Welcome to RVtravel.com, an RV-themed newsletter from the most-read consumer website about RVing in North America. At RVtravel.com, you will learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. And we’ll explore where this wonderful lifestyle is heading in our ever more complex, crowded and challenging world. Be sure to check out all our other RV-related newsletters.
July 31, 2021
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
By Chuck Woodbury
Some great news — we are introducing two new features this week. One is a Q&A series from one of America’s best-known authorities on RV repair and maintenance — Dave Solberg. We could not ask for a better person to assume the role of our beloved Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, who we lost last year to COVID-19.
I have relied on Dave’s RV Handbook for years. Before the Internet, it was one of the most popular sources of information about how to maintain an RV and troubleshoot problems. It’s still available used on Amazon, and is still a very valuable resource to carry aboard your RV. I refer to my copy often. Dave’s column will appear in this Saturday newsletter, as well as in all (or at least most) issues of RV Daily Tips (sign up here).
INSIDER INFORMATION ON TRUCKS AND TOWING
Second, our correspondent Tony Barthel is now writing a weekly column about developments with pickup trucks, especially those popular with RVers. He’ll cover towing issues, as well. The column will appear in every Sunday edition of this newsletter. We know from our surveys that large numbers of our readers own trucks, so this should be a very popular column.
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Gail and I have stuck close to home this summer, but are leaving Seattle in our motorhome for three months beginning in mid-November. As we often do, we’ll begin by slowly wandering down the magnificent Oregon coast, staying at state parks along the way. We’ll eventually end up in Arizona, where we’ll attend the Quartzsite RV Show in January and then hang out in the desert for awhile.
Our RVtravel.com podcast continues to gain more listeners. The size of its audience now puts it in the top 2 percent of the country’s most-listened-to podcasts. The link to this week’s program is below. Actor and avid RVer Matthew McConaughey was our guest a few weeks ago (see related story below), and that episode helped put the podcast on the map.
Finally, I am proud to report that the entire Seattle-based staff of RVtravel.com have received their COVID-19 vaccinations and we are about to resume our in-person staff meetings. If you have questions about the vaccine, click here.
New, innovative way to explore campsites virtually
Now, “drive” through campgrounds virtually — just like with Google Street View. Explore campsites from all angles. See one you like? Click and reserve it right on the spot. Watch a demo. Learn more.
Listen to the latest RVtravel.com podcast
Episode 18: Don’t watch your rig go up in flames! This week, Scott is joined by Trey Selman of the RV Safety & Education Foundation. Trey helps us keep the shiny side up, talks weight and balance, discusses tire failure, and answers the question “Do you really need nitrogen in your RV’s tires?” Plus, news about those crowds at your favorite RV park, a new Class B, a travel trailer recall and an uptick in new campgrounds under construction.
Here’s a 30-second clip of the podcast where Trey talks about the weight carrying capacity of RVs and how easy it is to overload them.
Not enough power to run your air conditioner? Think again!
In the summer heat and your 110 power is from a small portable generator or a 20-amp household hookup, you’re out of luck running an air conditioner. That is, unless you have a SoftStartRV. It’s inexpensive, simple to install, and makes running your A/C possible when you never could before. Learn more.
Last week’s Tip of the Day highlights in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• 6 tips for keeping the bad guys out of your RV and tow vehicle
• Use a Ford Taurus (and other things) to tenderize steaks (really!)
• Why does RV’s engine battery keep dying in campground?
• Mini stick-on button lamps are perfect for RV’s dark spaces
• Here are some ways RVers are making money on the road. You can do these too!
Every Monday through Saturday, RVtravel.com readers tell in their own words why they love their RVs. Today, we hear from readers Judith Fowlkes and Greg Bryant. Click here.
Free directory lists every make and model RV
How many different makes and models of RVs are there in America? RVtravel.com has the answer in a new, free, comprehensive 105-page directory that lists every U.S. manufacturer and every brand and model they make. “RVs: Who Makes What” is available free as a public service from RVtravel.com in PDF form. Learn more and/or download a free copy.
Today, industry insider Tony Barthel reviews the 2021 ATC Game Changer 2015 Toy Hauler. He writes, “The Aluminum Trailer Company, or ATC, makes trailers that have absolutely no wood whatsoever in any place. Not in the structure, not in the walls, not in the frame, not even in the interior.” So how does this fifth wheel stand up to others? Read more to find out.
Last week’s reviews:
• Wayfarer “Walter” Class B van
• 2022 Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7 195RB Travel Trailer
• 2021 Keystone Cougar “Half-Ton” 32BHS Fifth Wheel
• Flagstaff Super Lite 524BBS
• Hower Built Truck Camper
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
MORE OF CLINT
See some of Clint’s recent cartoons. They’re wonderful!
Academy Award winner and Airstreamer Matthew McConaughey’s exclusive interview
You might have seen him in the films Wedding Planner or How to Lose a Guy in 10 days. Maybe you’re a People Magazine reader – he was their sexiest man alive in 2005. His recent flicks include Beach Bum and The Gentleman. He’s been a busy writer during the lockdown, authoring “Greenlights,” a semi-autobiographical take on life … and RVing. … Read excerpts from Scott Linden’s wide-ranging RVTravel.com podcast interview with this van lifer, boondocker, and Airstream puller – Matthew McConaughey – here.
More rookie campers plus more bears is a dangerous combination
By Mike Gast
You may think that the primary victims of the gigantic growth in camping activity in 2021 are national parks, camping etiquette and longtime RVers like you. But what about the poor bears? … As an avid hiker, I wouldn’t leave the house without at least one can of bear deterrent spray strapped to my waist. … Read about why there are more bear/human confrontations these days, recent unfortunate encounters, and how to protect yourself, here.
Born in the USA: Famous things and where they started
Some birthplaces of people inspire great monuments and a flood of tourist traffic. When it’s the birth of an idea, a product, or a movement, you may find the place where it all began to be far more humble. … Here are a few random (and very interesting) ones worth stumbling upon.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• RVers evicted from RV park for receiving a FedEx delivery
• Will dryer sheets keep mice and rats from your RV?
• How long is “too long” for a 5th wheel to stay in national and state parks?
• Here’s how to keep your gray valve open without the stink
Did you hire an RV technician or inspector to look over your RV before you bought it?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. CLICK HERE.
How many of our readers’ RVs have an automatic ice maker? Find the answer in Wednesday’s poll (with a suggestion for an incredible portable ice maker!)
Roadside stop near Death Valley is an unexpected delight. (This story is delightful, too)
By Rod Andrew
Probably most readers of RVtravel.com have visited the amazing landmarks, natural and man-made, that are part of the RV experience. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon is, well, overwhelming. During our travels, my wife and I have had our share of these majestic moments, but, strangely, it has been unexpected moments of joy that we remember most vividly, and that have had the most lasting impact on us. I’d like to share one of those moments. Continue reading. (You’ll love this.)
If you visit this town, you’re going straight to Hell!
You just may have one in your state – a weird or silly named town – like Hell, Michigan, for example. There really is a Hell on Earth. (See what I mean by weird or funny?) Many of the strangely named towns and villages got their names because a founding father or company left their mark in the area. Other places were named after the topography of the region or because a significant historical event happened nearby. Read some of Gail Marsh’s favorite weird town names here. We bet you have some you would like to add to the list.
“Nana Camp”: 12 kids, one RV, one cabana and a whole lot of fun and games
By Nanci Dixon
This week we have been watching the two campsites across from us in awe. Susan and Ed DonFrancesco, grandparents extraordinaire, are camping with their 12 – yes, 12 – grandchildren ranging in age from 4 to 14. This is their annual trip with the children and they have the system buttoned down. Activities abound, and the kids are relaxing, playing, laughing and making lifetime memories at “Nana Camp.” Continue reading this heartwarming and inspiring story here.
Airplane waste water: Do the airlines really dump it in the air?
By Nanci Dixon
I was at the airport recently waiting for my flight when I noticed a truck with a big sign that read “Waste Water.” It had huge hoses that I just knew had to be sewer hoses on steroids. This got me thinking: How do airplanes manage their water and holding tanks? What I found out about airplane waste water is fascinating from an RVer’s perspective and not too different from what we do… except for the discharge in the air. Learn more.
Just what is “camping” nowadays?
Mike Gast is confused and, he says, so are “a lot of government officials and media folks.” So what are they confused about? Read his article and you’ll find out. But what it boils down to is that RVers like those who read this newsletter are often getting a bad name.
Big things in a small town. Casey, Illinois, is the land of giants!
By Gail Marsh
If you like big things … really big things … then you should visit Casey, Illinois. This little town is home to lots of really big things. So big, in fact, that they’ve won a place in Guinness’ Book of World Records! The town of Casey boasts a population that’s under 3,000, but its huge outdoor constructions will make a big and lasting imprint on your memory. Continue reading.
10 Best-selling products from Amazon on RVtravel.com in July
Here at RVtravel.com we recommend a lot of products to you. If we know something works for our RV or someone else’s RV, we tell you about it. Just about every Amazon ad you see on our website has been tested by one of our staff members or someone we know. If we think something doesn’t work, is poorly made, or is just boring, we won’t recommend it. We like cool stuff, exciting stuff, neat stuff! Here are the top 10 best-selling products on RVtravel.com from Amazon for July.
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 time today, July 31, 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 one reader claimed their $25 Amazon gift card: Tom Westerfield of Box Elder, South Dakota.
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
• Operating an RV park: We are officially campground owners and operators!
• 2021 Shelby F-150: Power, beauty, bravado, $115K
• RVelectricity: So, does my RV use 120 or 240 volts?
• Here are some ways RVers are making money on the road. You can do these too!
• Part 1: What is the best solar panel for my RV and how many do I need?
• Campground and RV Park News, July 24, 2021
• You can do laundry in the RV even without a sewer hookup!
• Is expecting good customer service in the RV industry too much to ask?
• RVelectricity: CarGenerator / Ford PowerBoost Comparison
• Silence your RV’s noisy air conditioner with this nifty gadget
• Part 2: What’s the best solar panel for your RV? How many do you need?
This gentle yet effective electric Sonicare toothbrush removes up to 7x more plaque than a manual toothbrush. A 2-minute timer helps ensure recommended brushing time. Long-lasting rechargeable battery. You could win this!
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (July 31, 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.
Snack time is the best time!
If you like to snack, this box is for you. If you know someone who likes to snack, this box is for them. If you know someone struggling to put snacks on the table (or in the kiddo’s lunchbox) right now, this might really help them. If you want to thank your Amazon delivery driver or USPS carrier, leave this out for them. This CraveBox comes with 45 different snacks: cookies, granola bars, chips, candy, popcorn, crackers, fruit snacks.. you name it, it’s all here. This would be fun to open! Learn more or order.
Idea: Listen to the RVtravel.com podcast on your smart phone while waiting for your appointment at the doctor’s office.
What do RVtravel.com readers think?
Last week, in our RV Daily Tips Newsletter, we asked readers if they had an automatic ice maker in their RV. Wow! We were surprised! We never thought so many RVers would be traveling with such a convenience. See the results.
“RVs: Who Makes What” – This is a new free directory from RVtravel.com which lists every U.S. RV manufacturer and their makes and models. Learn more and/or download a free PDF copy.
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.
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.
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.
New to RVing or know someone who is?
Sign up for our Beginner’s Guide to RVing Newsletter. Reader Robert McG says, “Wow. Really enjoy the crisp format and valuable information, thank you!” Sign up here.
Get your kicks on, well, you know how it goes…
“The Best Hits on Route 66: 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road” is the perfect companion for anyone traveling down Route 66 or who has ever wanted to. Amy Bizzarri, a Route 66 expert, takes you on an inspiring and entertaining journey down America’s most famous favorite road. Along with fascinating history and travel inspiration, the book also includes itineraries so trip planning is a breeze. Learn more or order.
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of “The RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club, a one-stop go-to online resource for RV enthusiasts.
He is also the owner of Passport Media Creations, which has developed several RV dealer and safety training programs.
In Dave’s new column Monday-Saturday (sign up for the RV Daily Tips Newsletter, folks. You don’t want to miss it!) he’ll address one technical reader question with his expert advice. You’re going to learn a lot! Here’s column #1:
Are slide out stabilizers a good idea?
Dennis R. asks: “Are slide out stabilizers a good idea? I’ve heard pros and cons, but am still uncertain whether they are really necessary. I don’t like spending money on something I don’t need.” Read Dave’s reply.
On Monday Dave answers this question: “Is it better to have the front of my trailer a bit too high or a bit too low?”
RV parks all booked up? Stay at farms, wineries and other scenic and peaceful locations for free. Save 15% on a membership to Harvest Hosts. Learn more.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
With Tony Barthel
Cornhole meets bean-bag basketball in this game for RVers
What is Tony talking about? He explains, “You could think of the game as a marriage of cornhole and basketball, essentially. The game is the brainchild of Anthony Esposito and is simply a series of seven buckets that mount on a collapsible pole. The game comes with 16 bean bags in two different colors. The buckets have numbers on them corresponding to the values they have in game play.” Now this sounds fun! Read his review and get your game on!
Backseat Bivy car hammock: A new comfort for car campers
This nifty backseat hammock turns the back of any SUV into a camper (well, essentially…). If you’ve ever slept in your car, you’re going to wish something like this had existed a lot sooner! Read Tony’s review and watch a video of it in action (it does look pretty cozy!).
By Mike Sokol
Please don’t bring a noisy generator to the quiet outdoors
Last week while driving around in my (loaner) F-150 Hybrid truck, I stopped by a dry camping area just to see what was happening. I was astonished to hear not just one, but TWO noisy contractor generators churning away. … This was just plain obnoxious. Well, when I go out to camp, and especially when boondocking, I go for the peace and quiet. I don’t want to listen to a bunch of noisy generators running all day long. … What about you? And was the Ford F-150 PowerBoost truck with the built-in generator quieter than a Honda inverter generator? Find out here.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session
CarGenerator / Ford PowerBoost comparison
Saw you at the Airstream International Rally last week, and I’m really glad you brought the F-150 PowerBoost truck. It’s very nice, but at $66,000 it’s a little out of my budget. However, I saw the CarGenerator you brought, as well, so I wonder if other than the amount of power output, is the Ford technology that much different than the CarGenerator product? —Linda from Lebanon
?????? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??????
Not only is this cool, but it’s also tiny! And you know what tiny means? It means it’s great for RVers! Check it out.
RV Tire Safety
TPMS alerts driver to a broken brake system
By Roger Marble
I saw this post that confirms what I have suggested as a possible additional benefit to running TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System). TPMS sensors mounted on metal, bolt-in valve stems are more likely to sense the temperature of the metal wheel. They will transfer the heat from a wheel bearing or brake drag and failure better than they can report the heat generated in the shoulder of a radial tire. Continue reading about this driver who fortunately heeded his TPMS warning.
The Digital RVer
Google Maps “Plus” Codes: An address for places with no address
You know about GPS coordinates, right? But what is the best way to share those coordinates with someone else? And, how do you write it down? Enter Plus Codes, Google’s shorthand for GPS coordinates. If you have the Plus Code for a place, just enter it into the Google Maps search bar and it will show you the exact location. This is being used all over the world for people who have no regular address. Now they can get deliveries, emergency services and sign up for bank accounts. For us, it’s a way to give directions to where our RV is parked. Learn how easy it is to use here.
Recipe of the Day
These aren’t your typical sliders. It’s hearty and meant for a meat lover. This bakes into a big, thick, cheesy slider. Nothing skimpy about these. The ranch is a nice complement to the shredded chicken. The mound of bacon is held down by a thick gooey cheese layer. You get a bit of tang from the Dijon mustard. Brushing melted garlic butter on at the end is the perfect last touch. Serve these to friends and watch them disappear.
Don’t serve these to anyone on a diet but, hey, we’ll take their portion! YUM! Get the recipe here.
Other recipes featured in this week’s Daily Tips Newsletters:
• King’s Hawaiian Tuna Melt Supreme
• Grilled Steak and Veggies Tacos
• Cilantro Pesto Chicken Pizza
• Chili Dog In A Log!
• Bacon Cheeseburger Queso Dip
Tiny camera lets you look into tiny dark spaces in your RV!
This amazing Digital Inspection Endoscope makes discovering problems with your RV fun! This small two-camera endoscope with a viewing monitor allows you to see into tight, small, dark spaces to locate where problems might occur. Have mice? See where they’re coming in. Have a wire that has come loose? Peek at it and see where it needs to be tightened. Have a water leak? Find the source! Read more about this amazing device here. Every RVer needs one!
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“This is Poppy. At the time of the pic she is 4 months old. Great traveler. Went on a 24-day trip. She is a Goldendoodle and the sweetest puppy one could ask for.” —Walt Fuhrmann
Vintage Postcard of the Week
Postcards owned by Colleen and Ed Weum, Pacific Northwest Postcard Club. Read more about their 90,000 postcard collection here.
Three men are lined up behind each other. The tallest man is in the back and can see the heads of the two in front of him; the middle man can see the one man in front of him; the man in front can’t see anyone. They are blindfolded and hats are placed on their heads, picked from three black hats and two white hats. The extra two hats are hidden and the blindfolds removed. The tallest man is asked if he knows what color hat he’s wearing; he doesn’t. The middle man is asked if he knows; he doesn’t. But the man in front, who can’t see anyone, says he knows. How does he know, and what color hat is he wearing?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday news newsletter. And please don’t spoil it for other readers by posting the answer in the comments.)
Do you have a brain teaser you think we should use? Send it to us here.
Make sure to have this Fire Extinguishing Aerosol in your RV
The First Alert EZ Fire Spray portable fire extinguisher is easier to use and discharges 4 times longer than traditional fire extinguishers. With an aerosol nozzle and portable size, it’s suited for the kitchen, car, garage, boat or RV. The formula wipes away with a damp cloth & is biodegradable. Comes in a one- or two-pack. Learn more or order.
Fifty-four percent of Walmart.com customers have experienced financial setbacks in the past year compared to 48% of U.S. consumers overall. —Chain Store Age
Word and Phrase Origins
From the book, Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson:
paparazzi. “This word is usually encountered in the plural, like the swarms of free-lance, celebrity-chasing photographers that it describes. Few people know that the Italian word comes directly from the name of Signore Paparazzo, a photographer in Federico Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita (1960). The fictional character’s name, in turn, came from an Italian dialect word for a particularly noisy, buzzing mosquito. Fellini had known a boy nicknamed Paparazzo (Mosquito) during his school days and the restless boy’s fast, buzzing talk and constant movement put the director in mind of the photographer to whom he gave his name.”
Laugh of the Week
Leave with a song from the past
Linda Ronstadt joins the Eagles in this foot-tapping rendition of “Silver Threads and Golden Needles.” Enjoy!
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Managing editor: Mike Gast. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Tony Barthel. Contributors: Mike Sokol, Gail Marsh, Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, James Raia, Kate Doherty, J.R. Montigel, Clint Norrell, Randall Brink and Chris Epting. Podcast host and producer: Scott Linden. Special projects director: Jessica Sarvis. Moderators: Gary Gilmore, Linda Brady. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
Honorary Correspondents: Loyal readers who regularly email us leads about news stories and other information and resources that aid our own news-gathering efforts.
Tom and Lois Speirs • Mike Sherman • George Bliss • Steve Barnes • Tom Hart + others who we will add later.
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.
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