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September 25, 2021
Non-Members (advertising-supported) edition
By Emily Woodbury
Longtime readers may recall that many years ago we had a very popular website called FreeCampgrounds.com. For a few years, it attracted as many visitors as this website, RVtravel.com, and at times even more.
We have been banging our heads recently (against pillows, not walls) trying to figure out how to bring back the website without duplicating the many other sites and apps on the same subject. We finally hit upon what we believe is a good idea — one that would provide a very useful — and free — service to RVers. Do we have your attention? Okay, great. Keep reading.
The idea is to create a searchable directory of free and inexpensive places to stay the night within two or three miles of America’s Interstates. Locations could include casinos, truck stops, rest areas, Walmart stores, Cabela’s, Cracker Barrel restaurants (provided you order the hashbrown casserole for breakfast before you take off in the morning… but of course you’d do that anyway because who passes that up?), and other places that we verify are safe and where RVers can stay without fear of being kicked out in the middle of the night. We’ll encourage RV parks close to Interstate exits to provide overflow parking for $20 or less — no hookups, no services, just a safe place for traveling RVers to pull off the road for 8 to 12 hours, eat dinner and sleep.
Our hope is that RVers who are traveling from Point A to Point B without reservations along the way can easily find places to stay a night. A map will show the route ahead with locations identified. A click on any one of the locations will reveal the details, including reviews by RVers who stayed. Our goal is to provide enough information for the traveling RVer to know when setting out for the day that there will almost certainly be space for them that evening near where they plan to be.
Our editors are already hard at work putting together a list of probable locations. (If you’re wondering if we ever sleep around here, the answer is no.) For now, we welcome your suggestions on what information we should include in the listings to make them more useful to you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our goal is to have the website up and running within a few months.
OK, now back to banging our heads against pillows, er, back to work…
• We are still looking for writers. Good pay for talented, motivated persons. Also, if you love doing research on the Web, we may have volunteer or even paid work for you.
Headline stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• Why are RVs so delayed being repaired or shipped to buyers? Visualize: cargo ships!
• Canadian RVers still blocked from crossing U.S. border
• Campground Crowding: What will it be? Higher deposits? Stricter cancellation fees?
• Despite COVID concerns, campers still headed out in huge numbers this fall
And all the latest news that affects RVers.
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Stolen RV Report • Latest RV recalls • AARP Scam Report • Reader survey • and much more…
Help spread the word about RVtravel.com
Here’s a great way to help spread the word about America’s favorite newsletter about RVing — yup, the one you’re reading right now! We’d love to send you some cards that you can hand out in campgrounds or at rallies to RVers who may not know about us and want to become readers. Simply send one first class or Forever Stamp to RVtravel.com, 9792 Edmonds Way #265, Edmonds, WA 98020. We’ll send you 30 cards plus two of our very cool “Blast Off To Adventure” stickers. No charge, of course.
Listen to this week’s RVtravel.com podcast
Episode 26: Home improvement … on wheels! Brian Pursel of “RV With Tito” shares some of his top upgrades from solar to plumbing, suspension to seating. News you can use, industry info, and your thoughts on going without electricity all this week on the RVtravel.com podcast.
Last week’s Tip of the Day highlights in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• It’s time to clean your RV’s roof. Here’s how to do it and what you’ll need.
• Carrying an extra water hose can save frustration
• Make a safe U-turn when the road goes the wrong way
• Your RV’s roof vent and fan are dirty! Here’s how to clean them.
• Should you cancel your RV’s insurance while storing it?
Today, industry insider Tony Barthel reviews the Cherokee Alpha Wolf 26DBH-L travel trailer. He writes, “This is a decent package of usability and features at an affordable price. As mentioned, we simply couldn’t keep these in stock even before all this camper craze started, so I can imagine that’s even more the case now.” Take a look here.
Last week’s reviews:
• Northwood Arctic Fox North Fork 22G
• Preview: 2022 r-pod RP-201, a no-slide two-axle trailer
• 2022 Jayco North Point 310RLTS, a luxury fifth wheel
• 2022 Colorado Teardrops Mount Massive trailer
• nüCamp Barefoot retro-style trailer
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
New RV Consumer Support column – We need YOUR help
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
We’ve spent months learning of, researching, and looking for answers to a big problem: motorhomes and pickup trucks sidelined by a lack of parts to replace bad Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) sensors. While it was a lot of hard work, the results have been gratifying. … You’ve all been on the front lines of RV consumer support, and we salute you.
Last weekend, a thoughtful RVtravel.com reader put in his two bits. Dave O. wrote, “Thank you for your honest reporting! Hard to find these days. By stirring up some controversy, hopefully that helps get things moving in a better quality direction. I’d recommend pushing that quality message even further. Don’t let it be a one article hit. Make it a weekly or monthly series on RV quality concerns. Is it improving? Keep the manufacturers accountable. Let the readers contribute notes about their experience; quotes from workers in the field.” …
Dave’s suggestion struck a chord with staff. We’re now announcing a new weekly RV Consumer Support column. We’ll ask what problems you’ve been having with your RV or RV products. We’ll publish some of your experiences, we’ll be contacting some for follow-up. When we see a particular problem come up again and again, we’ll call industry on it. We’ll keep it before industry, consumers and, where appropriate, before government. Learn how you can participate here.
Run your RV A/C with only normal household power. It’s now possible!
A guide to sex in an RV
By Tony Barthel
(Rated PG) More and more of us are spending more time in our RVs. As such we’re doing everything in our RVs from cooking to laundry to making magic of the night. You know, fooling around! But like so many other aspects of RV life, sex in an RV is something that might be approached differently. This is especially true if you have little ones who travel with you. What are the challenges of amorous activities in a mobile vacation machine? Well, there are many. Read more. Then add your own PG-rated tips if Tony has missed anything.
Dear RV parks: Do you purposely set me up for driving disasters?
By Tony Barthel
Dear RV park owners,
Why, why, why (!!) do you put things in campgrounds right where I’m trying to turn my RV that are completely out of my line of sight? Is there some conspiracy between the RV parts suppliers, RV insurance companies, and the campgrounds? Every RVer here knows exactly what I’m going on about. Rocks. Stumps. Power pedestals. Water spigots. In so many RV campgrounds it seems there are things that are well below where I can see them that pose an imminent danger to either my RV or tow vehicle. Read more, then feel free to weigh in.
New Feature: RV Consumer Support
Rock strike! Who’s responsible for your broken windshield?
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
You’re happily motoring down the road in your RV. Ahead of you is a dump truck with a load of gravel. Suddenly, that awful thing happens! A chunk of gravel smacks your windshield, and a spidery pattern creeps across your view. Who’s responsible for that broken windshield? Find out here.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• Boondocking gone wrong: One woman’s experience
• Deep-clean the black tank to prevent nasty outhouse smell
• This may look like an RV, but it’s far from it!
• Device keeps your fresh water tank clean. So simple, yet effective!
Do you listen to podcasts?
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 type of alcoholic beverage do you drink the most? See what you’d be drinking with nearly 2,100 other RVers here.
A sobering metaphor, a sweet story, and a vision of our mortality
By Nanci Dixon
Today, a post that I wrote on Facebook five years ago came up. It tears at my heartstrings and it still holds true. This was the post: “I watched a video the other day where they used a tape measure to encourage people to follow their dreams. Using a life expectancy chart he pulled the tape out to his current age in inches, marking the place with his forefinger and thumb. He then pulled the tape measure out to his life expectancy and marked that number. Holding the tape measure up he highlighted the long time he has lived and the little time left. I pulled out a tape measure and did the same. While sobering, the moral of following your dreams in the time left rang loud and clear. We will follow our dreams.” Continue reading this heartfelt essay. We can relate; we bet you can too.
Oktoberfest fun! Don’t miss these festive celebrations across the U.S.
By Gail Marsh
There’s good news and bad news. The bad news? The world’s largest Oktoberfest, held annually in Munich, Germany, has been canceled this year due to COVID-19 concerns. Ditto for the huge annual Leavenworth Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, WA. The good news? You can still enjoy an Oktoberfest in many, many places throughout the USA. Here are just a few.
Stupid RVer Trick: Dairy Queen RV drive-through disaster
How badly did this guy need a hamburger? This video definitely goes into our Stupid RVer Tricks Hall of Fame. How stupid would someone need to be to even attempt to enter a fast-food drive through with a narrow 90-degree turn while towing a long fifth wheel trailer? Yes, that is what happened here. Maximum Stupid!! Watch the burning rubber here.
Hitch Ball Lubricant extends the life of your hitch mount!
Protect hitch balls and receivers from corrosion with this high-film strength and waterproof grease. Formulated to stay where you apply it, this lubricant reduces friction, wear, rust, water corrosion and noise. Compatible with any variety of trailer applications like receiver hitches, ball mounts, hitch balls, locks, couplers, jacks, and more. Learn more or order here.
Are there leaf-peeping opportunities in Utah?
By Dave Helgeson
Recently Gail Marsh shared lesser-known leaf-peeping locations with the readers of this newsletter. While the locations shared were not in New England, which is considered by most the crown jewel of leaf-peeping, locations in the Western United States for leaf-peeping were still lacking. One Western state unlikely to come to the mind of RVers looking for somewhere to enjoy leaf-peeping is the Beehive State of Utah. Most associate Utah with red rocks and the Mighty 5 National Parks, but Utah is also a great place for leaf-peeping. Read about some spectacular locations here. Then let us know how you think they compare to the leaf-peeping in New England.
You won’t believe how 8 RVers orchestrated The Addams Family theme song! Amazing!
By Kate Doherty
Remember those characters? Many of us grew up watching this iconic mid-’60s macabre comedy series, The Addams Family. … Do you remember snapping your fingers to its theme song? Even today, when we hear the song, we may remember its words and find ourselves humming along. Recently, in Flaming Gorge, Wyoming, eight RVers comprising the Addams Family RV Orchestra orchestrated this well-known theme song with very unusual tones. Watch it here. This is fun! (Just don’t blame us when you can’t get it out of your head.)
TODAY’S DEALS on parts and accessories for pickups at Amazon.
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, September 25, 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 two readers claimed their $25 Amazon gift cards: Preston Tempero of Liberty, Missouri, and David Nestor of Sanford, North Carolina.
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
• New RVers opting out of lifestyle, some selling their rigs
• “Pathetic quality”: RV dealers are fed up with what manufacturers are producing (still popular, with more than 450 comments!)
• Ask Dave: Should I fill all my RV’s tanks with water during winter storage?
• It’s time to clean your RV’s roof. Here’s how to do it and what you’ll need
• Ask Dave: Is it OK to drive with the propane refrigerator on?
• Campground Crowding: Camping “has turned into a Disneyland-on-wheels business with very long lines”
• Ask Dave: Why is the sidewall on my trailer “crinkling”?
• Roadside assistance companies stretched thin by huge growth in RVers and lack of available service centers
• Ask Dave: My RV propane fridge doesn’t cool. Can I fix it myself?
• Your RV’s roof vent and fan are dirty! Here’s how to clean them
• Operating an RV park: We were down and out, but we’re back better than ever!
• Lesser-known leaf-peeping spots you don’t want to miss on your travels
Keep your brain sharp and your knives sharper!
Tired of dull knives in the kitchen? This easy-to-use knife sharpener (used by staff members, Emily, Gail and Nanci!) sharpens your knives with a few quick strokes. You’ll feel like a professional! The sharpener has two settings, one for polishing the knife and for quick touch-ups and another for dull, damaged knives. Its small size is perfect for an RV, and it’s a great price! Learn more or order here.
• Better gas mileage
Improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Underinflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all tires. Also, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
• Seal the windows
Many RV windows are only sealed to the side of the coach by a small foam gasket. These can fail under certain circumstances, allowing the wall to leak and causing delamination and rot problems. To fix this, use window and door silicone sealant where the window and wall meet. A small bead will do, and be sure to tool it properly so it looks right!
• Clacking brakes on trailer?
When you hit the brakes, do the brakes on your trailer clatter? This is a sign that the brakes are out of adjustment or worn and need service! The electric brakes on your trailer should be adjusted every 3,000 miles, annually, or when performance dictates that it is necessary. They should be taken apart and inspected annually as well.
• Save the shower (and other) glass doors!
Chris Dougherty, Certified RV Technician, posted this tip while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor.
I have had to replace shower doors many times because the glass gets broken, usually because it flies open going down the road. Most shower doors have some type of positive latch on them. Locking this door, as well as any other glass door like a mirrored glass closet door, should be on your pre-trip checklist.
How would you like to win a 15 oz. RVtravel.com Coffee Mug?
We guarantee your coffee will taste better in this mug. If not, well, switch your brand of coffee – it’s obviously no good!
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (September 25, 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.
If you don’t win, you can always buy the official RVtravel.com coffee mug here.
Idea: Listen to the RVtravel.com podcast while eating lunch at a rest area.
Current smoke and fire report for where you live or where you are traveling.
“RVs: Who Makes What” – This is a free directory from RVtravel.com that 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.
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.
RV Advice Facebook group. Great place to ask an RV-related question and get a quick answer.
Maintain those slide seals!
If you’ve heard a cracking or popping sound when extending your slides, it means its seals are sticking and/or drying out. Applying a seal conditioner about every 8-12 weeks can extend a seal’s life. We recommend using Thetford Premium RV Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner.
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and 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.
My RV’s front cap is fading. What can I do about it?
How do I prevent “chalking” from the fiberglass or plastic segments, especially the top front header over my windshields, on my older (2002) class A unit? I take good care of my RV and keep it covered from late fall to early spring. When I wash the unit, white chalky water runs off. Should I wax the part that “weeps” to protect it? Does any company make a product that combats this deterioration? This 19-year-old unit still looks almost brand-new! —Ken
Other questions Dave answered this week:
• Why is the sidewall on my trailer “crinkling”?
• My fridge doesn’t cool. Can I fix it myself?
• Why is the GVWR higher than the combined GAWR?
• Why can’t the RV industry conquer the issue of leaks?
• Why is my RV’s carpet wet?
The history of the cheeseburger: Almost as satisfying as a burger itself!
By Chris Epting
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we’ll be tracing some food origins, starting with an all-American classic, the cheeseburger. Believe it or not, there are three places that all claim to be the birthplace of the cheeseburger. How can this be? Sometimes, similar ideas are thought of around the same time in history. These “coincidences” sometimes lead to arguments over who had the idea first, as is the case with the cheeseburger. … Drool over some cheeseburgers here.
with Mike Sokol
Is this the beginning of the end of noisy built-in generators?
As many of you know, I was teaching RVelectricity™ seminars all last week at the Hershey RV show. And yes, the show itself was fully packed, as were my seminars. But I also spent a lot of time bumming around the various exhibits and learned a few things along the way.
My favorite thing…
Okay, I realize this is just the geek in me talking, but I finally had a chance to see (and hear) the new Cummins Onan QG 2500i LP generator at the Cummins demonstration trailer. Read what Mike thinks about it here.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session
Too much Ninja® Foodi™ Air Fry Oven amperage?
Mike saw this question posted on a Facebook group: “So we are wanting to buy this [Ninja Foodi Air Fry Oven] and use in our RV, but have issues when it trips the breaker while the air unit is running. What is the solution?” —Jeffrey Barber
?????? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??????
This might be one of the sweetest things we’ve ever seen for RVers! If you have someone close to you that’s far away, you’re going to want this.
RV Tire Safety
with Roger Marble
What “size” are your tires? Part 1
That seems to be an early response whenever you ask a question about tires. Whether you ask about price, load capacity, or inflation, the first reply may be, “What size is it?” The answer you give should not be “It’s a 22.5” or “it’s a 225-R-15”. These are just partial answers and indicate to many that you don’t really understand all you should about your tires. … Begin learning all about tire sizes here.
Recipe of the Day
Using Thai basil in this chicken stir-fry adds an amazing aroma and flavor to the dish. Thai basil has a savory, anise-like flavor which is completely different from the Italian basil (used in pesto). This stir-fry is sweet and salty with savory chicken and crunchy cashews. Serve with rice and enjoy! If you want to add some spice, top with a little bit of garlic chili sauce.
This sounds better than take-out! Get the recipe.
Other recipes featured in this week’s Daily Tips Newsletters:
• Traci’s Famous New England Clam Chowdahhh
• Sour Cream Pumpkin Coffee Cake With Pecan Streusel
• White Chicken Chili With Salsa Verde
• Crock Pot Chicken Pot “Pie” & Dumplings
• Healthy Southwestern Turkey Meatloaf
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“Our wanna-be co-pilot, Molly. Loves the view from the front seat, always happy to be on the road!” —Jeffrey Wilkie
Protect your RV “pigtail”
That 7-way connector on your travel trailer or fifth wheel is a critical component. When not plugged into your tow rig, the thing is susceptible to the onslaught of dirt, rain and even bugs. Here’s a plug cover that slips right over your precious plug and keeps out the crud. One user says, “This works perfectly to keep the plug on my RV clear. I remove it when not in use and place it in my ‘RV emergency tool kit.’ This way, it’s not knocked around when driving.” Learn more or order.
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.
Look close! 84 percent of people reading this will not find the the mistake in this: A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z.
(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.
Affordable tire tool will save you tons of trouble
What gives when you think your tires are “good to go” but down on air again the next day? Your valve stem valve probably isn’t tight enough. A loose, leaking valve stem can cause a tire failure due to low pressure under load at highway speeds. So do yourself and your vehicles a favor – pick up one of these very inexpensive tools and make sure your valve cores are snugly seated in the valve stem. Click here to order.
In the 18th century, human alarm clocks were known as “Knocker-Uppers.” Clocks were expensive back then, so workers across the British Isles relied on human alarm clocks called knocker-uppers. The knocker-uppers would work in the early hours of the morning, knocking on doors and windows to wake up their sleepy clients. The role was usually filled by people already up that early, such as police constables and lamp lighters, or early-rising elderly people who wanted a little extra income.
Word and Phrase Origins
From the book, Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson:
over the top. “Millions of men met their death going over the top in World War I. The expression means to climb out ‘over the top of one’s trench’ and attack the enemy over the open ground (top) between the trenches. Over the top has been used figuratively since the end of the Great War to mean to do something excessive, or even dangerous, as in ‘His story is interesting but goes a little over the top.'”
Laugh of the Week
This is too funny! Click to play.
Leave with a song from the past
Johnny Cash’s final performance
This was recorded in Virginia in 2003 just a couple of months before the legendary singer died. It’s sad to watch, but it’s a historic moment and inspiring. Johnny struggled through the performance and could not even stand to do it. You have to love him for giving his all to the adoring crowd.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
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Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: 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, 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.
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