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June 6, 2020
If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.
With Chuck Woodbury
am writing to you from my motorhome parked for the next few days in an orange grove in central California. Just to the east is one of California’s largest ranches. As you can see in the photo, its hillside is barren, covered with dried grass. I can’t see a single living thing. It’s 102 degrees now at 3 p.m., and there’s no shade up there, so that may be why.
Finally, after nearly seven months on the road, Gail and I are headed home to Seattle where we hope to cool off. We’ve been dealing with temperatures in the mid-90s (at times over 100) for a month now and the 80s and 90s the month before. It’s been warm since January, when we arrived in Arizona, where we planned to stay a few weeks and then return home. By the time we do return, we will have enjoyed about five months of “summer.” I’ve worn long pants only two days in all that time.
LITTLE DID WE KNOW when we left home that the coronavirus would arrive. The nursing home in Kirkland, only a few miles from where we live, was Ground Zero for the initial outbreak. We decided to stay away to see how things unfolded.
On Wednesday, we left Barstow and the Mojave Desert and drove state route 58 over the Tehachapi Mountains to Bakersfield in California’s great Central Valley. The night before we left, a 4.0 earthquake struck about 25 miles from us. Our RV rolled a little, and that was it.
Then, only a few hours after arriving here in Lindsay, near Fresno, at my aunt’s small ranch, the earth shook again. This time it felt like her home had been lifted off its foundation about an inch and then dropped right back. Luckily, there was no damage but the 5.5 quake, about 60 miles east from us, was unnerving.
I HAVE EXPERIENCED dozens of earthquakes, nearly all very mild. My main concern is always about how much damage they caused where they occurred. I was 100 miles from San Francisco when the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake struck in 1989. The sidewalk in front of my home buckled and I experienced some motion sickness. But most quakes in my life have been barely noticeable, so I take them in stride.
If you want to live dangerously (just kidding), book a space in an RV park near Hollister, California, where earthquakes are recorded virtually every day. In the last 365 days, 823 earthquakes have been recorded in or near the small central California community. Most are so mild you don’t even feel them.
THE PAVEMENT WAS TERRIBLE Wednesday on stretches of state route 58 between the Mojave Desert, through the mountains, and Bakersfield. The pavement had so many potholes, cracks, truck-caused grooves and uneven patch work that it occurred to me that my RV was experiencing an “earthquake” that dwarfed the one Mother Nature had provided the night before. I was worried an axle would break. I am not kidding!
Our highways are getting more banged up every year. It’s no wonder that our RVs need repairs so often; they get tossed around, shaken and jolted so badly you wonder how they stay together, especially the cheap ones held together with glue and staples. I’ve experienced terrible roads all over the country. I wonder how much worse they’ll be in 10 years. Local, state and the federal governments do not have enough money and other resources to improve them; I guess we’ll have to make do.
That’s it for this week.
Be safe, and send a little money off to a local food bank if you want a dose of “feel good” dopamine!
Oh, speaking of Bakersfield, we passed two interesting streets as we drove through town: Buck Owens Boulevard and Merle Haggard Drive. Both country music legends were from Bakersfield.
Your assignment this week: Write an essay of 400-500 words that addresses this subject: “Why I bought my first RV.” Was it for summer vacations with your young family, road trips, to live in full-time, or as temporary housing on a temporary work assignment? Or for another reason? We’ll publish as many of your articles as we can. Submit here.
Did you miss my essay last Sunday? Sales of RVs are booming. Why? What does that mean?
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• Camping World deals big blow to Hershey RV Show by pulling out.
• Recalls issued on Coachmen, Pursuit, Keystone RVs and others from Forest River.
• Good deals aplenty for new trucks now two years old.
• Can you help find a Vibe travel trailer stolen in Missouri City, TX, and a Jayco Flight stolen in Liberty Hill, TX?
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV shows • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …
Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• Finding space for the traveling cat litter box.
• When should you service your transmission?
• RV Education 101: Keep your RV electric steps operating smoothly.
• How to fix small roof punctures, cracks and tears.
• Be super-careful with gas can usage.
Would you pay $800,000 to live at this luxury RV resort?
Motorcoach Country Club in Indio, California, near Palm Springs, was named the top luxury RV resort in the U.S. in USA Today’s 2019 Readers’ Choice rankings. Have you seen this place? It sits on 80 acres and has 400 RV sites, which sell from between $56,000 and $800,000, not to mention the monthly membership fee is about $550, or about $6,600 per year. Read more (and drool) here.
Boondocking in a coronavirus world. Part 1: Why?
By Dave Helgeson
I have touted the many benefits of boondocking for years. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, I have discovered even more reasons to choose boondocking over more conventional campsites like campgrounds and RV parks. Read the many reasons here.
Your RVing dreams revealed, last chapter
A few weeks ago we asked readers to tell us about their dreams of future RV travel. We’ve dealt out a few at a time, and here’s the last installment – one with a moral for all of us. Our thanks to all of you who shared. This installment is especially touching.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• Don’t make these mistakes at National Parks
• How to minimize “thermal checking” damage to your RV’s fiberglass
• Expect the unexpected when traveling
• RVer Safety: What if you protect yourself but are then arrested?
• Lemon law attorney issues warning to the RV industry
It’s in the church, but not in the steeple; It’s in the person, but not in the people; It’s in the oyster, but not in the shell; It’s in the clapper, but not in the bell. What is it?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday News newsletter.)
Will your next RV trip in the USA be to a destination east or west of the Mississippi River?
Please let us know. 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 most popular poll in this past week’s RV Daily Tips newsletter:
If you could go back in time to the day you bought your RV, would you wait and buy another RV or keep the one you bought? Learn how 2,000 of our readers responded here.
Lose the shake with a 5th wheel or goose neck tripod
The “king pin” on a 5th wheel is the point where the trailer attaches to the “hitch” of the tow vehicle. Many people do not like the fact that 5th wheel trailers have a tendency to pitch and roll when they are not supported so they carry a “king pin” support device. These devices come as a bipod or a tripod. Learn more.
Kansas junkyard is a gold mine for trucks, RV relics
One person’s junkyard full of rusted classics is another person’s pot of potential automotive or RV gold. At least the owner of a junkyard in Great Bend, Kansas, full of cars, trucks and RVs in various states of disrepair, hopes that’s the case. Read more.
How to RV with chickens
We are not kidding! This is a serious article with excellent advice. We bring it to you with great pride believing you have never read an article on this subject in any other RV periodical. One line of advice from the article, as an example of what you will learn: “It’s easier than one might think to feed chickens a balanced diet while on the road.” Okay, that’s the teaser. Read the story here.
Let your lights shine – with less power from your batteries
Boondockers – those who by definition “camp in the boonies,” away from utility hookups – have to be careful of their precious resources. One of the biggest pains is “running out of power.” Lighting up the inside of the rig can consume a lot of juice in a short period of time. Russ and Tiña De Maris tell us how they’ve upgraded their interior lighting and cut down on battery usage in the process. Read more.
Finding space for the traveling cat litter box
Much has been written on the topic of traveling with dogs, but what about our feline friends? Most importantly, where do you find the space in your RV to store the litter box? Here’s some advice.
Do not miss this video. It’s only about 10 seconds long. It’s a gut-buster!
If you want a great laugh, watch this short video of a “Grandpa” trying to decide which variety of wine he wants. We will not tell you more other than there is an unusual twist to this that will leave you howling with laughter! Bet you can’t just watch it once! Watch the video here.
Avoid smacking low bridges with this new 2021 road atlas
The new edition of the premier guide to off-limit highways for large RVs will soon be published for 2021. While it’s designed for big rig truckers, it should be a must-have for RVers who travel in unfamiliar territory with recreation vehicles over about 11 feet tall. Learn more.
This artist sees the RV and automotive future
Steven M. Johnson is a cartoonist with a fondness for the absurd, often when drawing cars, trucks and RVs. With astute detail, humor and poignancy, he’s a purveyor of futuristic ideas. It’s usually all silly, except for when it’s not. Learn more and see two of his RV concepts — fascinating!
Safety device helps prevent RV refrigerator fires
When an RV fire traces back to the refrigerator compartment, it tends to make RVers a little uneasy. After all, the thought of your rig going up in smoke while all you’ve done is tried to keep your chitlins chilled can be a real nightmare producer. Enter Fridge Defend, billed as “A new pinnacle of development for an RV refrigerator safety,” with an updated refrigerator safety control. Learn more.
Popular articles from last week
• RV buyers: Never fall for this RV sales gimmick!
• So I’m a Peeping Tom, am I? One reader thinks so. From editor Chuck Woodbury.
• Show up at this RV park wearing a mask and you’ll be considered a criminal!
• Very important safety message for our readers.
• Six months after Texas RV murder arrests – What now?
• Brand-new RV is barely off the lot when it starts falling apart.
• Fight the urge to buy an RV, says RV lemon lawyer.
• Use your RV air conditioner in low-power situations.
• RVelectricity – First-Timer’s primer on Hot-Skin Voltage.
• What works when your housey is lousy with mousies?
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, May 30, 2020.
Our Facebook Groups: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping • Free Campgrounds • Budget RV Travel • RV Videos • RV Coronavirus News • plus Texas RV Camping and Florida RV camping.
Where to complain about bad RVs, dealers, service, RV parks. This is an ever-expanding list of resources where you can report, share or discuss your problems with RV manufacturers or dealers.
Best Club for RVers: Escapees. Click here to learn more or join. Endorsed by RVtravel.com.
The RV Show USA
Listen each Wednesday evening on Facebook or YouTube for the live taping of America’s only syndicated radio program about RVing.
Directory of RV parks with storm shelters
In case you’re on the road with your RV and the weather report is showing a tornado headed your way, have this list handy.
Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.
What does financing an RV for 20 years REALLY mean?
In case you missed this article the first time around, here it is again. Important! Click here.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
Ask the RV Shrink
RV spare tire dilemma – How to reach it?
Dear RV Shrink:
My husband has a spare tire problem and it is not just his belly. We travel part of the year with our pickup camper. It is the biggest one made and extends out over the back of our truck. We had a flat tire and he couldn’t get the spare out from under the truck. … —Flat Out Worried in Flagstaff
Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.
HEADS UP: Today, June 6, is free fishing day in Texas. No state license required. If you’re in Maryland then you can fish free today, then again on June 13 and July 4.
RV Education 101
Always look for water damage when buying a used RV
With Mark Polk
The first thing I look for on a used RV is water damage. Water damage is quite common on used RVs. There are several reasons for this, but the leading causes are exposure to the elements, and the seams and sealants on RVs flex and move until there is a small crack or opening that water can penetrate. Read more.
Testing for a dangerous hot-skin voltage
I’ve recently bought my first RV (used). While parked at my house on an extension cord (GFCI-protected 20-amp garage circuit), I was crawling around underneath and felt the hair on my neck stand on end while close to the axle. It was noticeable, but I wrote it off as static electricity from my wife running a carpet shampooer inside the unit. A few days later I stumbled upon your hot skin article and it spooked me. Since then I’ve done the following tests: … Continue reading the letter and Mike’s potentially life-saving advice.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Are power strips dangerous? A reader questions if power strips are safe, after one melted when an electric griddle was plugged into it.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
Beware of tire advertising claims
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
I read this recently on an RV forum: “I am using Carlisle Radial Trail HD Trailer Tire … I think it is a good tire for my trailer. These tires have an added protection against the heat with built-in weathering and ozone protection. … Additionally, these tires have interconnected tread blocks that I find encouraging. …” Read the rest of the claim and Roger’s skeptical response.
Building an RV Park
We had visitors!
By Machelle James
With our state beginning to open up again, we have been able to see our friends again! Living up here, out of the heat, has been truly a blessing to us. We have had more visitors these past two weeks and we love it! We have all been so isolated for so long that it was good to see our old friends. Firemen and wild horses and UTVs – Oh My!
The RV Kitchen
Bacon Bubble Bread
Roles for your rolls. One package of store-bought rolls plays a dozen roles in your RV meal planning. And you don’t have to light the oven. Try different seasoning blends in the butter … Melt a different cheese over the rolls each time. The variations are endless. When any meal calls for hot rolls, pull out a package and let your creativity do the rest. Get the recipe.
The Digital RVer
Take a picture of QR codes to scan later
[We’ve] all been asked to scan a QR code at some point in time. That’s how you can get a discount coupon at a store, or get more information about a product from a print ad, or make an appointment at a hair salon, etc. There are so many uses for QR codes. All iPhones and many Android phones can now scan these codes with just the camera that came built in with the phone. … But, what if you see a QR code that you want to keep and scan later? Find out how simple it is to do here. (Includes tutorial video.)
Facebook Groups of Interest
• Colorado RV Camping Group
• Mold Avoiders On The Road to Recovery Camping And Rving
• African American Fulltime RV-ing (#AAFTRV)
PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping • Free Campgrounds • Budget RV Travel • RV Videos • RV Coronavirus News
Readers’ Pet of the Day
Wanted to share a little bit about our little girl Lulu, who died a month ago at age 13. She has a big place in our hearts. You couldn’t help but smile when looking at her. Someone once said that she had personality coming out of her ears. One little girl yelled, “Mommy, look! This doggie has pigtails!” She loved everyone and always wanted to say hi. She had the cutest habits. Every morning at the front door I would say, “Lu are you going to stretch?” She would put out her front paws and bend down, then the rear ones. In the evening if we were having a cocktail, we would say, “Lu do you want to have a toast with us?” She would come over and take a drink out of her water bowl, which needed to have ice. We will miss her forever. — Fran KlimowskiPets featured in this past week’s RV Daily Tips:
• Monday: Gabby • Tuesday: Maya • Wednesday: Zoe • Thursday: Chico • Friday: Cameo
A poem from a reader: “To get a pet”
Janet Jackson is one of our long-time readers. She is currently incarcerated in Illinois. This poem was handwritten and mailed to us. (We love it.) Read it here.
Neil Armstrong’s astronaut application arrived a week past the deadline. A friend slipped the tardy form in with the others.
Joke of the Week
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” —Helen Keller
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
If you have not contributed to RVtravel.com for some time and would like to do so again, you may do so here. Thank you.
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Emily Woodbury, Russ and Tiña De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Richard Mallery, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, Bob Difley, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Social media director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
FOREVER IN OUR MEMORIES — OUR STAFF MEMBER IN HEAVEN, Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor.
Honorary Correspondents: Loyal readers who regularly email us leads about news stories and other information and resources that aid our own news-gathering efforts.
• Mike Sherman • George Bliss • Tom and Lois Speirs • Alan Warren • Steve Barnes + others who we will add later.
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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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All – Over the past 4 years, we have traveled across the country at least 15 times. We NEVER go through CA if we can avoid it, they have the absolute worst roads in the nation. They do have a 88 billion train to nowhere, but cannot fix their roads. They do have the only city in the nation, which publishes a “human poop” map daily in the paper, because the homeless have been allowed to take over SFO.
If this is an example of liberalism you can keep it, I would rather be conservatives than live in those conditions. I sincerely hope we don’t get another COVID-19 relief package, because the democrat’s want to pack that sucker with enough money to bail out all those liberal states which have given the state employees, better retirement packages than members of congress get, and they expect all the rest of us to pay for it. Forget it, if that passes, going to see if my state can secede from the USA because with all the “take away the police departments” and everyone feeling like they are entitled to my money which I worked hard for since 11 years old. The USA may be done.
The letter “R”
Chuck, You were unnerved with the 5.5 where you were located? You should have been where I live (only a few miles from our house). I was taking a shower at the time and thought: uh oh, I’m gonna have to run outside naked…not good. Actually, the 5.5 was just a minor shake,,,, you should have been around here last July 4th when we had a 6.4. That really made us set up and pay attention…..then the very next day the huge 7.1 hit us . Things were flying every where in the house, cabinet door flying open, glasses, plates, and every thing else that wasn’t tied down was being thrown around on counter tops and floors. Fortunately we didn’t have any structural damage, but our neighbor’s chimney fell over and thru the roof and into their living room (while they were watching tv). Unnerving with a 5.5 60 miles away…sheesh…
The comments you made regarding the “condition” our highways are in is nothing but terrible! Most of the States had so-called permeate funding to the repairs and up-keep of our highways ~ vs ~ the gas taxes. Most of them have robbed the funds to put it into the “general funds” to make ends meet.
Every year, the funds dwindle and the roads get worse! You hear the politicians talk about the roads and infrastructure in need of repairs and what they will do to fix the problem…..they never do. Talk is cheap with them and it is about time we hold the jokers accountable. They always have the funding to check in on the life and wellbeing of the All American Cockroach….but never for asphalt and concrete!
Our roads are in terrible shape, it is getting into the election season….. video and record these con-artist telling the voting public what they are going to do….then call them to task in a public forum after they do not take action!
Thank you for listing to a 5th wheeler who is fed-up with the conditions of our roads and highways……
There…..I feel better now……….lol
Absolutely loving the Pet of the Day feature! Lulu looks as special as described, may she Rest In Peace. I then go back and look at the ones from each day of the week. They are all sweet.
Chuck I drove 58 in 2016 in my MH & it wasn’t that bad, not even 4 yrs ago. CA added extra gas taxes a few yrs ago just to “fix the roads”. Like all states (which have federal & state gas taxes) they steel the gas taxes for other things other than roads. Now a lot of states like my home state of TX are adding a lot of toll roads to charge you more so they don’t have to use the gas taxes for the roads. Last yr we drove from Indy to St. Louis on I70, thought the MH was going to fall a part. Even after slowing down, we were thoroughly worn out after a few hrs. There were a lot of 18 wheels, but those people pay a whole lot of money to use the roads. Governments ( fed, state, local & both parties) always get taxes passed for specific purposes & then steel the money for other things.
If states and local governments used fuel taxes to maintain roads instead of diverting the funds to mass transit and other pork barrel projects every road and street in America would be smooth as glass. Highway users subsidize mass transit systems so they don’t have to increase the rates charged to riders, when a person can get on a city bus and ride all day using transfers and tour the entire city, you know the city is losing money. Somebody has to pay for that and heaven forbid the bus rider should have to pay, so since the driver of a car or truck isn’t around to pitch a fit they use that persons money. Of course if they didn’t do it this way people wouldn’t ride mass transit. Several years ago I worked with a man who lived about 6 miles away from our work place, each morning he would a half a block to the corner, get on the next bus that ran every half hour, drop 50 cents in the meter get his transfer pass and 30 minutes and 2 transfers got off in front of the gate and walk into the factory. He could’ve driven his car and arrived in 10 minutes but that would require insurance, gas, upkeep. If he had to pay the actual cost of his ride it may have cost him $4-$5, he might have driven his car if it was going to cost $30 a week.
Chuck, I must take exception to your comment, “… governments do not have enough money and other resources to improve them…”
I was born and raised in California, and as I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s the roads were amazing. Admittedly, there were some (rare) places where the volume of traffic made maintenance difficult, so those sections were sketchy. But, in the main, driving the Interstates, primary and secondary highways was like a dream.
Fast forward 50 years and the roads are, in some cases, worse than third-world. Yet taxes (including gas taxes) are higher than ever before and there are more “resources” available to the state than ever.
I suggest this isn’t a shortage of money; it is a conscious decision by the state to squander money on things that were never considered the state’s responsibility back in the day.
This sort of “mission creep” about what government is and should be responsible for (at the expense of individual responsibility) is why the roads are horrific. Bad governance, not lack of resources.
Steve is absolutely correct. It is a matter of priorities. Politicians offer up free stuff to get your vote, and asphalt is the last thing on their mind. The total spent on social service programs is hard to believe, but as a retired welfare fraud investigator, I can assure you the money spent on ‘buying votes’ could be better spent providing what the laws mandate. But heck, they write the laws…..doesn’t mean they have to obey them.
Roads are terrible but to say states don’t have enough money for repairs is where we disagree. If fuel taxes were spent on roads as they should be far fewer problems. CA roads should be covered in gold but like many other states they waste as they can 1st.
I agree with you on the shape of our roads. I pulled our fifth wheel to the northeast by going thru the C’s..Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati. The potholes were unreal. It would jar us to the bone. Now I’ve been hauling my truck camper which is easier, but the bypass around Nashville is another one to be avoided. At each bridge you slam into an elevation change that again jars everything. It shouldn’t be that hard to keep these interstates in shape!
Not sure which bypass you are referring to. I-440 is being completely rebuilt, not just resurfaced and I-840 is great. Love Nashville.
Hey Chuck, you picked the worst possible route home! 58 has been a nightmare forever and central Ca is not much better. Why didn’t you take 395 north through beautiful eastern Sierras OR go north through Nevada, across northern Ca to Oregon etc?? Happy trails!
That would have been my choice also. Hwy 395 (once in Owen’s Valley) is absolutely gorgeous and the highway is mostly 4-lane and very well maintained with lots of small towns along the way to stop and explore.
I wish you guys would keep that route secret so it doesn’t get crowded and worn out! Joking.