trying harder than ever to understand that it’s not wrong to disagree with each other. What makes our country great is our freedom to disagree without being sent to prison: Check your history books to be reminded of when disagreeing was a crime. Or pay a visit to North Korea.

    Those of us with RVs who use them for pleasure and not by necessity are among the most fortunate people on Earth. A billion people can’t even afford a decent meal, much less comfortable shelter. Look at us! How blessed we are! Celebrate your good fortune every day. Life is short: Embrace it. Be nice.

    chucksignature

    P.S. A reminder for readers who recently bought a new RV that is riddled with defects. It happens far too often. If you are the owner of such an RV, please sign up for our Facebook group RV Horror Stories. Write about your experience for the world to see.

    Trip update (Friday evening): Gail and I have made it to the Mojave Desert. We’re staying near Edwards Air Force Base. On the way here, we traveled a stretch of southbound Highway 99 through Bakersfield that is beyond bad. It is so riddled with potholes and uneven pavement that I worried my motorhome would start tossing parts. It’s awful. Avoid it if you can!

    If you would like to write for RVtravel.com, please let me know by sending your name and email address to editor@rvtravel.com. We will send an email soon to all those who have inquired in the past and those of you who respond now with details. I will also hold several group video chats in the next two weeks answering questions and explaining more. We need more writers. There is so much to write about!


    RVing headed into a confusing place

    In this editorial, RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury hops onto his soapbox to explain why RVing is headed into what he calls “Wacko Land” and led by an industry that is not looking at the big picture. Read what he has to say.

    My Roadside Journal

    (about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)

    News in Fresno reflects, I think, changing times.
    Archives

    Readers speak out

    Picking up hitchhikers
    New RVer slogan needed. “Go where you want, when you want” is dead
    A New Year’s Resolution: The lucky 40%


    Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter

    • Comprehensive list of RV-related recalls for December.
    • Watch out! California has approved light-duty autonomous delivery vehicles.
    • Inadequate extension cord causes trailer fire, causing life-threatening injuries to elderly occupant.
    • California’s Joshua Tree National Park was temporarily closed due to storm. Check before you go.
    • NH state representative barred from living in RV in his driveway.
    • Update on recent spectacular crash with a semi and RVs in Texas.
    PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV shows • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …


    Keep informed
    Current Wildfire Report.
    National Hurricane Center.

    Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
    Don’t buy an RV that smells musty!
    Sanitize your RV’s fresh water tank and hose.
    Don’t assume there’s a dump station where you’re headed.
    Watch for overheating of outlets and power cords.
    An additional item to record with a new RV.


    RVtravel.com’s Top 30 Posts from 2019

    According to Google Analytics, here are the most-read items RVtravel.com posted in 2019. They include RVing tips, RV industry updates, news items, unusual RVs, campground news … oh, and a motorhome with a big soaking bathtub! Very interesting reading (according to our readers)!

    We did the one thing we never thought we’d do…

    “We did the thing we NEVER, EVER thought we would do – buy an RV online AND buy it new. Boy, was that a learning experience!” Read more in this post from Nanci Dixon.

    The “wildest” RV we’ve ever “spotted”!

    Lions and tigers and cheetahs, oh my! We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto (or perhaps we are…). We posted a crazy RV last week and claimed it might give us a headache, but this one might do the same. Could you imagine living inside of this little trailer full time? (Well, maybe on a safari.)


    Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles:

    Travel trailer triples in size in 20 seconds!
    RV generator cannot carry a load
    It’s easy to confuse reality with pretend
    Coyote camping in the Southwestern deserts
    Video shows why tire interply shear happens


    Reader Poll

    How easy is it for you to admit you were wrong?

    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 next week’s newsletter. CLICK HERE.


    What we learned about you last week

    What brand of truck do you use for RVing? How many holiday cards did you receive this year? Do you like to browse antique stores while on the road? Did you attend a New Year’s Eve party? Do you have a New Year’s resolution? How do you feel about holding a non-venomous snake? Do you share your location with anyone through your smartphone? All this and more, right here.

    Actor Jeff Goldblum explores the world of RVs

    Jeff Goldblum takes fans on a journey through the history of RVs in the December 27th episode of The World According to Jeff Goldblum. He starts things off with a visit to the Hollywood RV Park in Van Nuys, Calif., where people of all different backgrounds and careers choose to reside. Read more.

    Really? This fifth wheel setup is bizarre and dangerous

    Don’t try this! Talk about a weird, wacky and dangerous setup! Reader Michael Logan came across these photos of an SUV towing a fifth wheel trailer eight years ago. He’s not sure of their origin. Check it out!

    “Tumbleggedon” visits Washington state outback

    Ah, the bucolic West. Longhorn skulls, cowboys, tumblin’ tumbleweeds. Makes you want to jump in the old motorhome and head out on the back highways and appreciate the view. Washington’s state route 240 west of the city of Richland is bucolic backcountry, and drivers there got more than their fill of tumblin’ tumbleweeds last Tuesday when thousands of the giant-size “Western motif” plants broke loose and rolled out on the highway, closing it down for 10 hours. Read more.


    Popular articles from last week

    Truck camper “recipe for disaster” folds down on the street.
    Another super long RV. Don’t take this around a tight curve.
    RV shipments continue to decline.
    Another incredibly weird RV. Have you seen it?
    We do not want to own this RV. Nope.
    RVelectricity: Do Not shock thieves on purpose!
    Are you really washing your dishes correctly?
    Reader letter: Days of RVing without reservations are gone.
    OK to use cruise control while towing?
    RV Shrink: Our favorite boondocking spots are being shut down!
    RV Tire Safety: “I run a TPMS but the tire still came apart. Why?
    RV Doctor: Can extreme cold affect an RV refrigerator?
    Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, December 28, 2019.
    What we learned about you last week (December 21-27).


    Resources

    Our Facebook and RVillage Groups: RV Horror StoriesRV AdviceRV ElectricityRV Parks with Storm SheltersRV Buying AdviceNorthwest RV CampingSouthwest RV CampingFree Campgrounds plus Texas RV Camping and Florida RV camping. And please join our group on RVillage (like Facebook except just for RVers).

    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.

    Best Club for RVers: Escapees. Click here to learn more or join. Endorsed by RVtravel.com.

    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.

    RV Clubs
    Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.

    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.

    Save bandwidth while watching YouTube videos
    How to watch YouTube videos using very little bandwidth.

    Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.


    Do you subscribe to our RV Daily Tips Newsletter?
    Every Monday through Friday you get a short, informational email from us delivered straight to your inbox. Inside each issue you’ll find: quick RV tips, popular articles, reader polls, RV thoughts, helpful resources, a website of the day, RV clubs and organizations, trivia, jokes and more! If you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe, but we doubt you’ll want to. Read yesterday’s issue here and then sign up here.


    Ask the RV Shrink

    Divvy up RV chores; Don’t bite each other’s heads off

    Dear RV Shrink:
    We left our travel trailer in Arizona at a motel parking lot and flew home to Wisconsin during Christmas to visit our kids. When we arrived back in Arizona, a week later, we had a mess. Our propane had run out and our refrigerator full of food all spoiled. That is when the blame game started….

    Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.


    Ask the RV Doctor

    Short-term solution to prevent holding tanks from freezing

    Dear Gary,
    I’m currently driving through New Mexico in a Class C motorhome. Temperatures are running sometimes in the teens and 20s. Our RV is not equipped with tank heaters and we’re hoping you may have short-term suggestions to prevent damage to our holding tanks? —Mike

    Read Gary’s response.


    RV Electricity

    Can I charge a battery at 80 amps from a 20-amp outlet?

    Dear Mike,
    So, I have seen converters that can charge my RV batteries at 70 or 80 amps. Where would I be able to plug into a campground with 70-80 amps? Aren’t all the pedestal outlets only 20, 30 or 50 amps? –Martyn

    Read Mike’s response.

    This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:

    Don’t just drop in a Lithium battery. A reader asks Mike if he can simply swap in a Lithium battery to replace the current lead-acid batteries, or does he need to change out the charger/inverter as well. Hmmm. Do you know?

    Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
    And if you haven’t already, sign up for Mike’s RVelectricity™ Newsletter. Issue #26 arrives tomorrow, Sunday.


    RV Tire Safety

    Are your tires “defective”?

    From Roger Marble: People making the claim that their tires were somehow “defective” is an all-too-often occurrence on various RV forums. I even hear this complaint at my RV tire seminars. I do note that when there are tire problems, including actual “failure,” it’s common for some to say, “My xxx brand tires failed. I will never buy xxx tires again.” It’s important that we have a mutual understanding of what is meant by tire “failure.” Learn more.


    Building an RV Park

    Happy New Year! – It started out a little rough for us

    After a wonderful Christmas with AJ’s family, AJ, Machelle and Jenna had a rough start to the New Year – but things are improving. Here’s an update on progress on their RV campground, including the results of their first meeting with Planning & Zoning, and a big decision they have to make. Read more.


    The RV Kitchen

    Three Spud Soup

    Cold days, hot soup. Just in time for winter camping comes a warming soup that combines three nourishing, energizing types of potatoes in one fragrant soup pot. Choose your own combination for variety in color and texture. This soup is easily made in a kettle, instant pot, pressure cooker, slow cooker. The key is to cook it long and slow. Get the recipe.


    The Digital RVer

    Use Google Photos to make movies of your travels – much better than pictures!

    Do you ever use your smartphone to take videos? … on purpose? 🙂 You should! These smartphone cameras are excellent video cameras. Just take 20 seconds of video occasionally and you’ll be glad you did. Then you can put together cool little movies with just a couple of clicks using Google Photos. Learn how simple it is here.


    Tax Corner

    Downsizing to become full-time RVers

    Neil Seidler offers some insight and advice to those considering selling their sticks-and-bricks homes to become full-time RVers. He has recently gone through this process, and it’s more time-consuming than he had ever imagined. Read more.


    Facebook Groups of Interest

    Forest River Owner’s Group
    Extreme Low Budget RV Living
    Jobs in the RV industry
    Missing RVers, Pets, and Stolen RVs


    Trivia

    Currently, scientists have named and successfully classified around 1.5 million species. It is estimated that there are as few as 2 million to as many as 50 million more species that have not yet been found and/or have been incorrectly classified. —The Physics Factbook

    Bumper sticker of the week

    I’m retired. Go around me. —Thanks to John and Joy Crawford for sending in this perennial favorite!

    Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com

    Joke of the Week

    Church Ladies With Computers.
    These sentences (with bloopers) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:
    • The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
    • The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
    • Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
    Many thanks to Tom Hart for sending these in. These are the last of them, for now.

    Worth Pondering

    “In the New Year, never forget to thank your past years because they enabled you to reach today. Without the stairs of the past, you cannot arrive at the future.” —Mehmet Murat Ildan


    Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?

    Read it here | Back issues


    If you have not contributed to RVtravel.com for some time and would like to do so again, you may do so here.


    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. Advertising director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.

    Honorary Correspondents: Loyal readers who regularly email us leads about news stories and other information and resources that aid our own news-gathering efforts.
    • Mike Sherman • George Bliss • Tom and Lois Speirs • Alan Warren • Steve Barnes + others who we will add later.

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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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    16 Comments
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    squeakytiki
    7 months ago

    The first time I’d ever heard of full timing in an RV was sometime in the late 70’s. My best friend when I was growing up had a set of grandparents that lived full time. I was only a kid when I heard about them, and sadly I never got to meet them. It’s only now, years later, that I realize what trail blazers they must have been.

    Tom Gutzke
    7 months ago

    Don’t know what US 6 is like but we did drive from Truckee, CA to Ely, NV in late September, picking up US 50 [known as the Loneliest Road on Nevada Maps and also the longest single road from the Atlantic to the Pacific at over 3,000 miles] picking up Alt US 50 at Fernley, NV. After passing near Fallon Naval Air Station traffic thinned out to less than one vehicle per mile going west and more like one vehicle every two miles. Only a couple of vehicles passed me heading east. The Nevada Northern RR Museum is a Gem of a Historic Site.

    Ridge Gardner
    7 months ago

    Good morning,
    Question: Is there still a graphic representation of the results of the Reader Polls? I have waited patiently for up to five minutes for it to load and so far nada. All I see presently is an invitation to join the discussion. Is this the new format?

    Many thanks. Ridge Gardner

    Phillip McKain
    7 months ago

    Chuck you are so us. Thank you for all that you write

    John
    7 months ago

    Any recomendations on heated fresh water hoses?

    Debbie Peterson Jenson
    7 months ago

    Thank you Chuck for the positive NY greeting…so agree we need to be Americans first and also agree to disagree and not feel we need to CHANGE some ones view with arguing… We love our little fifth wheel and look forward to a spring trip soon. We do plan in advance and that is a headache. My major gripe is the littering is so much worse than when we started 12 years ago. I bring a bag and pick up what I can.
    Happy travels to you & Gail

    Thomas M Mason
    7 months ago

    In my younger years,I’m 72,the thought of not finding a camping spot never entered my mind. We would decide to go and always found a place to park usually with very few other people. Now it has gotten to the point where one has to plan weeks in advance which takes the spontaneity and enjoyment out of the event. Anymore I never travel mid May through mid Sept. which puts limits on where one can go due to the weather.

    Bruce silvers
    7 months ago

    It would appear in many states and on interstates especially the engineers have still not figured out that you cannot pave a highway directly to a bridge. It seems to be a mystery as to how to properly connect an object that expands and contracts to one that does not move. Some of the approaches to bridges have very large gaps that really rattle an RV. There are many compounds can could be placed at the junction that would allow for the movement but it seems to be a total oversight to use any of them. If many of the state governors had to drive on roads in their states instead of being flown everywhere I would like to believe that roads would be better engineered!

    JBC
    7 months ago

    Dear Mike
    Your information is invaluable BUT too often I find it overwhelming. In today’s piece (and others) it would have been helpful to give a direct answer to the question – yes or no with a BUT as necessary – “So, I have seen converters that can charge my RV batteries at 70 or 80 amps. Where would I be able to plug into a campground with 70-80 amps? Aren’t all the pedestal outlets only 20, 30 or 50 amps? –Martyn”. Then offer the full explanation, that is really appreciated, to educate ‘us’ about electricity. I know too well that electricity is a complicated, serious topic but does not need to be, especially with your help. However, the abundance of terminology, etc. creates an overwhelming read that tends to go in one ear and out the other. Visuals are priceless as in ‘here is the pedestal, here is where you can plug in a battery charger to charge your battery OR this is not where you should charge your battery —- now the explanation and ‘electricity’ lesson.
    With the endless array of equipment in RVs at present I know nothing is easy anymore. Converters? and, and, and. I live with the basics because that is all I need and want to – keep things simple. I look at the original question and wonder if I can plug a Battery Tender into a RV pedestal (which outlet) and charge my RV batteries.
    Thanks for all you do – it is overwhelming at times but you explanations are great – I set them aside and read them when I have time to digest the concept and information – and they all get read. Retaining the information is another issue. Again, thanks.

    Mike Sokol
    7 months ago
    Reply to  JBC

    JBC, yes this all can be confusing, but the real issue is that are few yes or no answers when it comes to electricity, which is why I try to qualify any statements I make with an explanation of the engineering behind it. And there are a surprising number of RV technicians and Electrical Engineers who read these articles. But I do my best to write for every level of reader, so I’ll try to balance technical levels to include more newbie info.

    Mike Sokol
    7 months ago
    Reply to  JBC

    Also, if your question is can you plug your battery tender into a pedestal, that’s an easy one. The answer is yes, because a battery tender only charges the 12 volt battery with a few amps of current at the most, and that’s less power than a 40 watt light bulb which a pedestal outlet can easily supply. Does that answer your question?

    Janet Miller
    7 months ago

    In regard to the comments about KOA and other campgrounds adding cabins, I believe the problem is not only removing RV sites, but also adding sites along perimeters, drawing down power sources to the traditional RV sites. We carry an “Autoformer” which boosts campground power because of this problem.

    Mike Sokol
    7 months ago
    Reply to  Janet Miller

    Actually an “Autoformer” does not boost the power, it can only boost the incoming voltage by 10% if it gets too low at the pedestal. And it does this by using more current from the campsite electrical outlet which it converts into more volts at the RV. However, keeping the voltage closer to nominal will result in less current draw from the air conditioner compressor, so in some cases it may not draw additional wattage from the pedestal. As in all engineering discussions the answer starts with “it depends”. Now the use of Autotransformers for RVs is a pretty divisive topic which has caused the NEC to disallow their use in campgrounds as of the 2020 National Electrical Code. However that recent code addition may not be adopted by all states or localities. Much more on this later as I get additional information.

    James O'Briant
    7 months ago

    WE drove CA Hwy 99 through Bakersfield last weekend (Saturday, December 28), but we were northbound. There’s a ton of construction going on, including what appears to be the complete reconstruction of at least two or three interchanges. Going northbound, it wasn’t nearly as rough as you described the southbound lanes. In a few months, once the construction is completed, I expect it will be a much better drive.

    Wayne
    7 months ago

    Your comment Chuck about about the lousy highway. Bad pavement will be one of the reasons we quit our wandering.
    It seems that governments have lost the knowledge that wealth production moves on the highways.

    Impavid
    7 months ago

    We did the Bakersfield route three years ago. In thousands of miles of RVing it’s the first time I’ve had clothes hangers come off the rod in the front closet of my 5th wheel, and I was driving under the speed limit. Yes, avoid at all costs.