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Sunday, March 15, 2020
If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.
Coronavirus Updates for RVers
Our staff was hard at work over the weekend rounding up as much information as we could about the effect the coronavirus pandemic is having on RVers. In this issue, we report what we have learned so far. We’ll provide updates every day and provide a link in each issue of our RV Daily Tips Newsletter (sign up here to receive those emails).
There’s a lot of doom and gloom out there, but if we’re careful we should all get through this trying time without any serious harm.
And, to remind you that not everything about the current state of affairs is depressing, we present this photo from reader Brad Tuebner, who is taking seriously the advice from medical professional to “avoid crowds.” The nasty virus will have a very hard time finding him in his boondocking spot near Kingman, Arizona! In case you can’t see it, his RV is in the center bottom third of the photo.
Read the many ways the coronavirus is impacting RVers. Click here.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed:
• FMCA cancels Tucson rally.
• Pilot Flying J issues official statement on diesel discount debacle.
• Coronavirus worries RVer with upcoming travel plans. (many comments)
• Camping World stock plummeted this week. What if the company goes bankrupt?
• RV Travel reader upset by RV dealer treatment. Your thoughts, please?
• RV Shrink: Using your (RV) head – Saving on tank dump costs.
• Is presenting RV electricity seminars online a good idea?
… and much more
That was the RV week that was
March 8–14, 2020
Imagine watching your trailer rolling down the road – behind somebody else’s truck – somebody you don’t know? That’s what happened to a Bryan, Texas, man earlier this week. He caught up with the rig in a Dollar General parking lot and called police. They investigated and were told by the man with the pickup that he’d bought the unit weeks before. How about a title and paperwork? Nothin’, huh? Jason Chambers (33) of Wimberley, Texas, got a free ride to the local jail and needs a $5,000 bond to get out.
An RVer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, unintentionally exposed a drunk driver, which ended up with the latter’s arrest, and a citation of his own. On Saturday, March 9, a Class A motorhome blasted through a red light, mashing a Jeep Cherokee. The Jeep wrapped around a phone pole, leaving its driver uninjured, but the driver was discovered to have been drinking. She was arrested and charged for DWI. Police, on checking with the motorhome driver, say he reported that as he approached the stop light his brakes “went soft” and he couldn’t stop. He told police he’d been having brake problems before. After he was released from the hospital following treatment for a broken leg and facial cuts, he had to deal with a vehicle safety violation.
Looking to see Idaho close-up in your RV? You won’t be alone. While many other states are reporting a drop in outdoor recreation, Idaho says it can’t keep up with the demand. A few facts: Since 2008, the number of employees in the state’s parks has remained static, while the number of visitations have jumped 60 percent. The number of visitors and campers has increased to such a degree that the state is rolling back its promotional efforts. The state has received complaints from Idaho residents that they’ve tried for as much as 15 years to get a reservation at popular campgrounds during high season – to no avail. The situation is similar on federal lands in the Spud State – the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management say the number of visitors is on the rise.
A change in U.K. taxation is blamed for the closure of a recreational vehicle manufacturing plant in Rotherham. Swift, the country’s biggest RV builder, says it closed its facility after a drop in sales when the government declared that motorhomes should be charged the same tax rates as automobiles, rather than as they had been – as vans. The result was an astronomical 700 percent increase in tax, tacking on an average of $2,600 (U.S.) to the price of a new motorhome.
Most of us work hard to keep up with our pets’ rabies vaccinations. A hiker on the Arizona Trail in Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains took it a step farther. After being bitten by a presumably rabid skunk, he kept right on with his hiking trip because he’d had has own rabies vaccine. The unidentified hiker was sleeping on the trail when he must have been genuinely startled (and stunk up, presumably) when awakened by a skunk biting his face. The hiker killed the skunk, treated the wound, and kept going. Somewhere along the line, a campground host in the area got wind of the incident, and out of concern, called game wardens. A game warden responded, walking the trail and leaving note-cards in plain sight, warning the hiker that he should still be seen by a doctor. Within hours the hiker saw one of the notes and made contact. The decedent Le Pew is being tested to positively identify rabies.
Joining the list of other governments tightening the screws on RV street parking comes Clark County, Washington. The Oregon-Washington border county will allow automobiles to park on city streets for up to 24 hours – but RVs? Only with a permit. The county says a $10 permit will allow an RV to be parked for a week, and can be renewed once. Those with permits won’t be allowed to have extended awnings, nor furniture; generators, electrical cords, and other hookups are strictly forbidden. And if a new permit is pulled, the rig may not be parked “on the same curb of the same block.” Violate the new ordinance and expect a visit from the county sheriff, with a $50 fine. A second violation ups the ante to $100; each subsequent violation will cost $250, and rigs may be towed and impounded.
What do you do if you own a piece of rural land that’s been in your family for generations, but can’t afford to let it sit fallow? That’s Cindy DeBeck’s problem. Her 70 acres of land sits behind a Walmart in Bangor, Maine. DeBeck approached the local authorities with a plan: Change the zoning of the land so she can develop a seasonal RV park. Either that, or she’ll have to develop housing, or – even worse in her mind – sell out completely. Earlier, officials flat refused, but did appoint a volunteer citizen council to explore the idea. When the council came back suggesting the zoning be changed, the council voted last Monday to approve the change, 7 to 1. DeBeck will still need to meet other requirements but, so far, her land is much closer to being “kept it in the family.”
Will they be RVs, park models, or manufactured homes? Developers say they aren’t sure, and local government doesn’t apparently care, as preliminary approval has been given to allow 289 of whatever they are to go in near Flagstaff, Arizona. Roberts Resorts will develop 289 spaces on 30 acres in the midst of the Coconino National Forest called Village Camp Flagstaff. “If, potentially, 15, 20 years from now, everybody wanted a small cabin as their second home or as their primary home, we want to embrace that,” the developer, Scott Roberts, told the Coconino Board of Supervisors. “But if all of the sudden, the RV traffic keeps coming … we’ll embrace that as well. We really don’t know what the market is going to do.” Supervisors gave Scott conditions to meet, including paving the Forest Service road that will serve the development, and extend utility service at his expense. Construction is set to start in 2021. Source: azdailysun.com.
Think your RV park stays are taxing you to death? Pity the poor visitors to parks in Estacada, Oregon. The state already dings campground guests 1.8 percent. The county tacks on another 6 percent. Now Estacada wants in on the act, and effective July 1, the city will hit up guests an additional 6 percent lodging tax. Lemme see – if my calculator is correct, that means a park that charges $35 a night for a site will have to add on $4.83 more – just for the privilege of being a guest. But Estacada officials say the tax is for a good cause. At least 70% of their share of the tourist tax will go to – what else? – tourism promotion!
ATTENTION FACEBOOK MEMBERS
Help these new state RV travel groups grow. Join a group and start sharing info: Nevada RV Camping • Idaho RV Camping • New Mexico RV Camping • Kansas RV Camping • Colorado RV Camping • West Virginia RV Camping
This weekend is on the Bainbridge, Georgia, calendar as a big tourism marker – it’s River Town Days, a family-oriented festival in the local sports park. But earlier this week, the Flint River wasn’t playing nice, when guests at the Flint River RV Park, less than a mile from the festival site, were pushed out of the RV park by rising water. The Flint hit the 30-foot mark early in the week, the highest it’s been in a decade. RVers helped one another get their rigs out of harm’s way, but the park manager – expecting a “full house” for the local festival – says he’s worried the river might not cooperate.
Some are describing Washington state as the “epicenter” of the U.S. Coronavirus outbreak. Now RVs are being brought in to help with the crisis. Washington’s governor has ordered a former juvenile detention facility, Maple Lane, near Centralia, Washington, be outfitted with RVs that can be used for housing quarantine patients who might have no other place to stay. Those staying on would have access to medical care, food, and internet WiFi connections. Some local residents near the facility aren’t particularly pleased with the plan, but enough RVs to house 20 patients have already been set up.
An Iowa county sheriff says it looks like burglars are taking advantage of snowbirds away for the winter. Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson says burglaries have taken place in multiple jurisdictions, not just in his territory, but that agencies are pooling resources to try and get the bad guys. He reminds locals to keep an eye on their neighbor’s homes, and if they see anything suspicious they should report it quickly. He also suggests that if someone plans to be away from their home, they should contact their local law enforcement agency and ask about vacation watch programs, which increase vigilance by law enforcement for homes known to be unoccupied.
A piece of knee-jerk legislation in Sarnia, Ontario, is finally getting another look. Back in 2015 residents bitterly complained to city officials about “unsightly, view-blocking, safety hazard” recreational vehicles. The city quickly responded with a blanket ban on parking RVs in front yards. Now city officials, while acknowledging the matter is “an ongoing source of friction,” appear to be ready to revisit the issue and perhaps cut RVers a little slack. A new idea is to allow RVs to park in front yards and driveways from May 1 to October 31, and then relegating them to rear or side yards in winter. The public is being afforded “an open house,” evidently to comment on the matter March 26. A decision will be made in May.
Ready to put up 24 hours work in a week in exchange for an RV site as a camp host? The Globe Ranger District in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest needs you. Two locations need volunteers, both Timber Camp and Pioneer Pass. Hosts also are provided water, pump, generator, a solar panel, and propane – these are off-the-beaten-track assignments. A 90-day minimum commitment for hosts is required, as well as a background check, and you’ll need a permanent mailing address on your application. Contact Sheryl Cormack at the Forest Service for more information. Phone 928-402-6200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grampa John used to refer to obnoxious, worthless-seeming folks as “Jaspers.” Well, it seems Jasper, Texas, has at least one Jasper of its own. Last week, on Thursday, the desk clerk at a Super 8 motel rang police, reporting that a guy driving a Ford F-250 and towing a big 5th wheel had wiped out the motel’s front awning by hitting it with the fiver. The fiver-driver left the scene – but not fast enough evidently, as the clerk caught the guy’s plate number. Next day, a call came into police from a storage facility in Jasper. Somebody with a fifth-wheel behind a Ford F-250 had mauled an entry-way pillar post – one that was home to the firm’s security gate keypad. Sure enough, same plate number. As of news time, police hadn’t caught up with the inept RVer.
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.
Ford $20,000 pickup getting close
Ford appears close to introducing a small utility pickup truck as a 2022 model and with a starting price of less than $20,000. According to various truck industry publications, the still-unnamed vehicle will debut in late 2021. Learn more.
GM is latest to announce an electric truck
Electric trucks of all shapes and sizes and made by several long-established manufacturers as well as new companies will debut in the next few years. It will expand the options for RV owners considering new towing rigs. General Motors is the latest to announce a pending electric truck. Learn more.
Do you take the coronavirus threat seriously or believe its dangers are way overblown? Respond here.
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.
Washington State Parks invites visitors to help celebrate the agency’s 107th birthday on Thursday, March 19, by enjoying a state park for free that day. Visitors are not required to display the Discover Pass for day-use visits to a park. The next free days are Saturday, April 11, and Wednesday, April 22.
Campgrounds at the Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area in Ohio will remain closed through May 21 to repair a water line break. The campgrounds, which usually reopen to the public in mid-April, are expected to reopen May 22, in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
Landslides that caused road closures last year have raised concerns about whether there will be full access to Denali National Park and Preserve during the upcoming tourism season. The National Park Service has said it plans to open the entire Denali Park Road by early June. The 92-mile road provides the only driving access into the park’s 7,344 square miles.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore may soon require an entrance fee for visitors to the tourist destination that stretches along Lake Superior’s shoreline in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The park has always been free of charge. The fee could fund some park updates, including beach access, a wheelchair accessible trail and other projects.
Read the latest news about the virus as it applies to RVers.
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
• Daimler Trucks recalls some Freightliner chassis used on RVs.
• Keystone recalls some 2020 Bullet trailers for missing egress window.
• GM recalls some Silverado and Sierra pickups.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of March 9, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.38 [Calif.: $3.33]
Change from week before: Down 5 cents; Change from year before: Down 10 cents.
Diesel: $2.81 [Calif.: $3.71]
Change from week before: Down 4 cents; Change from year before: Down 27 cents.
Upcoming RV shows
Before heading out to a show check if it has been canceled.
Flint RV & Camping Show , Mar. 20-22, Flint, MI – CANCELED
Kitchener RV Show & Sale , Mar. 20-22, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada – CANCELED
Rockford RV, Camping & Travel Show , Mar. 20-22, Loves Park, IL – CANCELED
York RV Show , Mar. 20-22, York, PA – POSTPONED
Springfield RV & Camping Show , Mar. 20-22, Springfield, IL – CANCELED
Quebec City RV Show, Mar. 26-29, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada – As of Mar. 17, STILL ON
Northwest Michigan RV & Camping Show , Mar. 27-29, Traverse City, MI – CANCELED
RV SuperSaver Show , Mar. 27-29, Fort Meyers, FL – CANCELED
See the complete list of upcoming RV shows.
Brain teaser answer:
(The question appeared in yesterday’s newsletter): A button!
Free and bargain camping
Click here to view this week’s free and bargain camping spots.
• 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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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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This newsletter is copyright 2020 by RVtravel.com
First off I want to thank you for the efforts you put in to publish the RVTravel news letter. I look forward to it every weekend.
With all the negative news we hear about RV dealers I thought I would relate my own great experience with a local RV Dealer. I purchased a new 2019 Northern Lite10-2 EX truck camper from Darren Bideaux RV in Ogden, Utah. The sales staff was great to deal with and treated me very fairly. I love the camper and really appreciate the quality that Northern Lite puts into their product. During an outing over Labor Day, a plastic clip that holds the screen down on the dinette window broke. Due to a health problem that laid me up all winter I was delayed in getting it into the dealer until this past February. The dealer inspected and agreed to repair the window. After contacting the manufacturer, the Bideaux service department informed me that they had changed the color of the blinds in the windows and a matching window was not available for my camper. Not taking no for an answer, the young lady in the service department got on the phone and after a few days of getting the run around finally got a commitment from the window manufacturer to supply a new shade/screen assembly of the correct color at no charge. The Darren Bideaux service department replaced the broken shade/screen assembly and had it ready for me to pick up in short order.
There are still businesses out there who are willing to go out of their way to see to the satisfaction of their customers, and Darren Bideaux RV in Ogden is one that I can highly recommend.
Plain City, Utah
That’s great news, Dennis! Thank you for letting us know about Bideaux RV! YAY Bideaux RV!!! We’re always happy to pass along good news to our readers. Very refreshing, especially these days! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com
Thanks for another great issue Chuck. First thing I read on Saturday and Sunday, well actually every day.
May I suggest one little improvement?
I read all the comments and really appreciate them. I would like to see how many folks voted a comment “up” AND how many folks voted it “down.” You May have a reason for not doing this but it seems it would be a more accurate reading of the pulse of your RV Family.
Sad news about Swift RV builder in the U.K. Taxed out of business and put many out of work! Talk about adding insult to injury! Shameful.
It’s just what government does best but people who want free stuff are really the blame.
My gas water heater quit working. I have replaced the circuit board and igniter. Still no click of gas valve opening. Any suggestions?
How old is this unit?
Michael, this is not the venue for troubleshooting your problem as most viewers only pass through these notes one time. You need to go to a large rv forum such as rv.net or irv2.com and post your question there. I serious doubt if you will even read this reply.
Good morning Michael,
My first recommendation would be to take your inoperative water heater to a reliable RV repair shop or mobile RV service tech for diagnosis and/or repair.
You did not specify the make or model of your water heater. There is a sequence of operation that you need to understand to properly diagnose about any inoperative appliance in your RV to save time, money and be safe.
I understand your desire to perform your own repairs. You might consider looking into the advertisements in RV Travel to learn how to do your own repairs by attending their classroom programs (in Texas) or purchasing video presentations they offer.
Lastly, be a little wary of the info you are provided by sources you do not know. I called them ‘campfire repair’ sources. I repaired quite a few ‘campfire suggestions’ when I was repairing RVs seasonally for several years.
Good Luck with your challenge.
Clarification: RV Travel does not have “classroom programs” in Texas (or anywhere else) for DIYers, and we do not sell video presentations. —Diane at RVtravel.com
Sorry for any confusion Diane
I was referring to the ads in your publication from the new RV training academy in Texas as an example.
Thanks, Bee. No problem. That’s what I figured, but just wanted folks to know that we’re not putting them on, just writing about them. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
Keep up the great work!
Join the discussion…
Still needs 12vt to operate! Blown fuse????
I agree with Phil Atterbery, the truck section is a good idea. I would suggest articles on how someone can determine the correct specs for their truck. People rely too much on what the dealer tells them or what their neighbor says.
Is there a ‘fee’ or is it ‘free’ for entrance to pictured rocks national park ?
Thanks, Joseph! It’s been corrected. 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com
Vancouver, WA requiring a permit to park RV in front of house is really only another way to tax you. Just move out of the state, we did, cut our expenses by 3/4ths of what we were paying.
The hype this past while and Pilot’s response about TSD reselling fuel is pure bunk! The letter from Pilot was only written to satisfy C.W. I am sure that Pilot is only trying to respond to a potential lawsuit. I will patronize Loves as much as I can beyond my TSD discount which i appreciate very much.
I applaud the truck column idea. It could be another way to help educate the novice about how much vehicle you need to tow an RV safely.