Here are your RV news highlights for the week of August 17–23, 2019.
RV club FMCA just signed its membership number 500,000 to Nebraskans Stacey and Shari Froemming. FMCA, a general interest RV club of mostly older RVers, assigns a number to each new member. Through the years, 420,000 members have either died or quit the club, leaving the current active membership at about 80,000.
City council meetings in Statesville, North Carolina, have become the eye of the hurricane between competing views. On the one side are council members who demand Camping World’s Marcus Lemonis take down the unlawfully flying U.S. flag above the Gander RV store in the city. On the other side are flag-flying veterans who feel just as strongly that the flag should be let fly “no matter what the size.” Last Monday, veterans took to the microphone during the Council’s public comment period, saying they’ll be back each meeting until the Council takes action. The city has sued Gander saying the flag over the dealership is larger than a city ordinance allows.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Right now the fire is at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. The Ikes Fire started with a lightning strike on July 25, three miles east of Swamp Point. Here we are, nearly a month later, and the fire is still burning. The Park Service and the adjacent National Forest managers are allowing the fire to burn naturally to “Improve wildlife habitat and restore more open forest understory with grasses and forbs. The fire will be allowed to fulfill its natural role while providing for point protection of cultural and natural resources.” Fire crews are keeping a close watch on the now-5,100-acre fire, and say no structures are in danger. If you’re planning a visit, check the Service’s website for closure information.
Life after the big Paradise, California, wildfire last year isn’t a paradise for fire survivors. Summer has rolled around and many of those who lost homes in the fire have taken to living in RVs while waiting for their lives to move on. But summer weather hasn’t proved to be conducive to RV living, reports actionnewsnow.com. The site, produced by a local TV station, says many residents are being whammied not only by high heat but also by high electrical bills. A sample: Vicki Taylor, a fire survivor, says her RV refrigerator can’t keep up with the heat, and milk curdles after three days in the fridge. Adding insult to injury, she says her destroyed home was equipped with solar panels, meaning she spent almost nothing for power in summer. Her last bill was $400 – from PG&E, the company deemed responsible for the start of the devastating wildfire.
Next winter, visitors to Texas’ Big Bend National Park will see some campground changes. Park officials say they’re increasing the number of reservable campsites to reduce the frustration many express when arriving at the park and finding no place to stay. The number of reservation sites at Chisos Basin will jump to two-thirds (41 sites), and at Rio Grande Village, another two-thirds (61 sites). Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, for visits from November 1st to as far away as April 15. On January 1, a new fee schedule will jump fees $2 a night to $16 per night for developed campgrounds – or $8 with the appropriate interagency pass.
Speeding through work and emergency zones can land you a hefty fine in many states, not to mention putting workers in danger. If you’re driving in Washington state this weekend, be extra careful you give workers lots of room, as state patrol is keeping an eagle eye out for violators, and a ticket can’t be waived or reduced.
We’ve seen all sorts of “alternative” uses for RVs: Mobile dental clinics, hot-dog-stand on wheels, but a traveling Botox clinic? A Canadian nurse practitioner, Susan Balmer, says her retirement plans include de-wrinkling clients in the Northwest Territory from her fifth wheel. She already has a fixed location, but says her love of travel will bring her around the South Slave region offering Botox and filler injections. Balmer says it’s not just for professionals – many of her clients are stay-at-home moms and others ranging from their 20s to their 60s.
It may be an unexpected marketplace for RVs, but Japan is seeing the heat turned up on RV ownership. The Japan Recreational Vehicle Association says in 2005 there were around 50,000 Japanese RV owners, but by 2015 95,100 owned them. In 2016 more than 100,000 owned RVs, and last year, the tally hit 112,500. When shopping for a rig, the top considerations for Japanese buyers were living space, the rig’s platform, fuel consumption, driving performance and insulation. So much for the “bling” factor of U.S.-made units!
Easy come, easy go? Camping World is selling off a couple of its outdoor-store acquisitions in the Chicago, Illinois, area. Gearhead Outfitters says it has snapped up CW’s Rock/Creek Outfitters and Uncle Dan’s Outdoor Store, which Camping World had gobbled up in 2017. While Gearhead Outfitters had plenty to say about the transaction, Camping World is keeping mum.
A new RV resort is coming to San Diego. The California city’s port authority has signed off on a 66-year-lease to a company that will develop the resort along with a market, fitness center, restaurant, pool, day-spa, and room to park 246 RVs. Sun Communities will begin physical development “in the very near future.” Port officials say the RV park will be a “destination” park, but in the same breath claim it will provide “lower cost accommodations.” Costs lower than what? The Lodge at Torrey Pines?
When Florida’s Gulf Power Company shut off the juice for non-payment, it was the last blast in a perfect Gulf storm. About 35 campers and residents at Gulf Oaks RV Park in Panama City had their lights and, worse still, air conditioning shut down when the company pulled the plug. Officials with the power company said they’d tried contacting the account holder – the park landlord – to no avail. Unfortunately, he couldn’t respond – the landlord had died unexpectedly before paying his bill. Tenant calls were to no avail – after all, their names weren’t on the park account. After tenants pleaded with the local police chief, he stepped in and called the company himself. Having friends in law enforcement made the difference. Late in the day Gulf Power turned the power back on, pending a full resolution of the problem.
Colorado‘s Department of Transportation is now responding to a spate of steep-grade truck accidents that have left fatalities in their wake. A new program called The Mountain Rules will beef up signage for brake check locations across parts of eastbound I-70, and are offering a subscription-based, in-cab alert system warning truckers about specific steep grade areas and providing locations for brake check areas and runaway truck ramps. Evidently some drivers don’t use runaway ramps, fearing they’ll get ticketed. Responding to this, Colorado State Police made a statement: “I want to dispel any misconceptions, myths or rumors about truck ramps for all commercial carriers who travel our mountain corridors. Commercial carriers will not be cited by law enforcement for using truck ramps. Should your brakes fail, please save lives and use the ramps.” Presumably RVers who need to use a runaway ramp will have the same grace.
Towable sales north of the Lower 48 are sliding, says Statistical Surveys Inc. The first six months of 2019 saw Canadian trailer sales slide nearly 15 percent. Travel trailer sales fell 13 percent, while fifth wheels soured a little more than 20, and pop-ups collapsed losing almost 21 percent of sales.
For years, the IRS has had a “conscience fund” for anonymous tax cheaters with a change of heart. Now the National Park Service has its own conscience arrangement. Seems a young visitor to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina had her own change of heart. Rangers say they got a letter from Karina, who said she really loved Tom Branch Falls, so much so that she pocketed a heart-shaped rock, but later felt guilty and sent the rock back to the park, along with an apology and a financial contribution. Rangers were grateful, and sent a return letter to Karina, which said, in part, “Thank you so much for returning the rock! It has made its way back to Tom Branch Falls. We are so glad you enjoyed your visit. Already, you are becoming an amazing steward for the park.”
It’s an unbearable situation in Montana’s Glacier National Park. After a black bear shook and entered a tent on August 20, park rangers serving the Rising Sun Campground clamped down, allowing only hard-sided RVs in the campground for the time being. Nobody was in the tent, and the bear came away empty-pawed – no food either.
Editor’s head scratch: This item, from sweethomenews.com (Sweet Home, Oregon) –“2:54 a.m. – Deputies responded to a motor home blocking the roadway, 27100 block of High Deck. With the assistance of numerous loggers and truck drivers, they moved the motor home from the roadway.” Where the dickens do you round up “numerous loggers and truck drivers” at [3:00] in the morning?
Wildfire along Alaska’s Parks Highway has forced the evacuation of at least one RV park and demolished at least 50 structures as of last Sunday. The McKinley Fire has made for some of the worst firefighting conditions, say reports coming out of the Last Frontier state. Travelers were stopped at milepost 70, and earlier conditions were considered unsafe from mileposts 78 to 99. The Mat-Su RV Park near Willow was evacuated last Saturday. The George Parks Highway runs 323 miles beginning 35 miles north of Anchorage north to Fairbanks. As of Thursday, authorities said both the Sterling and Parks highways were suffering closures and reopenings, based on conditions. Pilot cars were in frequent use to lead traffic. They recommend using the 511 Travel Information System to keep abreast of changes.
A 74-year-old Salina, Kansas, man lost $19,000 which he had wired to a seller who advertised an RV for sale on eBay. The Winnebago was scheduled to be delivered from Georgia to the victim later that week, but it never showed up. When the man contacted eBay about it, officials there advised him that he had been scammed.