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February 27, 2021
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With Chuck Woodbury
he new movie “Nomadland,” starring Oscar winner Frances McDormand, has now been out a week in movie theaters and streaming free to members of Hulu.com. I wrote briefly about it last Sunday but had not yet seen it. Read my article and watch a 3-minute trailer of the movie.
I now have seen it. It’s about RVing, but not a type of RVing most of us practice. It’s about mostly older RVers who, through bad planning or unfortunate circumstances, end up living in poverty in their retirement years. Unable to afford a home or even an apartment, they buy a used cargo van (most often white) or an inexpensive RV and, through extreme penny-pinching, eke out an existence. Many are work campers, taking low-wage seasonal jobs at Amazon warehouses, as camp hosts or working at an annual Midwest sugar beet harvest. One of their most popular gathering places is Quartzsite, Arizona, where they can “boondock” for free or almost free on government lands.
I wondered before I saw the movie if it would inspire those who saw it to buy a van or small camper to live on the road. I believe now that it won’t. The movie does not portray the lifestyle as very appealing – at least that’s how I see it. As seen in the movie, at a gathering at van-life guru Bob Wells’ “Rubber Tramp Rendezvous” near Quartzsite, one of the demonstrations is about to how to buy the right-sized bucket to use as a toilet. That should provide some idea of who these people are: porta potties sell for as little as $65, but a bucket is cheaper.
I have met many such “van dwellers” in my years of traveling, particularly while boondocking near Quartzsite. Most seemed content with their lives – as least that’s what they’d say. They were comfortable in their barebones vehicles and enjoyed their freedom. Most were introverted minimalists, which is true of Wells’ followers. When I began RVing I was next to broke, and for much of two years lived in an old 18-foot motorhome. I remember what it was like, and it was not fun. The loneliness was incredibly painful. But I always assumed that one day my life would improve, which it did. I’m not sure Wells’ followers entertain such hope, and in the book that inspired the movie, most do not.
I urge you to read Nanci Dixon’s commentary on the movie. She did a far better job interpreting it than I have here. And, yes, you should definitely see it (and read the book it is based on). It will likely be nominated for at least one Academy Award (probably more), and deservedly so. Frances McDormand’s performance as Fern is magnificent. Any actor or actress who is willing to poop in a bucket on camera (or even fake it) must be commended for bravery.
P.S. – On April 4, we will debut a weekly RV Travel podcast. I will tell you more later. But I can tell you now that my bets are it will be the most informative and entertaining program of its kind about RVing, and one of the most popular. I will tell you more later. In the meantime, if you would like insider information about the podcast and a chance to be invited to special live recording sessions, promotions, etc., sign up for our RV Travel Podcast Insider Newsletter.
Also – I reported last Saturday that we were about to post our 10,000th article on this website. Well, we sailed right by that number within 24 hours. At the same time we reached another milestone: 100,000 (approved) reader comments. That’s an average of 10 comments per article, which is incredibly high in the world of publishing. Thank you for being a part of all this!
Campground Crowding: A secret reservation system code that’s costing you $$$
More people than ever are taking up RVing. The result is campground crowding like never before. In this weekly blog, RV Travel readers discuss their experiences. In this week’s installment we tell you about a new pricing system RV parks are using that is costing you extra $$$, without you never knowing you are paying a premium for your site! Read about it, and much more, here.
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• RV Review: Maxus Life Home V90 Villa Edition Class C – a two-story RV with an elevator!
• Tiger Woods’ mystery wrecked vehicle? High-towing capacity new Genesis SUV
• National Park visits – There’s a story in the stats
• Fuel prices increasing dramatically
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 highlights in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• It’s tax time again – Getting prepared
• Do you “Drive Friendly”? You should!
• Black ice driving tips for RVers
• 3 items you MUST remember to leave at home
Today’s RV review…
Today, industry insider Tony Barthel reviews the new 2021 Jayco Pinnacle 36SSWS Fifth Wheel. Tony writes, “Considering what all they offer for the money, this is a nice consideration if you’re thinking about full-time RV living. Or, if you just want to explore the RV lifestyle in comfort.” Learn more and take a video tour here.
Last week’s reviews:
Polydrop P17A Teardrop Trailer • 2021 Safari Condo Alto A2124 • 2021 inTech Sol Dawn Travel Trailer • Rockwood Geo Pro 16BH Travel Trailer • 2021 Jayco Jay Flight SLX7 Bunkhouse Travel Trailer
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
New film “Nomadland” worth viewing and pondering
By Nanci Dixon
The movie “Nomadland” came out this week on Hulu and in select theaters. I thought it was well worth the time and energy to watch. The film tells the story of Fern, lost in the last recession when the town’s gypsum wallboard factory closed and her husband died. As the town of Empire, Nevada, fades around her, Fern puts her stuff in storage and leaves in her van to find work. Along the way she becomes a nomad and, in the end, begins to find herself. Read this insightful review from someone who’s “been there.”
Husband is extroverted, wife introverted. How do they differ at the campsite?
By Gail Marsh
It happens. Every. Single. Time. Within three short minutes of parking our RV, my extremely extroverted husband has already met the campers on either side of us. … RVing with an extrovert is not always easy – especially if you are an introvert like myself. Read more, including learning how introverts can comfortably make connections at the campground. Then please answer the poll at the end of the article.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• Our first blow from the coronavirus (Oh, how things have changed!)
• A four-story tall RV…literally
• Photo: Sad scene after motorhome gets run off the road
• Funny camping memes and photos of the week
Reader Doug Atterbury sent this funny photo in and wrote, “Very appropriate ‘Sign of the Times’ seen along Hwy 101 in Port Angeles, WA.” Thanks for sending, Doug!
Have you ever had your RV’s black water tank professionally cleaned?
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:
What kind of roads do you dread driving down the most? See how more than 2,500 other RVers answered.
Read other polls we’ve run through the years. There are more than a thousand. It’s fascinating reading.
A man wants to have a small dinner party. He invites his father’s brother-in-law, his brother’s father-in-law, his father-in-law’s brother, and his brother-in-law’s father. How many guests will he have over for dinner?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday news newsletter.)
Thanks to Hilary Klapow for submitting! Do you have a brain teaser you think we should use? Send it to us here.
In trying times, it’s important to seek out the good news
By Nanci Dixon
As some of you know, after seeking out good news all week long, I have been writing and compiling the little-read but much-appreciated “Good News: Things to smile about” column every week in the Sunday newsletter. As both a writer and loyal reader of RVtravel.com, I consume all the Sunday news even though it is sometimes filled with doom and gloom. This is because, well, the news has been doom and gloom pretty much forever, but especially this past year. Read about the enlightening journey this weekly column has taking Nanci on here.
“The Long, Long Trailer” – An enjoyable must-watch movie!
If you’ve never seen this hilarious, charming, classic movie starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, or haven’t viewed it in a while, it’s time to break out the popcorn! “The Long, Long Trailer” takes the best (and worst) parts of RV life and makes them all laugh-out-loud funny. If you’re having a bad day, you need to find this movie and stream it! Continue reading.
Bit in the butt – There’s a bear down there!
If you missed this news item in last Sunday’s News for RVers newsletter, here’s Russ and Tiña De Maris’ entertaining interpretation of what happened. If you’ve ever known the joys of open-air bathroom visits, take note. Always look down before you sit down. Shannon Stevens, an Alaska resident, says that’s a lesson she learned after she says she was “bit in the butt” by a bear in the wilds near Haines, Alaska, on February 13. Continue reading.
You won’t believe this “mobile toilet”!
Think of all the attention you would get (not to mention the smiles) in the campground or RV park, or just driving down the road, if this mobile toilet were your RV! Sure, it’s a truck advertising a plumbing business (very ingenious!). But we can just imagine an “upstairs” bedroom in the tank, maybe enclosing the area below the tank and putting a “bathroom in the toilet”… The possibilities are endless, not to mention very interesting. Check it out here (includes a short video tour).
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, February 27, 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.
Last week three readers claimed their $25 Amazon gift cards: Marty M. of Illinois, Steve T. of California, and Dawn G. of Pennsylvania.
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
Improper trailer hitch extension – A disaster in the making
• Their propane “froze”! Wait … Can propane freeze?
• 10 of the most irritating campground rules
• Campground Crowding: Is camping becoming a “luxury” item?
• Applications of Google Earth – Part 1: Campgrounds and RV Parks
• RVer shares story of RV park bathhouse; crappy situation unfolds
• Are you about to pay more to stay in RV parks?
• Could the information on your tire sidewalls be worth free tires?
• Campground and RV Park News, February 20, 2021
• Will new movie about RV van living fuel nomad lifestyle?
• Good News: Things to smile about this week, February 21, 2021
• Building an RV park: The RV pads are graded!
• Falling Wisconsin pickup truck driver cited for 3 offenses
The Prize: Byakov 1080p Dash Cam
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (February 27, 2021) by 7 p.m. Pacific 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.
Click here to enter or see last week’s winner!
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.
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.
RV Repair and Maintenance
with Mark Polk, RV Education 101
This tip ran in our weekday RV Daily Tips Newsletter this past week, but for those of you who don’t subscribe (C’mon, sign up, you won’t regret it!), here it is again!
• RV Driving Skills: Know your pivot point and tail-swing
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
Waggle Pet Monitor keeps pets safe in RV
You want to bring your pets along but there are a lot of places where you are specifically prohibited from bringing them on your daytime adventures. Some parks and recreational places restrict pets due to wildlife. You don’t want a bear to eat Fido, do you? So what do you do? You don’t want to leave the pets behind in case the RV gets too hot or cold. But you might if you could monitor the temperature inside your RV. Continue reading.
How to install a 30-amp RV outlet at home
I just received this inquiry from Cory about installing a 30-amp RV outlet on a residential 150-amp service panel: “I have a 150-amp incoming service breaker box on the outside of the house. Can I install a 30-amp plug and breaker for an RV off of this box?”
Read Mike’s easy-to-understand answer, including his recommendation to go for a 50-amp outlet while you’re at it, here.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session
How dry I am – Don’t let your RV battery explode!
These pictures just came in from one of my Facebook Group members. Yes, it is indeed as bad as it looks. It appears that the multi-stage charger might have failed and kept pumping significant current into the batteries, after it should have gone into “float” mode. The poster noted that he only had to add water every 6 months, so he consequently only checked the water level every 6 months.
Continue reading about why you should never leave your battery plugged into a standard trickle charger or old-school RV charger.
RV Tire Safety
What is considered “excessive” tire pressure increase?
Here is part of a question that Roger Marble received from a reader with a “heavy” fifth wheel trailer regarding what is considered “excessive” tire pressure increase: “I have read through many of your posts about hot tire pressures in particular, but I’m hoping to get your experienced input on a more specific example. How much pressure increase is reasonable in load range H (4805 max load) tires inflated to 122-125 psi CIP? I have tandem axles on a fairly heavy fifth wheel. All weights are within limits (trailer, axle, tires, etc.), but with the wheel-position weights, one of the four tires is carrying about 4,700 lbs., which is 53% of the total for that axle.” Continue reading.
The RV Kitchen
Pork Patties Italiano
Put a fork in pork. The perfect skillet meal throws together over any fire inside the RV or outdoors on the grate or camp stove. It satisfies stomachs, souls and taste buds. Economical ground pork sizzles with meaty flavor that permeates the rice as it all cooks together into one steamy, stalwart dinner for four. Get the recipe.
The Digital RVer
Maps and photos – a traveler’s dream
By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour
If you travel, odds are you like maps! I use Google My Maps to record places we’ve been. With smartphones these days, we always have a camera handy so we have photos of every place we’ve been. Let me show you how you can add photos to any place-marker on your map. Learn how simple it is here.
Recent legislation regarding COVID relief laws
By Neil Seidler, CPA, CMA
Here are some highlights from recent legislation regarding COVID relief laws. Quite a few of these relate to businesses, but we’re including them for those of our readers who aren’t retired yet. Continue reading.
We receive many letters from our readers … but we have a bad habit of forgetting to share some of them with you and other readers. Here are two of many we received this past week. We urge you to submit your letters. Don’t be shy! We’d love to hear from you!
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“This is our Labradoodle, Fin. This is his favorite perch to keep up with what’s going on in the campground.” —David Daniels
Pets featured in this past week’s RV Daily Tips:
• Monday: Belle • Tuesday: Cooper • Wednesday: Teddy • Thursday: Dobby
• Friday: A terrier, a Doxie and a cat
Even though food was canned in tin cans around 1813, it took about 40 years for someone to invent the can opener. Can openers for home use didn’t become popular until the 1860s. Before then? Hammer and chisel.
Laugh of the Week
Thanks to our reader (and friend) Tom Hart for sending this. It made our whole staff smile! And, wow! Can these kids sing (and Mom and Dad, too)! Brilliant!
Truck photo from above:
The reason is that it’s the back of the truck, not the front!
Leave with a song from the past
Here’s an oldie from 1949, the likes of which you will likely never see (or hear) again. They just don’t make songs like this anymore! Enjoy Pino Pantaloni “The Salami and Sausage Man” from the Frank Petty Trio.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
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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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Loved the video. What a great family!
Not to be a stickler for exactness, but that picture is the back of a semi trailer, not the back of a truck….sorry
Thanks, Rob! And don’t be sorry. We appreciate being notified if we make a mistake. It’s been corrected. (BTW — As the proofreader of everything that we publish, I’m a “stickler for exactness” also. Sometimes when I’m writing to one of our writers, I’ll sign my email, “Ms. Persnickety.” 🙄 ) Take care. 🙂 —Diane at RVtravel.com
Of course my articles are 99.44% pure (like Ivory Soap), but I try to put in a few mistakes on purpose just to give Diane a sense of accomplishment. Your welcome…😁
Thanks, Mike. And I’m sure you wrote “Your” on purpose. 😆 –Ms. Persnickety
Great video. Isolation sure brings out the hidden talents,
Wow, that is one talented family.
I hope a lot of people thinking about RVing will watch the movie and change their mind about hitting the road. It’s crowded enough.
LOVE that singing family! Encore please!
After reading your two articles about nomad land I don’t believe it’s something I’ll spend any time with. I have seen several of Mr. Wells videos on YouTube and he nor his guests have ever impressed me favorably. They all seem like losers to me, they may be excellent people to be around, but they leave me with the feeling they are social outcasts who enjoy their lifestyle, I’m not a big social joiner but I’m not one to refrain from social contact as they do.
COVID Song was creative and fun.
Now, off to Perry. See you there?