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Page Contents

October 10, 2020

If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.


Editor’s corner

With Chuck Woodbury

H

ave you seen the photos of the giant cruise ships being ripped apart to be sold as scrap? If not, just look below at these ships being disassembled in a port in Turkey. These are not old ships being put out to pasture after a full life. No, they’re ships that would likely be sailing today if people could, or were willing to book passage again.

Embed from Getty Images

Carnival announced recently it will be unloading 18 of its ships this year – about 12% of its fleet. While some cruise lines will likely start sailing again, you can bet the number of passengers will be a fraction of years past. Meanwhile, air traffic is so bad that industry experts are just waiting around for some of the biggest airlines to go belly up. Right now, the world airline fleet numbers 25,900 aircraft, of which 29% were still parked as of last month. Boeing projected this past week that it will deliver 11 percent fewer jets in the next decade compared to pre-pandemic forecasts.

Amtrak PR people have contacted me repeatedly lately with special deals including two-for-one packages on roomettes.

My Edmonds, Washington, neighbor Rick Steves, who leads tours to Europe, has cancelled every tour for the remainder of 2020 and is unsure if he can even resume in 2021.

Meanwhile, RVs are selling faster than manufacturers can build them and there is no end in sight. Is it any wonder? RVing is the safest, most enjoyable way to travel these days. How could we have ever envisioned such a monumental jump in its popularity even a few years ago?

A friend of mine in the advertising business told me last week that one of his clients who normally had a few hundred RVs on its sales lot has 12 today. It’s the same across the country.

I asked another friend who promotes several RV shows if any would be coming back in 2021. He doesn’t know. But he said one show in his area was prepared to open again, but won’t because dealers don’t have any inventory to bring there. “Why would they spend tens of thousands of dollars to attend an RV show when they can sell everything they can get already?”

The traffic at RVtravel.com has doubled since last December from one million page views a month to more than two million, and should easily hit three million before next summer. Our readers are reporting hordes of new, inexperienced RVers in their campgrounds – in rental RVs or in brand-new rigs still with temporary licenses.

KOA in Des Moines, Iowa. No RV needed.

RV parks are being built but not nearly fast enough. Many are “resorts” that cater to luxury travelers. “Glamping” (luxury camping – an RV is seldom needed) is hot. KOA recently converted an RV park in Maine to luxury tents-only that rent for a few hundred dollars a night. In its advertisements, KOA sometimes doesn’t even show RVs – just cabins and luxury lodges. Many, if not most, of those structures were once RV sites.

Entrance to Badlands National Park. Signs like this are common across the country.

In the last year, Google searches for “RV park” have doubled. If you think RV parks were crowded this past summer, just wait until next year. It will be a madhouse.

The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) just advised RVers who plan to visit the Lone Star State to make reservations soon. “Campgrounds and RV resorts are seeing more first-time RVers this year because of the pandemic, and many of these folks are planning to continue their travels well into fall and winter because they have realized how easy it is to work remotely from their RV,” said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of TACO. “This is creating more demand for RV sites than we typically see at this time of year.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Crowding does change things. Twenty years ago this was a quiet two-lane road. Today, same place, it’s a congested mess. Can the same sort of overcrowding happen in the RV world?

So what does this mean for you and me? It means if you want to stay in your “first choice” parks, start making reservations now – as in “right now!” If you’re willing to take what’s available when you pass through, you might find a decent park but, hey, there’s always a Walmart parking lot.

WHAT TO DO

Solutions are out there including the creation of many, new, inexpensive, no-frills RV stopover “parks” to help with overnight stays. I am trying to free up time to promote this idea again, but it’s a big task and so far nobody in the industry with both vision and money is seriously considering the idea. Just imagine if Cabela’s was to provide a dozen reservable, automated overnight RV spaces in its store parking lots, each with an 50-amp hookup? Ditto Target stores, etc. No, it’s not “camping,” but there is definitely a need among RVers “on the move” (see a great example of how this can work).

And we need more alternatives to traditional campgrounds and RV parks like innovative programs from Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome, both of which offer unlimited potential to expand the number of quality places to stay.

Why couldn’t big box stores offer 50-amp overnight spots for RVers like Tesla does with its charging stations?

Still, expect to see a huge influx of new RVers in the months and years ahead. Crowding ruins a lot of things and, indeed, that’s what’s happening in our RV world. So, yeah … that’s not good news for you and me. Yet, with careful planning, the idea of a fun RV trip is still very much possible, just a bit more challenging than in the good ol’ days when an RV was “Grandma’s and Grandpa’s Playhouse” and uncool to anyone younger than 50.

Tomorrow’s cover story

With RVs selling far faster than manufacturers can make them, and faster than dealers can keep them in stock, we wondered what the future looks like for our favorite pastime. Will all of today’s buyers stick with RVing after the pandemic passes? What will happen to the resale values of our RVs? And more…

chucksignature

Coming later this month

The third edition of my book “The ABCs of RVing” will be available within two weeks on Amazon.com in both printed and Kindle editions. This will be the best book available for people who are just getting started RVing. It addresses the most basic questions new RVers ask, or in some cases don’t even know enough to ask. With record numbers of people buying RVs, this book, I believe, will be a great way to speed up their learning curve.


NEW: DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE COFFEE MUG? SHOW US!

Everyone has a favorite coffee mug, don’t they? Many people collect them on their travels and have cupboards overflowing with mugs. Do you have a favorite? If so, please send us a photo and a description (How long have you had it? Where did you get it? What makes it so special?). Click here.


MEET YOUR FELLOW READERS

In our search to know our readers better, we’ve asked that they tell us about themselves. We know that thousands of them have followed us for a decade or more. We’ve met a few hundred of them through the years, which has been very nice. But who else, we wonder, reads what we write week after week? So, please, tell us about yourself! Here’s this week’s installment of Meet our Readers.
*Note: There’s a great song in here by one of our readers that you’ll want to listen to!


Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters

Keep this bug out of your RV to help prevent food poisoning.
Lane-savvy driving – the safe way to travel.
Prepping your RV for storage.
Can your “other half” handle the rig? They should know how.
Dumping RV tanks: Where do you go when you gotta go?


Clintoons • By Clint Norrell

COPYRIGHT 2020 By Clint Norrell

SoftStartRV – Run an air conditioner with a small generator

By Dave Helgeson
Earlier this year I installed a SoftStartRV™ on my RV’s roof air conditioner. Impressively, the SoftStartRV allows me to run an air conditioner with a small generator. … I also promised a follow-up report after I had the opportunity to field test the unit over the summer under varying conditions. Here’s my report. (Hint: For me it’s been a game changer.)

Top 10 complaints RV park managers have about campers

By Nanci Dixon
In last week’s issue, I told you about the top 5 complaints campers voice at the RV park office. This week I thought it would only be fair to write about the top ten complaints RV parks have about campers. Now you’re in the hot seat! The office staff were a vocal group, hence 10 complaints this time instead of 5! Are you guilty of any of these?

Casino camping not necessarily a bargain anymore

In this week’s column about camping at casinos, we have a couple of comments and corrections to what we wrote last time. And there have been a number of you writing in saying that the cost of staying at Casino RV parks has gone up, or is rather pricey to begin with. There are several more casino recommendations, and there’s a question from a reader for those of you who have stayed at casinos for more than one night. Read more.


Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles

How lazy are RVers about picking up spare change?
22 tips for choosing the best campsite
Co-op discombobulation: To invest or not to invest in an RV lot
Your navigation system should tell you more than just “Turn right here”


Brain Teaser

What do the following words have in common?
Assess, Banana, Dresser, Grammar, Potato, Revive, Uneven and Voodoo

(Shhh. Don’t give it away. Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday News newsletter.)


Reader Poll

Have you already voted?

Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. CLICK HERE.

The most popular poll in this past week’s RV Daily Tips newsletters:
When you “camp” at Walmart, do you ask the store for permission? See how nearly 4,200 (wow!) other RVers answered.


Pay attention to passing motorists’ warnings of trouble

On the road, most of us have experienced looking out our window to see a car passing by with someone waving frantically, and pointing toward our vehicle or behind it. Most of the time these are good Samaritans who have spotted something wrong with our vehicle or the one we’re towing. This message and the ensuing responses were posted at our RV Advice Group on Facebook and we believe are worth passing along. Continue reading.

Easy almost-Homemade Chicken Wild Rice Soup

By Nanci Dixon
We love soups, particularly as the weather starts to cool in the fall. I have been making a lot of soups in my Instant Pot™ lately but today decided to cook on the stove, making a chicken and wild rice soup. I used a packaged mix as a starter, so I kind of cheated, but I added additional ingredients so it’s almost homemade! … It was easy, quick and delicious. Get the recipe here.

What’s a Super Bugger? A VW camper conversion, of course!

The Super Bugger was the result of a wacky idea of an entrepreneurial company in Costa Mesa, California. In the mid-1970s, the outfit converted a 1970 VW Beetle into a hybrid camper it called the Super Bugger. It cost $6,000. The rage for the strange little machine conversion didn’t last long, and not many of the hybrids in decent shape remain. But there’s one for sale on eBay. Check this out.

The roadside American Armory Museum has Jelly Belly roots

Geoff Lippman is the general manager of the American Amory Museum in Fairfield, California.
Geoff Lippman is the general manager of the American Amory Museum in Fairfield, California.

RV travelers on Interstate 80 in Fairfield, California, can visit the American Armory Museum. It’s just off the freeway near the halfway point between Sacramento and San Francisco, and it’s where vintage tanks, uniforms, weapons, flags from several countries, and all things military reign. The indoor-outdoor homage to military transportation and artifacts also has an unusual connection to the Jelly Belly Candy Company. Read more.

Crowded campgrounds. RVers would rather quit than fight!

crowded campgroundsIn this installment of our weekly column Crowded Campgrounds, RVers vent their frustrations at how much difficulty they’re having finding a find a place to stay. “If this is the new norm I doubt I will enjoy traveling for much longer,” one wrote. “Thor, Winnebago, and the rest – keep on cranking them [RVs] out and know you are about to hit a wall – a very big one,” another wrote. Read more.


Popular articles from last week

Big changes coming to Walmart stores. Will RVers be affected?
My two favorite black tank dumpin’ gadgets.
Here are the top 5 complaints to the RV park office.
Video: RV smashes into vehicle-killer underpass.
New Ford F-150 EV: Bigger, faster truck – far less cost.
Forest River recalls trailers: Cooktop flame may invert, fire danger.
The trashing of our public lands. Case in point.
Casino RV camping, October 3, 2020.
Campground crowding. Discussion for October 3, 2020.
Hundreds of thousands of Ford pickups recalled.
RVelectricity: Hughes Autoformer testing – Part 1.
Is your RV packing on the pounds? Try these 10 steps to shed some rig weight.


SWELL CONTEST OF THE DAY

Happy camper mugHow would you like to win this Happy Camper Coffee Mug (maybe to add to your collection)? 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 (October 10, 2020) by 11 a.m. Pacific time. Remember, you can only enter once and after we notify you by email that you won, you have 24 hours to respond or we’ll give the prize to someone else.

LAST WEEK’S WINNER of the Rand McNally 2021 Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas was Charlie Parsons of Jonesboro, Arkansas. The previous week’s winner of the Digital Moisture Meter was Neil Culver of Garland, Texas.


Resources

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.

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.

RV Clubs
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.


Our Facebook Groups
NEW RVing Wacky, Tacky AmericaNEW Casino CampingNEW RVing Route 66NEW California RV TravelNEW The Future of RVingNEW Electric Bikes for RVingNEW RVing the Back RoadsNEW Outstanding but affordable RV parksRVing During the PandemicCasino CampingFree CampgroundsRVing over 60RV Tires with Roger MarbleRV Parks where you can fish without a licenseRVing Fulltime Southwest RV CampingNorthwest RV CampingRVing with DogsTowing Behind a MotorhomeRVing with a DisabilityRV Travel TipsTrucks for RV Towing RV VideosRV Crashes and DisastersRV Advice


Featured video

Video: What was American life like in 1957?

This fascinating seven-minute video shows what life was like in America 63 years ago, at least in white, suburban America. To many middle-class Americans then it was the best of times, filled with promise. Many readers of this newsletter were young back then and may watch this with fondness. It’s also a reminder how things have changed, for better or worse, depending on one’s circumstances. Watch the video.


A new blog: RV Warranties

I flooded my fifth wheel with poop! Am I covered by my warranty?

PoopHi, Tony,
I was flushing the black tank on my RV and got called away. Unfortunately I left the flush on and it flooded my brand-new fifth wheel. Now the dealer is telling me this isn’t covered by the warranty and I think the entire rig is ruined as it smells terrible. Who should I call? —Sincerely, Someone in a crappy situation
Read Tony’s response.


RV Electricity

Hughes Autoformer testing – Part 2

My Hughes Autoformer testing is continuing. Here are more details on how much additional current an air conditioner draws (or not) as the voltage goes below 100 volts. This has particular relevance for campgrounds and their pedestals. For you casual observers this information may not sink in right away. But for any readers who have an electrical background this is going to read like a mystery novel. Read more.

This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session

Dogbone adapter confusion cleared up – Part 2

In my last JAM Session I posted a simple question about how dogbone adapters are named. I ran a survey because I often get a lot of confusing questions about these most basic of adapters in my various Facebook groups and RV forums that I watch. While there are lots of electrical questions to consider, the most basic one is what do we call an adapter that connects an RV with a 50-amp plug to a pedestal with a 30-amp outlet? Read more.

Read Part 4 of Mike’s series on Boondocking Power Requirements, sponsored by CarGenerator™, here. NOTE: CarGenerator will keep your household essentials running for up to 70 hours when your power is out due to any blackout – natural or otherwise.

Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RVelectricity group on Facebook.


RV Tire Safety

How to avoid potential valve stem problems

By Roger Marble
Sometimes my wife accuses me of being too negative because I seem to always come up with something negative about almost any topic. I guess it’s in my DNA to never be satisfied and always want things to be better, easier, safer or more durable. The simple act of checking tire air pressure is an example. Read more.


Building an RV Park

We have RV storage progress, and more!

Pepsi to the rescue! Can you guess folks’ favorite beverages and food items to buy from a small store? Interesting! Also, AJ and Machelle had to take out a huge life insurance policy with the bank as beneficiary, even before they get their loan. And what’s up with a secret pond, Witch-a-Paloosa, and the Wild Women Saloon? Get all those answers and more here. Oh … and Happy 25th Anniversary, Machelle and AJ!


The RV Kitchen

Toasted Barley Risotto

Richly risotto. This versatile, easy, one-pot wonder is a vegetarian main dish when made with vegetable broth and maybe some meaty, cooked beans. It can also be a starch side dish with meat from the grill, or make it a one-dish main by stirring in diced, cooked meat or seafood. Get the recipe with several variations here.


The Digital RVer

Use a little solar battery to charge your phone

You may be boondocking in the desert, or maybe you live in an area prone to hurricanes and power outages. In either case, your cellphone is an important piece of safety equipment and it needs to stay charged. The key is to use a little solar battery to charge your phone. This is so cool! Read more.


Readers’ Pet of the Day

“Max in ‘Movie Star’ mode!” —Patricia L. Ferrara

Pets featured in this past week’s RV Daily Tips:
• Monday: Seven cuddling cats Tuesday: Haley & Ruby Wednesday: Gator • Thursday: Melanie • Friday: Sissy & Bailey

And speaking of dogs…

What do you think caused this destruction? Well, you probably figured it was a dog. There’s more to the story, which you can read here.


Trivia

Have you ever been to the Iowa State Fair? If you love quirky competitions, you’ll want to attend. Since 1886 the fair has run quite a few unique competitions such as cow-chip and rubber-chicken throwing contests, a husband-calling contest, and even a beard-growing contest.

Joke of the Week

Q. What is the difference between a nasty bus stop and a lobster with a big bosom?
A. One is a crusty bus station and the other is a busty crustacean.

Leave with a song from the past

“Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”

This popular song was first published as sheet music in 1942 in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The version here by Kay Kyser was recorded a year later and made it to number one on the Billboard chart.


Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?

Read it here | Back issues


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

Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Emily Woodbury, Russ and Tiña De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, Nanci Dixon, Barry and Monique Zander, J.M. Montigel, Tony Barthel, Clint Norrell, and Andrew Robinson. Social media and special projects 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, who was taken from us by the coronavirus.

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 • Steve Barnes + others who we will add later.

REGIONAL AND LOCAL ADVERTISING: We can now run banners on RVtravel.com in your town or in a designated area near you, for example to readers within 100, 200, etc., miles of your business. For information, contact Chuck Woodbury at chuck (at) RVtravel.com.

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.

RVtravel.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers.

Need help? Contact us.

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.

This newsletter is copyright 2020 by RVtravel.com

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Mike
2 years ago

I gotta say that with all the hype about rv’ing in excess… It sure has been entertaining to sit back and watch the newbies trying to back, hook up, unload, etc. Reminds me of the days sitting in my lawn chair on the launch ramp at the lake.

Diane Mc
2 years ago

Somewhat easy to get depressed reading all the negativity. I’m grateful we’ve had 25 years of stress free travel and are nearing the end of our RV’ing days. Since we have traveled all of the US, most of Canada and a bit of Mexico, we have settled into 3 trips per year, 2+ mos, 1+ mos and 2 weeks to places we have been going to for a number of years. On way out we know our route so easy to make advanced reservations. Sometimes we mix it up. But we enjoy the places we stop, campground, people, food. On return trip we start thinking about how we are going home about a week before departure and may make a few reservations if we think it might be crowded. Not sure how many more years we have left, but if it gets too stressful not sure it would be worth it. We travel in our motorhome because it gives us freedom to go so many places, meet new people and just enjoy this beautiful country. And it is relaxing. When that stops, we are done.

Gary Broughton
2 years ago

No problems with campgrounds as we had reservations for months ahead. But Yellowstone was packed and people parking everywhere. No bus loads of Asians this year, but visited Yellowstone for about 25 years, and saw everything we wanted and headed to Jackson Hole.
We’ve planned ahead, a month or longer, to ease our traveling to populated areas.

Steven Scheinin
2 years ago

You must be getting a big kickback from SoftStartRV for all the mentions and articles I have seen over the last month.

BadWolfe
2 years ago

Steven, I understand your impression due to the visibility of this product on RVTravel, but I have to tell you it really is a game changer for our Motorhome power needs. It is products like this (IMHO, as well as CarGenerator) that allow us to Boondock and not require full hookup sites any longer.

Tommy Molnar
2 years ago

Do you watch the “Going RV” show on TV? I’m convinced most of these folks are first time buyers. Their list of must-haves boggle my mind. Nobody sits on a toilet to see if they fit or can handle ‘business’ on it. Many think there is a ton of storage but fail to see that the depth of the cabinets are minuscule and actually offer little storage space.

And of course, once they buy their new RV, the final shot shows them parked in some idyllic stream side campsite with kids frolicking around having the time of their life. Is it just me, or is this show offering up a totally fabricated RV lifestyle?

Sink Jaxon
2 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

It’s a TV show! And it’s all staged. Nobody in their right mind would pick one of only 3 choices offered by one single dealer. Also it’s probably a pretty sweet kickback they get for appearing on the show!

Tommy Molnar
2 years ago
Reply to  Sink Jaxon

Kinda like House Hunters?

Jeanne McKenzie
2 years ago

We just returned home after a three week trip to Colorado and Utah to visit lesser visited national sites. We had no problem finding a spot in an RV park near Dinosaur National Monument, a site at a Forest Service campground near Steamboat Springs, dispersed camping near Flaming Gorge, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Great Sand Dunes. We also stayed at a free city campground in a small Texas town and a few WalMart parking lots. We passed a number of RV dealers whose lots were full of RVs for sale. My point is that all is not gloom and doom if you are willing to be flexible. We always found a place to stay. That being said, we have no interest in staying at upscale RV parks and resorts so our needs are different than many others. We will continue to travel in our RV and feel confident we will always find a site for the night.

Michael Starks
2 years ago

Did you use an app to plan your trip and/or find available sites as you traveled?

Jeanne McKenzie
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Starks

We make very few plans and use apps to find spaces a day or two ahead of time. Our aim is to be as flexible as possible and so far, it is working for us.

John
2 years ago

My wife and I agree with you…. We have spent 4 months going thru Colorado, Dakota’s, Minnesota, Michigan & Indiana down thru Kentucky and back to Arizona. With a little planning ahead we were good and after awhile decided to “wing it” and we always found a spot. We are not interested in the upscale RV parks either and when we did stay at a KOA it wasn’t full. But, if you want to find “destination” parks you would probably need a reservation ahead of time. I assume if we spent time along the “coasts” it would be a little different story. AND…. every RV dealer we drove by except for one had a ton of RV’s in their lots….

Scott
2 years ago

We closed our business for 30 days to go traveling in our MH, 15 days out we stopped at a popular lake side RV park. Its so over crowded, full of rude people partying till 2 am the roads getting to the park are crammed with truck traffic. So in the end of this stay at this RV park were parking our RV at our families house and continuing on our get away via our towed Jeep, we’ll return to pick up our RV and take it home.

Larry Byers
2 years ago

Are you still anticipating an influx of “Canadian Snow Birds” this winter in light of Covid?

Chris Varnadoe
2 years ago
Reply to  Larry Byers

That probably depends on when/if they actually re-open the border between the two countries.

Ben and Barb VanderRoest
2 years ago
Reply to  Larry Byers

We just retired after planning, for many years, to winter in Florida. We had our reservations made and all the plans were going well. Then COVID hit and the political scene changed in the US…… we cancelled everything, bought a cottage in the Maritimes, sold our 5th wheel and will winter here in Canada where we feel safe. We enjoyed the dream and maybe that is the best part!

DAVE TELENKO
2 years ago

Oh my, so sad to plan for so may years & to see it just vanish. On the bright side, it seems like you turned those lemons into lemon-aid. Good for you to not give up on a dream, but just take a different direction!
Snoopy