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January 4, 2020
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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. . .
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.”
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.
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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.
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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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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)
Readers speak out
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 …
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
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).
Our Facebook and RVillage Groups: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping • Free 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.
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….
Ask the RV Doctor
Short-term solution to prevent holding tanks from freezing
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
Can I charge a battery at 80 amps from a 20-amp outlet?
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
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?
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.
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
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.
“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?
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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