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August 7, 2021
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
By Chuck Woodbury
Iam trying my best to “semi-retire,” which means writing less. But something has happened I must address.
The Sierra Nevada community of Greenville burned to the ground this past week, a victim of the 432,813-acre Dixie Fire (as of Friday afternoon). It’s a beautiful little town of 1,000 residents in Northern California in the mountains about 150 miles northeast of Sacramento. Or at least it was a beautiful little town.
It has special meaning to me because Greenville was the first stop on my very first trip in my very first RV, an 18-foot motorhome. I stayed a week in a free campground just outside the city limits. I would ride my bicycle into town to use a phone booth or buy a few groceries. I wrote my very first articles for publication there, using a manual typewriter and developing and printing my photos in my portable darkroom. I was just getting started in my writing career. RVtravel.com would not come along for nearly 20 years.
And now that beautiful little town is gone.
I am afraid other towns in the Sierra Nevada will meet the same fate. The forest there is bone dry. As some of you know, during my college summers I fought fires for the U.S. Forest Service. Every day at 4 p.m., the following day’s weather report would blare from the outdoor loudspeakers at our guard station. Besides reporting the predicted temperatures and winds, it would report “fuel moisture.”
That last figure was a measure of the amount of moisture in the vegetation. When it dipped to a very low percentage, the fire danger would rise. Some days, when the temperature was very hot, the winds heavy and the fuel moisture very low, we would not be allowed to leave the station, even for our scheduled day off. If conditions were extreme, we’d stay close to our fire truck or helicopter.
I SUSPECT WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW is that the fuel moisture is about as low as it can get. What this means is that even if a tree appears alive and healthy, it may have so little moisture in its limbs that it is essentially dead. Such a tree would burn the same as if it were dead and brown; if you were to bend a small branch it would not bend, but snap.
Think about the difficulty of starting a campfire with green wood vs. starting one with dry wood. Imagine an entire forest with the latter.
Besides destroying homes and businesses, the Dixie Fire has destroyed many campgrounds in the Plumas National Forest. A lot of summer campers have had to go elsewhere.
If you are out and about, please, please, please be extra careful with campfires (if they are even allowed) and any other fire. Don’t let your vehicle or generator exhaust blow against dead grass. One little spark could lead to incredible devastation and even loss of life.
If you live in Plumas County, Calif., and especially Greenville, I am so sorry for your loss. And to all those firefighters out there on the line, you are truly heroes. It’s a brutal, physically exhausting occupation. Be safe, all of you. And thank you!
Headline stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• New service lists campgrounds where cell service is available
• Are RVs really in short supply? We have some answers
• Tony Barthel reports the latest news about towing and pickup trucks
• Satellite broadband internet becoming a reality? Maybe!
• We review a 2022 Grand Design Transcend Xplor 231RK
• Reader suggests part-timers stay at resorts, full-timers get state parks
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Stolen RV Report • Latest RV recalls • AARP Scam Report • Reader survey • and much more…
Listen to this week’s RVtravel.com podcast
Just click below to learn more about what’s on the show (episode 19) and listen. In this episode, Get it off your chest!, Kate Doherty of RVtravel.com shares her list of gripes, pet peeves, and all that annoying stuff that gets on our nerves … or are you “that guy?” It’s your chance to vent, too. Go ahead, yell back at the phone or computer … just pick up after your dog, please. It’s all in good fun! We also cover news you can use, including a recall that could save your life.
Listen to this 40-second clip of the episode (about a severely challenged RVer backer-upper!).
Last week’s Tip of the Day highlights in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• Goose gripes: Get ’em out of my campsite!
• Gray water tank can smell more than black. Here’s why and what to do about it
• Be weight- and space-efficient in your RV kitchen
• 17 unusual uses for dryer sheets in your RV
• RV bathroom often underrated in buying process
Today, industry insider Tony Barthel reviews the 2021 Heartland Big Country 3703RK Fifth Wheel. Tony explains that these Big Country fifth wheels have “big interiors that feel residential and a warranty that includes the ability to live in the rig full time.” Read more and take a peek inside in today’s review.
Last week’s reviews:
• 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 20BHS Travel Trailer
• 2022 Alliance Avenue 32RLS Fifth Wheel
• Airstream Pottery Barn Special Edition Travel Trailer
• 2022 Cherokee Wolf Pup 14CC mighty tiny trailer
• 2021 Palomino Revolve EV1 – All-electric travel trailer
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
What to do when your RV breaks down: Everything you should know
By Gail Marsh
When your RV breaks down it’s never expected. And not one person I know likes when it happens. But sometimes trouble finds you or, more specifically, trouble hits your RV when you’re far from home. Whether it’s engine failure or a flat tire, there are specific things you should do to keep yourself, those traveling with you, and other highway drivers safe. Here is a compilation of suggestions from several different insurance websites.
The Most Scenic Drives in America
This trip planner & travel guide will steer you down the most scenic road every time. From Florida’s Road to Flamingo, to British Columbia’s Sea to Sky Highway, to Cape Cod’s Sandy Shores, each featured road trip is pictured in stunning full color and described in vivid text, keyed to an easy-to-follow map. Whether you choose a drive on a distant road or a back road in your own state, this book is your ticket to North America’s most beautiful byways. Learn more or order.
RV holding tank treatments: What’s best for the environment?
Stroll the aisles of your favorite RV accessories store, or even Walmart. When you get to the RV holding tank treatment shelves, what do you see? Row upon row of bottles and boxes. Every one of those potions promises less smell, and the best outcome for your “outflow.” As RVers, we love nature, and often, when we dump tanks, we’ll have an effect on the environment. So when dumping your tanks, how can you avoid “dumping” on Mother Nature? Read this very thorough report from Russ and Tiña De Maris.
Wonderful new documentary explains America’s fascination with Airstreams
By Mike Gast
I was fortunate recently to score a link to an advanced screening of the new documentary film that chronicles the long and storied history of Airstream. The film is set for its world premiere in September. The film, titled “Alumination,” begins with tales from the challenging life of Airstream founder Wally Byam, and gives a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the iconic trailer and its black-beret-wearing creator through a wonderful array of historical footage. Continue reading.
A few excellent resources to find a veterinarian for your pet while RVing
You are happily hiking with your dog when she suddenly yelps and goes down. You run over to find that your furry friend has a deep gash in her paw. What now? Accidents and illnesses can happen to your pet at any time. It’s more unnerving when it happens while you’re on the road RVing. How do you find a veterinarian for your pet when you’re RVing? Here are some important tips.
Let your drill clean your RV, really!
This 4-piece cleaning brush attachment connects right to your drill. Deep-clean virtually any surface. Perfect for grout lines, corners, tiles, tubs, showers, carpets, wooden furniture, windows, shower doors, siding, linoleum, stoves, counters, fiberglass, grills, marble, and more. Learn more or order here.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
DON’T GIVE UP!
Get notified immediately when a sold-out campground has an available site. CLICK.
How do you feel about your RV life compared to your expectations before you began?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. CLICK HERE.
What do most RVers prefer? Pull-through campsites or back-in? Our popular poll from Monday will tell you.
A DEET-free mosquito and tick repellent … that works!
If you’re one of those people that mosquitoes love (we all know at least one person like this), this product is for you. A very impressive number of five-star reviews. This awesome DEET-free insect repellent works for mosquitoes, ticks, black flies and fleas. Keep this one handy, folks. As RVers, there’s a good chance you’ll probably need this. It’s safe for kids and infants too! Learn more or order here.
Lost your license? Don’t lose your head!
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
In this day and age of identity theft, nearly all of us quail at the thought of someone lifting our wallet and running off with our credit cards! Wise ones are said to keep a list of their cards (even better, photocopies of them) stashed away in the rig. Armed with phone numbers, we can quickly report the loss, and limit our damages. “Don’t lose your head over something simple,” the constant wise-guy in my mind nags me. Continue reading this informative and, of course (look who’s the author), entertaining post.
“The Fire Hydrant Capital of the World,” and other weird “world capitals”
Because of their proud self-proclamation, “world capitals” often offer the traveler a chance to experience interesting regional quirks, traditions, lore, and history. Remember that next time you see one of those signs. Perhaps the place is worth a short detour; a moment to revel in some local color or strangeness. Or even just buy a T-shirt. Read more.
????? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??????
We’re not going to tell you which one of our staff members uses this, but let’s just say this thing will forever change the way you use the bathroom… (in the best way possible).
Replace your RV’s annoying two-cavity sink with one large one
By Kate Doherty
This is the third installment in a series of customizations, upgrades and changeouts to better fit one’s RVing lifestyle. In the second article in this series, I noted a full-timer who replaced their dishwasher with a dual pullout spice rack for cooking proximity (you can read about it and see photos here). Their tradeoff? Hand-washing dishes and cookware. In this installment we cover replacing the RV sink.
Cruise ship condos: Trade in your “land yacht” for a real ocean-going abode
The sudden increase in folks wanting to work remotely is sparking renewed interest in something other than RV sales. Cruise ship condos might just become the “RVs of the Seas” for many who’ve decided not to return to the office and “work from home,” wherever home may be. Continue reading this very interesting report from Mike Gast.
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, August 7, 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 card: Donna Roye of Colonial Heights, Virginia, Steve Hansen of Nashua, New Hampshire, and Lindy Kolthoff of Pittsburg, California.
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
• Ask Dave: Is it better to have the front of the trailer a bit too high or a bit too low?
• Finally, Verizon offers affordable hotspot plans
• 10 Best-selling products from Amazon on RVtravel.com in July
• RVelectricity: Please don’t bring a noisy generator to the quiet outdoors
• More rookie campers plus more bears is a dangerous combination
• Ask Dave: If my slide outs are motor-driven, which part should I lube?
• Ask Dave: Are slide out stabilizers a good idea?
• Airliner waste water: Do planes really dump it in the air?
• Campground and RV Park News, July 31, 2021
• Truck Trends: The latest truck news for RVers. August 1, 2021
How would you like to win a copy of RV Camping in Corps of Engineers Parks?
This very popular guide lists and describes RV-friendly camping areas operated by the Corps of Engineers. This guide is perfect for RV travelers because all of the hike-in, boat-in and tent-only camping areas are not included, which makes it easy to find the campgrounds that can accommodate RVs. Corps of Engineers Parks are considered by many RVers to be the best public campgrounds in the USA.
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (August 7, 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.
Idea: Listen to the RVtravel.com podcast while washing the dishes.
Don’t swelter in your RV anymore!
At RVtravel.com we don’t see too many products that we go nuts over, but the SoftStartRV is a game-changer. Here’s what it can do:
• Run two air conditioners (with two SoftStartRVs) on a 30-amp hookup.
• Run one air conditioner using only a small portable generator.
• Run one air conditioner on 20-amp household current.
• Run an air conditioner or two using your onboard inverter system. Read more.
UPDATED MAY 20 (2nd edition): “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.
AAA Map of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions (U.S. and Canada)
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.
Great websites. Check out our favorite websites of the day! We compiled a list of (almost) all the websites we’ve ever posted, and we update it weekly.
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.
RV education you can trust from RV Education 101: Get instant access to RV Online Training.
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.
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 he’ll address a reader’s technical question with his expert advice. You’ll learn a lot!
Dear Dave: “I have constant problems with my Schwintek slide. Help!”
I’m on my second fifth wheel, a 2021 model. My first had one Schwintek slide in the bedroom. My current trailer has the same small Schwintek slide in the bedroom plus a large Schwintek slide for the kitchen side of the trailer. I had a minor problem with the Schwintek slide in my first trailer. But I’ve had nothing but constant problems with both Schwintek slides in my current trailer, especially the large kitchen slide. The trailer has been to the dealer three times (it’s there right now) just for the Schwintek slide problems. … wonder what your experience and thoughts are regarding this issue. Read more and Dave’s response.
Other questions Dave answered this week:
• Is it better to have the front of the trailer a bit too high or a bit too low?
• Air conditioner unit works, then doesn’t. What gives?
• If my slide outs are motor-driven, which part should I lube?
• I’m looking for a sun visor for my RV. What’s the one you use?
• Two-stage AC not working, and it’s not the thermostat! What will make it work?
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
Boondocking gadget: Venture Wipes – Better than baby stuff
More and more people are considering boondocking as a way to combat running into the “no vacancy” sign at RV parks. However, two challenges continue to plague us boondockers: power and water. Solar systems have improved markedly in just the past few years such that you could literally power anything in your RV with a sufficient solar and battery system. Water, though, remains an ongoing challenge. At the most recent FMCA rally in Gillette, Wyoming, the goodie bags that we were all given contained a sample from Venture Wipes. Find out what Tony Barthel thinks about them here.
Protect your RV’s slideout with this rubber seal lubricant
If you don’t take care of your slideout you’re asking for problems including dangerous, costly water damage. This rubber seal lubricant from Thetford prevents fading, cracking and deterioration. It cleans, conditions and shines, keeping seals flexible and protected from sunlight destruction. It is also useful on door seals and window seals. It’s a mineral oil product and also acts as a lubricant. Learn more or order.
With Mike Sokol
First mpg towing tests with F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid
After towing a few different trailers and driving solo for more than 2,500 miles, I now have some basic mpg numbers for my loaner F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid with the 3.5L gasoline engine and 35kW traction motor. … Read all about Mike’s interesting test results here.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session
When you DIY, take a picture – it will last longer
Looks like I really goofed up and installed my battery terminals backwards. My converter made a pop and let out a puff of smoke. I only had the wires on it for a second, so I’m surprised this happened so quickly. My neighbor says he can replace the fuses in the converter for me, but what do I need to do next time to avoid making this same mistake again? —Dizzy in Duluth
Read Mike’s response with lots of important tips.
RV Tire Safety
Should I run ST tires on my trailer or can I use LT type?
When it comes time to replace your tires on your RV trailer you may have a few options. Sometimes you may also be confronted with a supply problem that limits your selection. What can you do? What are your options? Tire expert Roger Marble explains here.
Building an RV Park
Invaders in the park; and Happy 50th, Machelle!
By Machelle James
What I am learning is that most people are good people, like, really good people. We have been so fortunate to meet the most happy, fun and generous campers in the last few weeks. I turned 50 last week and we closed down the campground to the public for the weekend. We welcomed a few campers that were already here to stay and enjoy the festivities. Continue reading about two types of invaders in the park, 6″ of rain, and more park developments, here.
What do RVtravel.com readers think?
“Do you believe that Bigfoot (Sasquatch) exists?” That’s what we asked our readers. Of the more than 3,000 who responded, how many of them would you guess believe the creature does exist or probably exists? Was it 11, 24 percent or 39 percent? Find out in issue 1185 of our RV Daily Tips Newsletter.
RV Short Stop
“Seven Magic Mountains” free RV Short Stop near Las Vegas
Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale public art installation that brightens the desert landscape south of Las Vegas, Nevada. These eye-popping, neon-hued limestone 30-foot totems grab the attention of motorists on nearby Interstate 15. Continue reading.
Here’s an idea for you: Record your family history on your iPhone or video camera. If you want some inspiration, we recommend you get the book To Our Children’s Children. It will prompt many ideas of what to talk about. Your children and grandchildren will appreciate this when you are gone. Think about it, wouldn’t you love it if your parents could have done this for you?
RV Fire Safety
Safety tools can save lives
There are plenty of fire and life safety tools that can save lives, but for them to be effective, they must be in working condition and you must know how to use them properly.
Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy
Recipe of the Day
Julie’s recipe should be a staple on any busy mom’s menu. It’s simple and easy to throw together. The whole crew loved this dish. The seasoning packet adds all the flavor you’d expect from a chili but you don’t have to grab multiple spice jars. It seriously doesn’t get easier than this recipe. Serve with a side salad and garlic bread and you have a super quick meal.
Delicious and easy? Yes, please! Get the recipe here.
Other recipes featured in this week’s Daily Tips Newsletters:
• Citrus & Feta Salad, Homemade Honey-Lime Dressing
• Crock Pot Mango Chicken
• Homemade Chicken Hot Pockets
• Wimpy Mac (that isn’t at all wimpy!)
• Salisbury Steak Meatballs
Museum of the Week
Victoria, B.C., Canada
If you’ve ever been to the beautiful little city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, chances are you’ve been to Miniature World. One of the largest, tiniest attractions, Miniature World can’t be missed. Inside, you’ll find 85 miniature displays – everything from the world’s smallest dollhouse to one of the world’s smallest model railways. There’s even an out-of-this-world space adventure to be had! There’s no way you won’t have fun at this wonderful museum. And now that we can (almost) get into Canada again, it’s time to plan a visit!
Attention Big Rig RV owners!
This annual road atlas will keep you away from too-narrow roads and low bridges. Learn more or order.
Readers’ Pets of the Day
“Tazzy and Finn (young Samoyeds) relaxing in front of the Admiralty Head Lighthouse at Fort Casey State Park on Whidbey Island, Washington. Couldn’t ask for a better park for dogs – so much to do! Play on the expansive grounds by the lighthouse and artillery gun bunkers, explore on the beach and (the best part) get to see all of the bunnies and deer in the campground! Well, the seagulls on the beach are pretty interesting, too!” —Jan Fields
Hilarious dog toy: Wobble Wag Giggle Ball. If you want a good laugh, get one of these hilarious interactive toys for your dog. Staff member Emily recently bought this for her dog, Astor, and has been laughing every day since. There is an internal tube noisemaker inside the ball (no batteries or charging required!), so when the ball is pushed, it makes a hilarious giggle sound. Your dog will love it! Click here to learn more.
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.
We have three riddles, all related (but with different answers), for you today:
1) What has lots of eyes, but can’t see?
2) What has one eye, but can’t see?
3) What has many needles, but doesn’t sew?
(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.
Want your kids or grandkids to do a better job at their chores? Put ’em in a Batman costume! A study from the University of Minnesota shows that kids aged 4-6 performed better during boring tasks and chores when dressed as Batman.
Word and Phrase Origins
From the book, Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson:
Kelley Blue Book. “The standard guide in the U.S. for dealers and the courts in determining the value of all used cars of all makes and model years. It was developed by Sidney ‘Buster’ Kelley of the Kelley Kar Company, which, from the end of World War I to the end of World War II, was the biggest used car business in the world. The Blue Book was first published in 1926.”
Laugh of the Week
My husband was water skiing when he fell into the river. As the boat circled to pick him up, he noticed a hunter sitting in a duck boat in the reeds. My husband put his hands in the air and joked, “Don’t shoot!” The hunter responded, “Don’t quack!” —Katie O’Connell, Warrenville, Illinois
Need a step up?
Car or truck roof too hard to reach? Designed to fit over almost any tire, the TireStep allows you to reach three important areas of your truck or SUV: the engine compartment, the roof, and the bed. For fifth wheel owners, the TireStep may be the helper you’ve been wanting for a long time and just didn’t know it. Reaching over the truck bed using the TireStep is not a problem while hitching or unhitching your rig. Learn more here.
Leave with a song from the past
There weren’t too many hits in the 1960s as big or enduring as this chart topper by Petula Clark. Enjoy “Downtown”!
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
PLEASE SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS
At RVtravel.com we publish more than 700 newsletters a year. Approximately 30% of our funding comes from the 4 percent of readers who support us with a voluntary subscription. It’s fine if you continue to read for free, but if you believe our hard-working staff’s efforts are worth more than “free”, we humbly ask that you chip in to help us be an ever-better resource for you and other RVers. Even $10 or $15 a year is appreciated. Donate here. All major credit cards, PayPal and checks are accepted.
Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editor: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Tony Barthel, Mike Gast. Contributors: Mike Sokol, Gail Marsh, Roger Marble, Dave Solberg, 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 + 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.
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