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January 16, 2021
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With Chuck Woodbury
About a year ago I had planned to write an essay about a topic that I find sad – the disappearance of small town cafes. But then the pandemic hit and there were more pressing matters to discuss.
Now, with the hope that soon life will return to normal (or close to it), I have been thinking again about getting back on the road and resuming my regular activities. Among my favorites is dining at small-town cafes.
For the past dozen years, I have observed the disappearance of such places. With McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, Cracker Barrel and other chains located at major Interstate off-ramps, fewer motorists will drive two or three miles to a bypassed main street in search of a good place for a local meal. Yes, some such places still exist.
In his best-selling book Blue Highways, author William Least Heat-Moon rated small-town restaurants by how many calendars they had on their walls. The more calendars, the better.
When I reminisce about my decades of RVing, I recall fondly the many people I met in small-town cafes. I remember meeting waitress Mary Merry at one in Eastern Washington. A news clipping on the wall noted that Bill Gates once stopped for lunch. “He ordered a hamburger with fries and a shake,” Mary Merry explained. She told me that one of his associates left only a modest tip on his behalf, which was interesting considering he was then the richest man in the world.
Having spent so much of my time exploring the rural West, I have met many cowboys, often in cafes. For much of my life as a “roving reporter,” I traveled alone. I would almost always sit at the counter at a small-town cafe, for companionship as much as food. Sometimes, a stop for lunch lasted days, when someone I met invited me to his or her home. I met a beautiful cowgirl about my age at a Main Street cafe in tiny Dubois, Idaho. She was single, I was single. I asked her to dinner. I’m not sure how we chose a restaurant. I believe there were two choices – a steakhouse that qualified as pretty good and another place that was okay as long as you had Tums available later. Alas, nothing came of our “date,” but that’s the way it goes.
A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE
One of my most memorable rural dining experiences was at Miss Piggy’s Cafe in Tygh Valley, Oregon, population about 200. I remember this particular cafe well because of its signature entree, the Earl Burger, which I felt compelled to order. Alas, it was far from impressive: To this day it tops my list of the worst burgers I ever ate. I have never figured out exactly what meat it contained. Perhaps some jackrabbit was mixed in. It was this dining experience that taught me an important lesson: The longer a meal’s aftertaste, the worse the meal. The aftertaste of the Earl Burger endured through two counties as I traveled south on lonely U.S. 197.
Alas, now as we enter the second year of the pandemic, I wonder how many of the small-town cafes I visited are now gone – done in by the pandemic. I know that Miss Piggy’s Cafe closed years ago. The Earl Burger wasn’t good enough to save it.
I will keep searching for America’s surviving cafes, and I urge you to do the same. Stop for ham and eggs, coffee or pie. If you’re in luck, partake of a milkshake made in a classic Hamilton Beach blender. McDonald’s will somehow survive without you.
Oh, don’t forget to count the calendars on the wall. If there are more than a few, you will probably have a good meal.
P.S. We are still looking for one or two writers. He or she MUST be highly ethical with professional news writing experience, and know how to write quality articles fast. This is a freelance position (work from anywhere) – the pay could be excellent for the right person. Interested? Email us at editor (at) RVtravel.com.
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• RV shows “must go on,” despite a global pandemic
• Do you want Endurance, the electric pickup truck?
• Con game that targets RVers: A sadder but wiser couple
• Keystone debuts Arcadia, fifth wheel innovation
• Bullets and propane tanks do not mix!
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …
Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• Electrical problems? This tip may save you an RV service call
• Move your RV TV for comfort
• What to do about squeaky slideouts
• Keep your water pressure under control
• 5 tips to increase RV kitchen storage space
Today, industry insider Tony Barthel reviews the new 2021 Tiffin Phaeton 40AH Motorhome. He writes, “When you spend this kind of money on a coach with this kind of reputation, you don’t come across places or features where the manufacturer has cut corners. Instead, you are pleasantly surprised by how well things are done.” Read more and take a tour.
Last week’s reviews:
2021 Airstream Interstate 19 Class B • 2021 Northern Lite 8-11 Limited Edition Truck Camper • 2021 Coachmen Freelander 21RS • 2021 Keystone Montana High Country 280CK Fifth Wheel • CrossRoads Texan 33DB Travel Trailer
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
The most important word in your RV’s insurance policy… Is it wrong?
By Randall Brink
It all started with one word… and an online discussion of RV insurance. The debate revolved around what happens if you experience a total loss of your RV. There was much discussion of “book value,” “actual cash value” and “agreed value.” Most people were of the mind that these terms were the same. They’re not. So I can imagine that many parties to the exchange did as I did and ran straight to their insurance files to read their policy. It was then that I discovered a glaring one-word error in my motorcoach policy: “Agreed” vs. “Actual.” Continue reading, then be sure to check your policy.
More people than ever are taking up RVing. The result is campground crowding like never before. In this weekly blog, RV Travel readers discuss their experiences. Let’s start today on a positive note, shall we? Sometimes the best way to cancel is to just gift or pay it forward to the next campers. Also, readers continue to offer their thoughts on cancellation fees, and the fact that there are lots more options than crowded campgrounds. Read more.
Here’s why diesel pusher radiators overheat… Don’t let this happen!
By Kate Doherty
Last summer, our ’08 diesel pusher with a rear-facing radiator kept overheating, especially when climbing small hills. Initially, we rationalized that the two-speed fan wasn’t shifting from low to high, so we changed the fan relay – to no avail. We didn’t want to climb the Rockies with this problem, so we queried a local radiator shop and were instructed to spray the radiator at the back with low-pressure water from a garden hose. Continue reading.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
What is the flattest state?
Is it (a) Kansas, (b) North Dakota, (c) Florida, or (d) Louisiana? The answer is below in today’s trivia.
How do you feel about the influx of new RVers?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. CLICK HERE.
The most popular poll in this past week’s RV Daily Tips newsletters:
Do you have a landline telephone? See how nearly 2,700 other RVers answered.
Be careful where you put your satellite dish or this can happen
By Gail Marsh
Many RVers invest in a television satellite dish. It’s nice to have reliable TV wherever and whenever you want to tune in to your favorite shows, but be careful where you choose to install your TV satellite dish. Read what resulted from this “genius” idea of where to put a satellite dish.
Winnebago unveils new mobility enhanced motorhome
Winnebago is a pioneer in building motorhomes that are specially designed for people with mobility challenges. In this video from the 2021 Florida RV SuperShow, you can tour this Winnebago Inspire, which is brand-new for the 2021 model year. Check it out here.
Meet the horses of the first RVs, the “Traveler” caravans
By Nanci Dixon
In last weekend’s RVtravel.com newsletter, there was a video of John Lennon gifting a Caravan to his 4-year-old son, Julian. This sparked a memory… In Ocala, Florida, the horse capital of the world, we visited with the amazing Gypsy Vanner horses that traditionally pulled the “Traveler” caravans as seen in the video. … Think RVing is new? The Travelers had their house on wheels more than 160 years ago! This is fascinating!
Aftermarket awnings available for smaller RVs
For those who have wanted an awning on a Class B, Class C, or a pop-up trailer, MCD Innovations, an Airxcel brand, has introduced the B1000 line of Powered Box Awnings. These awnings are available in three lengths, two box finishes, and three fabric colors. Continue reading.
Is this your RV?
If it’s yours and you can prove it to us (send a photo for comparison), tell us here by 9 p.m. Pacific Standard time today, Jan. 16, 2021. If it’s yours you’ll win a $25 Amazon gift certificate.
If this isn’t your RV, send us a photo of your RV (if you haven’t already) for a chance to win in future issues.
In the past week three readers claimed their $25 Amazon gift card: Frank H. of California, Clint G. of South Dakota, and Mark O. of Plainfield.
We’ll have another photo in tomorrow’s newsletter (sign up to receive an email alert so you don’t miss the issue or those that follow). Some of these photos are submitted by readers while others were taken by our editors and writers on their travels around the USA.
Popular articles from last week
• He bought an RV with $20,000 worth of damage. His warning to you…
• The Big Quartzsite RV Show: They have built it – will you come?
• Directory of RV Reviews (too many popular posts to list individually).
• 5 tips to increase RV kitchen storage space
• New coast-to-coast trail lets you bike or walk across the U.S.
• Campground Crowding: Which state has highest cancellation fees?
• Are all RV ovens created equal? Do you use yours?
• Cars to flat tow: Buick Encore GX AWD review
• Campground and RV Park News, January 9, 2021
• Things to smile about this week: January 10, 2021
• RVelectricity – What is a GFCI nuisance trip?
• Nifty device tells you if your RV is dangerously overweight
The Prize: LED Road Flare Kit
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (January 16, 2021) by 7:00 p.m. Pacific Standard time. Remember, you can only enter once and after we notify you by email via RVcontests@gmail.com that you won, you have 24 hours to respond or we’ll give the prize to someone else.
Stolen RVs — Help us recover these stolen RVs. The more eyes we have searching for them, the better chance of getting them back to their rightful owners, and maybe putting the crooks who stole them in the slammer! See the stolen RVs.
NEW: Check out all our favorite websites of the day! We compiled a list of (almost) all the websites we’ve ever posted, and we’ll continue to update it.
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 Show Calendar. See what’s coming up and what’s been cancelled. UPDATED
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.
See all of our many Facebook groups here.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
Innovative system debuts for winter RV living
If winter camping is your thing, one of the ways many campers have kept their water systems from freezing is by blocking airflow from underneath those rigs. In the past, I’ve seen people use hay, cardboard and all manner of other materials. But if you’re Jim Phelan, you take your background in creating innovative products and invent AirSkirts. AirSkirts are inflatable skirts that fit under an RV to block airflow during cold winter months. Continue reading.
In 1957, a British stage actress gets away in her stylish motorhome
Which road will it be?
Potential problems of upgrading to a Lithium battery
I’m going to do something a little bit different in this column. I’m going to introduce one of my colleagues to you, specifically Dennis Wieske from Progressive Dynamics, Inc. … Since Lithium battery conversions are a hot topic nowadays, Dennis has offered to do a YouTube Livestream with me in a few weeks. … [But] for now I want you to meet him through a basic article he just wrote about the potential problems of upgrading to a Lithium battery in your RV if your charging system wasn’t designed to handle it. Continue reading then please participate in the attached poll to let Mike know if you would be interested in watching the upcoming Livestream event about Lithium battery charging, where you’ll get to ask the experts questions in real time.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session
Please get a meter kit. Here’s why
I’ve had more than a dozen inquiries in just the last week about various types of power failures in RVs. Some were due to the batteries dying from a failed converter. At least one (maybe two) of them was because the circuit breaker feeding the charger was tripping due to more current going to the batteries than the breaker was rated for. Several of them had hot-skin conditions they discovered by being shocked. Continue reading, and learn what Mike recommends and why.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RVelectricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
What is so “special” about RV trailer tires, anyway?
By Roger Marble
Are RV trailer tires exempt from the physical laws of the universe? What is so special about RV trailers that would make people think they are free from scientific principles and physical realities? On an internet forum for owners of a well-known RV trailer company, there was a discussion on what the correct or proper inflation and load capacity was for tires on the company’s trailers. I jumped in with the following observations. Continue reading.
Have a tire question? Sign up for Roger Marble’s new Facebook Group: RV tire news, information and discussion, hosted by RVtravel.com and moderated by Roger. He’ll be happy to help you.
Building an RV Park
We had a bombshell dropped on us!
By Machelle James
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon when AJ opened his email and he received a BOMBSHELL email from our General Contractor. Here it is: “We would like to thank you for the opportunity to look at your project. Looking further into the documents that the bank requested, we are unable to meet their performance bond requirements. We are going to have to respectfully decline moving forward with your project.” WAIT! WHAT?! You’ve had our project for months! Continue reading.
The RV Kitchen
Say hello to the sacred salmon. In many Native American cultures salmon is sacred, and for good reason. Keep it on hand to serve as a stalwart standby that keeps in the pantry for months. It makes a reliable, tasty and highly nourishing meal any day and in emergencies. Janet gives you several great ideas for salmon, including these delicious, crusty Salmon Patties that you can make small for canapes or burger-size as a main course. Get the recipe.
The Digital RVer
Allstays is the best app to find RV parking
If you’ve attended any of Geeks on Tour’s seminars at RV rallies, you know that their favorite app for RVers is Allstays Camp & RV. It is simply the most complete collection of information about places for RVs to park in North America. … Allstays Camp & RV is an app for iPhones and it used to be available on Android as well, but you won’t find it in the Play store now. Don’t despair – there is a solution. Find out what it is here.
When my family and I started the RV hobby 30 years ago we never made reservations. We never made plans, just drove until we got to an area we liked, consulted our camp directory and found a place to stay. It didn’t matter if we wanted to stay one night or a week. Today’s RVing puts you more on a schedule that you have to stick to. You have to make it to that next campground or you may not have a place to stay or end up in a Walmart parking lot. I did that for the first time last year. It wasn’t bad for one night even though I spent more than $100 for supplies. —Ken H.
Staying overnight at Walmart is an essential part of RVing for many RVers. Our surveys have shown that more do it for convenience than to save money. But not a week passes that a few more Walmart stores ban overnight RV parking. One day, we suspect, the company will post “no overnight stays” signs at all its stores. Where will RVers stay? We are working on a story about this. —Chuck, editor
Readers’ Pets of the Day
“These four travel all over the West with us. They love National Parks that have a Bark Ranger program. Whenever people comment about the number of dogs we have, I always say, ‘You should see the ones we left at home!’ With the exception of the brown terrier, these dogs all herd sheep or cows. The two black dogs are Lancashire Heelers from Britain. With only 350 in the U.S., we get lots of questions. Their names are Finn, Chauncey, Birdy and Austin Healy.” —Karen Mason
Pets featured in this past week’s RV Daily Tips:
• Monday: Freeway • Tuesday: Two anonymous “fur babies” looking out the window • Wednesday: Buster • Thursday: Dakota • Friday: Another anonymous pup wondering when they can go RVing again
BE WARNED… STILL: The FDA has recalled certain varieties of Sportmix pet food due to toxic levels of aflatoxin. So far, 70 dogs have died due to the toxic mold, and 80 more have been sickened. For more information, click here.
What is the flattest state in the U.S.? If you guessed anything other than Florida, you were wrong. Florida is the flattest state. One of its highest points is Mount Trashmore at 225 feet. (No, we’re not referring to Mount Trashmore Park in Virginia.) It’s not natural, but a landfill located between Coconut Creek and Deerfield Beach in northern Broward County. It’s hard to miss along the east side of Florida’s Turnpike between mile markers 69 and 70.
Joke of the Week
Instead of a joke this week, here’s a picture. How many of us can identify in some way with this sign in an RV park restroom?
Leave with a song from the past
Here, from 1935, is the hit “I like bananas because they have no bones,” as performed by the Hoosier Hot Shots.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
RV Travel staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Tony Barthel. Contributors: Mike Sokol, Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, James Raia, Kate Doherty, Gail Marsh, J.M. Montigel, Clint Norrell, Randall Brink and Andrew Robinson. Social media and special projects director: Jessica Sarvis. Moderators: Gary Gilmore, Linda Brady. 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 • Tom Hart + others who we will add later.
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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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