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Sunday, September 13, 2020
If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.
Trailer Life, MotorHome magazines to cease publication
It’s no surprise that America’s two largest RV magazines are set to publish their final issues. The magazines have been thin, uninspired versions of what they once were and it was obvious to RV insiders that it was only a matter of time before they’d disappear. Good Sam Club CEO Marcus Lemonis will launch a new title, RV Magazine, to replace them. Our prediction: It won’t be much more than a marketing tool for Camping World. Read more.
The West is burning up. Be careful where you travel
By Chuck Woodbury
I just walked outside my home north of Seattle and glanced upward. There, barely visible, was the sun, nearly totally obscured by the orange sky. Wildfires are burning up and down the West Coast and the smoke moves where the wind blows it. I can see it and I can smell it. It’s eerie. Read more including a list of resources you should check before heading off soon in the West with your RV.
Readers send their “smoky skies” photos
In yesterday’s issue, we asked RV Travel readers to send us photos of their smoky skies. We couldn’t get them all in, but we’ve got quite a few to show you. From dark gray to maroon red, they sent some haunting images. See them here.
That was the RV week that was
September 6 – 12, 2020
The Bureau of Land Management in California will be opening its Long-Term Visitor Areas (LTVA) come September 15, despite the coronavirus situation. These LTVAs are on the opening list: Midland. Mule Mountain (although Wiley’s Well Campground will remain briefly closed to implement guidance from the State of California). Hot Springs ( while the Hot Springs Tub area will remain closed to implement Imperial County guidance). Pilot Knob. Tamarisk. It’s recommended visitors bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer. They should also follow CDC guidance on prevention and spread of infectious diseases, including maintaining social distancing, covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and staying home if you feel sick.
An RVer pulling a fifth-wheel near Biggar, Saskatchewan, owes his life to a woman with a cool head and quick responses. Karen Jiricka got a phone call from her daughter telling her a man had driven his rig into a slough near her house. Karen made a quick trip the half-mile to the scene, and found the driver sitting in his truck, partially submerged in water. He rolled down his window and called he was alright – but moments later the pickup was completely submerged. Jiricka and a male passerby hit the water and found the man’s foot was caught and he couldn’t get free. They finally got the man free of the truck and Karen, recalling years-old lifeguard techniques, towed him to shore. The unidentified man said he’d been on the way to celebrate his anniversary with his wife when he had the ill-fated meetup with the water hazard.
A Reno, Nevada, RVer has been arrested in California, charged with starting the “139 Fire” in Lassen County. The 139 Fire was actually three separate fires, one smaller than an acre, and the largest burning more than 30 acres. The unidentified man didn’t use matches to start the fire – rather, wheel bearings on his towable unit failed, causing the rig to lose a wheel. The trailer was then pulled 40 miles from Adin to Eagle Lake, dragging an axle, which shot sparks from roadway contact. He ended his trip in the Lassen County Jail, charged with suspicion of unlawful and reckless actions causing a fire. It’s recommended that trailer wheel bearings be inspected on an annual basis.
A hat-tip to campers at Oregon’s Collier State Park. Early last Tuesday wildfire roared toward the park, and an urgent evacuation order was issued. Host Micki Forester told local news media, “It was a controlled panic,” as might be expected. But “controlled” is the operative word. Forrester added, “Everybody did a great job of packing up and getting out, and the people that had packed up who didn’t have as much to pack up and got packed up really quickly, they were helping other people pack up.” In the end, host and campers all made it out of the campground without injury.
The U.K. version of the popular TV game show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, just had its first millionaire winner in 14 years. The brainy winner, Donald Fear (57) of Telford, says he’ll gift 70% of his winnings to relatives. And what about that remaining amount? Fear and his wife are RVers, owning a “caravan” or travel trailer. But the two will be stepping out for a road tour of Britain in a new motorhome. Fear’s winning answer? To the question: “In 1718, which pirate died in battle off the coast of what is now North Carolina?” Fear – a history teacher – answered, “Blackbeard!”
If you’ve camped at a KOA, you’ve probably heard about Care Camps. The big RV park franchise sponsors camping experiences for children affected by cancer, giving them and their families a free respite. But one of the biggest Care Camps in the system is hurting now, as Camp Okizu in Berry Creek, California, took a major hit from the North Complex wildfire. Organizers are determined to rebuild, and folks who make a donation to the cause will find it doubled through a match-grant program this month in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. More info here.
Do you fit the profile? According to The Media Audit, if advertisers want to reach RV owners, they should put their ad money in newspapers – the old-fashioned, ink-on-paper variety. While the typical U.S. adult spends 14.9% of their “media day” with newspapers, RVers spend 20.3%, or 57% more time than the average adult.
The state of Rhode Island will add a new state campground in 2021. Echo Lake Campground, located on 2,200 feet of freshwater frontage, was opened by private owners in 1952. The Burrillville, Rhode Island, property will sell for slightly more than $2 million. The state is funding the purchase with a bond, approved by voters back in 2016. The purchase will make for the state’s second park in the northwest corner of the Little Rhody State.
What do you do when the city campground has a substantial list of code violations? If you’re the Windom, Minnesota, City Council, and you’ve just heard your own park and recreation commission recommend you close it – you don’t. With RV sites about 50% smaller than they should be, some a third farther from bathrooms than permitted, and the dump station twice as close to the concession stand and potable water supply than lawful, some felt enough was enough. Councilors heard that it was a wonder the park was, in fact, licensed, as it never had been in compliance with the codes. But all being said, city councilors voted unanimously to allow their campground to remain open – after all, they have nothing else to replace it with.
While many RVers in the West are doing their best to avoid (or escape) wildfires, some in Chama, New Mexico, had a different worry. Snow and high winds hit a local campground, dropping tree limbs, knocking out power, and trapping some in their rig. In the end, about 50 people had to be evacuated and put up at hotels and an emergency shelter. It all blew in last Wednesday morning.
A Tesla is credited with coming to the rescue of a stolen RV. An RV owner in Langley, B.C., identified only as Derek, had fetched his travel trailer from storage and parked it in his driveway. The next morning, the RV had vanished. Derek’s Tesla automobile had been parked in the driveway next to the RV, and was equipped with what Tesla calls its “Sentry Mode.” A souped-up surveillance system, evidently Sentry had detected a threat – someone or something coming near to the car, and switched on a video recording system. Sure enough, the clever Tesla recorded a full-length video of the crooks and the truck they used to swipe the 29’ trailer. Police recognized the truck, and in combination with tips received on social media, the RV – and others also potentially stolen – were recovered the next day.
For years, Robin and Peggy Lawton, of Sarasota, Florida, have made Maine their summer respite. But finding a place to stay with their RV has proved a challenge – sometimes reservations had to be made months in advance. The Lawtons decided enough was enough, they’d just buy a piece of Maine property of their own and set it up for their rig. But the idea of a small chunk of land got a bit bigger, when they ended up with a 33-acre parcel in West Bay, Maine. What do you do? Apply to turn the land into a 26-site RV park. The Lawtons just got a favorable, unanimous nod from the local planning board and are one step closer to having the permits required to build their new park.
Here’s a campground for the birds. Municipally-owned Camp Chowenwaw Park near Jacksonville, Florida, features rental – not cabins – but birdhouses. The super-sized birdhouses are screened, above-ground dwellings and have bunks (but no power) that rent for $35 a night. The “tree houses” are in a section of the park called Treehouse Point. More info?
Next week, Rocky Mountain, Alberta, residents will get the opportunity to “take the money and run.” Or maybe not. At the center of the question is the future of what was once the Centennial Campground located in their town. The town, which now holds the land, says residents can decide if they’d like to see the old campground turned into a residential development, which would include senior housing, individual residences and apartments. This choice is a big moneymaker according to officials. The other option? Let the campground continue with a few improvements, and toss in a community garden and playground. We’ll fill you in on the vote as the information becomes available.
Jackson Lake State Park in Morgan County, Colorado, has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, becoming the fifth park in Colorado to receive the designation and the only site located east of I-25. The International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) program consists of roughly 150 certified IDSPs in the world, 95 of which are located in the United States and 74 of those are west of the Mississippi River. The state park has always attracted amateur astronomers. “I think this puts us on the map so that we’re easier for people to recognize us as a dark sky place,” said Park Ranger Amy Brandenburg. “It was a unique opportunity to do that.”
A New Zealand RVer is a bit peeved with a reception he got when shopping a couple of stores in Hamilton, New Zealand. Kenny Paton parked his Class C rig in a parking lot to do a spot of shopping in a Kmart and another store. Since his rig wouldn’t fit in a single slot, he carefully drove out to the fringes of the lot and took two spaces to park his rig. On his return he found a parking ticket on his windshield, demanding a $60 payment. Paton fumed, but decided to ignore the citation, until he got a “reminder” letter by mail. Only after making a stink with the local media did the private company that issued the citation back down and waive the charges. Paton said he was just trying to do his bit and support the local economy when he stopped to shop while passing through the area.
RV Crime News
The new owner of a Class C motorhome in Jones County, Georgia, got quite a surprise. It’s not unusual to find silverware, dishes, even clothing left in a second-hand RV. But the man who bought the 1978 Dodge rig found something rather suspicious: A metal pipe, with end caps, one with a hole drilled into it. When police asked the previous owner about the pipe bomb, he denied any knowledge of the device, but did point police in the direction of a man who had lived in the rig. Police called on the “tenant,” Victor Hall, at his new home. They found a plastic bag of black powder in Hall’s possession, put two-and-two together and booked him on possession of explosive devices and reckless conduct.
An anguished Scamp owner reports their 2019 Standard Layout 6 (16 footer) was ripped off while waiting for service at the Greensboro/Colfax, North Carolina Camping World. It looks like just about any other Scamp, but if somebody tries to sell you one that has a DryFlush toilet, instead of the factory standard toilet, you may have found the missing merchandise. Last seen with North Carolina license plate CL-61998. Here’s a link to the owner’s craigslist ad, the only contact information we have on this one.
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.
Idaho brothers debut campers in a box for pickup trucks
Talus Expedition Gear, owned by brothers Dan and Will Sunderland in Boise, Idaho, has introduced a new approach to the camper lifestyle. It’s a “box” that mounts on the bed of daily driver pickup trucks – from a Ford F-150 to a Toyota Tacoma. The camper van is currently offered in two options: the $11,900 CampPack and $13,750 VenturePack. Learn more.
For towable RV owners only:
Do you have a tire pressure monitoring system on your RV?
A man who owned a winery passed away. In his will, he left 21 barrels (seven of which are filled with wine, seven of which are half full, and seven of which are empty) to his three sons. However, the wine and barrels must be split so that each son has the same number of full barrels, the same number of half-full barrels, and the same number of empty barrels. There are no measuring devices handy. How can the barrels and wine be evenly divided?
All of California’s U.S. National Forests closed in an unprecedented move toward safety. Earlier, eight of the Golden State forests were shut down. On Wednesday officials closed the last ten. The National Forests closed as a measure labeled as “temporary.” Service officials will eyeball the situation on a daily basis. Read more.
As of yesterday at 4 p.m. Central Standard Time, the National Weather Service has issued a Hurricane Watch for the Coastal Baldwin County, Alabama, area, which includes the Gulf Shores and the Fort Morgan Peninsula, due to the expected impacts from Tropical Storm Sally. In addition, a Flash Flood Watch has been issued. Significant rain fall totals in the amount of 10 to 15 inches are expected through the duration of the storm and anticipated to begin as early as Monday morning.
Southern Idaho Tourism is seeing an increase in interest in travel with an RV. “Camping has been through the roof, pretty much since May,” said Southern Idaho Tourism Executive Director Melissa Barry. “People have been buying RVs and really going and traveling across country in their campers and just exploring these different places that are in their backyard. So campgrounds have been packed for a long time.”
Despite a heatwave that raised temperatures to 107° F, more than 70,000 people visited Zion National Park over the Labor Day weekend, according to park officials. This isn’t much lower than the previous few years, where upwards of 80,000 people go to Zion for the holiday weekend. Missing this year: international visitors.
Across the USA, even as the pandemic has claimed nearly 200,000 lives and nearly 30 million people are on unemployment, sales of camping, outdoor and recreational equipment have been surging. Sales of bicycles jumped 63% in June from a year earlier, data from the NPD Group shows. Spending on paddle sports such as kayaking, which had faced declines before the pandemic, bounced up 56%. There were similarly big gains in sales of golf equipment, camping equipment and binoculars, as more people go bird-watching.
The largest free RV show in the USA, held each January in Quartzsite, Arizona, is still a “go” according to organizers. No need for campground reservations if you plan to attend: most showgoers hole up on free Bureau of Land Management areas within a mile or two of the show, set for January 16 through 24, 2021, in a huge tent erected each year for the event.
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
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed:
• DANGER: Beware of camping with only one road in and out.
• Crowded campgrounds news and discussion – fourth installment.
• I’ve been bitten by the RV bug. Did it happen to you once too?
• Boondocking gone badly wrong! (video)
• Dollar stores that stock groceries are ideal for RV travel.
• Meet your fellow RVtravel.com readers, September 12, 2020.
• RVelectricity: First-hand report on Hurricane Laura recovery operations.
• Reader Poll: How long have you waited in line at a dump station?
• The new face of COVID-19 litter. What do we do about it?
• New weekly feature: Casino RV Camping, September 12, 2020.
• Do you know what you’re getting into on a dirt road?
• RV Tire Safety: What is the “10% safety margin” for tire inflation referring to?
• Yikes! There’s a freeze warning – Tips to keep the water flowing.
… and much more
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of September 8, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.21 [Calif.: $3.11]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 34 cents.
Diesel: $2.44 [Calif.: $3.28]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 54 cents.
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Upcoming RV shows
Lancaster County RV Show, September 11-20, Lancaster, PA
Purchase advance tickets here
Free and bargain camping
From Overnight RV Parking
Click here to view this week’s free and bargain camping spots.
Brain teaser answer:
Two half-full barrels are dumped into one of the empty barrels. Two more half-full barrels are dumped into another one of the empty barrels. This results in nine full barrels, three half-full barrels, and nine empty barrels. Each son gets three full barrels, one half-full barrel, and three empty barrels.
A couple was married 60 years. They kept no secrets from each other. The wife, however, had a shoebox that she told her husband to never open, which he didn’t. But when the wife was dying, the man asked if he could now look inside. She said yes. In it, he found two crocheted dolls and $20,000. He asked her about it. “My grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage is to never argue. She said if I ever got angry with you, I should keep quiet and crochet a doll.” The husband was moved to tears, for only two dolls were in the box. “But, Honey, what about the money? “Oh,” she said, “that’s what I made from selling all the other dolls.”
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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