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June 20, 2020
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With Chuck Woodbury
Whew! After seven months on the road in our 32-foot motorhome, Gail and I have returned to our home north of Seattle. We had originally intended to stay out two or three months. Then the coronavirus struck, attacking first in a Kirkland* nursing home just a few miles from where we live. We decided to stay out longer to see how things played out.
And now, seven months later, after spending most of our time in Arizona, we’re back home. Life is different, far different. My home with its small, park-like back yard will be my world for awhile, although I hope to get out for a couple of short, local RV trips in August and September. Since I left home last November, I have lost two friends to COVID-19, and know a half dozen others who survived. For me, the pandemic is real.
RVing has changed dramatically since the virus arrived. At first, RVers stayed put, holing up in their homes or RVs. I thought the RV industry was in big trouble. Now I wonder. RV sales have picked up, often dramatically. Some RV dealers are selling more units than a year ago. RV industry stocks have climbed steadily. Camping World’s stock shot up from about $4 a share to $25 in two months.
RVing, after all, is the safest way to travel in our Pandemic world, and many people consider travel essential. Now, they have put off trips to Europe or cruises in favor of buying an RV and hitting the road. And for the first time in my lifetime RVs are “cool,” no longer “Grandma and Grandpa’s Playhouse” where old people hung out in RV parks and played shuffleboard.
On our drive this past week up I-5 from central California, we drove by dozens of RV parks and dealers. The parks were full, or nearly so, with more park model RVs than I’d ever noticed before. RV dealer lots along the road were crammed full with plenty of units to sell.
In Elkhart, Indiana, where about 85 percent of all RVs are made, factories are open again. Meanwhile, cases there of COVID-19 are climbing, and hit an all-time high last Thursday. How many RVs can manufacturers turn out with workers keeping their distance (which, realistically, they cannot) or even refusing to come to work? How many workers must get sick or die before the factories are forced to shut down again?
So where does that leave all those buyers who, increasingly, want to see the country — to go “where they want, when they want,” as the TV commercials promise? Will there be an adequate supply of new rigs a year from now to satisfy demand? I wish I knew, but I don’t.
The fact is, people can live as comfortably in an RV as in most homes. You know that, I know that and many others are realizing it now, too. With a phone, laptop and Internet access, they can work from anywhere without sacrificing any creature comforts. So why live in just one place when they can live in many places? Couples sitting around their breakfast or dinner tables right now are discussing that question, and choosing to hit the road.
Hopefully, state governments, should they shut down businesses again, will spare RV parks, where social distancing is no problem with a self-contained RV.
RV clubs have cancelled most of their events through at least early fall. Ditto for RV shows. The big Hershey Show scheduled for late September is still on, although Camping World, usually the biggest vendor, has pulled out. FMCA, the largest surviving independent RV club, is bleeding members and losing money hand over fist.
At RVtravel.com, we are doing surprisingly well. There is more need than ever for current information about what is happening as it relates to RVers. Since December, our website page views have doubled from one million to two million a month, climbing faster than in any time in our 20-year history.
This website is now the most popular news and information portal about RVing in the United States. More than 200 new RVers are signing up every day, with more than 8,100 articles currently available for their reading pleasure. We are among the most popular 3,500 websites in the USA out of an estimated 876 million. We are ramping up our editorial efforts, adding new writers, and working on more in-depth articles, free of industry pressure because of our increasing support by our more than 5,000 volunteer subscribers. Please consider making a pledge.
After 10 years of being the only business in the RV industry to help support RV electricity wizard Mike Sokol, his fame has grown and other RV businesses are stepping up to help him. That has allowed Mike to spend more time educating RVtravel.com readers and other RVers about RV electrical safety. We already know from letters that his efforts have saved lives. If you do not know what an RV hot skin condition is, for example, then you are in danger of being harmed or even killed by simply touching your RV under certain circumstances. I urge you to read this article where Mike explains this potentially dangerous condition.
And by the way, the RV industry itself will never mention a Hot Skin condition, just as it won’t mention that RVs, when they catch fire (as they do), go up in an instant. If RVtravel.com relied on advertising from RV manufacturers we would lose their support in a heartbeat if we discussed subjects like this — ones they want kept quiet.
We recently debuted our “Directory of RV parks with Storm Shelters.” When in tornado country, select a park with a shelter, so if the storm comes your way you can ride it out safely. It is incredibly scary to watch a tornado headed your way, with nowhere to hide. This directory keeps growing with input from our readers.
We continue to add new Facebook groups. We know many readers do not like Facebook, but it has been a great resource for us. It helps us gain insights into what RVers are talking about and to discuss specialized topics of interest. Our newest group, RVing with a Disability, serves as an information and inspirational resource for RVers or aspiring RVers with physical disabilities. Our new Trucks for RV Towing group is where to ask or answer questions about trucks commonly used for towing an RV. Our group RV Advice is a great place to ask a question and get it answered, usually within a few minutes.
Thanks for traveling along with us. Please be safe, wear a mask when away from home, and stay away from large group gatherings. We don’t want to lose you. And, if you appreciate what we do, one giant favor you could do is to suggest to your RVer friends that they subscribe at https://rvtravel.com/subscribe .
* Costco’s first flagship warehouse was in Kirkland, Washington. And that is why today Costco’s private brand products carry the name Kirkland. Before deciding on “Kirkland,” company founder Jim Sinegal wanted to label the products “Seattle Signature.”
New newsletter for beginning RVers debuts July 6 from RVtravel.com. Published Monday through Friday. Read it for six months and you’ll know almost everything you need to know about RVing. Sign up here.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Readers: I ran out of time this week. I’ll get back to my random musings next week.
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• U.S. borders into Mexico and Canada will remain closed to all but essential traffic until at least July 21.
• Motorhome splinters to pieces in rollover. Photos.
• Major RV club struggling to survive as memberships declines.
• Fake news: Hand sanitizer doesn’t explode in hot cars, trucks, RVs.
PLUS: Below: This converted airplane is for sale and street legal. And get this: You drive it from the cockpit! We’ve got the details plus pics of its interior – pretty cushy (but needs a little work).
AND REGULAR FEATURES: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV shows • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …
Your assignment this week: Answer this: If you could tell someone new to RVing ONE thing, what would it be?
Say your close friend was buying their first RV. They had never owned one before. If you were standing next to them having a conversation, what would you tell them? Please click here and take some time to think about your answer.
Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• How to care for an RV after a rainy getaway.
• Bag those troublesome cords and hoses.
• RV Education 101: Easily enlarge outdoor living space.
• Customized shelving for your RV cabinets.
• Protect your furnace vent from LP-sniffing bugs.
RV park owner Andy Zipser: My park’s open, but campers are angry!
Our favorite RV park owner is back with another installment of what it’s like to own a campground in a COVID-19 world. As always, Andy will prompt some discussion, but he’s a straight shooter with a lot of insight to provide those of us who don’t own campgrounds, just visit them. Read what he has to say.
Boondocking in a coronavirus world. Part 2: Stops along the way
By Dave Helgeson
In my last entry we looked at the definition of boondocking and why it is a good fit in a coronavirus world. Given some of the comments that were received, I believe many readers equate boondocking with staying put for long periods (entire seasons) of time. Boondocking isn’t restricted to staying put in the same location for months or weeks … Boondock locations can also serve as convenient places to spend a night or two en route to your final destination…. Read more.
Why your first RV? You’ve told us – Part 1
A couple of weeks ago we asked you why you bought your first RV. Your responses flooded our e-mail system, and the reasons – how diverse! We’ll be sharing as many as we can over the next while. Here’s the first installment.
Ten most popular vehicles towed behind motorhomes
With so many towed vehicle options, it helps to know what other RVers are choosing. Picking the right vehicle for your needs can be the difference between an “okay” trip and a great one. The customers of RVibrake.com recently told the company their towed vehicle model, which the company then put into a top ten list based on popularity. Is yours on the list?
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• Campground pet peeves – specifically, campground jerks
• A frightening example of the importance of vigilance while traveling
• Do motorhome owners really need a “toad”?
• A story of kindness for an RVer in need
• Poll: Have you ever lived continuously a year or more in an RV?
My first is in ocean but never in sea. My second’s in wasp but never in bee. My third is in glider and also in flight. My whole is a creature that comes out at night. What am I?
(Shhh. Don’t give it away. Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday News newsletter.)
BET YOU DON’T KNOW! What famous inventor (of a device you probably use every day), taught a dog to talk — to say “How are you, Grandmama?” You’ll need to click here to find out.
Has a sewer valve or hose ever broken or malfunctioned while you were dumping?
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:
How often do you eat at a fast-food restaurant? See how more than 2,000 other RVers answered by clicking here.
Deep cleaning your RV for a quick sale
By Silvana Clark
“When we listed our Alante Class A motorhome for sale on Craigslist, we had numerous potential buyers look at the RV. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was how many people said, “This RV is so clean! We’ve looked at lots of RVs and none are as clean as this one.” … It’s easy to believe a clean RV has also been well-maintained mechanically. So if you are planning to sell your RV here are a few tips.
Keeping your water filter upright
By Jim Twamley
A water filter is a great idea because it keeps impurities from contaminating your water system. There are many different types and degrees of water filtration available to RVers. I use a whole house single filter with a combo charcoal filter…. This filter gets the debris and also takes out a few harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, the filter will not stay in an upright position without help. Solution? Find out here.
Black Lives Matter as RVers, too
Last week we featured a reader letter sent in by Tracy Schulz. Tracy and her husband, an interracial couple, describe a terribly sad and scary incident they had while camping in Florida. Nanci Dixon, one of our readers and a frequent contributing writer, shared some of her interracial family’s experiences. Please read this.
Oh, DEER! This highway disaster is WILD!
Can you imagine if this was your trailer? I mean, not only is it terribly sad for the deer, but it just goes to show poor craftsmanship on the RV – the whole trailer gets pulled apart in less than a second! Check out this video.
RV tire showing dangerous wear. What’s wrong?
We spotted this question on Facebook – where only one tire was showing wear and it was only on the inside. What is happening is definitely a bad thing, and certainly dangerous. So we asked our RV tire expert Roger Marble to weigh in with his thoughts. Read more.
No hot water shows RVer his rig is in big hot water
A man who owns a new Forest River Vibe, one of the company’s “ultra light” travel trailers, had a different sort of “light” problem – as in, the water heater in his rig just wouldn’t light up. What could be the problem? You won’t believe this! Then again, you probably will. Read more.
Trailer hitch fail! Check this photo, then weep!
We found this on Facebook and felt compelled to share it with you to maybe save you from a disaster. The post said the woman who owned the trailer was still on her property when the hitch failed — lucky for her. People who commented thought this was probably a utility trailer, not an RV. There’s a lesson here.
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
Photo copyright 2020 by Clint Norrell
Normally, Utah’s Zion National Park’s 122-space campground is booked nearly solid in the summer. But management says a typical year would see many camping enthusiasts from Europe starting in July. But that’s not likely this year, leaving more campsites for U.S. travelers.
Popular articles from last week
• Will the Pandemic ruin our RVing future?
• Forest River recalls some travel trailers. Safety chains could fail.
• Jayco recalls some RVs, window glass could fall out.
• RVelectricity: Will my RV generator backfeed power and kill someone?
• Video: Scary! Tropical storm nearly sends RVs parked on beach out to sea!
• Is it a cottage or a camper? It’s both, and it’s real cute.
• Basement storage disorganized? Fix it!
• RV workers worry about safety in manufacturing plants.
• Interracial RVing couple the target of white RVer’s anger.
• RV Tire Safety: How to avoid tire “flat spotting” when parked.
• Propane safety made simple – Part 2.
• How to make the most of your stay in full-service campgrounds.
SWELL CONTEST OF THE DAY
LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN. We had technical problems last Saturday. Sorry ’bout that. Four readers managed to track us down and enter, however, so we put their names in a hat and picked a winner — Pam and Rich Piazza of Tuolumne, California. Their stove is on the way.
Now, today’s contest. Same swell prize
How would you like to win this very cool Coleman portable butane stove? Well, this might be your lucky day! In one of this past week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletters we published a secret phrase. Simply email the phrase to us at RVcontests@gmail.com . We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (June 20, 2020) by 11 a.m., Pacific time. Remember, you can only enter once.
Our Facebook Groups: NEW RVing with a Disability • NEW RV Travel Tips • NEW Trucks for RV Towing • 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.
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.
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.
AD: Stay overnight in your RV on the private property of accommodating hosts across the USA. Join Boondockers Welcome and then start taking advantage of this great free camping opportunity.
Ask the RV Shrink
Full-time RVer DIY maintenance pit stop options
Dear RV Shrink:
Here is a question most people do not think about when becoming full-time RVers. Where can we go to work on our RV? Most campgrounds frown on visitors doing any maintenance on their rig. Something as simple as changing fluids is prohibited in most facilities we camp in. I work on small projects during the year that do not involve looking like a service center, but for anything major I start getting the stink-eye from management and close neighbors. Any insight would be appreciated. —Handy Hank and Mandy in Medford
RV Education 101
Use the NADA Guide when buying a used RV
By Mark Polk
There is an RV edition of the NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) guide. This is the appraisal guide most RV dealers use to determine used RV prices and values. The online NADA guide offers low retail and average retail pricing on used RVs. … I always tell people you wouldn’t buy a new RV for full retail price, so you shouldn’t pay full retail price for a used RV. Learn more.
The dangers of rewiring 240-volt dryer and welder outlets
Since so many of you seem to be backyard camping this summer, or possibly setting up your RV for a COVID-19 medical staff to shelter in place in the RV, I’m getting all kinds of emails about plugging an RV into a 30-amp dryer or even an electric welder outlet. So I’m updating an earlier article about the dangers of miswiring an RV TT-30 outlet with 2-pole 240 volts instead of the correct 1-pole 120 volts.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Another combo voltage and 3-light tester. Mike reviews another outlet tester, and this one is inexpensive and available over the counter.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
Videos: (Updated) Modern radial tire assembly – worldwide
Here are some interesting videos RV tire expert Roger Marble has found on how similarly tires are built around the world – which is why he has difficulty in accepting the idea that because a tire is built in one country means it is automatically more likely to fail than if it were made in another country. There’s also a fascinating video from 1934 of how tires were made then. Watch the videos here.
Building an RV Park
Our beautiful state is on fire!
By Machelle James
Our beautiful state is on fire – LITERALLY! The Bush Fire began on June 13, due to a car fire. It is the country’s largest fire happening right now and it’s in our backyard! Read more, including an update on some upcoming (huge) costs, status of bank loan, getting reported to 911, and more.
The RV Kitchen
Stewed Tomatoes ‘n Green Beans
Side dish, main dish, de-lish. This is a spicy Southern classic by way of Africa. It’s traditionally made with raw vegetables fresh from the garden and stewed over the campfire in an iron pot. Get the recipe.
The Digital RVer
Did you take a shaky video? It’s easy to fix!
By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour
I hope you’ve discovered that your smartphone camera takes great videos, and videos add so much to the experience of your memories. Even just 15-second clips, combined with your photos, can bring your memories to life in delightful ways. But any time you are hand-holding your phone while taking video, you run the risk of it coming out shaky. If you are using an Android device and the Google Photos app, you’re in luck. This is so cool!
I once had a Class C motorhome based on a Sprinter chassis. Today, I know you and Gail travel in a 32’ Class A. I’m not sure if you “toad” or not.
My wife and I have our 35-foot 10-year-old Class A gasser with 3 slides. The size (along with our toad) never presents any problems for me because I once drove school buses. Recently, my wife says she wants to downsize but she won’t provide a definitive reason why.
With your long-time experience, would you and Gail be as content in your Class C as it sounds you are in your Class A? By the way, I know every inch of our rig, have made countless mods to make it ours, and, it’s paid for, which I know a lot of people cannot say. —Ken
Gail and I have discussed this very thing. I miss the 24-foot Sprinter (a Winnebago View) because I could stop along the road easily whenever I wanted. Of course I didn’t tow, so once set up in the campground I was stuck. Now, with more living space in the 32-footer and our Honda Fit, we can park, stay a week or two, and take day trips whenever we wish.
Our last trip lasted seven months and the new 32-foot motorhome with a car to travel with was perfect. But on a shorter “road trip” with less time in an RV park and more time traveling from place to place, I’d prefer the View. I think that what works for a particular person is based more on how they plan to use it, not on the size of the RV itself. —Chuck
Facebook Groups of Interest
PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: NEW RVing with a Disability • NEW RV Travel Tips • NEW Trucks for RV Towing • 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
“Will you stop looking at me? Macaws are perpetually 2-year-olds. Their favorite things are chewing and hollering. These two are 30 (blue) and 28 (red) years old and were hand-fed as babies. As a result, they think I’m their mother. They love to go and entertain folks at campgrounds.” — Cliff Thomson
Taking your pets to Canada? Read this.
“Dear Dr. Deanna – We’re planning a trip to Canada, and are wondering if we need any kind of permits to bring our pets (our dog Sissy and cat Murphy) with us. Thank you.”—Grace H. Read the RV Vet’s response. (Note: The Canadian border is still closed to travelers, but if you’re planning a trip for the future, the information here is still valid.)
An estimated 1 million dogs in the U.S. have been named primary beneficiaries in their owners’ wills.
Bumper sticker of the week
Displaying a bumper sticker for a good cause is not enough.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
After years of marriage with constant bickering, a couple met with a counselor. “What’s the problem?” he asked. The husband remained silent, but the wife rambled on about their problems. After 15 minutes the counselor got up and kissed her passionately. He said to the husband,”Your wife needs that at least twice a week.” The husband replied, “I can have her here on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” —Thanks to Tom H.
“Only people who are not happy with themselves are mean to others. Remember that.” —Anonymous
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
If you want to have a wonderful day, send $10, $50 or $100 to a local food bank. There are millions of our fellow citizens, including little kids, who are going hungry because their parents lost their jobs. You will feel so good if you contribute — helping people less fortunate than you go to bed without the pain of an empty stomach. Here’s where to donate.
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, Dave Helgeson, 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.
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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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