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Sunday, January 12, 2020
If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.
Is new self-serve RV park the wave of the future?
We like the idea of this self-serve, full-hookup RV park. It’s much like what we have proposed at RVtravel.com for a couple of years. It makes sense — pull in, pay with a credit card, and hook up. But we have one serious issue with it. Read about the park and our misgivings about one aspect of it.
NFL quarterback headed out on a cross-country RV trip
And he’s looking for tips about what to see and do along the route between Florida and Southern California. Read more.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed: Editor Chuck Woodbury’s essay about fun things to see and do around Needles, CA • No RVs at this new campground, just “glampers” at $149 to $514 a night • Okay to RV with chickens? • RV Shrink: I feel like I’m being booked into jail when checking into a campground! • Troubleshooting short circuits – Part 1 of 3: The basics
That was the RV week that was
January 5–11, 2020
How happy are you with the job the National Park Service does of managing your national treasures? The Service itself wanted to know and commissioned a survey. Results? The vast majority (88 percent) of respondents indicated that they were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the way the NPS manages the national parks, national seashores, historic sites, battlefields, national monuments and other designations. Very few (3 percent) respondents were “very dissatisfied” or “somewhat dissatisfied.” Source: 2018 nationwide survey of more than 2,700 adults conducted by the Resource Systems Group of White River Junction, Vermont, and the Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming, via nationalparkstraveler.org.
Unusually hot weather in Leesburg, Florida, turned frigid last Saturday – from a high of 87 in nearby Melbourne down to the mid-40’s later that night. Along the way, a freakish spot of weather blasted through the Holiday RV Park south of town, blasting off roofs, and sending one man on a drive to the hospital by himself after a limb lobbed through his home, leaving him with a gashed head. Weather whizzes from the National Weather Service confirmed an oddball tornado was responsible.
If a semi-truck blasts past you on the freeway, do you wonder just what sort of fuel economy they’re getting? A council of trucking firms has released information on its members fleet economy. By their numbers, in 2009 the average mile-per-gallon figure for the fleet was 6.27. When 2018 rolled around, fuel economy jumped up to 7.27 mpg. Partly accounting for the jump is the shift to more economical trucks, but the report issued by the group indicates more could actually be achieved if drivers eased up on the throttle: In 2016, 94 percent of the industry set 65 mph as a “top speed,” but in 2018 it had dropped to only 76 percent that kept the speed down.
Last week we reported on a motorhome-involved traffic accident in Nampa, Idaho. At the time we reported that the motorhome driver, who was not named by authorities, had been thrown from his rig. We are saddened to report that the Ada County Coroner now reports that the driver, Bruce Harris (67) has died from his injuries. The accident is still under investigation.
The mega-wildfires in Australia have burned more than a million acres, turning lives upside down. Now a doctor, with the help of his motorhome, is helping survivors try and get on with their lives. On New Year’s Eve, fire destroyed Dr. Jeffrey Lee’s medical practice in Cobargo – an office he’s tended for 30 years. Instead of packing up and leaving, Lee observed of the locals, “These are traditional country people. They prefer to talk to someone they know is a local and they’ve known for a long time,” he reported to abc.net.au. Lee turned a motorhome equipped with solar panels into his temporary practice, helping with minor injuries, since most of his instruments were lost in the fire. But for many of his patients, Dr. Lee spends more time listening and consoling. While he says his motorhome provides more space than his old consultation room, he’s looking toward rebuilding his practice in the future.
Think you’re paying too much tax on your RV here in the U.S.? Motorhomers in the Yorkshire region of the U.K. are most decidedly up in arms. New motorhomes and “campervans” licensed since September 1 are being hit with a 705-percent duty to encourage lower exhaust emissions. The RV manufacturing industry is indignant, pointing out that van owners aren’t hit with the tax, and most U.K. motorhomes are built on a van chassis. Politicians are scrambling, promising the issue will be “sorted” and made right.
It’s the time of year to line up camp hosting positions – and Michigan needs you. The state’s Department of Natural Resources is taking applications for assignments across the state. A free site is available in exchange for 30 hours of volunteer service per week, doing things such as helping folks locate a site, doing light maintenance, and planning camp activities. Want more information? Contact Michelle Coss at (517) 881-5884 or visit Michigan.gov/DNRHosts.
Under current U.S. law, Canadian snowbirds can stay in the U.S. for six months without fear of being considered “taxable” under IRS regulations. A bill is before Congress that would extend the visits without taxation issues out to eight months. Not surprisingly, the push behind the effort comes from two Florida senators who no doubt see an economic windfall if Canadians could stay longer – and buy more. Not all Canadians are jumping on the bandwagon, however. Most snowbirds have families and obligations back home; and provincial healthcare laws might also put a big crimp in any thought of staying more than six months as well. And in the current climate of resistance toward “foreigners” it may suffer the same fate as previous attempts to pass similar legislation – a “go nowhere” scenario.
A New Year’s Day theft that saw two military service veterans parted from their Class A motorhome has had a quick turn. Richard McGrath and his wife are both veterans, and parents of two children. The McGraths recently moved from Colorado to Washington state, their rig loaded with their stuff. On arrival, they found an apartment and moved in, leaving their motorhome at a Kent, Washington, storage facility. On New Year’s, crooks cruised off with the motorhome, and inside, a lot of stuff with sentimental value. On January 3, reports came in that the stolen motorhome had turned up in Idaho. No word yet on the condition of the rig.
If you have had problems with Goodyear Marathon tires on your fifth-wheel trailer, attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether a class action lawsuit can be filed in light of complaints that the tires are susceptible to tread separations and blowouts as early as the first several thousand miles. It’s believed the company is aware of the tire failures as dozens of drivers have reportedly brought their tires to Goodyear dealers to have them fixed or replaced. In addition, at least 100 complaints have been registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding the tires. If you have had such a problem, fill out a report on this page.
They said it sounded like gunshots. He said there were armed people in his motorhome. In the end, no guns, gunshots, or armed men – just another day in L.A. Last Wednesday people scrambled as an RV zoomed down Ventura Boulevard, hit a school bus and a few parked cars. The noise was so loud, bystanders thought they heard gunshots. When the RV came to a stop, a man described as “frail” crawled out of the motorhome, mumbling and apologizing, and indicating there were armed occupants in the rig. Police cautiously approached the rig and found … nada. Suspicions are the driver had mental issues, or drugs. The driver left, not in the motorhome, but in a police car.
The cost of recreation in Oregon is heading up. On the federal level, entry fees at Crater Lake National Park now run $30 per vehicle, and an annual pass is $55. That’s up from $15 per vehicle with an annual pass cost of $40 – those prices less than two years ago. On the state level, expect to see higher fees at the more popular state parks, where RV site fees will jump $3 per night at 22 different parks from Memorial Day to Labor Day. That jump in cost is to offset the $7 per night discount offered in spring and fall.
A real estate agent has put a new spin on the term, “affordable housing.” The agent, Tad Segars, has been renting out RVs and “tiny houses” on a parcel in Hilton Head, South Carolina. The “tiny houses” appear to be nothing more than upgraded storage sheds like those that could be purchased at a local Home Depot store. Aside from RVs and sheds, folks are paying hundreds of dollars a month to live on the property, some in automobiles. Those that are hooked up to the septic system have overrun the system, and county records indicate the system has backed up and spilled raw sewage on the ground. Authorities say that Segars is in violation of numerous codes, and local media says he’s likely in violation of at least three portions of real estate agent ethics codes. For his part, Segars says he’s providing a valuable service to folks caught by high rents and property values on the island. Segars’ little operation is said to rake in upwards of $15,000 a month from folks “renting” from him.
RVers will likely see new zoning ordinances in Dewey, Oklahoma, after the city’s council asked for new rules to govern RV parking. Property owners may have but one RV on their property, and it must be currently licensed and owned by them. Any RV “in disrepair will be declared a nuisance.” First-time violations could draw a $100 fine. The proposals are expected to be passed by the full council.
It was a long “test run” for a pair of RVers from California. When police stopped a father and son duo near Princeton, Illinois, last Tuesday, they explained they were headed to Chicago to test out the motorhome they were in. Did they have any marijuana on board? Oh, yes. When police checked it out, they found 600 pounds of pot in duffel bags. A little more questioning elicited a confession this wasn’t the first time they’d been hauling a little pot – they’d made a run from Oregon to Chicago with a large amount last month. They’re not “on the road again,” yet – they’ll need to each meet a $300,000 bail order.
Provincial officials in Ontario, Canada, have drawn the ire – and legal arrows – of a snowbird group. On January 1, the province chopped off all payments for out-of-country emergency medical care. Previously, snowbirds were eligible for up to $400 per day for emergency inpatient care, and $50 per day for outpatient care. The government claimed the program was inefficient and costly. Now the Canadian Snowbird Association has asked for a judicial review of the move.
On Halloween, 1981, police in Dixie, Georgia, found the body of a young woman in a cornfield. Investigators heard that a motorhome with Alabama plates had been seen near the cornfield, eventually tracing it to a carnival worker, George Newsome (52). The motorhome was stolen, and inside police found one of the murder weapons, a rope he confessed to using to kill the woman. But her name was unknown, and a local family provided a casket, a burial plot, and a headstone, engraved with the words “Known Only To God.” Newsome died in prison in 1988. Flash forward to Halloween 2017, precisely 36 years after the woman’s body was found. A woman contacted police with a tip about a missing friend, who’d gone missing in 1981 while working at a fair in Georgia. An exhumation followed, and DNA tests have now revealed the true name of the one “Known Only To God” – Cheryl Hammack.
The old “buy an RV on the internet,” scam continues. Fred Ethridge of Tucson, Arizona, spotted an $800 RV deal on a “buy and sell” website letgo.com. He contacted the seller, and soon, in his words he was “roped in,” and bought four Ebay gift cards for $200 each to make the purchase with. Next day, Ehridge got a call from the “company,” advising that they’d need another $600 for insurance before they could “ship out” his RV. When Ethridge checked to see the status of the $800 worth of gift cards, they’d already been emptied out. A local TV station tried reaching out to the seller and – no surprise – no response. No travel trailer either. The Federal Trade Commission observes that demands for “payment” to be made in gift cards by scammers is on the rise.
Firefighters were on the jump last Saturday when at least 17 “smaller explosions” went off at a blaze they were fighting in Alfalfa, Oregon. The initial rollout was for a reported structure fire, but in the end, two fifth-wheels and a log structure burned. Making the call more challenging, apparently someone described as a “hoarder” had stashed a large number of LP cylinders on the property, some buried under other objects.
A catalytic crime wave in Edmonton, Alberta, may have had a break, after a K9 police dog drug a suspected thief out from under a motorhome January 2. In one week alone police logged reports of 55 catalytic converter thefts – and more than 500 since early October. Converters had been stolen from cars, trucks and motorhomes. Authorities say they’ve now arrested four men in connection with some of the cases.
A new, high-end RV resort has opened, catering to “Winter Texans.” Called Tropical Trails RV Resort, the outfit opened January 1 in Brownsville, Texas. The 165-acre park sports 240 “large” RV sites, and offers a swimming pool, spa, dog park, and other recreational perks. A major draw for the “connected” set will be the park’s internet access. No weak-tea WiFi operation, each site has a high-speed, fiber-optic cable connection. Monthly rates run from $639 to $995 for the “Super Luxury” sites.
Here’s another candidate for the “Dumb Crook” award. Timothy McMahon (38) is cooling his heels in the San Joaquin, California, county jail after complaints arrived at the sheriff’s office about some missing electric rental scooters. Evidently two of the machines, supposed to be in Oakland, appeared to be in French Camp, California. How did they know? They were equipped with GPS locators. When investigators turned up at McMahon’s French Camp address, they found the two scooters, plus the remains of at least 18 more, in his driveway and his RV. In jail, awaiting $80,000 bail, sits McMahon.
This is the same question we asked yesterday. But we had technical problems so we’re asking it again today (Sunday).
Jasper National Park in Canada opened its campground reservations this week and set a new record on the first day with 11,431 bookings for Wapiti, Wabasso, Pocahontas and Overflow frontcountry campgrounds. Whistlers Campground, Jasper’s largest campground, with 750 sites will remain closed in 2020 for redevelopment.
Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World, who once warned West Marine that he “was coming to get you,” plans to complete the closure of 27 former Gander Mountain outdoor retail stores by the end of January as part of a strategy to focus only on the company’s RV retail outlets.
Fiat Chrysler has reached settlements with consumers and federal and state regulators involving certain Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles equipped with the 3.0L EcoDiesel engine. Models involved: Ram 1500 EcoDiesel (2014-2016) and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel (2014-2016). If you own one of these vehicles you may be eligible to claim a piece of the settlement. The typical amount is $3,075. Info here.
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
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of January 6, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.58 [Calif.: $3.43]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 34 cents.
Diesel: $3.08. [Calif.: $3.90]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 7 cents.
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Upcoming RV shows
Indy RV Expo, Jan. 4-12, Indianapolis, IN
Ohio RV Super Show, Jan. 8-12, Cleveland, OH
Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show, Jan. 9-12, Chicago, IL
Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show, Jan. 9-12, Grand Rapids, MI
Valley RV & Camping Show, Jan. 9-12, South Bend, IN
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
Florida RV Super Show, Jan. 15-19, Tampa, FL
Mid-America RV Show, Jan. 16-19, Kansas City, MO
Tacoma RV Show, Jan. 16-19, Tacoma, WA
Toronto RV Show and Sale, Jan. 16-19, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Iowa Boat, RV & Vacation Show, Jan. 17-19, Cedar Falls, IA
New Jersey RV & Camping Show – Edison,Jan. 17-19, Edison, NJ
Greater Chicago RV Show, Jan. 17-19, Schaumburg, IL
Des Moines RV & Boat Show, Jan. 17-19, Des Moines, IA
Middle Tennessee RV Show, Jan. 17-20, Lebanon, TN
Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, Jan. 18-26, Quartzsite, AZ
Louisville Boat, RV & Sportshow, Jan. 22-26, Louisville, KY
Ft. Myers RV Show, Jan. 23-26, Ft. Myers, FL
Atlanta Camping & RV Show, Jan. 24-26, Atlanta, GA
Boston RV & Camping Expo, Jan. 24-26, Boston, MA – Free seminars with RV electricity expert Mike Sokol. Visit website.
East Texas Boat and RV Show, Jan. 24-26, Longview, TX
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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