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Sunday, August 16, 2020
If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.
RV dealers are running out of RVs. Service centers are jammed
This is RVing during COVID-19. As summer approached, it became clear to many, many Americans that travel by RV was a much safer way to go than airlines, hotels, cruises or any form of public transportation. Stay-at-home had gotten really old and the urge to enjoy summer anywhere away from home was strong. Read more.
Are you kidding? $400,000 for an RV site? True!
At Desert Shores Motorcoach Resort in Indio, California, the average RV site goes for $400,000. No, that’s not rent. You buy the site. All guests at Desert Shores sleep in their motorhomes, but each of those lots also has a villa. Each measures between 1,200 and 1,800 square feet and has its own pool, hot tub and patio. Indoors, space opens up to a kitchen, a great room, a bathroom, and a garage. Read more.
Canada tightens travel restrictions from Lower 48 to Alaska
It appears that some U.S. citizens claiming to be on the way to Alaska may have been naughty. The Canadian government understands the need to travel through Canada to reach Alaska from the U.S. or vice versa. Their approach has been to allow travelers to enter the country and permit them to take a direct route to the U.S. border, doing what’s required to keep Canadians safe from COVID-19. Not everyone has been doing what they should. … Now Canada has cracked down. Learn more, and avoid the possible $1,000,000 fine.
Oregon state parks “temporarily” yank nonresidents’ welcome mat
Planning on camping in one of Oregon’s state parks? They’re a big draw – some in the mountains, others on the coast, others in the high desert. If you’re an out-of-stater, be prepared to take extra cash. Lots of it! On August 10, the state kicked in a nonresident surcharge. It will definitely be a big OUCH to most wallets. Read more.
That was the RV week that was
August 9–15, 2020
While crossing the border into Canada to get to Alaska and back is OK, casual crossing for recreation is still closed. Both U.S. and Canadian governments have determined to extend, yet another time, that closure. No “non-essential” crossings will be permitted until at least September 21 under the most recent decision. There had been hopes the border would open on August 21, but the continuing issues with COVID-19 have killed those hopes. The same holds true for the U.S./Mexico border.
Evidently the rush of folks to purchase RVs for summer travel is making a deep impression on the hotel industry. Internet hotel reservation site hotels.com is now sponsoring a contest catering to RVers who, in their words, may be suffering from “buyer’s remorse.” The top prize is a $5,000 credit toward hotel reservations. What do you need to do to get in on the “fun”? Photos or a video that “show off your hunk of junk RV (remember the crappier the RV, the more it’s worth!)”, a bit of your personal information, like name, state, photocopy of your driver’s license (if you’re a winner), and proof of ownership (or rental) for the RV. Ready to move over to the dark side? Here’s where to go for more information. Hurry. The contest ends at 5 p.m. CDT on Aug. 18.
The Paradise, California, town council has taken plenty of heat lately. Yes, it’s related to the devastating Camp Fire. The council earlier ruled that residents recovering from the 2018 blaze must have a building plan in place by December 31, 2020, or else move out of their temporary housing situations, including RVs. Affected residents have complained that getting on their feet hasn’t been easy, and the situation has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Town council members are now talking about revisiting the issue.
New data from the National Safety Council points an ugly finger at drivers during the COVID-19 lockdown. For March and April, traffic speeds shot up significantly. Prior to then, average freeway speed on I-405 in Los Angeles was 19 mph, and during – 68 mph. Chicago, I-290, went from 24 to 62. Washington D.C. Capital Beltway, 27 to 70, while the limit is 55. Ohio’s state patrol said speeds above 100 mph jumped 53% from March 23 to May 3 compared to the same time period in 2019. Virginia troopers wrote up two drivers for doing 124 mph on an interstate, and another for 110.
RVers traveling between Portland, Oregon, and Washington state know there are only two ways to go: Take the “new” Interstate 205 or plan on crawling through Portland on the I-5. It’s not a tough call, as traffic on “The 5” can move at a snail’s pace much of the day. Now Oregon’s Department of Transportation is taking public comment on turning a part of I-205 into a toll route. Under various alternatives, all lanes would be tolled over a seven-mile stretch. Tolls would be handled by transponders and for those without the equipment, by license-plate readers that would bill the registered owner’s address. Learn more, or answer a survey here.
A question for you
Have you noticed that RV parks and campgrounds are more crowded lately?
What are your experiences? Please let us know. We’re working on a story and need your input. If you don’t think they are more crowded, please tell us that, too. Submit here.
Another unexpected side effect of COVID-19 has turned up in California. First responders are more and more being called out to rescue people unfamiliar with the out-of-doors. To break cabin fever, folks are taking to trails and nature areas, unprepared. Last weekend, a helicopter crew from the California Highway Patrol had to buzz an upset cow and her calf to rescue an older couple. They were chased and got minor injuries in Solano County. It took the urging of the chopper’s siren to induce the desired bovine reaction. Elsewhere, outdoor newbies are credited with the doubling of campfire-related wildfire incidents.
As COVID-19 spawned a whole new batch of folks interested in RVing, along came another issue. Many of those newbies need an education in campground etiquette. The group campgroundviews.com has now released “customizable” handouts to give to new folks to help them get a grasp of how to be good neighbors. Ideas like, Respect Your Neighbors – don’t walk through their site. Keep a Tidy Campsite – pick up your garbage. Many of the reminders are things most of us should have learned by now. RV parks can download the handouts and put on their own logos.
Brookings, Oregon, like many communities, has its own set of issues in dealing with folks without permanent homes. Witness two items from the local police blotter, both occurring on August 10. First, a report came in about “illegal camping” near Highway 101. A few hours later, someone who probably would be much better off illegally camping in an RV (even a beat-up one) took shelter in a dumpster. Sadly, he picked the wrong time for a snooze: The garbage company came by, grabbed the temporary “shelter” and dumped all the contents, including the man, into their truck. The man was able to get out of the truck before being compacted. He declined medical treatment.
Number crunchers for InsureMyTrip and alarm.org say they have the best to worst states in which to camp ranked. All this is based on rainfall, campsite quality, and violent and property crime statistics. Top 10: Rhode Island, followed by Utah, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Minnesota, Colorado, South Carolina, Texas, and Vermont. Bottom 10 (bad to worst): Mississippi, Tennessee, Hawaii, California, North Carolina, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming. Wyoming gets spanked because of high numbers of accidents and criminal activity. Nevada was down-graded because of poor environmental quality, especially air pollution.
Not everyone is finding out that RVing is their “cup of tea.” TV actor Jerry O’Connell had never done an RV trip until his wife convinced him to pack up the family (wife and twins) and head to California’s Yosemite National Park. On August 11, O’Connell talked with media outlet Access Daily. “Don’t ever go on an RV trip with your family. It’s non-stop fighting. I haven’t showered in a week…” And how about “all the comforts of home”? “We tried to cook something last night but it didn’t really work out… so we ended up ordering a pizza… I’m in the only spot in all of Yosemite with, like, an ounce of wifi.” Geez, Yosemite, a world beauty spot, without WiFi? How horrible!
Airstream’s new travel trailer plant in Jackson Center, Ohio, has more than just production lines. The company has opened an on-site health care center for employees and, eventually, for their families, too. A certified nurse practitioner will deal with everything from job injuries to ear infections, and a plethora of complaints in between. Workers will get free visits, although lab work and specialist referrals will be billed to employee health insurance plans. Over 1,000 Airstream employees will be able to take advantage of the clinic.
Want to get into the business of building park model trailers? The RV Industry Association (RVIA) can help you out. They just approved a new book, the 2020 edition of “A Guide to ANSI A119.5 Park Model RV Handbook.” Not only is it “required reading” for builders, a copy must be found at every plant that builds park models. At $250 a pop, it’s not inexpensive, but the latest edition includes updates through 2023. Oh, and your library isn’t complete there. To be certifiable under RVIA standards, each manufacturer must also have a copy of the 2020 National Electrical Code. Inspectors will be asking to see them when they make unannounced inspections.
The annual Workamper Rendezvous, usually held in October each year, is scrubbed. The event, sponsored by Workamper News, brings RVers who want to work in exchange for a spot for themselves and their RVs, has been a staple each fall for years. But the COVID-19 pandemic is not dying down as organizers had hoped, and so the decision to cancel the 2020 conference has been made. The group is working on plans for a 2021 meetup.
In 2012 New Mexico had an unwelcome visitor in the form of the Little Bear fire. Little Bear wiped out the Sunfork Campground in the Lincoln National Forest. After major reconstruction and replanting – and a waiting period for a Mexican Spotted Owl family to move along – the camp is now reopened. The Forest Service is asking for those that can to clean up pine cones and needles in their sites – and post before and after photos on Facebook (hashtag, ILoveSouthForkCampground).
Indiana has added two new state forests to its inventory. Ravinia State Forest, near Paragon, includes 1,500 acres of woodland in rolling hills and restored cropland. And near Nashville, the Mountain Tea State Forest adds another 1,150 acres. These two bring the state to a total of 15 state forests. Hiking and gathering of berries, mushrooms and nuts are accessible to the public, as well as in-season hunting. Sad to say, camping is not on the list of permitted activities.
We reported earlier about a proposed RV park in Orange County, Virginia. The builder was back before the planning commission August 6, and the meeting was a bit confusing. Originally the developer wanted to build a 250-site high-end park, wherein RVers would buy lots at up to $375,000 each. Now the plan is to build 150 sites based on a leased-space arrangement. Making it difficult, the more questions commissioners asked, the less information the developers were able to provide, suggesting things would be clarified in due time as the plan was “evolving.” They still wanted a conditional use permit, even though they weren’t clear on just what they wanted to do. In the end, commissioners continued an open public comment period to August 18, and will review it all on the 20th.
Campground reservation website recreation.gov lists activities for visitors to the Buffalo Campground near Denver, Colorado, like this: “Visitors enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, mountain biking and trout fishing.” Apparently one visitor decided to add to the list: Lock yourself into a set of handcuffs. Earlier this month, the man approached the camp host requesting assistance. Apparently he didn’t have the key to free himself.
RV Crime News
It’s another case of: If you’re gonna haul drugs in your RV, stay inconspicuous. On August 4, Madison County, Mississippi, deputies spotted a pickup pulling a travel trailer on Interstate 55. They stopped the rig, and after speaking with the driver, Aaron Paul Abernathy (42) of Flora, Mississippi, something didn’t ring up right. A K-9 drug dog agreed. Abernathy agreed to a search, and officers found 400 pounds of marijuana in a hidden compartment in the rig. Cause for the stop? Expired tags on the trailer.
Trucking companies with routes through New Orleans, Louisiana, are breathing easier. The ringleader of an insurance fraud scheme has pleaded guilty to defrauding interstate trucking and insurance companies by staging two “accidents” in 2017. Damian Labeaud, 48, admitted he was the driver that would cause an accident with an 18-wheeler. He’d leave in a getaway car, while his “passengers” would file suit against the trucking company insurance. Labeaud directed his passengers to particular attorneys; these would direct them to specific doctors who would assist with phony claims. While pleading guilty to two specific accidents, Labeaud admitted he was involved with at least 40 set-up accidents. A grand jury is still working on “outing” the attorneys and doctors in the scheme.
. . . and then there’s odd crime news:
We found these in the Grass Valley (California) Union newspaper
• A man called and then said it was a prank. On call-back, a second man could be heard fake-crying and yelling, “Keep crying like a baby.” Then both men started crying like babies and talking about each other’s girlfriends.
• A caller from the 800 block of East Main Street reported a half-naked man playing in a puddle.
• A woman reported someone found her pet pig and won’t return it. She called back to report the person who found it just wants a photo to prove it belongs to her before returning it. She was providing a photo. At 9:04 p.m., she reported her pig was being held hostage.
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HAVE YOU SEEN THIS STOLEN RV?
A pair of long-time Las Vegas comedians and their three children recently leased out their home and bought a travel trailer. Their plan: Start a new circuit, with mom and dad doing a comedy show, and the kids acting as barkers and side-show sales folk. The plan has been killed by someone who stole their new home – and all of their possessions. Joe and Jessica Trammel’s 27-foot, 1999 Nash travel trailer vanished in Las Vegas, Nevada, on August 5, a day before the family was to leave on tour. Anyone who wants to help the family, or has leads on tracking down their trailer, email Imjoevegas@gmail.com or call 702-788-3698.
On July 31, someone with a pickup truck brazenly backed up to a 2007 Cougar travel trailer in broad daylight. The truck was used to purloin the trailer, and now the St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff wants help tracking it down. We’re light on details, other than the picture of the trailer in question. If you’ve got more info that could help, call investigators at 337-828-1960.
Bad guys with good taste strike in Delores, Colorado. Stolen on August 11, a 19-foot 1953 Airstream Flying Cloud. “Reward paid for recovery,” phone 970-882-7761.
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.
2020 Ford Expedition review: Big, badass, expensive
Car manufacturers are big on adjectives and embellishment. There may be no better example than the promotion of the 2020 Ford Expedition. … The Expedition (Max Edition) has a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 375 horsepower and a 10-speed automatic transmission. It can weigh as much as 5,800 pounds depending upon its configuration. When equipped with its optional towing package, the Expedition can haul 9,300 pounds, an impressive capacity. Learn more.
Be careful: Truck thieves hard at work in Western Washington
At least seven Ford Super Duty trucks were stolen during a 48-hour period in Pierce County, Washington, last week. Five have been recovered, but one couple is still desperately searching. The thieves stole their 1999 Ford SuperCab F-250 truck, Nevada license 920-F83, leaving their fifth wheel trailer behind. The truck has four bike racks on top of the cab, with a black plastic hood deflector. Police note that older model Ford pickups are a popular target for thefts because of less sophisticated security features than newer models.
Nikola taking orders for Badger pickup; adds garbage truck to its electric truck fleet
Startup truck maker Nikola recently began taking orders for its pending Badger electric pickup truck. It will provide RVers with another choice of towing vehicle. Nikola also hopes to challenge Tesla for electric vehicle prominence. It gained further momentum recently in a unique but welcoming way. It just received an order for 2,500 garbage trucks. Learn more.
Directory of RV parks with storm shelters
Where do you camp when a tornado is headed your direction? Hopefully in a park with a storm shelter. Here’s RVtravel.com’s ever-expanding directory of such places. Keep this handy. And if you know of a park with a storm shelter that isn’t listed, send info to email@example.com .
Do you believe there will be a normal NFL football season this fall? Vote here and see how others respond.
A man wanted to encrypt his password but he needed to do it in a way so that he could remember it. He had to use seven characters consisting of letters and numbers only (no symbols like ! or <). In order to remember it, he wrote down “You force heaven to be empty.” What is his password?
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We’re sad to report the death of Coleen Sykora, who along with her husband, Bob, operated the Workers On Wheels website for more than two decades. Coleen had contributed articles to RVtravel.com in its early years. Bob reported she died of a massive heart attack in July. The couple began full-timing in 1992.
Northern California’s Lava Beds National Monument has reopened with no fee to enter for now. The park, famous for its extensive lava tube caves, was closed July 23 due to the Caldwell Fire, which is now contained after burning 70% of the monument. Campgrounds remain closed.
The National Ultra Van Rally has been postponed until July 2021. It was originally scheduled this coming September 15-20 in Kearney, Nebraska.
The Cameron Peak fire 62 miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado, is still out of control burning primarily on Roosevelt National Forest land. Highway 14 is closed in both directions from Rustic to Gould because of the fire. Several campgrounds in the upper Poudre Canyon have been evacuated along with many homes. More than 61% of Colorado is currently experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
According to Yelp, as of July 10, nearly 450 New Hampshire businesses had closed at least temporarily during the pandemic. And 280 have marked themselves as permanently shut down.
A bat collected August 6 along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park has tested positive for rabies. In recent months, wildlife managers have reported an increase in human-bat interactions. So far this year, 68 animals have tested positive for rabies across Arizona, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. In 2019, 139 animals tested positive for rabies, and there were 160 such animals in 2018.
Pennsylvania State University may proceed with a trademark suit against Keystone Alternatives LLC after a federal judge dismissed one of the RV rental company’s counterclaims. Penn State sued the RV rental company over use of its GoPSUrv.com domain name. The university said Keystone’s domain infringed and diluted its “PSU” trademark, which it uses in several website URLs, including psu.edu and goPSUsports.com.
Rocky Mountain National Park is banning all fires within the park starting Friday, Aug. 14, until further notice due to extreme fire danger and a hot, dry weather forecast. Typically, campfires are allowed only within designated campfire rings in picnic areas and campgrounds. However, the fire ban will prohibit campfires even in those sites. Oh, smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed vehicle or in a vehicle stopped within a developed paved area devoid of vegetation for at least 3 feet.
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
• Wrong seat pedestal bolts installed in some Thor Class C motorhomes.
• Some Pace Arrow motorhomes recalled for battery issue.
• Tiffin motorhomes recall: Windshield wipers may not work.
• Winnebago trailers recalled: Escape windows not installed.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed:
• Will moth balls repel mice from your RV? Here’s the verdict. (with video)
• Horrific blast wipes RV from face of the earth.
• “We’re (finally!) towing a dinghy and loving it!”
• This innovative spring system improves your RV handling.
• Oh, an unimaginable horror! Be careful not to do this.
• RV Electricity: Can I make more power by stepping up the voltage?
• Two cats test positive for coronavirus. Should you be worried for your pet?
• Remember when the internet was miles away?
• RV Tech Corner: Fifth wheel tires wearing unevenly. Why?
• RV Tire Safety: Leaking valve stems – Does your tire dealer know what it’s doing?
• Building an RV park: Surprise visitors, perc tests and off-roading, Oh My!
• The Digital RVer: How to make Google Maps more accurate.
… and much more
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of August 10, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.17 [Calif.: $3.05]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 46 cents.
Diesel: $2.43 [Calif.: $3.26]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 58 cents.
Upcoming RV shows
Most if not all RV shows for the remainder of the year are cancelled. We will restart this feature as RV shows begin again.
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:
Here, we’ll repeat the question so you can read the question and answer side-by-side: A man wanted to encrypt his password but he needed to do it in a way so that he could remember it. He had to use seven characters consisting of letters and numbers only (no symbols like ! or <). In order to remember it, he wrote down “You force heaven to be empty.” What is his password?
u472bmt (read it out loud)
The elderly man flattered himself that he was still a ladies’ man, and decided to flirt with the beautiful waitress. “So, tell me, sweetheart,” he crooned. “Where have you been all my life?” “Actually, sir,” she pointed out, “for the first 45 years of it, I wasn’t even born.”
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.
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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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