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Sunday, April 26, 2020
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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 •••
That was the RV week that was
April 19-25, 2020
While the RV manufacturing industry is trying to put a positive spin on the effects of the coronavirus – suggesting this summer will be a boom-season for RV traveling – one of the industry’s own economic forecasters isn’t sharing the same rosy outlook. Dr. Richard Curtin, who directs the Survey of Consumers at the University of Michigan, says the RV industry will travel a “long and bumpy road” to recovery. Curtin, who peers intently at the RV economy, says he sees consumers being primarily concerned with staying safe with their health and won’t be itching to spend money on recreation until they feel that aspect of their lives is satisfied. He warned RV builders not to be too quick to restart assembly lines, and urged them to support the RV park industry in slowly reopening RV parks, with social-distancing measures as might be attained by renting out fewer RV sites than are actually available. Curtin doesn’t anticipate much of an industry recovery until sometime in 2021.
Fill-er-up! Fire-er-up! Unfortunately, that was the literal result for an RVer in Benton County, Washington, on April 18. The man filled up his motorhome with both motor fuel and propane and headed out on Highway 225 for a quick test drive. Quick indeed – within minutes the rig was shooting flames, but the owner and his two dogs were able to bail out, uninjured.
About 35 KOA Campgrounds across the country have signed up in a partnership with “RVs 4 MDs” to see to it that medical personnel who need it have a place to stay for free in an RV to keep their families at home safe. The latter organization matches up the medicos with folks willing to loan or give RVs.
Beach lovers travel long distances to visit the so-called “longest beach in the world.” At 28 miles, the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington state may be the second-longest, since Praia do Cassino Beach in Brazil is 150 miles long. But are you willing to drive your motorhome to Brazil? You might have to, as right now both officialdom and the vitriolic opinions of some residents have shut down access to Long Beach. The peninsula lies in Pacific County, which shows only three confirmed coronavirus cases, and residents want it to stay that way. Recently leaflets were stuck on visitors’ windshields that read, “Your vacation is not worth our lives. Go home. Stay home. Save lives. The Long Beach Peninsula has only ONE VENTILATOR. Do you really want to test those odds?” Comments on the community’s Facebook page got so nasty that the moderator shut down coronavirus news. Those whose living comes from tourism on the peninsula will likely breath an unmasked sigh of relief when this pandemic passes over.
Arizona has reopened two highway rest areas – but don’t expect RVers to get a welcome mat at either one. Parks Rest Area, 20 miles west of Flagstaff on I-40, and Christensen Rest Area, 17 miles south of “Flag” on I-17, have both been reopened – but only on a temporary basis. The state’s Department of Transportation says the extra parking provided by the two sites is needed to support truck drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless you’ve got 18 wheels, don’t bother to stop.
Planning an RV road trip? Always good to keep an eye-open for a low-bridge. But you might want to look out for the bridge below you too! A bridge builder’s organization says American’s bridges are in trouble – almost 231,000 need repairs, and more than 46,000 show deficiencies. Federal data shows that deficient bridges are crossed 178 million times per day. Included in the figures, a third of interstate highway bridges need repair work. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association estimates that at the current rate of repairs, it will only take 50 years to put all to right.
RVers and others who use “transient” accommodations in Jefferson County, Oregon, could see their bills increase this year. County officials are asking residents to give the nod to inflating the existing 6 percent tax on overnight stays in RV parks and motel rooms half again as much, up to 9 percent. If approved, the county says it will see $150,000 per year in revenue. Under law, 70 percent of transient tax revenues must be pumped back into tourist promotion, but what’s left over can be spent any way the county decides. Officials say some of that 30 percent would go into more police patrols and clearing snow from Camp Sherman.
A Michigan city is pulling together to help front-line medical personnel protect their families through the coronavirus crisis. When city officials heard that medical workers at McLaren Lapeer Region hospital in Lapeer were struggling with concerns about keeping the virus away from loved ones, they stepped in and opened the city-owned Water Tower RV Park for them. A lot of area residents jumped on the bandwagon and have loaned a plethora of RVs for the hospital staff to stay in. It’s a handy arrangement, as the RV park is just across the street from the hospital. Twenty sites with full hookups have been pressed into service, all free of charge.
With some states putting their figurative toe in the water of coronavirus recovery, Colorado’s Larimer County is joining in. Several of the county’s agencies have joined together and announced reopening some of the campgrounds at the county’s reservoirs – with some distinct restrictions. Effective last Friday (April 24), camping is limited to county residents only. Only hard-sided units with bathrooms are allowed; tents aren’t welcome. Some campgrounds allow a maximum of eight people per camp unit.
Don’t blame Lucy – Steve did it. Death Valley National Park rangers say they’ve found the person who marked up sites in the park with graffiti back in January. Spots included in the California park markings included Canyon, Butte Valley, Homestake Dry Camp, and Crankshaft Junction, and in some instances the writings included “Steve and Lucy.” The Park Service appealed to the public to find the “artist,” and many posted the request on social media. One such posting was shown to a man named Steve in British Columbia. Steve turned himself in on the tip line. The next day he was interviewed by a ranger, confessed, and apologized. Charges, if filed, could mean fines and restitution. Steve says he’s the one responsible – Lucy is Steve’s dog.
For Minnesota’s governor, as far as recreation is concerned, “It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing.” At least it appears that way as Governor Tim Walz has ordered an ease-up on coronavirus restrictions for recreational activities to include a reopening of golf courses. Add to that trail hiking, fishing and hunting. But the good gov didn’t cut RVers any slack: Campgrounds remain closed.
An RV explosion so intense that it moved furniture in a home blocks away has taken the life of a man in Calgary, Alberta. Local fire and rescue teams turned out to a storage yard last Thursday afternoon to find one motorhome completely demolished and at least a half-dozen other RVs damaged. A passing car was hit by flying debris. Initial reports are that propane accidentally ignited in the motorhome. “The vehicle involved was grossly and intensely damaged,” stated a fire department spokesman.
Earlier we wrote that the federal government had moved to temporarily allow food trucks to set up at interstate highway rest stops. The idea was to help out long-haul truck drivers find meals, as many truck stop restaurants are closed down due to coronavirus restrictions. Seems that more than one fly in the ointment has slowed down food truck roll-outs. Several states have quickly moved to issue special food truck permits, but getting the information out to drivers is another matter. Ohio issued 260 permits for more than 80 rest areas, but a spokesman says they don’t have the resources to tell drivers what carts are where. If drivers aren’t alerted, they may just get off the road and hit a fast food joint. Such seems to be the case for one San Diego, California-area food truck operator. Despite his location, he sold only $15 worth of food in a shift.
A case of “all’s well that ends well” played out for an RVer in Pratt, Kansas, last Monday. Connie West was driving her older Class C motorhome through town when she smelled smoke. She continued on down the road a bit, but it wasn’t long before the smell of smoke became a vision of fire – spurting out from underneath the motorhome. She stopped on the street and a passerby grabbed a fire extinguisher and began battling the flames. Local firefighters soon arrived and hosed down the rig a bit more. Not much damage, and no injuries. An investigation revealed a plastic bucket, hanging on the back of the rig, came in contact with a hot exhaust pipe. Apparently, a bucket brigade wasn’t needed for a bucket fire.
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.
It’s a tank. It’s a trailer. It’s Aussie RV innovation
Australians make cool stuff on wheels. Handsome? Maybe not. Efficient, rugged, state-of-the-art? Definitely. Part cargo trailer, part tank. Or maybe an homage to Mad Max movies. It’s the new, smaller version of the AOR (Australian Off Road) Sierra square drop trailer. Check it out.
COVID-19 pandemic halts Rivian EV truck launch
With nearly $3 billion in investments from major corporations, the much-anticipated launch of the Rivian Automotive electric pickup truck was scheduled later this year. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Michigan-based company to delay its plans. Learn more.
Perhaps a reason not to tent camp in Florida. This photo was taken, we are told, at the Shady Lane RV Park. This could be a tough situation if a trip to the Comfort Station was required in the middle of the night. Source of photo is unknown. (It may be old, but you get the idea…)
I am an odd number. Take away a letter and I become even. What number am I?
And don’t miss the Sunday funny below that.
Have you, a relative or close friend lost their job in the last two months? Respond here.
Check out results of yesterday’s poll where we asked “How would you describe your mental health in these troubled times?” See how more than 2,000 readers responded.
Have you seen these? If so, tell the police.
This Mini Winnie motorhome was stolen between 7 and 8 a.m., April 20, in Centralia, Washington. The license is AVS7824. Info: Contact the Centralia Police Department at (360) 330-7680.
This Forest River 38-foot travel trailer was stolen Wednesday from Kentucky Lake Cottages in Marshall County, Kentucky. If you have seen it contact the sheriff’s office at (270) 527-3112.
This 2019 Jayco Jayflight 267BHS trailer was stolen sometime this past week in Pickering, Ontario, Canada. There may be some damage as it was dragged out over a large ditch.
This 2004 Coleman by Fleetwood Bayside Elite trailer was stolen right out of the back yard of its owner in southeast Albuquerque. Some distinguishing features are the A/C, large storage trunk at the tongue, hard shell spare tire cover, dining room slide out and front pop-out window. If you see it around or for sale online, please contact the Albuquerque police.
RVing in New England, a weekly online talk show presented by the New England RV Dealers Association (NERVDA), paid a special tribute last Wednesday evening to Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, who died April 17 due to the coronavirus. Watch the video.
RVs at an Alberta RV park were smashed last week by what some witnesses called “icebergs.” Warm weather caused the Red Deer River to melt, sending water a few feet deep into River Creek RV Park, along with chunks of ice. Three RVs floated away. Of the 50 RVs at the park, about 75 percent were destroyed.
Icon Technologies of Winkler, Manitoba, Canada, has retooled its facility, which normally produces after-market RV parts and custom plastic products, and is now producing face shields for the health-care system. By transitioning to face shields, the company has kept its entire workforce of 60 employed.
Newport News, Virginia, firefighters battled a 2-alarm fire at the Camping World on Jefferson Ave. early Friday morning. Crews arrived on the scene and found a large fire with propane explosions and multiple RVs on fire. It took them two hours to extinguish the blaze.
FMCA, the Family Motor Coach Association, has laid off several long-term employees. The association has been fighting declining membership, declining advertising in its magazine, and the loss of about $700,000 in income from the cancellation of its two 2020 national rallies. Effects of the pandemic haven’t helped matters.
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.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed:
• Keep “virus-safe” at the fuel pump.
• Wind storm uproots trees, crushes RVs. See video (may be disturbing!).
• Dear friends say goodbye to Gary Bunzer.
• Many places you can shop for huge savings right now.
• RV Electricity: What’s all the noise about generators?
• RV Education 101: Establishing your RV’s pivot point.
• RV Tire Safety: Can a tire blowout be “contained”?
• Ask the RV Shrink: RV preppers in training – all about freeze-dried food.
• Reader Poll: How would you describe your mental health in these troubled times?
… and much more
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of April 20, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $1.81 [Calif.: $2.70]
Change from week before: Down 4 cents; Change from year before: Down $1.03
Diesel: $2.48 [Calif.: $3.25]
Change from week before: Down 3 cents; Change from year before: Down 67 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:
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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