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Sunday, February 9, 2020
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Falling oak tree crushes travel trailer, pinning RVer inside
One fear most RVers experience is that of a falling tree crashing down on their RV with them inside. It seldom happens, but when it does it can be horrifying, even deadly. You’ll wonder how anyone could survive this incident from this past week. Read more and see a photo of the carnage.
Fire destroys charity’s motorhome outfitted as doctor’s office
Nobody knows what caused the fire below, which destroyed a mobile doctor’s office that was used to treat people in need. Even though the motorhome and everything in it was destroyed, the non-profit Mission of Mercy group hopes the community will help it carry on. You can help. Learn where.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed:
• The editor’s unusual RV experiment idea.
• Readers report their favorite “mods” and RV “add-ons”, Part 1.
• The peace and satisfaction of “living small”.
• Don’t stay at this motel or you will be beaten!
• Is it safe to leave a deposit with an RV dealer?
• Readers’ favorite RV parks and campgrounds. Stayed at any of these?
• RV Shrink: RV awning – Use it, don’t lose it!
• Reader Poll: Do you have a really good friend you can talk with about anything?
• RV Electricity: Finding short circuits in dead 120-volt AC systems, Part 3A.
• How to add an instant bathtub to your shower.
and much more …
That was the RV week that was
February 2–8, 2020
The Forest Service doesn’t want Teton Canyon going to the dogs. The locale, near trendy Jackson, Wyoming, is in the Service’s jurisdiction and has a spectacular view of the Teton Mountains. The views attract hikers and walkers – and they like to bring their dogs. Trouble is, the dogs have reportedly been chasing wildlife and biting other visitors. Enough! says the Service. Dogs are now banned completely on the South Valley Trail System from December 1 to April 15. And rangers are cracking down on “leash only” rules where dogs are anywhere within 200 feet of a trailhead or campground.
Did you visit Great Smokey Mountains National Park (North Carolina/Tennessee) last year? Then you contributed to the amazing surge of visitors. In 2018, more than 11,421,000 folks dropped by. In 2019, 12,547,743 did the same. Wow! Nearly 1.25 million more! In September, a shoulder season, a million folks paraded on in. Park officials say they’ll “thoughtfully look at how [they] can improve access” to the park. Pundits note that most of the parks gates collect fees, but wise Tennesseans recognize there’s one back door into the park that lawfully can’t charge an entry fee. Others point out that the numbers look impressive, but they include folks “driving through” the park via Highway 441, the Foothills Parkway, and Gatlinburg Spur.
The roller coaster ride for residents of a Cowlitz County, Washington, RV park has hit another high spot. We’ve reported that residents of the Lewis River RV Park have been caught in the middle of a property ownership dispute that has put their ability to receive power and water into question several times. The juice was set to be shut down last Tuesday, but residents, through their attorney, went to court on Monday to ask that the court order the land’s owner, Jerry Reeves, to keep the electricity on. The judge ordered Reeves to open an account with the power company and further make arrangements for garbage pickup. Reeves told local media that he would comply with the court’s orders.
Can you see Marrs from Roswell, New Mexico? In the town made famous by “little green men,” some folks want to see the Marrs RV Park – and sorry, that isn’t a misspelling of our neighbor in the Sol system. The park is being promoted, in part by one Tara Marrs, a local realtor, whose vision is a nine-acre site with 86 “franchise level” sites and associated come-ons. Marrs’ promotion group envisions the park as being a great place for short-term guests, or perhaps those who’d stay longer such as “oil industry professionals.” A minister with a nearby church is concerned about the wrong kind of clientele: Other area RV parks and mobile home spots seem to attract folks who are not, as he called them, “economically sound,” and pointed the finger at them as the potential cause of crime at church buildings. No worries, the developers promise “magnets” for higher-end guests. Such as? “A lodge, a pool and bathhouse, a dog park, a recreation area.” Not all at once, mind you, but a little bit at a time.
DID YOU KNOW? In the desert Snowbird Capital Quartzsite, Ariz., it isn’t unusual to spot a roadrunner or hear a coyote howl at night. They’re not chasing each other like in the cartoon. But here’s a bit of trivia for you: the two biggest grocery stores in town are named the Roadrunner Market and Coyote Fresh Foods. “Beep beep.”
Visitors to Nevada’s Lake Mead Recreation Area may be in for a few traffic delays. The Park Service says it is kicking off a pavement preservation program worth $5.6 million. The cleaning, patching, resurfacing and remarking project will run weekdays during daylight hours. Expect road areas at Katherine Landing, Temple Bar, Eldorado Canyon, South Cove and the park headquarters and warehouse complex will be hit from now through April, and will delay some road traffic and close some parking lots.
Last month we reported on the Eugene, Oregon, man whose RV – and small business – were wiped out by an arsonist. Elliot Morgan’s RV, which he used to carry clients of his hiking guide service, was torched on January 7. Another small-businessman, Daniel Isaacson, got wind of the matter and was touched by Morgan’s plight. He donated an RV to help Morgan get his business back on its feet – or wheels. Beverly Farfan got involved by donating camping equipment that sporting goods company REI had donated to her. The equipment helped to replace the gear lost in the fire. Needless to say, Morgan is ecstatic – and back in business.
A young Brit lad is taking the kudos as a hero when his quick-thinking actions likely saved at least one home, possibly more. Cameron Clouting (11), was – as they say across the pond – “putting out the rubbish” when his youthful ears picked up on the sound of a smoke detector in full alarm. A full-timing RV couple’s RV was the source, and Cameron rushed off quickly to dial 999 – the U.K. equivalent of 911. He’d recently been taught emergency training in his classroom, and was able to provide all the details needed for the fire brigade to be dispatched. Sadly, the motorhome could not be saved, but the fire was put out before the fuel tank caught fire, saving the house it was parked next to and quite possibly Cameron’s as well. It all took place in Halstead, U.K.
Do campgrounds need immunity from “frivolous lawsuits”? Apparently Ohio’s House of Representatives think they do. House Bill 355 has passed a floor vote and essentially says campers can’t sue the campground for “damages resulting from risks inherent to camping.” The campground industry says think of things like fishing, campfires, hiking, walking the grounds, things that the campground owner can’t protect a guest from. At the same time, no immunity is granted when damages arise that the campground does control, criminal conduct by campground owners or staff, or a willful disregard for camper safety. The bill is far from becoming law, but we’ll keep an eye on it.
Last October, Jefferson County, Idaho, commissioners heard that the Mike Walker Boat Ramp near Menan, equipped with six RV sites, was becoming a problem. Seems some were overstaying their welcome. The parks director suggested a camp host to keep watch, but a host site with utilities would need to be developed. Just remove the RV sites, some suggested – and finally the commission tabled the matter. Off the table and into the frying pan, evidently, as now the commissioners were told having a camp host “would never pay for itself.” New ideas were tossed around – installing gates, making anyone who wants to use an RV site have a prior reservation. In the end, officials agreed to – once again – put the matter off and visit yet another time.
Campground hosts are needed for 2020 summer assignments in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest. Volunteers are needed at Lofton Reservoir, 22 miles southeast of Bly; Williamson River Campground, 7 miles north of Chiloquin; and Digit Point Campground, near Miller Lake, is 12 miles west of Chemult. Volunteers need to be “energetic and good-natured,” have their own RV, and be ready to go at Lofton and Williamson by mid-May and by mid-June for Digit Point. Hosts will be needed though Labor Day, working Thursday through Monday. Greeting, cleaning, stocking restrooms, and litter-picking are included in duties. In exchange, an RV site will be provided, along with LP, vehicle fuel, and a subsistence allowance. To apply for Williamson River or Digit Point Campgrounds, contact Bryan Boatman at 541-883-6702 or email@example.com. For Lofton Reservoir, contact Greg Campbell at 541-947-6359 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A controversial “fake news” decision appears to have impacted tourism in Citrus County, Florida. Last October the county commission thumbs-downed a request by the county library to pay $2,700 for a digital subscription to The New York Times, giving 70,000 library users free access to the paper online. The print edition was already available in libraries there, but one commissioner, Scott Carnahan, pronounced in a public meeting, “I don’t want The New York Times in this county. I don’t like them. It’s fake news.” Carnahan says tourism hasn’t been affected by the decision, but a local newspaper, the Citrus County Chronicle, says statistics indicate a sudden drop-off in visits to the county after it publicized the commission’s decision. When the story broke, emails flooded in, some writers saying they would cancel visits because of it. The paper reports, “From October to December (which coincided with the controversy), there were 7,700 fewer visitors to local hotels, down 6.5% from the previous three-month period in 2018.” Commissioner Carnahan refused to comment on the matter; the commission chairman says he has a new policy not to talk to the paper, and lived up to that policy as well. A local tourism official refused to talk about The New York Times issue.
The U.S. Forest Service is still dealing with the aftermath of the huge Ranch Fire of 2018 that hit California’s Mendocino National Forest. Under a new order, some campgrounds and trails have been reopened, while other areas are still closed and will remain so until at least the end of the year. Now reopening, Bear Creek Campground and the Pine Mountain Lookout. The order directs continuing rehabilitation and hazard removal through the forest.
National park fee hikes are under discussion in the Pacific Northwest. Officials at Olympic National Park in Washington say they’d like to raise campground fees at eight of 13 campgrounds. Kalaloch would jump $2 to $24; Staircase, Heart O’ the Hills, Fairhome, Mora, and Hoh would all jump $4 to $24. South Beach and North Fork fees would skyrocket by $5 to $20 per night. Send your comments until March 3, by visiting online here at parkplanning.nps.gov/ONPCGFEES or by mail to Superintendent, Olympic National Park – Proposed Campground Fee Increases, 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, Wash. 98362. No phone calls or e-mails will be accepted. Comments might not be held private – everything, including personal identifying information such as address, phone number, and email address, may be made publicly available at any time.
Fremont, California, is home to Tesla and other multi-billion-dollar companies. Kato Road is home to Tesla – but no longer to folks with limited income. For years truckers have parked their rigs on the shoulder of the road across the street from Tesla because, as they say, there aren’t too many truck stops in the Bay Area. Recently, a rag-tag fleet of RVs has joined the truckers – folks who can’t afford homes in the area but some have jobs there. Fremont city officials apparently tired of complaints, and late in January put up signs warning of “new parking restrictions” that would take effect February 5. The “restrictions” are nothing but boulders the city installed to prevent anyone from parking along the roadside – and prior to their install, the city was planning on towing away any recalcitrant streetside residents. Tesla has been asked to figure out a parking arrangement for truckers who service its plant. For others, there’s no room across the street from the makers of those high-priced electric pickup trucks.
The people pictured above are “RVers” in Palo Alto, California. Last month they were welcomed at a shelter for a night, where they were fed a chicken dinner. Some live in RVs because they are priced out of the expensive housing market, holing up in business districts and residential neighborhoods. One of largest groups consists of more than 30 oversized vehicles, including a commuter-type bus and crippled motorhomes. Dealing with these people and others is a polarizing issue cropping up all over the Bay Area and elsewhere. In Mountain View, which has three overnight RV lots, the city council last year passed a ban on parking by oversized vehicles, which has been challenged by residents who think it’s unfair and inhumane. The ban’s repeal is now headed for a citywide vote in November. The Palo Alto City Council plans a trial of allowing RVs to park at interested churches. SOURCE: Climaterwc.com
Some months back we reported on an issue wherein RV dwellers in British Columbia’s Thompson-Nicola Regional District raised a hue and cry with concerns that local government was trying to run them off privately owned land in the district. District officials got on the public platform to say no, they had no such intentions. But the problem seems to have come up again – for real – in the Creston, B.C., area. Andrea Courtney, a young woman with multiple sclerosis, moved a travel trailer onto her father’s land to be near him to receive his help. In January, regional district officials fired off a letter giving the Courtneys until March 15 to move the trailer off the property, saying RVs are not acceptable living accommodations in the Kootenays. The issue of rights on the Canadian rurals appears to be spreading.
A night-roaming vandal shot up three RVs at an RV dealership in Laurel County, Kentucky. Sometime during the night between February 3 and 4, a man shot the RVs and kicked out skylights. A security cam photo from Days RV on Highway 70 may help identify him. Call the police at 606-864-6600 if you have information.
The phrase “expanding nudists” may paint an unforgettable mind picture, but in this instance, we’re not speaking of waistlines but, rather, property lines. Yvonne Gibson and Hector Gravelle operate the Freedom Fields Naturist Ranch in Ontario’s Stone Mills Township. They’ve been trying to get permission to expand their clothing-optional campground from its current 40-hectare size. The township council said nay, and the couple appealed to a planning appeal tribunal. On January 31, the tribunal also turned down their request. Gibson and Gravelle can’t bare the thought of giving up, and say they’re considering their next move.
Pickup truck news
According to our recent survey, about 80 percent of RVtravel.com readers own at least one pickup truck. Recognizing that, we’ll provide the latest news highlights about the vehicles here each week.
Passenger vehicles have never been more expensive, but the most expensive of the bunch are pickup trucks. They now average a sticker price above $50,000. In 2019, the $49,543 estimate of the average transaction price for pickup trucks was the highest seen on record. JD Power pegged the average sticker price of light-duty trucks at $51,700, but that doesn’t factor in the bottom line of what consumers pay.
MotorWeek has named the Ram 1500, Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 as the recipients of its 2020 Drivers’ Choice Award for Best Pickup Truck. It considers current purchasing trends, innovations, value and reliability when deciding on winners. The purpose of these awards is to create a practical buyer’s guide for potential car and truck shoppers.
Don’t expect a pickup from Volkswagen in the U.S. anytime soon. If and when the time comes, however, it makes more sense to make it an electric truck, said Johan de Nysschen, chief operating officer of VW of America. But don’t hold your breath. “It is not even on the discussion set for North America for the next five years,” de Nysschen told MotorTrend in an interview at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show.
Toyota will ramp up truck production at its new Mexico plant to 100,000 vehicles a year by 2021 in a major step to shift production of its popular mid-size Tacoma pickup truck to Mexico from the United States, the company said on Thursday. The plant in the central state of Guanajuato, along with an older facility near the U.S. border, will bring Toyota’s Mexican production to 266,000 trucks a year when at full capacity. Toyota said it expects to send 95% of pickups from the two plants to the United States, where the automaker sold nearly 249,000 Tacomas last year.
QUESTION: What brand of pickup truck do RVtravel.com readers use for their RVing? See our survey, with more than 7,500 responses (and counting).
Do you use your RV mostly to camp, travel or live? Please answer and see how other readers are responding.
Travel trailers at the Keystone trailer manufacturing plant in Pendleton, Ore., were on their sides or partially submerged in three to four feet of water Thursday after the Umatilla River overflowed its banks, inundating the company’s property.
Have you seen this missing man? He’s a 29-year-old father named Christopher A. Loupin but he goes by Chris. He’s about 5’9″ or 5’10” with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen on Nov. 17, 2019, at the 4 Seasons RV Campground near Elm Creek, Nebraska. If you have information about him, call 855-316-3334, extension 2. His case number is MP64306.
The RV Industry Association projects 2019 RV shipments to end up at 402,100 units when the books are closed, down 16.9 percent from 2018. This year, 2020, shipments are expected to dip 3.9 percent to 386,400, in the most likely scenario (60 percent probability). A more aggressive outlook (15 percent probability) shows a slight rise in 2020 shipments to 404,600 units. The low end of the range, based on the most conservative forecast (25 percent probability), sets the annual tally at 359,600.
Statistical Surveys Inc. reports Class B motorhome sales increased 5.2% in 2019 compared to 2018. Winnebago Industries Inc. led with a 44.7% market share, Erwin Hymer N.A. had a 20% share, and Forest River Inc. followed with 11% of the market.
The owner of the Ben Franklin RV Park in York, Pennsylvania, died last week when he slipped through some bad flooring in the park’s barn and fell 20 feet from the loft to a concrete floor. Benjamin Lepore III, 41, and his wife, Stephanie, ran the park. He had been around it all of his life, a third generation owner.
Police in Paducah, Kentucky, are searching for three travel trailers stolen sometime last Tuesday night from Youngblood RV. Security video shows individuals in three different pickup trucks took the trailers, a 2019 Sportsmen, a 2020 Grand Design and a 2020 Dutchmen. Have information? Call Detective Kevin Wilson at 270-444-8553, the Paducah Police Department at 270-444-8550 or use the online tip form.
Many roads are closed due to flooding in western Washington, so be sure to check ahead before traveling in the area. Flooding rivers are expected to crest and begin to recede to within their banks Sunday and Monday.
Plans finalized on Thursday for two national monuments in Utah downsized by President Trump would ensure that lands previously off-limits to energy development will be open to mining and drilling. The move comes despite pending lawsuits from conservation, tribal and paleontology groups, who have challenged the constitutionality of the action. The Trump administration slashed the size of Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly half in December, 2017, in what represented the largest elimination of public lands protections in U.S. history.
New Mexico wants $30 million to revamp its 40 highways rest areas. Michael Sandoval, the state’s secretary of transportation, says rest stops are “an opportunity for New Mexico to show a little bit about who we are and what we have to offer. If people driving through the state have a good experience at a rest stop, they may see something beyond it that is appealing to them. If they see a dirty restroom that is not functional or an unsafe environment, that’s not the best reflection of our state.”
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 and related recalls posted since our last newsletter
• Forest River recalls some trailers. Breakaway switch could fail.
• GMC, Chevy trucks recalled for software glitch that could affect braking.
• 2019-2020 Ram trucks recalled for transmission fluid leak.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of February 3, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.46 [Calif.: $3.37]
Change from week before: Down 5 cents; Change from year before: Up 20 cents.
Diesel: $2.96 [Calif.: $3.81]
Change from week before: Down 5 cents; Change from year before: Down 1 cent.
Upcoming RV shows
Detroit RV & Camping Show, Feb. 5-9, Novi, MI
Edmonton RV Expo & Sale, Feb. 6-9, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Erie RV, Camping & Powersports Spectacular, Feb. 6-9, Erie, PA
Jacksonville RV Mega Show, Feb. 6-9, Jacksonville, FL
Minneapolis / St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show, Feb. 6-9, Minneapolis, MN
Salem Spring RV Show, Feb. 6-9, Salem, OR
Seattle RV Show, Ends today, Seattle, WA. Visit website – See list of free seminars – Free parking when you purchase tickets online.
Georgia RV & Camper Show, Feb. 7-9, Atlanta, GA
Midessa Boat, RV, Sport & Gun Show, Feb. 7-9, Odessa, TX
Ottawa RV Expo & Sale, Feb. 7-9, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Topeka RV & Sport Show, Feb. 7-9, Topeka, KS
Richmond Camping RV Expo, Feb. 7-9, Richmond, VA
Houston RV Show, Feb. 12-16, Houston, TX
Austin RV Expo, Feb. 13-16, Austin, TX
Chicago RV & Camping Show, Feb. 13-16, Rosemont, IL
Oklahoma City RV Super Show, Feb. 13-16, Oklahoma City, OK
Atlantic City RV & Camping Show, Feb. 14-16, Atlantic City, NJ
Maryland RV Show, Feb. 14-16, 21-23, Timonium, MD
Springfield RV, Camping and Outdoor Show, Feb. 14-17, West Springfield, MA
Dallas RV Supersale, Feb. 20-23, Dallas, TX
Red Deer RV Show, Feb. 20-23, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
West Palm Beach RV Show, Feb. 20-23, West Palm Beach, FL
Harrisburg RV & Camping Show, Feb. 21-23, Harrisburg, PA
Pennsylvania Adventure RV Expo, Feb. 21-23, Altoona, PA
Maryland RV Show, Feb. 21-23, Timonium, MD
Brain teaser answer:
(The question appeared in yesterday’s newsletter.)
Racecar (although sometimes it’s written as two words)
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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