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Sunday, March 22, 2020
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Has a nail been driven into the Good Sam Club’s coffin?
The Good Sam Club, the largest organization of RVers, is over as an active social club for RVers. All social gatherings have been banned due to coronavirus concerns, which is understandable. But what surprised the club’s state and provincial chapter leaders was the line in a letter they received yesterday. “To keep you and your family safe, as well as continuing to follow the CDC guidelines, the difficult decision has been made to pause the Good Sam State/Provincial Director program, effective immediately.” Bottom line, this means the social element of the club is finished — the club’s two million members are now essentially members of a Camping World loyalty and discount program. Even the little Good Sam man is missing from recent logos. Read more.
Coronavirus Updates for RVers
Here’s the latest news and information about the coronavirus and how it’s affecting the RV community. We now report six days a week on the pandemic — in this Sunday newsletter and every weekday in our RV Daily Tips. (Sign up to receive them here.)
••• READ TODAY’S CORONAVIRUS NEWS •••
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed:
• Editor Chuck Woodbury expounds on the current pandemic and the”new normal.”
• RV Travel’s guide to DIY projects and RV mods to do while you’re stuck inside.
• RV values decline in January.
• Live RV Electricity Webinars coming soon from Funkstown, Maryland.
• Reader letter: RV park staff doesn’t understand the term “LP gas.”
• Funny camping photos and memes of the week.
• Planning ahead: Travel guides for wacky, odd and fascinating RV Short Stops.
• RV Tire Safety: More information and warnings on tire inflation.
… and much more
That was the RV week that was
March 15–21, 2020
Spring has sprung in Yellowstone National Park. On March 7, biologists doing an aerial survey spotted the first known grizzly out of hibernation near Grand Prismatic Spring. Last year’s first sighting came on March 6, so it wasn’t a big surprise. Grizzlies commonly pop out of their winter snoozes in March, led by males, while females and cubs usually wait until April to make an appearance. The entire park is considered bear country, so rangers advise guests to be on the lookout and take precautions so as to not invite unwanted bruin company to the picnic.
An RVer, attempting to charge up his motorhome’s dead battery, got a lot more than he bargained for: A visit from the fire department and no more motorhome. Adam Sullivan said he’d hooked up his battery charger and was inside the Class C rig when something “sparked and lit up.” Westfield, Massachusetts, fire fighters were able to prevent his stick-frame home from catching fire, but there was nothing left of the RV after the March 11 fire.
Grab a bite at your favorite truck stop while traveling? If the “bite” means carry-out food, things are looking good. If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, the closest sit-down will likely be your own RV – at least in the nation’s three largest truck stop chains. Pilot Flying J reports plenty of prepackaged hot food, but dining rooms are shut down. Clean up? Sure, showers are still available. TA and Petro stops will have fuel and showers; state mandates will govern whether or not you’ll get a dining room seat, but all fitness centers and driver lounges are shut down. Love’s says you can get drive-through and carry-out foods, but no dine-in foods are available.
A $12.5 million settlement by Camping World settles a lawsuit with company stock shareholders. The company, current and former executives on the one side, settled with a class of plaintiffs that included four state pension fund operations. The suit alleged that Camping World lied to artificially inflate stock prices. The company went public in October 2016, and later had two other stock offerings in 2017. The initial share price was $22, which reached a high of $40, and today is less than $10. Camping World denies all allegations made against it in the suit, which included that it and its officers “made false and misleading statements regarding the [c]ompany’s financial performance, the effectiveness of internal controls to ensure accurate financial reporting and the success and profitability of the integration and rollout of Gander Mountain stores that the [c]ompany had recently acquired out of bankruptcy.”
An RV park manager in Toutle, Washington, has kudos for one of his guests, but isn’t too happy with the legal system. Greg Drew, who owns Drew’s RV Park, says he heard shouting, then a gun shot around midnight on March 12. Turns out, somebody had broken into a trailer parked at the park and in the process woke up the owner, who was sleeping inside. The RVer grabbed a gun and blasted a shot off into the ground, likely loosening the burglar’s bowels. Drew apparently thinks he knows who the bad guy is and, describing the man as a “meth head” and “a jailbird,” he says he’s filed trespassing charges against him multiple times.A tornado in West Texas has stirred up a lot of trouble in Orla, Texas. The twister turned over rigs at the Orla RV Park Friday the 13th. Early reports indicated no deaths, but some injuries. One guest called it “Fifteen seconds of pure drama,” as he and the family were caught in their rig as it was turned over by the blast.
A new city-constructed RV park may be the answer to increasing revenue for Winnsboro, Louisiana. The city says it’s planning on investing $400,000 – half of that from a grant – and some city-employee time to build a 20-site RV park in an industrial park. By their fiscal prognostication, city officials figure the park could pump out more than $5,000 a month when fully-booked; and after deducting costs, the monthly net haul could amount to more than $3,500. Who would guests be? Situated on State Highway 15, right next door to an equestrian center, the city hopes horse lovers would see it as attractive. As well, the mayor figures pipeline workers who “always bring their RVs” will also want space in the future park.
A fire did damage to a motorhome in a Yuma, Arizona, RV park last Thursday. Firefighters were sent to the Palms RV Resort where the fire broke out. After knocking down the fire, investigators surmised that the fire broke out “in the area of the refrigerator.”
A man who wants to build an RV park near Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, is smarting from comments made by a borough council member. Jake Arner’s proposal to build a 270-site RV, tent, and cabin encampment as an “accessory” to his winery was blown out of the water when the council said his winery was so small, it was more of an accessory to the proposed RV park. Arner has been trying to develop his property since early 2005, but the economy derailed his initial plans for housing. Apparently his plans are too much in a state of flux for some councilors. One told him, “I think your issue is you need to pick a plan and go with it. I don’t know what you want to do. I’ll support just about anything, but I can’t keep all your plans straight and I doubt council can either.” Arner says the matter just may land in court.
It’s not all peaceful at the Peace Arch RV Park. At least one resident at the Surrey, British Columbia, park claims snowbirds returning from the U.S. are not all following self-isolation protocols mandated by the B.C. government. Asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, the tenant said some returnees aren’t staying in their rigs, but carrying on party-like with other residents. This same person claims a fight broke out in the park laundromat over concerns about coronavirus. Media asked for comments from park management and it boils down to a “he said, she said” situation. Managers said signs posted around the campground emphasized COVID-19 safety protocols, but admitted they did not specify that returnees to Canada had to self-quarantine.
Police called by a Cherokee County, Oklahoma, RV owner got more than they bargained for – but their “guest” got it in spades. An RVer called 9-1-1 on March 12, reporting a man either drunk or high had broken into his travel trailer. A sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene, in time to spot a man crawling up out of a ditch. Jessie Cole Markcum motioned to the deputy in a “bring it on” fashion, advancing on the deputy despite the officer’s commands for him to stop. The officer pulled out his Taser, and noted in his report, “This Taser deployment caused Mr. Markcum temporary neurological incapacitation resulting in his body stiffening and falling to the ground.” At the booking office, officers deemed it necessary to Taze Markcum again, and he responding by spitting in one of their faces. While the RVer didn’t want to press charges, figuring Markcum was drunk and not really intending to cause harm to the rig, he’s still on the hook for public intoxication, resisting arrest and “placing bodily fluids onto an officer.”
After angering RVers and allegedly being accountable for the closure of a motorhome factory, the U.K. government has backed away from a controversial tax on new motorhomes that shot prices up on the new rigs exponentially. The Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) jumped taxes on new motorhomes by 705 percent. It was ironic, as the government had been pitching for lower greenhouse gas emissions, and the newest motorhomes produce less of them. The VED has been in place for six months, and buyers who have yet to take delivery of their new rigs will see the tax rate rolled back. However, those who took delivery of rigs since the VED was put in place won’t see a refund. It’s a financial pain worth $2,200 U.S.
We’ve heard of some odd crashes involving RVs before, but this one is for the record book. Whoever owned this Outback travel trailer must have had quite a shock when they saw the result of a Porsche driver who went “left of center” near Springfield, Ohio, last Monday. It wasn’t a political choice; rather, the Porsche pilot went left of the center line and kept on going left off the roadway. Along the way, he took out sections of a fence, a few mailboxes, a couple of cars, and finally burying his hot car in the parked travel trailer. Fortunately, it appears nobody was home at the time and the driver escaped unscathed.
Wondering how coronavirus may affect your RV trip? Imagine the family in China, who while on the road in their motorhome, suddenly were quarantined in place. Zhang Qi’s family spent two wonderful days on the coast of the Fujian province and were ready to head home. The local authorities suddenly shut down all tourist support facilities, and the Qi family was stuck in their rig, almost out of fuel, in cold weather. They spent nights shivering under seat cushions, waiting for their two-week enforced quarantine. Finally, they called social services and they responded with blankets, water and arrangements for electricity. And they also brought food to help the family that was by then down to a few instant noodles. After the quarantine period was over, the family still couldn’t receive permission to travel, so Zhang volunteered at a health center, while the rest of the family made friends with neighbors. After a rather protracted vacation that was supposed to last a few days, the Qi family, after 40 days, got to go back home – to Wuhan.
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 dominates list of best used trucks for $10,000
You’ve got an RV to tow, but only have $10,000 to spend on a suitable truck. Is that feasible? Chris Flynn, a writer for HotCars.com, has compiled an interesting list featuring used trucks from 1999 to 2018 – all in the affordable $10,000 price range. See them here.
Honda Ridgeline leads trucks capable of reaching 200,000 miles
Competition is intense in the car and truck industries, with the price of new vehicles providing a pause for buyers. What is the best choice: new or used? For as many buyers as there are, there are also likely as many reasons for consumers to buy new or used trucks to tow their RVs. Longevity is one strong criterion. For truck buyers seeking a used pickup to tow their RV there’s good news. Read it here.
How is the federal government handling the coronavirus pandemic? Respond here.
The average price of a gallon of gas has fallen below $2 in nearly a quarter of the country’s states, according to AAA. The national average currently stands at $2.19 for a gallon of regular gas — the lowest it’s been since early December 2016. That’s down 13 cents from a week ago and 36 cents lower than a year ago. Oklahoma is the cheapest, with a cost per gallon of regular going for $1.84. Hawaii and California are the two most expensive states for a gallon of regular, at $3.52 and $3.28 respectively.
RV sales in Rhode Island are booming. Residents are buying them in case a family member needs to be isolated, or as a safe way to travel. On a normal busy week, Arlington RV would deliver between 12 to15 RVs, but this week they have delivered 24 so far and the calls keep keep coming in.
Campers at Lakeside RV Park along Lake Taneycomo in Branson, Missouri, were evacuated on Thursday due to the rising water level. About 50 of the approximately 130 campsites were occupied when city officials began evacuating the park at about 4 p.m. The rainfall, water run-off, and high water releases from Table Rock Dam contributed to the flooding. The park has a history of flooding.
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 March 16, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.25 [Calif.: $3.22]
Change from week before: Down 13 cents; Change from year before: Down 30 cents.
Diesel: $2.73 [Calif.: $3.63]
Change from week before: Down 8 cents; Change from year before: Down 34 cents.
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Upcoming RV shows
All immediately upcoming shows have been canceled (or will be if not already canceled).
Brain teaser answer:
(The question appeared in yesterday’s newsletter): Fog (or darkness).
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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