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Sunday, April 19, 2020
If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.
Our friend and columnist Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, has died
We posted this very sad news in yesterday’s newsletter. But we wanted to be sure that all of our readers knew that our dear friend and RVtravel.com columnist Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, passed away Friday after several weeks battling COVID-19.
Gary has been a fixture in the RV Industry for 40 years as a writer, speaker and educator, and in 2016 was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame. In his long career, to our knowledge, this kind man never spoke an unkind word about anybody. He was beloved by the tens of thousands who read his articles and/or saw him speak through all those years. Editor Chuck Woodbury wrote more about Gary’s passing on Friday evening after he had learned the news. By early evening Saturday, more than 200 readers had responded, most with messages about how Gary had touched their lives. Read what Chuck wrote here.
Coronavirus Updates for RVers
Here’s the latest news and information about the coronavirus and how it’s affecting the RV community. We feature this in every Sunday’s edition of the RVtravel.com Newsletter.
••• READ TODAY’S CORONAVIRUS NEWS •••
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, some stories you missed:
• FMCA struggles to retain members and cope with lost income.
• Update on Virginia RV park devastated by governor’s shut down order.
• Your words and views from quarantine: Reader photos of what’s outside their window.
• Full-time RVers in a bind and how you can help.
• And our readers poll: Are you doing your major grocery shopping online to be delivered to you?
… and much more
That was the RV week that was
April 12–18, 2020
All praise for the philanthropic pooper pumpers! Essential workers and first responders living in the Cooper City, Florida, area have a friend when in need. Kenia Fulton, who owns Marine Waste Management, says anyone meeting that description who needs an RV pumped out need only call, and a pumper will be dispatched to their rig for a free tank evacuation. Not only is the service benefiting the temporary RV dwellers, it’s helping Kenia keep her workers working.
One of the key principles of Burning Man, an annual festival held on Nevada’s desert at Black Rock City, is “Radical Inclusion.” The premise is that everyone is welcome at Burning Man. This year, it looks like Radical Social Distancing will trump Radical Inclusion. The coronavirus pandemic has caused organizers to move the festival from Black Rock City to the virtual world of the internet. BurningMan.org says, “In 2020 we need human connection and Immediacy more than ever. But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff, and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities.” Those who’ve already bought tickets can get refunds. Organizers are cheering on participants to develop creative ways to celebrate the ideals safely – and electronically.
Spring has sprung and everyone wants to get outside. Social distancing applies not just to humans, but to humans encountering wildlife. This reptile would prefer more than six feet of distance. This photo was taken earlier this week by a Bureau of Land Management ranger at California’s Fort Ord National Monument.
Lakeway, Texas, joins a growing group of municipalities which are easing restrictions on RV parking to accommodate families coping with the coronavirus crisis. Code enforcement officers noticed more and more RVs parked outside of homes in Lakeway and, on investigating, found many of them were parked by medical personnel attempting to isolate themselves from their families while still being near them. City officials say they’ll allow RV parking outside of homes and on driveways for the time being.
The new front-engine MC diesel chassis from Freightliner Customer Chassis Corp., which made its debut March 30 on the previously gas-powered Canyon Star motorhome by Newmar Corp., was designed to compete head-to-head with gas-powered Class A motorhomes. Freightliner officials told RVBusiness the MC is more powerful, quieter, less costly, and handles better than the “gasoline look-alikes.” The MC is also more fuel efficient, more durable and has a greater tow capacity, they added.
UPDATE Sat. a.m.: According to the Lompoc Police Department, the boys were found on April 18. No further information is available at this time. Police in California are asking for help in locating two missing children, which they allege are being hidden by their father, last seen traveling in a fifth wheel. Adam Bratcher (38) may have his sons, Casey Bratcher (1), who is 2’ 6” and 28 pounds, blue-eyed, with red/auburn hair, and Ajay Bratcher (3), who is 3’ tall, scales in at 35 pounds, is brown-eyed with blonde hair. Both boys were last seen in the New Cuyama, California, area when Adam was spotted driving a blue Ford F350 4-door pickup with license 7F80792, towing a 30’ fifth wheel. Authorities ask you dial 9-1-1 and reference the Lompoc, California, police.
Airstream has rolled out its new Atlas camper, built on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 chassis. In total, the 2020 Atlas has similar amenities as other luxury camper RV conversions — such as a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area — but with the Airstream and Mercedes touch of luxury. The camper RV is 24-feet long and sleeps two. However, it can seat up to four people: two at the driver and passenger seats, and two on the couch, which comes with seatbelts. But there is one difference in this RV from similar models from other companies: It comes with a price tag of $238,000!
A string of Easter Sunday bad weather events touched Texas when a twister whipped through an RV park in the tiny town of Round Mountain, Texas. Hofbrau RV Park was hit at 5 a.m. and the twister’s wake touched 35 RVs, leaving five of them seriously damaged or destroyed. Happily no deaths, but two people were injured.
What do pot and a defunct RV manufacturing plant in Maryland have in common? In the words of the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” Ages ago, Fleetwood RV built a manufacturing plant in Hancock, Maryland. Hard times hit, and Fleetwood went bust. The town acquired the building, applied for, and received a $600,000 federal block grant to revamp the building to better suit its purposes. A composite manufacturing firm established a plant there but it, too, eventually shut down operations. By the mid-2010s, the town was approached by a medical marijuana growing operation that wanted to rent the old Fleetwood plant for its own plants. It didn’t take long for town officials to get a letter, saying if they rented to the grass grower they’d need to repay the $600,000 grant. Grass is green and legal in Maryland, but federal law still frowns on it, hence the demand for payment. Town officials cut the grass growers a deal, and now, some five years later, have cut their own deal: Repayment of $200,000 per year for the next three years, which they figure will come out of rental payments they’re getting from the pot operation. A lot of money, up in smoke.
First responders in Norwich Township, Michigan, got a roll-out call Thursday for a family possibly hit by carbon monoxide poisoning. It turned out it was the deadly colorless gas – and a very big family. Two adults and eight children, ages 4 to 13, were all piled in an RV. All eight children were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. A woman was flown out by helicopter due to the seriousness of her exposure. It’s not clear why the family was in the township; they had arrived on Wednesday.
Staying in an RV on private property in Crescent City, California, is cheap and easy—as long you don’t stay more than three months. The city requires short-term guests be provided with a properly sized power cord, proper sewage disposal, clean water, and an “over the counter” permit from the city. Want to stay more than three months? Things get a bit more expensive. The city requires permanently installed utilities, a plan review, hard surface parking, building and use permits. Sewer and water connections alone would require paying the city $3,300. Tack on all the other requisite fees and permits and the total costs could run upwards to $10,000. That’s a bit much, in the opinion of city councilors, who’ve asked city staff to take another look into ways those costs might be reduced.
The majority of RV dealerships responding to an RV Dealers Association (RVDA) survey reported they are open for business in one way, shape or form, some of them only providing essential services under state and local stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time, 61% of the 145 respondents surveyed April 10-13 said their retail sales and fixed operations (service and parts and accessories) businesses are down at least 50% compared to the period immediately preceding the pandemic crisis.
If the world gives you lemons, make lemonade. Following that principle, Ranger Ready Repellents, a firm that manufactures bug repellents, is now manufacturing a repellent for a different kind of bug: Coronavirus. The East Coast firm has manufactured mosquito and tick repellents, but seeing the need in the community, the outfit changed formulas and geared up for a spray-on hand sanitizer. It took just three weeks for the “idea” to go to production and already 10,000 units of the 80% alcohol spray mist hand sanitizer has been available to Connecticut for use by emergency medical services, hospitals, and first responders. As the “bug juice” production ramps up, it will become available to consumers and businesses at www.rangerready.com.
Take two guys, a travel trailer, and no running lights. Add a car with two cops, and what do you get? Looks like jail time, after you factor in the police taking a peek in your rig. On April 10, North Bay, Ontario, police officers spotted a travel trailer in tow, after dark, on Highway 11 in North Bay. Since the RV had no running lights, they pulled the combo over and had a conversation with the tow rig’s occupants, Wesley Berman (23) and Caelan Chamberlain-Holden (20). One thing led to another, which ended in a search of the rig, turning up firearms, butterfly knives, a Taser, and a bit of marijuana. Both have charges to answer to in the near future.
A few years back, a lot of RVers were puzzled on seeing some rather strange looking appendages on the tail-end of semi-trailers. These add-ons looked like something that slipped out the back door of a geometry class and attached themselves to passing long-haul trucks. We were among those who asked, “What on earth are those things?” Those things, it turned out, were aftermarket aerodynamic enhancers that cut drag and increased fuel economy, and were officially called TrailerTails, originally manufactured by ATDynamics back in 2008. Seven years later, ATDynamics was bought out by a company called Stemco, and they’ve been the outfit responsible for their continued production – until now. Stemco says it has shut down production of TrailerTails, citing the line as “underperforming.” Many fleets used TrailerTails and said they actually increased fuel economy but, on occasion, could become victims of crunches at loading docks.
Number one for number two? That’s the question put to the Menan, Idaho, planning and zoning commission by the city’s councilors. If this is as clear as mud, we’ll try and clarify it. Justin Anderson bought up a warehouse in Menan, with the idea that he’d use the site to construct an RV dump station. Under current practice, a dump station is classified as a “user equivalent two,” in the grand scheme of sewer and water use charges, meaning Anderson would be charged $200 a month for sewage fees for his dump station. City councilors thought this was perhaps a bit much, so they’ve kicked the idea over to other officials that would reclassify dump stations at the same rate as typical family homes, that is, “user equivalent one.” So your number two gets a number one price – at least in the minds of the council. Time will tell what the planning and zoning board say; meantime, Anderson hopes to have his new dump station open for your dirty business by summer – the COVID-19 crisis allowing.
While it seems many local government authorities are proving to be flexible in this time of pandemic, sad to say, it’s not always true with home owner associations. We reported last week on a nurse told to move her RV out of the driveway. Here’s another one from Yucaipa, California, where an E.R. physician-assistant has taken to isolation in a motorhome in his driveway to keep his family safe. The city normally rules against folks living in RVs in the city, but has suspended those rules because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Michael Avila-Cabral’s home owner association hasn’t backed down. The HOA says the doc will need to get the rig out of the driveway and out of HOA jurisdiction in 10 days. Yucaipa’s mayor is attempting to intercede with the HOA.
Police need your help locating a Los Angeles woman who suffers from dementia and is missing, evidently driving a motorhome. Connie Marie Kimes was last known to be in the Colton, California, area on April 13. Sometime in the afternoon she apparently left driving a 2020 Class C Thor Four Seasons motorhome, bearing California plates 8NKK974. She might be headed out to Long Beach, or possibly Barstow, California. Got information? Call Detective Morris with the Los Angeles Missing Person Detail at 323-890-5500.
Sorry, no picture for this one: Police finally got their woman last Monday after a wild chase in Rapid City, South Dakota. It started when police got word of a “civil altercation” at an apartment building. Just what that entailed isn’t clear, but when they asked her if a vehicle she had might be stolen, she took off with it. Officers, acting with foresight, had lain out stop-strips at the apartment complex entrance, but it wasn’t enough to stop a determined suspect in an SUV. She blasted through the stop strips, crashed through a freeway fence and onto the southbound lanes of Interstate 90 – unfortunately she was headed in the northbound direction. Apparently it took her about a half-mile to recognize this, because at that point, she crossed the median and was heading with the flow of traffic, running an additional 10 miles, but lost it and sprang through a barb-wire fence – twice – finally shooting down a surface street. She then zoomed into an RV dealer’s lot. There, she clobbered some of the dealership’s equipment, and finally exhausted her steed. She jumped out of the SUV and vanished for a while. Police eventually caught up with her – cuddled up in an RV battery compartment. She’s waiting for a possible award for three counts of hit-and-run, aggravated eluding, driving while suspended, and obstruction of justice.
Now, you don’t see an RV like this every day! Its appearance is unique to begin with, but the big deal is that it’s two stories tall! But don’t worry about hitting bridges: the tip top folds back and down so it’s no taller than a typical travel trailer. The 13-foot RV comes with a wood-detailed Fiat Ducato vehicle that the RV is designed to travel on. Even though you can’t see from the photo, it includes a bathroom with toilet and shower. The price tag is $142,690. The vehicle is build in the Netherlands. If you really, really want one, you can learn more at the company’s website.
Rearrange the letters, O O U S W T D N E J R, to spell just one word. Can you do it?
And don’t miss the Sunday funny below that.
Have you received your government stimulus payment yet?
Respond here and see how others responded.
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 April 13, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $1.85 [Calif.: $2.75]
Change from week before: Down 7 cents; Change from year before: Down 98 cents.
Diesel: $2.51 [Calif.: $3.30]
Change from week before: Down 4 cents; Change from year before: Down 61 cents.
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Upcoming RV shows
Nothing in the near future. All cancelled or postponed.
But for those who want to plan ahead – See the complete list of upcoming RV shows.
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.
Brain teaser answer:
“JUST ONE WORD”
Q. What is the biggest lie in the entire universe?
A. “I have read and agree to the Terms & Conditions.”
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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