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Sunday, March 8, 2020
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Family Motor Coaching chooses to go on with national rally
Despite a warning from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) urging Americans 60 and older to avoid crowds due to the coronavirus threat, FMCA has chosen to go on with its international rally that begins in 18 days. The average age of an FMCA member is about 70. As many as 4,000 of them are expected to attend. Read more.
AND THEN ANSWER OUR POLL
If you were in charge, would you cancel the FMCA rally or go on?
Good Sam reacts to our story last week, puts end to discount diesel program
In case you missed our followup story yesterday from last Sunday’s issue, the Good Sam Club has told Pilot/Flying J locations to quit offering a money-saving discount from TSD that offers RVers a substantial discount on diesel fuel. Good Sam learned about the program through our story in this newsletter last week. Good Sam, it turns out, has an exclusive agreement with Pilot/Flying J to offer a discount to its members. But, sad to say, it doesn’t offer nearly the savings as the TSD program we profiled last week. That’s not resting well with our readers. Read our story and the many comments.
Comprehensive list of RV-related recalls for February
The list of latest recalls on RVs and other vehicles of interest to RVers has been released by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The list includes models from Forest River, Keystone and others – plus many other vehicles and some tires commonly used by RVers. Is your RV or other vehicle on the list? Find out here.
And recalls issued in the past week …
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, some stories you missed:
• Part Five: The dysfunctional RV Industry and You –How Fifth Wheel Trailers Have Ruined RVing.
• Good Sam tells Pilot/Flying J to end big diesel discounts to RVers.
• Meet the staff of RVtravel.com (Chuck’s essay).
• Update on Chuck and Gail’s (delayed) return to Seattle.
• Readers reveal their favorite RV mods or add-ons, Part 3.
• Reader Poll: Given coronavirus concerns, have you cut back on participating in activities involving crowds?
• RV Horror Story: RVer not happy with his motorhome.
• RV Shrink: RV cabin fever – First-time snowbirds are bored out of their gourds.
• RV Electricity: Guide to RV surge protectors.
• RV Tire Safety: Is it against federal regulations to change tires on an RV?
• Reader Letter: Where are all the black RVers?
… and much more
That was the RV week that was
March 1–7, 2020
In a “sign of the times” event, CampCalNow RV Park and Campground Alliance (an association of California RV park owners) has listed one of its upcoming seminars to help train park owners. No, it has nothing to do with how to keep the swimming pool clean, nor how to deal with an upset customer. Instead, a two-hour session at the group’s educational summit and trade show in early April will be an “active shooter live demo.” The aim is to train park staff to “manage park guests, media inquiries, and emergency personnel,” should such an unfortunate reality happen. An earlier disaster demo saw actors portray victims of a propane explosion, with local first responders popping up on-scene to make the whole thing more realistic.
Give a man a pickup and he can save the world. Well, maybe not the world, but Bruce Harrison of Winchester, Kentucky, likely saved his home last week. Harrison had rented out an RV space next to his older, frame home; he also had a Vietnam-era veteran living in an upstairs room in the house. All was well until the tenant’s travel trailer caught fire. Terrified that the veteran upstairs might be asleep, and fearing his home would go up in smoke, Harrison hitched his pickup to the burning trailer while his wife fought the flames with a garden hose. Bruce says he couldn’t see clearly through the smoke, but knew something had to be done. He was able to get the trailer pulled out onto open ground, and successfully got the truck loose and away. The trailer, which minutes before had an electrician working on it, was a complete wipe out.
If you’re an Amazon shopper, chances are some of your purchase prices may go up soon. In some cases the blame falls to the coronavirus. The likelihood is higher for Chinese-made products. Here’s an example: One Amazon seller who sells patio furniture says factory shutdowns in China have impacted his supply. As a result, he’s cutting back on his advertising on Amazon, and says he may just jack the prices on what he does sell. Why? His thinking is, if he sells too much he’ll run out of stock; if that happens, he figures he’s better off running out while charging more. It looks like other Amazon sellers may have the same thinking: Last week, Amazon’s advertising revenue had dropped about 6 percent over two weeks compared to the same time in 2019. Amazon has told its sellers that if they are in danger of not being able to fulfill an order, they should cancel and refund the customer. Source: ttnews.com.
In a remarkably short time, Washington County, Arkansas, planning board members approved a request for construction of a 66-site RV park. Rivers Edge RV Park & Stables will occupy a 47-acre site off U.S. Highway 412. The bulk of the property will be taken up by horse pasture, while 12.5 acres will be home to the RV park. Nothing fancy, it appears, with a small office building, a bathhouse and dump station available to guests. Planners took less than six minutes to approve the plan.
It’s not clear whether a guilty plea entered by a former RV consignment owner will lead to a quick resolution for RVers in an embezzlement case, but it is one more step in a weird case that’s been chugging along since 2014. Regina Clark, of McClain County, Oklahoma, had been charged with 13 counts of embezzlement, wherein customers complained Clark’s Sooner RV sold their rigs but never paid them, nor paid off existing loans on the rigs. The whole matter burst like an ugly pimple in 2014, when Clark called family members into the dealership office in a highly agitated state. She and her husband were headed for divorce, and apparently the walls of phony bookkeeping were closing in. Clark then pulled a .357 magnum pistol and chased family members. At least one shot was fired, but the bullet never met a human target. In addition to the embezzlement charges, she’ll be sentenced in April on assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and burglary.
Some of the pressure for RV overnighting at Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park may ease up come this September. Fishing Bridge RV Park has been closed since 2019 for a major renovation project. The National Park Service says reservations are now available for dates beginning September 4. Guests on the Upper Loop will find larger sites, most of them pull-throughs, with 35- and 50-amp electrical service. A dump station is included, and the number of washers and dryers in the laundromat has been bumped up.
Another refrigerator fire takes a toll. This one in Charlotte County, Florida, on February 29, east of Interstate 75. Firefighters sent multiple units to a motorhome at the Creekside RV Resort. Happily, three adults and their dog weren’t injured, but the Phaeton motorhome was an evident total loss and all the contents lost as well. Firemen reported flames shooting through the roof on arrival. They determined the fire started in the refrigerator.
RV fans have pushed back against an ordinance that would have tightened up RV storage restrictions on private properties in Amherst, Ohio. The proposal, written by the city’s building inspector, would have prohibited storage of RVs longer than 25 feet on residential properties. Also, limiting storage of all RVs to 30 days just didn’t sit well with many residents. After plenty of testimony, council members tabled the matter until March 16, giving them time to regurgitate the proposal.
So much for high-tech security. Police in the U.K.’s North Wales are telling motorhome owners to beef up their security the old-fashioned way: With steering wheel locks and wheel clamps. The advice comes after a spate of motorhome thefts over the last several months. All of the rigs swiped were taken without the use of “genuine keys,” and Fiat Ducato motorhomes are a special target. Apparently the crooks are using electronic gadgetry to override electronic immobilizers and other factory-provided security installs.
Things got ugly at a Kalispell, Montana, City Council meeting February 24. Some members got hot under the collar as they checked back on a 2019 ordinance that made sleeping in a vehicle on a city street a civil infraction. Member Tim Kluesner, a vociferous supporter of the bill, proclaimed, “My feeling is the scumbag that was parked over by the gully in a fricking ugly-ass motor home could’ve raped and pillaged young women, including my daughter. That’s the kind of crap we don’t need in our neighborhoods.” The meeting was a work session, and no formal action could be taken at that time. With the ordinance in place, it might be well for readers who find themselves in need of spending the night in Kalispell to ensure that their rig isn’t “ugly-assed,” before snoozing on the side of the road.
Roswell, New Mexico, officials, seeing the need for a greater availability of short-term rentals and housing in their area, recently created a new zoning designation: RVP – for recreational vehicle park. Now a couple who’ve enjoyed RVing are taking advantage of the designation and have received zoning approval for an 11-acre RV park they’ll call Antelope Crossing. They hope to have the first phase of their projected 111-site park open this fall. Surprisingly, no locals opposed the zoning application, but Larry and Tracy Lopez will still need to put in their final plans and pull building permits.
Fearful of being homeless, a disabled couple took their inheritance and bought a travel trailer and pickup truck to live in. As they were traveling through New Mexico on February 29, their plans were turned upside down. Traveling down I-40 near Moriarty, New Mexico, their rig was rear-ended by a semi-truck. The trailer and all their possessions were wiped out, leaving their truck in the tow company’s impound yard, pending payment of $3,000 in “clean up” fees. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Dee Wilcox and her husband get back on their feet.
Do the numbers add up? That may be what city officials at Soap Lake, Washington, will need to look at as they consider a permit request for a high-end RV park. Developers say their 189-site RV park will charge “$85 per night, a little more than $2,500 per month,” for those staying on, and that these guests would additionally pump $288 into the economy each day of their visit on fuel, food and other purchases. The developer anticipates that at full capacity, the park would produce less than 10,000 gallons of sewage per day. Residents who testified at a hearing last week weren’t so enthusiastic.
RV park developers have flooded North Carolina’s Cleveland County with requests to build parks. Last year, the county said it received eight requests, where in prior years they’d only received two. Under the existing ordinances, park developers only had to obtain a conditional use permit, but as to how they were developed, the standards were wide open. Now county commissioners have come up with new requirements for developers to meet to ensure safety, accessibility and neighborhood “compatibility.” Some of the requirements? An RV park must be on a plot no smaller than three acres. The maximum number of RV sites per acre is now limited to six. Other requirements like setbacks, screening, and spacing between rigs were also molded into the finished ordinance.
Finding it hard to make overnight reservations for your RV? Maybe “glamping” is edging you out. Washington State Parks has made an arrangement with a local “PDA” or public development authority, to have a share in breathing life into the state’s historic Fort Worden State Park. Now the Fort Worden PDA has floated a $2 million bond to construct 19 “glamping structures” at the park. Envision a wooden floor with canvas walls and roof. Of them, 15 will come with plumbing (including sink, toilet and shower) and electric heating. Construction is already underway, with glamping season at the park expected to run April through October. How much will glampers pay to stay in the luxury tents? The Authority is still working on that one, but figures range from $169 to $199 per night. More money than they’d be able to ask from you to rent an RV site.
A “boil water” order has been issued for guests at the Spring Lake RV Resort in Halstead, Kansas. This comes after the operation lost water pressure during system maintenance. The order went into effect last Monday. Campers were advised to boil tap water for a minute before drinking or using in food, among other sanitizing suggestions.
City Council members in Huntsville, Texas, have given a proposal for “something far nicer than your everyday RV park” a bit of slack. Back in 2017 Mike Martz applied for and received zoning approval for an RV park that would include tiny houses, a food truck park, auditorium and more. But Martz missed the two-year deadline for submitting his development proposals. City councilors approved – with some hesitating – allowing more time for the plan to come in. One thing that upset at least one councilmember – Martz wants the city to waive codes that limit RVers to park stays of 90 days or less.
A court’s judgment in a 2017 traffic incident between a motorhome and a pedestrian apparently didn’t satisfy all parties concerned. Barely had Justice Darin Chow left the Regina, Saskatchewan, courtroom after delivering his ruling, but both the victim and defendant were having hot words in the courtroom. This spilled out onto the sidewalk and ended with the intervention of multiple law officers and the use of a police car to shuttle off the defendant for his own safety. In the original September 2017 incident, Christopher Alan Martyn (now 49), was charged with hit-and-run and dangerous driving. The victim, Jared Perrault, claims that while he was driving a car, Martyn cut him off with his motorhome. When he couldn’t get Martyn’s attention, he pulled the car in front of the motorhome and jumped out to confront him, whereupon the motorhome hit him, then drove away. Martyn testified that he knew nothing of cutting off Perrault, but recalls him running toward him with something in his hands. He claims Perrault jumped on the motorhome hood, and in fear, Martyn says he backed his motorhome up and took off, returning later. The judge said he tended to believe more of the RVer’s story; and despite Perrault’s broken leg, fractured skull, brain bleeds, and other injuries, found Martyn not guilty. “You better run, and you better hide,” was Perrault’s advice to the motorhome driver, after the court ruled on February 26.
Is it “pie in the sky”? Time will tell, but for now, an RV resort developer has been hit with a cease and desist order, and anyone who has been in contact with it are asked to come forward to authorities. Revelstoke, British Columbia, was to become home to a 120-site resort, but the developer has been found by authorities to be out of compliance with real estate marketing law. The government is suspicious that the Mountain View Resort developers may not have been putting customer funds into a lawful trust account, and there are “numerous issues” regarding the outfit’s disclosure statement. Developers Donna Marie Breen, Robert James Doornenbal, and Marty Fletcher must not continue marketing the resort, and must put all deposits received into the hands of a trustee, and must redraw its disclosure statements. Anyone have any first-hand experience with this operation? E-mail us at Russ@rvtravel.com – we’d like to hear from you.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
This is one of the cutest bales of hay we’ve ever seen. Photo source: unknown
County park officials in Morton County, North Dakota, say they’ll now allow long-term camping at Fort Rice Campground. Effective March 16, four pull-through sites will permit stays up to 30 days for a $325 fee. A few restrictions apply: No “blue-boys” will be allowed, rigs must be moved to an official dump station to relieve themselves. Only a half-cord of firewood will be permitted at the site, and no more than 60 pounds of LP gas will be allowed, outside of what the RV itself is equipped with.
Call it a bad day for one Rodney Lough. The 45-year-old Tennessee resident has been booked into the Bradley County Jail after police alleged he used his pickup truck to swipe a 25-foot travel trailer from a location near Cleveland, Tennessee. After the trailer was reported stolen, law enforcement types eyeballed images from security cameras in the area near the theft, and soon spotted the trailer scooting down the road. They were able to trace the route using multiple security cameras – clear into Meigs County, a distance of at least 20 miles. From there it was a short hop to a Decatur, Tennessee, residence where they found Lough’s truck and the missing trailer. On questioning, Lough seemingly couldn’t remember his name, as he gave a different one that proved to be a phony. This might be accounted for when police learned that Lough was wanted by at least three different jurisdictions on legal matters. He’s charged with “theft over $2,500” and as a fugitive from justice.
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.
2020 Toyota Tundra: Big beast, long name, trails pack
Vehicle names and colors were once simple. But intense competition prompts marketing ideas under the theme of “more is better.” It’s not. Welcome the 2020 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro CrewMax. The initials TRD stand for Toyota Racing Development, with the word Pro added as embellishment. Combined, it’s one vehicle simultaneously focused on racing and off-road duties. More.
NOTES: Chevy has cut prices thousands of dollars on its 2020 Silverado 1500 pickups • It’s scary to even think about. Driving on the freeway, and suddenly the front end of your vehicle starts violently shaking as you lose control of your steering. Some Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty truck drivers are calling the experience the “Death Wobble.” Although no fatalities have been reported due to the alleged defect, more than 1,200 current or former Ford drivers have filed complaints. Contact the National Highway Traffic Administration if you are experiencing this. • The 2020 Silverado HD features an improved towing capacity of 35,500 pounds, the nameplate also adds three new exterior color options to its palette: Northsky Blue Metallic, Shadow Gray Metallic, and Oxford Brown Metallic. • According to the website fordproblems.com, over the last 37 model years the Ford F-150 has been recalled a total of 136 times. The site found the 1997 Ford F-150 as having the most recalls with 26 reports. The 2020 Ford F-150 has four total recalls as of now which ranks that model year near the bottom.
Okay, what is it?
Do you recognize this truck? If you own one, we’ll guess it’s worth plenty o’ dough. Why? Because it flopped in the marketplace so there aren’t many around. If you don’t know what this is and want to find out, just click right here.
Have you ever stayed overnight in your RV in a Cabela’s parking lot?
We asked this question last Sunday but had technical problems and the poll did not work. So we’ll ask you again. 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.
The Angola/Hogback Lake KOA Holiday in Indiana will open for the season on March 31. The new Lazy River and pool complex was completed last fall and will be ready for campers during the 2020 summer camping season. It features a meandering stream that propels swimmers through several curves before arriving back at the main pool. The campground will also have six new “farmhouse” deluxe cabins.
Ron Hoover RV & Marine has donated two new 31-foot Flagstaff travel trailers to the Athens, Texas-based National RV Training Academy (NRVTA) for use in helping train RV inspectors and technicians. Read more.
The city of Quincy, Illinois, is working to ban people from living out of their RVs in portions of the city that are not zoned for that use. “We don’t have an issue with someone who is having family over or friends over and as a secondary dwelling on the property, they have temporary stay. That’s not the issue. It’s the permanent utilizing a camper or an RV on their property,” said city planner Chuck Bevelheimer. The ordinance will be read two more times before it’s voted on by the council.
Driverge Vehicle Innovations and Mercedes-Benz USA unveiled the Metris Weekender Camper Van at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show. Driverge will modify the Mercedes-Benz Metris minivan into a compact pop-up camper that comfortably sleeps four adults. This will be the first pop-up camper van Mercedes-Benz has ever sold through its dealer network in the United States. The design comes from Peace Vans, one of the most respected camper van restoration companies in the nation.
A popular RV park in Port Aransas, Texas, forced to close by Hurricane Harvey, will not open in time for Spring Break. County Commissioner Brent Chesney says the IB Magee Beach RV Park rebuild project is now expected to be completed later this summer, three years after the hurricane severely damaged it.
The assembly line workers at Katadyn North America Foods in Rocklin, Calif., are laboring to keep up with demand, churning out sealed pouches of freeze-dried sausage and pasta. In the coronavirus era, everything is a rush order. The company, which makes packaged foods with long shelf lives for campers, is scrambling to meet surging demand as Americans nervously stock up on provisions. The reason: Americans are worried that they won’t be able to shop, because of quarantines or their own reluctance to leave home.
Roads in Yellowstone National Park will be closed from the middle of March into April while workers clear snow. Officials announced the park will close in segments as crews start clearing the roads beginning March 15, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported. Park officials hope to reopen some roads to vehicles April 17, depending on weather conditions.
Even without one human case of coronavirus within Indiana’s borders, the Hoosier State could feel a deep impact from the disease as it starts to impede manufacturing, according to an Indiana University—Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC) professor. Inside Indiana Business reported that stocks plunged last week amid escalating fears of the coronavirus’ spread and the damage it could inflict on the global economy. In this country, there’s concern about how supply chain disruptions could impact factories if they can’t get enough materials from China.
The 2020 Cape Hatteras National Seashore camping season at the Cape Point, Frisco, and Ocracoke campgrounds will begin Friday, April 10 and end Monday, November 30. All campgrounds accommodate tents, trailers, and motorhomes up to 35 feet.
Georgia Power has rolled out a new campground reservation website on gplakes.com ahead of the spring and summer seasons. The site will make it easier for Georgians to find spots to celebrate at one of the company’s more than 40 recreational properties. Now on the Georgia Power Lakes website, visitors can easily reserve a camping spot, virtually tour campgrounds and facilities, reserve recreation areas and learn more about campground and lake activities.
The Alberta, Canada, government plans to close 20 campgrounds and potentially privatize another 164 campgrounds and day-use areas as it slashes $4 million from the Parks budget over the next three years. The sites would have their legal park designation removed and could be privatized or run by non-profits or municipalities.
Outer Banks West/Currituck Sound KOA will open for its inaugural season on May 15, 2020. Formerly Hampton Lodge Campground, the new park will include cabins, travel trailer rentals and about 200 RV sites. It’s located at 1631 Waterlily Road, Coinjock, North Carolina.
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.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of March 2, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.42 [Calif.: $3.35]
Change from week before: Down 4 cents; Change from year before: No change.
Diesel: $2.85 [Calif.: $3.73]
Change from week before: Down 3 cents; Change from year before: Down 23 cents.
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Upcoming RV shows
Battle Creek RV & Camping Show, Mar. 5-8, Battle Creek, MI
CNY RV & Camping Show, Mar. 5-8. Syracuse, NY
Colorado RV, Sports & Travel Show, Mar. 5-8, Denver, CO
Montreal RV Show, Mar. 5-8, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Central Illinois RV Show – Peoria, Mar. 6-8, Peoria, IL
Spring RV Show of Shows, Mar. 11-15, Portland, OR – CANCELED
Manitoba RV Show & Sale, Mar. 12-15, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Moncton RV Show, Mar. 12-15, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
Port Huron RV & Camping Show, Mar. 12-15, Port Huron, MI
Arizona Sportsmen, Boat & RV Expo, Mar. 13-15, Scottsdale, AZ
Eastern Iowa Sports Show, Mar. 13-15, Cedar Falls, IA
Flint RV & Camping Show, Mar. 20-22, Flint, MI
Kitchener RV Show & Sale, Mar. 20-22, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Rockford RV, Camping & Travel Show, Mar. 20-22, Loves Park, IL
York RV Show, Mar. 20-22, York, PA
Springfield RV & Camping Show, Mar. 20-22, Springfield, IL
Brain teaser answer:
(The question appeared in yesterday’s newsletter): An hourglass. It has thousands of grains of sand.
Free and bargain camping
Click here to view this week’s free and bargain camping spots.
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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