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September 17, 2022
Non-Members (advertising-supported) edition
Best way to view the world: through a windshield
Ihave always been a traveler—when not for real, at least always in my dreams. I enjoy being there, but the process of getting there is what I enjoy most.
I’ve felt that through the windshield was the best way to enjoy the world. I’ve walked, hiked, hitchhiked, bicycled and motorcycled (and probably done it other ways I can’t remember), but the best way to enjoy a lot of views in a short period of time is behind a steering wheel of a car, SUV, van or motorhome. I’ve enjoyed them all.
My wife and I have covered the Lower 48 and Southern Canada via vehicle. Our SUV spent almost eighty-thousand miles of its life on small roads through small towns and parked in front of one- or two-star motels. The vehicle had all the bells and whistles, but the motel rooms were just places to shower and sleep. I feel quite fortunate that we never once had a bed bug bite; however, a few times we thought there was a possibility. An added tidbit here—if there are tiny spots on the sheets or mattress, or black dots around the piping on a mattress, it’s probably bed bugs!
We enjoyed SUV traveling but realized there was one big inconvenience—no toilet onboard. We have learned to settle for a spritzer bottle bath, but if we’re on the road, we don’t want to be looking for a gas station or Walmart for our bathroom needs. People often tell me how fortunate I am to be married to a woman who will rough it with me. She will, as long as we have a toilet along for the ride. I’ve come to have the same proclivity.
Just like our friends marvel at how we can live in our van for months at a time, I do the same when I hear about people living in their SUV or car. I admire anyone who has the ability to minimize their lives to that level. I think of them as survivalists. Sometimes I wonder about the folks who have no other options. I just hope they get to enjoy their lives in their tiny, tiny homes as well. I lived on the road for a short stint years ago when a marriage fell apart. It was a lonely time for me. However, it was also a time of renewal and repurposing. On the road is a great place to heal.
Gary Jefferson is the author of The Story of RVing, Van Living Explained, available at Amazon. We hope to persuade Gary to contribute more to RVtravel.com. When he’s not on the road, he lives in Redlands, Calif., where he has photographed the downtown residents for five years, which he posts to a delightful Facebook page called Redlands People.
Here is today’s edition of our photo contest. Please vote for your favorite. Once you’ve voted, please submit your own photo for consideration. Winners receive a $50 Amazon gift card. Good luck!
Please note: We’ve changed the rules around a little bit (you now have a whole week to vote!). Please read the updated rules here. And don’t forget to submit a photo!
Today’s RV review…
2022 Lance 2185 “flexhouse”
Tony writes that this trailer “… offers a flexible number of use cases that I really like. Those things are packaged in a size that might be appealing to some because it opens the doors to the number of places that it will fit, along with the number of vehicles that can tow it well.”
Nail-biting stories of sketchy people while camping. What to do?
By Jeff Clemishaw
I’m not sure what it is about the nature of full-time RV travel and boondocking, but the lifestyle seems to encounter sketchy (i.e., unreliable or unsafe) people from time to time while camping. Throughout my travels, I’ve run into several people that just seemed to be “off.” I suspect that other RVers here can say the same. Read more. Do you have any similar stories to tell? We want to hear them.
Is new RV composite building material a game changer?
By Ross Regis
The alchemists of ages past sought to transmute common, basic elements into that most prized of possessions: gold. (They weren’t much different than today’s crypto miners, those digital chemists bent on transforming 0’s and 1’s into cold cash.) Anyway, Material Science engineers of the modern era have accomplished something similar. Weaving together the humble elements of polypropylene and fiberglass, a company called Hanwha Azdel has created a unique construction sheet material: Azdel. And Azdel in RVs has taken the industry by storm. If you haven’t heard of it, just turn around. … It might be listening in your walls. Learn more.
RV Manufacturer Warranty, Part 3: Why you are getting the runaround from your RV dealership
By Dustin Simpson
Two weeks ago, I shared reasons why I would love to offer an RV manufacturer warranty at my independent repair facility. Last week, I shared the keyboard with my wife, who gave multiple reasons why we still refuse to do it. (Make sure you read parts 1 and 2, linked there, before continuing here.) There are plenty of other reasons, which are now spilling over to this week. These reasons play major roles in why consumers get the “runaround” with the service department at their RV dealership. Continue reading.
RV Service Centers and Repairs Report: “I was told that there will be problems but wow! This is a lot!”
A few weeks ago, we asked you to tell us about your experiences with RV service centers. You came through with hundreds of responses. This week our readers report on having to take the RV home from a repair shop and repair the damage the shop caused, one RVer experiencing ongoing problems and delays on repairs (sounds pretty common), and lots of praise for several dealers and repair shops for service above and beyond. Read those stories and more here.
Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter
- Here’s how to make boondocking fun for the partner who hates it
- Getting the most from your RV’s washer and dryer
- Tow vehicle wiring tester can save some anxiety while traveling
- 18 uses for toothpaste while RVing
- Clean your RV’s interior (and more) with baby wipes
Saga of the Newbie: Why it’s so important to find a reputable, reliable service ‘guy’
By Karel Carnohan, DVM
I’ve been searching for good, reasonable, timely RV repair. Like our Nanci Dixon, who so vividly describes her experiences here, I too have trouble getting even basic service for my RV. As many of you know, I did all the wrong things when buying my RV last year and moving cross-country from North Carolina to California with my children (12 cats). My painful but sometimes humorous travails are chronicled in my RVtravel articles. I bought an RV sight unseen in a faraway state without hiring a pro inspector. Boy, did I ever pay for that mistake. I am still paying. Continue reading Karel’s continuing saga.
Around the Campfire: What makes for the best RV trip—the people or the place?
By Gail Marsh
Think about your favorite RV trip. Have you ever wondered why that trip ranks as your favorite? Was it the place itself—the scenery, activities, food, etc.? Or does one trip top your list of favorites because of the folks traveling with you and the people you met along the way? We discussed this question recently around the campfire. Read more, then let us know what you think.
RV boo-boos: RVer rips corner off his rig—Oops!
When it’s time for departing the campground, it’s always good to have a departure checklist. Antenna down? Water and sewer lines disconnected? Shore power cord stowed? Some RVers are great for these things—and others? Well, maybe not so much. One truck camper RVer learned a very hard lesson about not forgetting to make sure ALL the corner jacks are up. His oops! moment will not be forgotten.
Do campground owners think we LIKE to be squashed together?
By Nanci Dixon
Do campground owners think we like to be squashed together? For the second time in a row, we are piled in like sardines in an almost-empty campground. Lined up like soldiers, while across from us is an entirely empty row. Last night we were packed in one after another in the middle of the campground. Around us, wide and vacant were the rest of the sites. I had been delighted with our campsite until they started pulling in and I could easily reach across the aisle to meet my neighbor. Can you relate to Nanci’s experience?
Has a sewer valve or hose ever broken or malfunctioned while you were dumping?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment.
POPULAR POLL FROM THIS PAST WEEK
We asked: Have you ever had your RV’s black water tank professionally cleaned? How many RVers said yes? Find out.
My Weirdest RV Moment
In this new column, readers tell about their weirdest (strangest, funniest, unusual, etc.) experiences as RVers. In this first episode, RVtravel.com publisher Chuck Woodbury tells about:
“The giraffes that ate my motorhome”
Read Chuck’s essay and then submit your own (pretty please).
Know Your RV: Using your propane regulator
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Having hot water, a stove that works, and heat when the temperature goes down is great. For RVers, propane makes all these good things possible. Do you have a travel trailer or fifth wheel? Then your propane (or LP, for “liquid petroleum”) is kept safely stored under high pressure in LP cylinders—most likely two of them. That storage pressure has to be reduced to a much lower level, and that job is done by a propane regulator. It’s a low-maintenance item, but it does require your attention. Learn all about it here.
Don’t miss these four festive Oktoberfest celebrations across the U.S.
By Gail Marsh
Good news! The world’s largest Oktoberfest, held annually in Munich, Germany, is on! This year’s festivities will run from September 17 through October 10. If you can’t make Munich’s Oktoberfest, you can still enjoy this annual fall favorite in many, many places throughout the USA. Here are just a few.
This Minnesota campground is a hidden gem
By Nanci Dixon
Swan Lake Resort—what an unexpected gem in Fergus Falls, Minnesota! I had read all the reviews and the exceptional ratings and thought it sounded nice. There happened to be a site available so we booked it on our way toward Glacier National Park. In Minnesota, the word “resort” usually means there are full hookups available, a pull-through or two, an old swing set and perhaps a small camp store. Usually there aren’t any fancy amenities like pickleball, swimming pools, activities or hot tubs, so I wasn’t really expecting much. Read about this hidden gem.
The long, long RV trip
Week 15: Why to avoid the Pennsylvania Turnpike; Back to Chicago
By Cheri Sicard
When last we left off, I had decided to scrap plans to go to New England and start heading west from Atlantic City. I know I should have routed around it, and I almost always do routes around toll roads. However, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is the U.S. Interstate, and avoiding it was not at all convenient for a few stops I needed to make. So I ended up on this horrible road. BIG MISTAKE and NEVER again! … If you don’t already know, find out why here, plus read lots more about Cheri’s adventures and her “RVer’s diet.”
Is this your RV?
Win a $25 Amazon gift certificate if today’s RV photo shows your rig
Every day we post a photo of an RV either submitted by its owner or by our editors as they move about the country.
Click here to see if your RV made it into today’s issue.
How would you like to win an official RVtravel.com coffee mug?
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (September 17, 2022) 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!
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook”.
This past week’s questions that Dave answered:
- Quick RV Tech Tip: Are lithium batteries good for full-time RVers?
- Can I tow a fifth wheel with a 1/2-ton pickup?
- How do I winterize my RV’s slide room?
- When plugged in at home, will converter charge and desulfate RV’s batteries?
Click here to see more questions for Dave.
Visit Dave’s forum on RVtravel.com. Ask him a question or help answer one from another reader. Click here.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
The canvas water bag: A classic way to carry water while RVing
By Randall Brink
When it comes to preparing for a camping trip or managing the boondocking necessities, water is always a major concern. Nothing will ruin a boondocking experience faster than the realization that you are running out of drinkable water. There are several practical ways to ensure an adequate supply of fresh, cool, potable water for drinking and cooking in camp. I tend to look to the most basic and least complicated solutions; some of them are very old classics. I therefore have and use a few (very) old-fashioned canvas desert water bags. Learn why Randall calls these “pure genius.”
?? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??
‘Tis the season to start wearing these every day. You’ll need a pair to kick off!
with Mike Sokol
Hershey RV Show—First look at new electrical trends
Yes, I made it to the Hershey RV Show this week in the sweetest city on earth. This is just a preliminary report on some of the cool electrical trends I’ve seen at the show, which I’ll follow up on in a few weeks.
Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.) Session: Do coiled extension cords heat up from inductive heating?
Visit Mike’s RVelectricity Forum on RVtravel.com.
Video of the day
Maxed out on minimalism: Living in a Tesla car RV conversion
In this incredible video, Bob from Cheap RV Living interviews photographer Dave. Believe it or not, Dave has done a car RV conversion on his Tesla. That’s right, this guy now lives in his electric car. On purpose!
RV Tire Safety
The “safety factor” for tires
Many people ask about the “safety factor” for tires. The dictionary offers this definition for “safety factor”: “The ratio of the maximum stress that a structural part or a piece of material can withstand relative to the maximum stress estimated for it in the use for which it is designed.” While that sounds reasonable, it really only works when talking about items that fail from simply increasing the load placed on the component. Items like tires do not really have a “safety factor” as tires generally do not fail by simply increasing the load too much.
Ask Roger anything about RV tires on his RV Tires Forum.
Our non-human staff writer answers your questions. “Johnny’s not always right, but he works cheap!”
Today, Johnny takes a break from answering questions to write an article about how he lost 350 pounds in one year, and how RVing played a part in it.
RV Fire Safety
Why one fire extinguisher is not enough
When using an extinguisher to put out the surface flames, make sure to totally penetrate the fuel so that it’s cooled. Otherwise, the fire can flare up again. This is when having an additional fire extinguisher is important. If you use your only fire extinguisher to stop the fire and don’t have another one to cool the area down, the fire could restart and you won’t have anything to fight it with. Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy
Recipe of the Day
Stuffed Pork Chops
by Jane Whittaker from Massena (now in FL), NY
These stuffed pork chops are a fast and easy way to make a big splash at dinnertime! Add a rub of your choosing to the meat (or simple salt and pepper) for added flavor. Even with just salt and pepper, it tastes great. The pork chops are so tender and juicy. Using store-bought stuffing makes this a snap to prepare and adds extra flavor to the meat.
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“Jimmy (a Whippet) has been our camping buddy since he was eight weeks old. He’s right at home in his favorite camp chair.” —Gary Smith
How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
Big Bend National Park is the only national park that encompasses an entire mountain range—the Chisos Mountains. These volcanic formations stretch 20 miles across the southern tip of West Texas. Four of its peaks exceed 7,000 feet above sea level.
Laugh of the Week
Current Wildfire Report. (Includes map and details of fires!)
Current smoke and fire report for where you live or where you are traveling.
“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.
RV Show Directory: See if a show is coming soon to your area.
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.
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.
The Best RV Trip Planner Apps and Tools. Everything you need to help plan your trip is here.
Dustin Simpson RV Repair and Maintenance Articles: Incredibly helpful!
Meet Earl and Burl Squirrel, from the mind of RVtravel.com friend R.L. Crabb.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
RVtravel.com All-Star Team
Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Tony Barthel, Gail Marsh. Contributors: Mike Sokol, Roger Marble, Dave Solberg, Dave Helgeson, Mike Gast, Julianne Crane, Machelle James, J.R. Montigel, Randall Brink, Karel Carnohan DVM, Cheri Sicard, Dustin and Ashley Simpson, Dale Wade, Paul Lacitinola, Jeff Clemishaw and Johnny Robot. Special projects director: Jessica Sarvis. Moderators: Gary Gilmore, Mark Gorrie. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. Special Reports: Bradford Geer. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
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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I have driven the PA turnpike for years. Yes it has gotten expensive and I have used no toll thru the gps system. I have family in Monroeville so Breezewood to the Monroeville is cheaper then you go thru the highway to the Ohio turnpike and I get off at this one exit and its like 15 bucks. Otherwise if towing? Go no toll route. Cheaper.
Talk about meeting weird people! I met a long haired guy some years ago, when I drove by. Noticed that he flagged me down, so I rolled the window down and we talked for a bit. He looked a bit weird, and told me he spent most of his money that he earned washing dishes, at a local bar. I let him in my vehicle, we talked more and now, 46 years after marrying we get along pretty well. He is however still weird!
What a fun story, Rosie! Thanks for sharing it. Take care. 😀 –Diane
What happened to the weekend Brain Teaser?
I’m not sure, Don. I’ll check with Emily. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane
There wasn’t one last week either.
I agree the PA turnpike is very expensive! The tolls pay for repairs on other roads and bridges such as I-80. Those who travel the TP and don’t because they obstruct their license plates are cheating and we all are paying for them. There are many inaccurate statements in this article!
Didn’t make it to my inbox today. Had to go to your site to read. Always enjoyable either way.
Mine didn’t arrive either. I resubscribed in hopes they will again show up for both the daily RV Tips and weekend newsletters.
Glenn, it’s frustrating on our end why some email reminder notices do not make it through, but, as you know (but others may not), a link to the very latest newsletter is always posted even before the email alert is sent on our home page at https://www.rvtravel.com . The email that readers receive is just a reminder notice that a new issue of one of our newsletters has been posted.
I didn’t get my email reminder either Glenn. I also went to RVTravel.com to read my Saturday newsletter! I’ll see tomorrow. If it happens again, I too will resubscribe.