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Sunday, October 18, 2020
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We review the first RV in our new daily series
In this first review, industry insider Tony Barthel profiles the new Solitude 3540GK fifth wheel trailer from Grand Design. The RV is a hefty 38’ 3” long with a 2,544-pound hitch weight and shipping/unladen weight of about 12,758 pounds. It features three slide rooms and offers either a dinette or free-standing table and chairs. Learn more.
In tomorrow’s RV Daily Tips newsletter Tony profiles an innovative Class B motorhome from Winnebago. Subscribe to ensure you don’t miss the review.
Park Service needs your help with RV campground design
We’ve all experienced it: From “backing in on the blind,” to the dump station from hell – we’ve probably mumbled (or yelled), “Who on earth designed this? Did they ever RV?” It seems like RV campground design is a crapshoot: Sometimes you win; then again, far too often you lose. But the National Park Service wants your input with design, not just for RV campgrounds, but all aspects of campgrounds they might develop in the future. Read more, then submit your thoughts to the NPS.
Tracked for 6 minutes by a cougar! Dramatic video
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
“A panther is like a leopard except it hasn’t been peppered. Should you behold a panther crouch, prepare to say ouch. Better yet, if called by a panther don’t anther.” So opined Ogden Nash. For Kyle Burgess, not answering wasn’t among the options. On a jog on a Utah hiking trail, Burgess found himself not only called – but followed closely by a cougar. Watch the harrowing 6-minute near-disaster here and get tips on what to do if you encounter a cougar. [UPDATE: Wildlife officials have corrected previous news reports to explain that the mama cougar was not chasing or stalking the jogger, but was “pushing” (i.e., “escorting”) him away from her family. But it’s still a heart-pounding video to watch.]
How many RVers are still undecided about who to vote for for president?
That’s the question we asked in yesterday’s newsletter and, boy, were we shocked at the results after the first 2,500 votes! What do you think, what percentage are still undecided with two weeks left until Election Day? 27 percent, 11 percent or 2 percent? Learn if you guessed right.
That was the RV week that was
October 11–17, 2020
If you’re a Walmart “overnighter,” don’t be surprised if the creepies are out. Walmart says that it will stage “spooky street” events at better than 100 of its U.S. stores from October 15 through October 31. It’s being billed as a “coronavirus-safe” alternative to door-to-door Halloween door-rattling. Bring your own costume (or buy one of theirs). If you’re averse to goblin-esque activities, it could be hard to steer clear of the lots. Try as we might, we couldn’t scare up a list of which Walmarts are involved.
If you need a little more encouragement to equip your tow combination with sway control, this might do it. Last Monday, Utah Highway Patrol officers responded to a rollover accident on Interstate 15 near Kanarraville. An RVer towing a travel trailer pulled into the fast lane to pass a semi-truck and, according to officials, the change in air currents when passing caused the RVer to fishtail. The driver lost control, left the main pavement, and blasted into a guardrail. The impact rolled the combination, tossing it back into the middle of the freeway – aimed 180 degrees from where it had been traveling. It may be that a sway control could have prevented the fishtailing. Seat belts, says the report, saved both the driver and passenger from serious injury. ‘Nuf said.
State park camping in Maine hit a new record. In 2018, 261,589 folks camped in the state’s 12 campgrounds over the entire season. This year, by the end of September a whopping 270,794 folks camped, and there was still a half a month remaining in the typical camping season. Officials attribute the rush to folks who view being outdoors as less of a likelihood for contracting COVID-19.
An investigation into the cause of an RV fire turned fatal has turned up a “beware” lesson. Officials say Joseph William Lawrence (47) was in his motorhome parked at the Morganton Heights Walmart in Morganton, North Carolina, on September 29. Firefighters said they reached Lawrence’s motorhome to find it fully engulfed and, sadly, after knocking the fire down, found the man dead inside. Officials say their investigation found that Mr. Lawrence had an open gas can inside his rig, and that fumes from the container somehow found an ignition point.
As an example of “Just how low can they go,” a stupid person or persons have killed eight saguaro cactuses at Arizona’s Saguaro National Park. The foul deed, believed to have been done around October 3, left a trail of chopped down cactus which had originally stood between one to ten feet tall. It takes a century for a cactus to hit the 10-foot mark. Park rangers need your help: If you were along Scenic Trail, Passey Loop Trails, or the Scenic Drive Trailhead around October 3, you may know something. “You don’t have to tell us who you are, but please tell us what you know,” park service officials said in a statement. “Even a small detail may help rangers identify those responsible and find justice for the saguaros.” Call the Park Service tip line at 888-653-0009, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Crooks were busy in Dare County, North Carolina – targeting a couple of RV parks. In an apparent crime-wave, multiple RVers staying in the KOA and Hatteras RV parks in Rodanthe, North Carolina, were robbed. Missing items included purses, wallets, money and firearms. The common thread appears that RVers left their rigs unlocked while away from them. It bears repeating: Even if you’re just walking across the park, LOCK your RV when you’re away.
Recognize anyone from this composite photo? If you do, U.S. park rangers would like to hear from you. Back on July 29 at Nelson’s Landing on Lake Mohave, near Henderson, Nevada, a little problem broke out. Rangers say a “physical altercation” took place on the end of Eagle Wash Road. Details are limited, but officials say a bystander with a smartphone caught some interesting footage, and rangers say they’d like to talk to the folks in the picture. Call or text 888-653-0009, or use the “Submit a Tip” link on www.nps.gov/ISB.
Last Sunday, guests at an RV park along Georgia’s Chattahoochee River in White County got a shake-up. The nine inches or so of rain that fell in the area, courtesy of Hurricane Delta, had “compromised” a dam along a nearby private lake. The unnamed park along with homes in the area got visits from emergency services personnel, imploring folks to get out while they could. Officials didn’t apparently have any trouble convincing RVers to leave, the place cleared out quickly. On Monday, after a team of engineers inspected the dam and found water levels had lowered significantly, an “all clear” was declared for folks to return.
The annual matchup of the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs generally draws a big crowd. This year the teams meet and clash in Jacksonville, Florida – but there won’t be as many fans, particularly among RVers. “RV City,” a traditional place where RVers can park and overnight with their rigs, is a non-starter this year due to COVID-19 concerns, and seating in the stadium will be limited for the same reason. As might be expected, the changes have met with mixed reactions from fans.
When you associate the term “modern technology” with recovery of stolen RVs, you might think of a GPS locator system mounted on the missing rig. Dixon, California, police say modern technology recently helped them recover a purloined travel trailer – and it had nothing to do with a GPS locator. Apparently the local officers have posted automated license plate readers(ALPRs) around town. One of the ALPRs “read” the license plate number of the stolen trailer as it passed by, and shot off an alert to dispatchers. A short time later, and not far away, officers found the trailer in a parking lot, attached to a pickup truck. The driver, one Anthony Bravo, was soon in custody. They also found a stolen motorcycle in Bravo’s truck bed.
While the coronavirus has thrown plenty of people out of work, it hasn’t been bad for the RV industry and, apparently, for adjunct businesses as well. When David Santilena, an airline pilot, found himself with few flights to keep him busy, he tuned up another interest: rocket launches. Now Santilena hopes you’ll help him make ends meet by staying on at his Brownsville, Texas, RV park called Rocket Ranch. The park is on the edge of Rio Grande River, not far from the launching pads for SpaceX rockets at Boca Chica Village. Rocket Ranch, says David Santilena, will be a great place to watch future launches. And even now, it’s a great place for birding.
Vehicles of the Imagination
From the mind of Steven M. Johnson
Steven believes that funny-looking roads and bridges would be excellent diversions for tired or anxious travelers. “Surveys reveal that most travelers feel happy when they use these bridges,” he says.
Would your dead loved ones be more disturbed by homeless people, or RVers? That’s the question in Biloxi, Mississippi, where locals are having a fit on finding RVers camped in a local cemetery. The draw? Billed as “America’s Largest Block Party,” the annual “Cruisin’ the Coast” event draws folks from near and far to car shows and get-togthers, this despite the COVID-19 pandemic. To accommodate show-goers, the owner of the Southern Memorial Park has rented out space in an area of the cemetery that has no graves in it. She reports that the RVers keep their sites clean, and she has identification on record for them. And adds the owner, “This normally keeps the homeless people out of the cemetery.”
You might consider her “The neighbor from hell.” Fred Wintrich made sure he didn’t buy a house in a homeowner association-controlled area. He wanted to make sure he could park his motorhome in his driveway. Wintrich checked the local Dunwoody, Georgia, ordinance. It only said you couldn’t park an RV in a residence’s “street yard,” so he figured the driveway was safe. But an anonymous neighborhood woman, who describes herself as “A grumpy old woman,” didn’t like Fred’s motorhome. She says it’s unsightly and lowers the property value. She called city officials and complained, and sure enough, Fred got three citations, totaling $1,500. The city is now “clarifying” the ordinance. RVs, it says, are only permitted in “rear setbacks,” meaning a backyard that does not abut a public street. Fred’s complaining “friend” says more people should call code enforcement officers, and the fines should be used to clean up neighborhoods.
As “glamping” sees apparent popularity, it could become a greater concern to RVers. It’s difficult enough to find a space in an RV park with the increasing number of folks taking to the RV lifestyle. But when RV parks suddenly take away RV spots and replace them with cabins, the problem is compounded. Now county commissioners in Dare County, North Carolina, might be able to draw a line – or will they? Commissioners will soon vote on a revamped RV park ordinance that addresses the issue. Under one proposal, RV parks would not be able to convert more than half their park to use by cabins. Still, another version in play doesn’t give a limitation. The vote will take place October 19.
Thirty more full hookup sites will soon be available at Washington’s Steamboat Rock State Park. The sites will be unveiled in the new Cove Loop, which will adjoin the rest of the park that already provides 136 utility sites and 36 standard sites. Construction actually started in 2016, went on for 22 days, then came to a grinding halt when landowner Bureau of Reclamation came into a dispute with an area native tribe over cultural resources. After differences were ironed out, archeologists were assigned to be on the site during construction to keep watch for cultural resources. Nothing has been found, other than sand, since the restart in June. The loop is expected to open next year in spring or summer.
Be glad your motorhome doesn’t have self-driving capabilities. If it did, imagine whizzing down the freeway at speed, and as you come upon a digital billboard, your motorhome suddenly jams the brakes, blasting you and all your stuff forward. It’s a workable scenario, according to Israeli e-security researchers. The outfit briefly flashed the image of a stop-sign on a digital billboard as a Tesla self-driving car was passing by. The Tesla system “saw” the stop sign and immediately reacted – braking hard. The team says hackers could do the setup easily, and it would leave no trace behind. The length of the stop sign image could be a fraction of a second.
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Folks still trying to recover from the horrific Camp Fire that demolished Paradise, California, may have caught a break. The town’s council has voted to allow survivors to live on their property in an RV until June 30 next year. After that date, they’ll need a “rebuild” permit, or be actively rebuilding their home. When 2022 rolls around, they’ll need an active building permit to continue living in their RV. In all cases, major utilities will need to be hooked up and available on site.
The company may be called Lazydays, but it appears to be anything but – at least when it comes to “acquisitions.” Two weeks ago we mentioned Lazydays Holdings Inc. had just gobbled up a major motorhome retailer in Elkhart, Indiana. Now the company says that within the next month-and-a-half it will take over the Camp-Land, Inc. (Camp-Land RV) dealership in Burns Harbor, Indiana, up at the state’s northern edge. No sale price information has been disclosed, nor how the takeover might affect employees.
A 97-site RV park has received final approval for construction in Marseilles, Illinois. The Tall Grass RV Park is slated for East Route 6 and Whispering Pines Road. The 38-acre park will sport concrete pads for RVs, and include Glamping tent sites.
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS STOLEN RV?
This 2004 Coachmen Concord was stolen sometime around Oct. 10th in Springfield, Virginia. It may have a Florida license plate PYCW87. There is no obvious body damage except an old pry attempt on passenger door. The sofa and dinette have blue striped coverings. We don’t have information on who to contact if you have seen this, so write to RVtravel.com at editor(at)RVtravel.com and we’ll find out and file a report.
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.
Chevrolet ups ante in top-end towing capacity comparison
By James Raia
Bragging rights at the top-end of pickup trucks’ towing capacities just got a little more competitive among Chevrolet, Ford and Ram. Chevrolet recently announced an increase of 500 pounds for the 2021 Chevrolet 2500/3500, pushing the maximum to 36,000 pounds towing capacity on the 3500. Read more.
2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Review: Pricey luxury RV hauler
The 2021 debut of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 SUV’s third edition combines plenty into one vehicle. It’s as rugged as any Mercedes, but it’s also luxurious, refined, versatile (three rows of seating), off-road capable and performance-oriented. With its optional trailer hitch, rearview backup camera, trailer stability assist and electronic stability program, the luxury SUV has a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds, according to the manufacturer. Learn more.
As an adult, have you ever been so poor you were challenged to feed yourself or your family?
Spot the poker chips! How long will it take you to find the two poker chips hidden in this sea of pumpkins? You can click on the image to enlarge it (that’ll help a little).
(If you can’t find them, the answer is below.)
Jacksonville, Fla.-based Campers Inn RV, which claims to be the nation’s largest family-operated RV dealership group, has acquired Forrest Marine & RV Center in Tyngsborough, Mass. The dealership will remain under the name Forrest Marine & RV Center as it transitions into the Campers Inn RV organization. With the acquisition, Campers Inn RV will have five locations in New England and 27 total throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and East Coast regions.
Heaven knows, Camping World routinely gets bad marks for its aggressive sales techniques and often poor service. And now, a website has surfaced by one disgruntled customer to share his thoughts about CW with others. It’s called Victims of Marcus Lemonis (Camping World’s CEO) and can be accessed here.
The rapid spread of “glamping” (camping in luxury, most often without an RV) continues just outside Yosemite at Yosemite Pines Resort and RV Park in Groveland, California, the former Gold Rush town that serves as a gateway to the national park. Campers without RVs can stay in what could be considered America’s first RVs, Conestoga wagons (these are far more comfortable than those used by pioneers in the 1800s).
New RV shipments in 2020 are projected to top the previous year’s total by 4.5%. A recent report prepared by ITR Economics for the Elkhart-based RV Industry Association expects RV shipments to surpass 400,000 units by the end of the year and experience continued growth in 2021. The new projection in the report expects shipments to range between 414,200 and 434,500 units with the most likely year-end total being 424,400 units.
A Santa Clarita, California, woman charged with nine felony counts in connection with a police pursuit of her RV last May pleaded guilty Thursday in court, according to representatives with the District Attorney’s Office. Julie Ann Fehlman’s chase with police on live television while driving an RV with two dogs inside last spring went viral. She was immediately sentenced to eight years, eight months in state prison with a lifetime ban from driving a vehicle.
RV Retailer, LLC has announced an agreement to acquire Lifestyle RVs based in the Kansas City market, which is RV Retailer’s first location in the state of Missouri and 35th store overall. Lifestyle RVs is the leading retailer of fifth wheels in Missouri with an overall brand mix led by Grand Design. RV Retailer has 35 RV stores in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.
A body found in Thompson Bay on Lake Havasu in Arizona has been identified as long-time Lake Havasu City businessman Pishit Patel – who owned Island Inn Hotel and Sam’s Beachcomber RV Resort. So far, foul play is not suspected.
A peculiar, 220-million-year-old species of burrowing reptiles that evaded scientists has been found, fossilized in a once-vibrant part of Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park. The Skybalony skapter was an “anteater-like reptile” that probably predates dinosaurs.
Developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA, including several new campgrounds opening soon
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:
• Where are all the black RVers? Why the outdoors isn’t as inclusive as you may think.
• A poem from a reader. Our favorite RVtravel.com testimonial!
• There are two types of casino “camping,” and more reader favorites.
• PBS spotlights RV work campers in excellent report.
• Campground crowding. One reader thinks we don’t need more RV parks…
• 13 tips about work camping that will point you to success.
• Does windchill affect RV water lines freezing when driving?
• The amazing disappearing sewer hose. Don’t let it happen to you!
• Updates on Hughes Autoformer, Dometic 12-volt fridge, SoftStartRV on a solar panel.
… and much more
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of October 12, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.17 [Calif.: $3.05]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 46 cents.
Diesel: $2.40 [Calif.: $3.26]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 67 cents.
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Free and bargain camping
Click here to view this week’s free and bargain camping spots.
Brain teaser answer:
This is funny and brilliant! Try this with your dogs and take a video!
Upcoming RV shows
Most if not all RV shows for the remainder of the year are cancelled. We will restart our show directory feature as shows begin again. In the meantime, most of the shows scheduled for 2021 (earliest beginning Dec. 31, 2020, in South Carolina) are still on as of October 1, 2020. See the schedule here.
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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