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December 17, 2022
Non-Members (advertising-supported) edition
RV awnings are reminiscent of a simpler time in America
By Chuck Woodbury
hen RVers think of awnings, most think of a sheltered area outside their RV’s front door. It’s a place to enjoy fresh air without getting soaked from the rain or burned by the sun. For many RVers, it’s also an extra room in an otherwise small living space. Some RVers go to great lengths to furnish their “awning room” with chairs, tables, a rug — all to make the space more inviting.
What this area is — if you boil it down — is the equivalent of the old front porch.
Before home air conditioning, Americans spent summer afternoons and evenings on their front porches watching the world pass by. Sitting in comfy chairs, sometimes rocking chairs, they idled away the time, waiting for their homes to cool. Neighbors, even strangers, would pass by. Some became friends. “Join us for iced tea,” the homeowners might say. They would share stories about their families and neighbors. For better or (occasionally) worse, everybody knew everyone else’s business.
Parents watched neighbors’ children grow, and the kids came to know and respect their elders. It made for a strong sense of community, where people not only knew their neighbors but watched out for them.
I remember visiting with a friend’s grandmother in her home in a tiny town in Missouri, where every house had a front porch and everyone knew everyone else. “We never lock our doors,” the woman told me. “When I go away, I come home with pie in the refrigerator that wasn’t there when I left.”
Alas, front porches began to disappear when home air conditioning came along, and the pace quickened with television and other comforts to keep people inside. Suburbs with their fenced back yards provided the final blow. It became easy, as it is today, to live for years without ever knowing one’s neighbors, much less caring about them.
AND THIS IS WHY I SAY America needs more awnings. I’m referring to RV awnings, of course. Anyone who has taken an evening walk through a campground or RV park has noticed their neighbors relaxing beneath their awnings, inviting conversation, much as people did in the old days on their front porches. “Nice RV you have there,” one might say to another. “What kind of dog is that?” another might ask. “Oh, I see you’re from Ohio. We are, too!” Etc.
And so, just as it is with the old front porch, friendships begin. Most don’t amount to anything, but occasionally a bond is made, and a friendship may last for years — all because of an awning, some idle time, and a desire to be sociable.
This holiday season, we encourage you to spend time, weather permitting, underneath your awning, waving and saying hello to passers-by. If it’s cold, perhaps brew a pot of coffee or cocoa and keep it in a thermos by your side. If it’s warm, some lemonade or a beer will do.
We’re sitting outside under our metaphorical awning, waving and wishing you all a very happy, healthy holiday season.
Here is today’s edition of our photo contest. Please vote for your favorite. Winners receive a $50 Amazon gift card. Good luck!
Psssst: Remember, you can vote through next Friday! If your photo is selected, share it with your friends and family. Everyone can vote once per day.
Today’s RV review…
We run Tony Barthel’s hilarious (we mean, very serious) review of Santa’s Sleigh each year around Christmas. It’s a review worth reading year after year to get you into the festive spirit and put a smile on your face. Trust us.
RV Service Centers and Repairs Report
Industry ‘insider’ defends the industry, says ‘fiberglass dumpsters aren’t the goal’
By Nanci Dixon
In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs. This week we hear from more readers with complaints about obtaining parts and service, an RVer who built his own RV to avoid the poor quality of manufactured RVs, and an RVer who is very impressed with all aspects of his repair shop. Also, we get some great tips from an industry insider on how to get the best experience when dealing with service issues. All that and much more here.
Winnebago’s ‘Heli-Campers’ give insight into the future of RV design
By Andy Zipser
Given that many, many RV owners still think an electricity-powered RV is the stuff of science fiction, it’s perhaps surprising that a decidedly more outlandish concept was dropped into a panel on the subject last week without any comment. The speaker was Ashis Bhattacharya, Winnebago Industries’ senior vice president for business development, strategy and advanced technology…. [He mentioned that Winnebago] had introduced a helicopter RV perhaps 25 years ago. The comment apparently flew over everyone’s head. But if a first-tier manufacturer could add wings (okay, rotors) to the RVing concept, surely switching from a gas-driven technology to an electrified one can’t be too much of a stretch? Continue reading here.
RVtravel.com readers share their weirdest RV encounters
By Cheri Sicard
Last week we asked about the odd RV encounters you experienced while RVing. We did not get as many responses to this question as we usually do. Perhaps most of our readers have not experienced any extreme weirdness while camping. But some of you definitely have. Here’s what you shared. Oh, my!
Incredible 1937 Packard motorhome in mint condition, worth six figures
By Paul Lacitinola
In 1937 you could buy a new house for $4,100, or you could rent a home for $26. Hamburger was 12 cents per pound, and a loaf of bread was only 9 cents. You could drive a new car home for $760, and gas was only 10 cents per gallon. The downside was that your annual income was only around $1,780. This Packard motorhome was not in every driveway. This is pretty amazing.
Avoid these three words when RVing
By Gail Marsh
I need to make a confession. I have a very bad habit and it’s negatively affecting the way my husband and I communicate while RVing. My habit? It’s constantly saying three little words … Do you do this?
Around the Campfire
RVers discuss propane safety tips and tricks
By Gail Marsh
It was chilly around a recent campfire, but the conversation heated up rather quickly as folks shared their thoughts about propane safety. Chet began. “I just got a dressing down,” he said. “I took my 30 lb. propane tank to fill it up and was told I needed to transport my filled tank upright. That’s impossible in my small vehicle. I put it in the backseat and as you can see—I survived.” Continue reading all about propane safety here.
Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter
- Creative ways to use PVC pipe while RVing
- RV fridge door pop open? Here’s a “quick and dirty” fix
- Finding extra storage space on your RV’s ceiling
- How long can you safely keep fresh water in your RV’s tank?
- Keeping camper countertops clutter-free
Fido deserves a gift too!
This dog toy ball is hilarious! When Fido or Fifi run around with it in their mouth, it looks like they’re smiling! And yes, of course it squeaks (sorry, doggie parents). We think this would make the best stocking stuffer for your furry friend, don’t you agree? Just look at the pictures and you’ll laugh!
Feeling a little… grumpy… in the RV park showers
Last week Cheri Sicard collected your stories recalling the weirdest RVing encounter you’ve ever had. Frequent contributor Rod Andrew wrote in and sent us his own tale. It’s very weird all right… and a little grumpy… Read about Rod’s strangely “grumpy” encounter here.
RV boo-boos – Do you carry a ladder INSIDE your RV?
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Do you carry a ladder INSIDE your RV? Lots of us have one, either tucked away in basement storage, or sometimes tied to the outside roof access ladder. But inside? We’re wondering if this scenario might cause us to think differently.
How it Happened: The fascinating origin of white elephant gifts
By Gail Marsh
It’s Christmastime! That means it’s time for our annual white elephant gift exchange party. Perhaps you’ve attended such an event. As I began to think about what gift to take to the exchange, I thought about the term, white elephant. … Read everything you ever wanted to know about white elephants here.
Ever had Alaska Sourdough Pancakes? Yum!
By Randall Brink
I’ve written recently and posted recipes about the great camp baked goods made from Alaska Sourdough. RVtravel.com readers have seen how to make simple and delicious bread, hardtack, and biscuits. The list of camp delectables made from Alaska Sourdough would in no way be complete, though, without mentioning the grandfather of all sourdough edibles: Alaska Sourdough Pancakes. Here’s how to make them.
NEW! Ho! Ho! Ho! 12 of the BEST RV Ugly Christmas sweaters
By Cheri Sicard
For lots of folks, the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” has become a big part of the holiday tradition. Each friend tries to outdo the other by donning their “gay apparel” in the form of snuggly warm, but outrageously kitschy, holiday sweaters and sweatshirts. Well, RVers, you can now be part of this tradition! Check out this virtual fashion show of kitschy RV Ugly Christmas sweaters and sweatshirts!
RV Stocking Stuffers: Reader suggested gifts for 2022
Two weeks ago we asked you: What small and/or low-cost RV gadgets, gizmos or accessories do you want in your holiday stocking or would you add to a fellow RVer’s holiday stocking?
You came up with some awesome suggestions for smaller or lower-cost items that RVers can use. So, if you need to fill the stocking of a fellow RVer, you are likely to find some good suggestions from our readers here.
Our staff and writers’ favorite RV gadgets of 2022
We recently sent out an email to all of our staff and writers. It asked, “What are your favorite RV gadgets/items? It can be anything from the best thing you use around the RV, to your favorite RV décor, to the thing that has the most uses around your RV. Your if-you-had-to-tell-a-new-RVer-
10 gifts for the RVer in your life
Every year you think about what to get your RVer. Here are 10 gifts that your RVer wants, but does not know yet. When they open one of these, they will be wide-eyed and big-smiled, trust me. Check out these unique gift ideas.
Our top 5 best-selling Amazon products so far this year:
Of the thousands of items our readers purchased on Amazon through our affiliate links, these were the most popular:
- Corps of Engineers Camping: Directory of 942 Camping Areas in 35 States
- The Camco Lead-Free Water Bandit
- The book: 50 States 500 State Parks
- Southwire’s Neutral-Ground Bonding Plug
- Thetford’s Drain Valve Lubricant
Will you travel to see friends or family for the holidays this week?
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: Do you use your RV primarily for taking vacations?
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.
?? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??
You DEFINITELY do this. There’s no denying the fact that this is DEFINITELY something you do! We’re laughing…
How would you like to win a NOAA Weather Radio?
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (December 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:
- What maintenance does an Aqua-Hot system require?
- My brand-new Dometic fridge won’t stop beeping!
- Will a “trickle charge” ruin lithium batteries?
- Should we replace the water supply hose going to toilet?
- Can I “exercise” my generator while plugged into shore power?
Click here to see more questions for Dave.
Have a question for Dave? Click any Ask Dave article and scroll down to fill out the form. He’ll get back to you!
In the RV Shop with Dustin
In this new column, head into the RV shop with Dustin Simpson and his wife, Ashley, of California RV Specialists. Each Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Dustin and Ashley will walk you through what’s going on in and around their shop. They’ll share their favorite tools, gadgets, DIY maintenance projects, RV tech talks, what they receive in their inbox, and much, much more. (Not signed up for our daily newsletter? Sign up here.)
How to protect your hardwood/vinyl flooring from your RV slide-out
A popular concern I receive at my RV repair shop is protecting hardwood or vinyl flooring when the RV slide-out extends or retracts. Whether your unit is brand-new or it’s several years old, floor damage can be disheartening because you are either left with an expensive repair or a battle wound that you learn to live with. Read more and watch the video here.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
Using an Apple Watch as an emergency tool could save your life on the road
By Karel Carnohan, DVM
I recently moved into a house with a small backyard with gravel. Desert landscaping and xeriscapes are preferred here in Palm Desert, and my backyard is no exception. I was outside one night and bent over to pick something up and, for whatever reason, I fell. I wasn’t dizzy. I did not lose my balance but I fell face forward into the gravel and cacti. Ouch. Fortunately, only my hands and arms encountered the cactus and I came through relatively unscathed. But it got me thinking—I live alone and, although I am relatively healthy, what would happen if I were to fall and black out? Read about Karel’s solution here. This is good advice for lots of us.
Video of the day
The definitive guide to free BLM land camping
By Cheri Sicard
One of our all-time favorite vloggers, Robin Barrett from Creativity RV, is back with the definitive guide to free BLM camping. Anyone who follows Robin’s RV adventures knows that free camping on Bureau of Land Management land is her preferred way to RV.
Robin likes being by herself in the middle of nowhere. With BLM camping, not only can you have your own virtually private campground, but you can also usually stay there for as long as two weeks, 100% free.
An easy way to eat healthier in 2023
This rapid egg cooker is impressive! You can cook up to six eggs at a time, all while saving time, water, oil and butter. You can make hard or soft-boiled eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, and individual omelets all within minutes. No cleanup and it’s dishwasher-safe. Plus, it’s small and only weighs 1 pound so it’s perfect for your RV. Make cooking easy next year. This is a good place to start!
Recipe of the Day
Green Chile Chicken Tortilla Casserole
by Laura Yoder from Brunswick, GA
Serve with a side salad and this chicken tortilla casserole is a complete meal. This hearty Tex-Mex casserole is full of spice and flavor. It reminds us of a chicken enchilada casserole. Between the cheese and the crema, this casserole is almost creamy. The green enchilada sauce and green chiles add wonderful flavor to the dish.
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“Daisy was my lovely Bichon who loved this seat while camping. She passed away recently at 14. I miss her.” —Bob M.
There are seven hidden objects in this Christmas drawing. Can you find them all? Find: Mrs. Claus, a grumpy Santa, a snowman, a bell, a polar bear, an elf and an apple. Click to enlarge.
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday news newsletter. And please don’t spoil it for other readers by posting the answer in the comments.)
On December 16, 1965, the song “Jingle Bells” made history by being the first song ever played in space. It was played during NASA’s Gemini 6A space flight.
If you want to have a wonderful day, send $10, $50 or $100 to a local food bank. We have just heard on the news that donations to Food Lifeline (a member of Feeding America) are down 75% this year. Millions of our fellow citizens, including little kids, are going hungry. If you have ever considered donating, now is the time. If you contribute regularly, thank you! You will feel so good if you contribute — helping people less fortunate than you go to bed without the pain of an empty stomach. Find a local food bank here.
Laugh of the Week
Don’t take a break on your brakes!
Every RVer needs one of these!
Wonder what it would be like to have your brakes go out while you’re going down a long, steep grade? You might find out if your brake fluid is moisture-contaminated. Water in brake fluid boils and can wipe out your braking ability! Buy yourself a brake-fluid tester for about $10 that warns you if there’s too much water in your fluid. Simply dip the tester into your rig’s brake fluid and you’ll be able to see where you stand. Learn more or order.
“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!
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, Gail Marsh, Dave Solberg. Contributors: Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, 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. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. Special Reports: Bradford Geer. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen. Mascots: Archie and Astor (the Disaster)
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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Regarding the laugh of the day, so true. But if you shut all of the tabs, the music, at least, will stop—usually!
Love the pictures of the houses in Hershey, PA. “The Sweetest Place on Earth”, Chocolate Town, USA.
Awnings and Slides should all be manual, They are the bane of many RVer’s existence.
Having been a camper for 40 plus years now, I agree the awning has been a meeting and gathering place in rain or shine. A discussion for another time is the durability of the new automatic power awnings versus the old manual awnings which were so much sturdier, have restricted using that space.
The brake fluid tester only checks for moisture in the reservoir, what about the fluid in the lines and calipers where things get really hot? Brake fluid does not circulate.
The brake system is only vented at the reservoir. If the fluid is contaminated by moisture it will show up at the reservoir.
The best way to prevent a problem is at every brake job the brake fluid should be sucked out of the reservoir and new fluid installed and the entire system bled with new fluid.
Of course this cost money so it usually doesn’t get done
What? No mention of the Christmas present also tucked into the puzzler?
Chuck’s article about front porches and awnings is spot on. Love seeing people under their awnings enjoying a beverage, especially if there are kids running around laughing and having fun. Much more welcoming than a closed up plastic box with the AC running. It’s almost as though one says “Hi. How are ya?” and the other says “Do not disturb”.
I loved Chuck’s editorial also- especially the part about porches. I was happy to see some new developments being built that featured full surrounding porches again. We had a couple of them with wooden screen doors that would bang when they closed.