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September 17, 2023
Free, abbreviated edition
This story will amaze you and it will make you laugh. But it may also profoundly scare you
By Chuck Woodbury
Here I go again with a story that is not specifically about RVing. I hope you will bear with me. I found this fascinating, but it scared the pants off me!
I was writing a short essay earlier today (Thursday), and as sometimes happens, it ended up being funny. At least I thought so. Writing a story that makes me laugh when I read it back to myself always puts me in a good mood. I scheduled the essay for a couple of weeks from now, when I expect to be busy.
Backing up … At our weekly writers’ meeting on Tuesday, my staff and I talked about artificial intelligence and how it was affecting our lives as writers. We discussed ways that we could set RVtravel.com apart from the many new, A.I.-created RVing websites that are being written with artificial intelligence. We agreed that one way was to make our readers laugh.
So, this morning, after writing my funny essay I felt proud of myself. “Take that, robots of the World,” I thought. Artificial intelligence, I reasoned, may be able to spit out a straightforward informational article, but it will never be creative enough to write something good and creative that made people laugh.
Oh, what I was about to learn!
Suddenly, I was curious. I went to ChatGPT, the gold standard in writing using artificial intelligence (A.I.). I wanted to test it to prove to myself that it could not write something funny. I instructed ChatGPT to:
Write a hilariously funny, 400 word essay, about a 300-pound pig named Walt that fell in the mud while wallowing in it with pig girl named Sally Pig McBabnick, who he secretly desired because she had the most beautiful snout of any pig he had ever met.
Honestly, I did not know what to expect other than something pretty lame. I pushed “write article” and 20 seconds later it was finished. Oh my goodness! The results did, indeed, make me laugh. But oh, something else happened that has profoundly shaken me.
Today’s RV review…
Cherokee Alpha Wolf 23LDE-L review—drawer-a-palooza!
By Tony Barthel
Today’s RV review is of the 2024 Forest River Cherokee Alpha Wolf 23LDE-L travel trailer. This is a floor plan I’ve seen by many manufacturers and is a new model for Cherokee. … There are some really, really smart aspects to this trailer and some great decisions I see that have been made here. But, like that kid you know who is a really great kid, they also made some decisions that might get them behind the proverbial wood shed. Like what, you ask?
Great Resource about RV Electricity
If you are a member of Facebook and are interested in learning more about RV electricity, you might want to join our RVtravel RV Electricity group, now with more than 26,000 members.
RV Service Centers and Repairs Report
Worker in RV industry witnessed “appalling practices” and says trade standards are ignored
In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs. This week Nanci Dixon summarizes some of your comments and emails, including a report on what was witnessed by an RV factory worker regarding the lack of quality control on the production line, among other things; another buying horror story regarding Camping World; some sound advice regarding ordering parts; and a rave review for a mobile repair service.
Danger! Check your RV’s mattress for fiberglass! Yes, really!
By Gail Marsh
Many RVers switch out the original bed mattress that comes from the RV factory and purchase a memory foam mattress or “bed-in-a-box” as a replacement. A foam mattress might be more comfortable. But it might be dangerous, as well! Find out why here. Wow!
When you think outside the “conventional campsite” box, a whole new world awaits
By Jan Steele
Where is the strangest place you ever camped? When I was a kid growing up in the ‘60s, our summer trips in our Skamper pop-up trailer took us to some pretty sketchy places to camp overnight. We were on a budget, of course. Mom used to say it didn’t cost that much for us to hit the road because gas was something like 28 cents a gallon and we rarely ate out. I remember lots of bologna sandwiches! Continue reading for some good tips.
Installing Starlink: No more internet problems!
By Nanci Dixon
We are camp hosts for another 12 weeks in a heavily wooded area in Minnesota. We have never had issues with the office Wi-Fi before, nor with Verizon and AT&T cell service here, but this year is different. Even with our cell booster using the phone for Wi-Fi it is an almost everlasting spin before it connects. And the campground Wi-Fi? Remember dial-up? Last time I logged in I got 2.1 Mbps (Megabits per second). “Can’t connect to Server” was the last straw…. Read Nanci’s account of hooking up to Starlink, and what she and her husband think about it, here.
Around the Campfire
Read the fine print before bringing your golf cart to the campground
By Gail Marsh
Charlie wasn’t happy. I could see his frustration before I even got situated at the campfire. His anger quickly erupted. “After buying a trailer and hauling it across the country, now I find out that my golf cart is banned in this campground!” “That’s why you should always check the campground rules before you reserve,” Chet advised. “I did that!” Charlie angrily responded. “Their website said that golf carts were welcome! So, now what?! My wife has trouble walking and we counted on using our golf cart to get around.”
Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter
- Quick way to verify a campsite length from afar
- Here’s how to make boondocking fun for the partner who hates it
- When it comes to limited RV storage, think vertical, not horizontal
- Your RV’s hidden dirtiest places and how to clean them
- 12 ways to support your favorite campground
A bit of nostalgia: A horde of VW camper vans comes to camp
By Nanci Dixon (former flower child)
Yesterday, as I was sitting outside enjoying the crisp fall day and a warm campfire, nostalgic VW buses and camper vans started to roll into the campground. My heart took a leap and, with longing, I remembered when I was set on having such a camper van. It was in the days of California dreaming, the era of hippies, free love, and flower children. And there in front of me, rolling along, was a 1960 VW bus, then VW Vanagons, and VW Westfalias. I just had to go talk with them. [Nanci took lots of pictures, too.]
I may be a “worrier” RVer, but resilience keeps me truckin’ on
By Jan Steele
I come from a long line of worriers—three generations on my mom’s side, with a few mental incapacities scattered on both sides—women only. So why would I choose the RV life? It really is not suited to worriers. After all, a coward dies a thousand deaths, a brave man dies just once. But I am rooting for the cowards because they can be the secret heroes if they persist, overcoming odds, snatching victory from the jaws of … maybe not defeat, but fear. Continue reading this insightful essay.
Five tips for easy RV winter camping
By Dave Solberg
More RV owners are extending their camping season and even using their rigs in the winter. An RV can be a personal chalet for cross-country skiing, an elegant warming house for ice skating, or even a tricked-out icehouse for ice fishing! Note: I wouldn’t advise driving it on the lake, but I have seen it happen! Winter camping can be a beautiful and rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges and risks due to the cold weather and potential for extreme conditions. Here are five tips to help you stay safe and enjoy winter camping.
This was posted on our Facebook group RV Crashes and Disasters, where members show photos and tell about their personal RV “disasters.” Other members weigh in about how each situation may have happened and the outcome. Probably the most frequent posting is about an RV fire. This is the latest posting. Even though this one happened eight years ago, the same scene repeats itself over and over. Members of the group learn one important lesson with each fire photo published… Continue reading the story about this devastating fire.
Don’t let fall keep you in the dark!
This 6-pack of tiny, battery-powered LED “Button Lamps” is just what you need for your RV’s closets, drawers, and storage spaces. You can even place them outside for when it’s dark at the campsite. The tiny lamp is ultra-bright and has all the power of a normal-sized lamp. Backed with a strong adhesive, these little lamps will stick to any surface. They’re waterproof and good to have in case of an emergency. Learn more or order.
Do you like to RV travel with a planned itinerary or just be spontaneous?
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook”.
This past week’s questions that Dave answered:
- Why does heat of RV’s roof air come from ceiling ducts but not the floor?
- Are SnapPads on the RV’s jacks a good idea?
- RV 120-volt/LP water heater: Check the heating element yearly!
- Why does my RV drop like a rock when hydraulic jacks are retracted?
- Schwintek slide room woes continue: Damaging RV’s vinyl flooring!
?? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??
If you don’t have these or something like it, please, we’re begging you to buy them and keep them handy. Strap one to your backpack or purse, your kayak or canoe, and always keep one right by the RV’s front door. Just in case.
RVing With Dogs
No, our dogs don’t want to say “Hi”
By Gail Marsh
I often walk with my sisters, both of whom have dogs. Most of the time things go well. But then, there are the other times—occasions when I wished we carried a large sign that read, “No, our dogs don’t want to say ‘Hi.’” … Read what a dog trainer advises when people ask to pet or physically contact your dog.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
The Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus food processor is the perfect size for RVers
By Cheri Sicard
I am so happy I found the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus: It’s the perfect combination of form and function for RVing cooks. As I cook a lot in my RV, I have been missing the convenience of my food processor while on the road. It makes all kinds of tasks from chopping onions to making sauces to mixing doughs so much easier. The problem is that food processors are usually large. … With a 4-cup capacity, the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus is small. But not too small. Read all about it here.
Infinity X1 Hybrid Lantern 2800 Lumen—Never run out of light!
By Cheri Sicard
What is a hybrid lantern, you ask? It’s one like the Infinity X1 that can be charged via a USB port, via a built-in solar panel, or via batteries. Redundant? You bet. But redundancy in a camping lantern is never a bad thing, as the last thing you want to run out of when you need it is a light source. Learn more.
Your hands won’t be tired or in pain with this caulking gun
Completing repairs and maintenance is a whole lot easier when you have the right tools on hand. Reseal your RV with the BEST caulking gun! This one is favored by RV technicians. If you’ve ever had to reseal any part of your RV, you know how tired your hand gets. This relieves that hand pain and makes the job easy. Learn more in this article or buy one here.
NEW! Book Reviews
Discover a new side to Florida: Offbeat Florida book highlights 800 unique attractions
By Cheri Sicard
Get ready to go beyond the stereotypical Florida guides we are all used to with Neala McCarten’s fun and quirky new guide to Offbeat Florida. You’ll never look at the Sunshine State the same way again. And if you think you’ve been there and done that when it comes to Florida travel, this book will show you that you definitely haven’t. Check this out.
Easy-to-understand foraging for mushrooms book is the perfect intro for RVers
By Cheri Sicard
Some of my fondest childhood memories involve foraging for mushrooms in the woods of western Massachusetts with my Polish immigrant grandmother. … Don’t Trip! A Beginner-Friendly Guide to Foraging for Mushrooms the Safe Way is a great beginner’s guide to safe mushroom hunting. Some mushroom guides I have looked at can seem overwhelming. This one isn’t. … Continue reading Cheri’s review of this book, including a lonnnng list of what she likes about it and one little thing she doesn’t, but which can be avoided.
Say cheers, eat brats, and have fun at these Midwest Oktoberfests
By Gail Marsh
Looking for one last RV trip before winterizing your rig? Take a look at these Midwest Oktoberfests and plan your trip before it’s too late! Lots of delicious and fun festivities to choose from!
A poem from a reader. Our favorite RVtravel.com testimonial!
Reader Dianne Belk submitted this poem to us and we, for obvious reasons, smiled the whole way through. We had to share it (for a second time) with all of you. You don’t want to miss this.
RV Tire Safety
RV tire safety 101: Old news for some, but important for new RVers
By Roger Marble
With over 300 posts here on RVtravel.com and with almost 600 on my blog, I sometimes feel like a broken record. When I see the same or similar questions raised almost every week on various RV Forums, I have to conclude that there are still many new owners who have not found the answers to the questions they have about tires. So, please bear with me if you already know the information I am posting today, and just consider it a refresher course.
Did you miss yesterday’s Latest News for RVers?
If so, stories you missed:
• Really? Yes, really. Paying $9 for 10 miles worth of fuel
• Used towable prices drop 13% – but probably not why you think
• RV dealer sues customer for defamation over online reviews
• Why are diesel prices rising—and what does the future hold?
• Reader says: ‘Campgrounds should be under investigation for price gouging’
And Chuck Woodbury’s essay:
“Word-diarrhea is epidemic, and I question why I even write anymore”
Recipe of the Day
5 Layer Cream Cheese Chili Dip
by Samantha Orso from Camden, TN
There are so many layers of flavor in this chili cheese dip. All the flavors meld together as you scoop it out. Cream cheese mixed with chili and cheese is always a winner. Adding chiles and jalapenos are bombs of flavor in the dip. Jalapenos add a small kick of spice. Not only are the green onions a nice garnish, but they also add a little freshness to the dip. There should be a warning label on this because it’s addictive.
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“Brody is a 3-year-old Yorkie. As you can see, he’s always ready to drive our Class A RV. Husband says he’s nosey but I say he’s just curious.” —Deborah Lyle
HELP! We’re running low on pet photos! Send us a photo of your pet with a short description. We publish one each weekday in RV Daily Tips and in our Sunday RV Travel newsletter. No blurry photos, please! Please do not submit your photo more than once. Thanks!
• RVing with Dogs group on Facebook. You’ll love it.
In 1762, John Spilsbury, a map engraver, crafted the first jigsaw puzzle by mounting a map onto wood and cutting around the countries. He gave it to local school children to aid their geography education, leading to the invention of jigsaw puzzles. The idea quickly gained popularity, inspiring others to create educational images beyond maps, such as farms and religious scenes. Initially made of wood, these puzzles were originally called dissected puzzles. The term “jigsaw” was derived from the saw used to cut them, which wasn’t invented until the 1880s.
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 and Cheri Sicard. Contributors: Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, J.R. Montigel, Randall Brink, Dustin Simpson, Dale Wade, Jan Steele and Tony Barthel. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen. Artificial Intelligence (AI) contributors: Johnny Robot and Milly MacWilly. Canine 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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