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September 24, 2023
Free, abbreviated edition
A chance encounter, and a lesson about my life
By Chuck Woodbury
‘d like to tell you about Michael. I met him years ago in a beautiful, fern-infested Forest Service campground along the Umpqua River in central Oregon. We were the only campers. I was a struggling freelance writer on the road in a tiny motorhome trying to earn my fame and fortune. He was camped in the back of a small pickup truck. There was a beautiful waterfall nearby.
I had visited the waterfall earlier, where I had snapped a fast photo and returned to my motorhome. Later I noticed Michael at the waterfall. He was sitting on a wide, flat rock. He stayed an hour. When he returned to the campground, I stepped outside and asked him if he would like to join me for dinner. It promised to be a cool, drizzly evening and I figured he would enjoy a break from the mist.
I was preparing pasta. He said yes. I soon learned that there was something wrong with Michael. He couldn’t move very well. His neck appeared frozen in place. He told me he was 30. He had developed a form of arthritis that was gradually fusing his bones together. I helped him into my motorhome. It was too painful for him to enter by himself.
We had a few beers, ate my lousy pasta and shared stories. He told me he didn’t have much longer before he couldn’t move at all. Ultimately, the disease would kill him. He had lost his job — just couldn’t do the work anymore. So, rather than sit around and feel sorry for himself, he set off in his truck to see the American West. At our campground, he was totally at peace by the waterfall, patiently savoring each moment. He was in no rush. I, meanwhile, had spent only a few minutes there, snapping a photo before retreating to my motorhome to crank out a story to earn a buck.
We said goodbye the next morning, and wrote to each other a few times during the next year. And then I never heard from him again. Michael taught me how lucky I was: I had no money, but I had my health and my future. Many times in the years since, when I have stood upon a beautiful overlook or by another waterfall, I have thought of Michael. And I have stayed a bit longer to savor the beauty and ponder my good fortune. Thank you, my friend, wherever you are.
Today’s RV review…
Very unique: Wildwood FSX 245VC might be a perfect fit… for some
Today’s RV review is of the forthcoming Wildwood FSX 245VC, which the company calls a cargo travel trailer. That naming convention makes a tremendous amount of sense, as this is somewhat of a mold breaker. I suspect it is going to be a strong, strong seller. I know a few people who have purchased toy haulers specifically because they like that rear patio ramp. I’ve seen them take full advantage of that, including backing up to a stream and enjoying the view. While there are obviously people for whom a toy hauler makes sense, some people are more interested in that patio deck.
RV Service Centers and Repairs Report
Reader claims Camping World service techs “defecated in both bathrooms,” filled tanks. Later, at camp: “sloppy blackwater poured out all over feet, pants and hands”
In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs. This week Nanci Dixon shares some more of your service nightmare stories (are they getting even worse?), some great advice concerning repairs, advice for shopping for an RV, and a rave review of a repair shop in Texas.
Amazing Google Earth feature allows you to accurately measure campsites, parking spaces, more
By Emily Woodbury
A few weeks ago we reposted this tip by Dave Helgeson, which explained an easy way to use Google Earth to measure a campsite before arriving—making sure your RV, car, toys, etc., will fit. Here are a couple more handy features for RVers using Google Earth.
What kind of RV antifreeze should you use to winterize your RV?
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
The leaves are changing color. Squirrels have stepped up their nut-hiding pace. Yep, winter is decidedly on the way, and if you’ll be letting your rig sleep for the winter, you’d best take good care to winterize your plumbing system. What kind of RV antifreeze should you use? What? You didn’t know there were different types? No, we’re not talking about RV antifreeze versus automotive engine antifreeze. Continue reading.
There’s a switch hiding in your furnace that could cost you $200 to push!
By Ross Regis
In my career as an RV-engineer-turned-RV-technician, I have discovered the existence of a hitherto-unknown $200 switch. It looks like a simple $5 rocker switch, but beware! If you pay someone to push it, it could cost you two Franklins. Now, before you mutter to yourself, “I don’t understand furnaces and switches and electrical thingamajigs” and click through to the next RVTravel.com reader poll … wait a second! I promise you don’t need a multimeter to understand this article, and I cross my heart I won’t use the word “amperage” even once. In fact, you are exactly who should be reading this post.
Around the Campfire
RVing and campfires: Connecting, adapting, and embracing life’s simple pleasures
By Gail Marsh
It was one of the final campfires of the summer season. The weather cooled and, just like that, summer seemed to breathe its last hot sigh of relief. My thoughts drifted as I gazed into the fire. I thought about our RV adventures—both good and not-so-good—and concluded that in many ways RVing is like a campfire.
Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter
- Water pressure regulators keep geysers out of your RV
- Hobbies for RVers: Yes, you can make yours work in a small space
- Simple hacks and tricks I’ve discovered that make RVing easier than ever!
- Blowing in the wind: Truckers’ tips for safe driving
- 6 tips for scoring a national park campsite
DID YOU KNOW our RV Daily Tips Newsletter is our readers’ favorite newsletter? And for good reason—it’s filled with so much great information! Read any issue here, and then make sure to sign up here. You won’t regret it!
When in Boston…
Snowbirds: Prepare to Hit the Road!
As you plan your fall and winter routes, remember that Tifton Overnight RV is the place to stay while you’re on the way! Located just off of I-75 at Exit 62 in South Georgia, this RV stop offers full hook ups, pull-through sites, a fenced dog park, and fast WIFI – and is within walking distance of restaurants including Starbucks, Waffle House, and Chick-fil-A. Learn more and book your stay today!
RV nightmare: How to prevent mold on a memory foam mattress
By Cheri Sicard
Memory foam mattresses are a popular way to upgrade RV mattresses. But did you know that mold on a memory foam mattress can turn your RV sweet dreams into nightmares? It’s true that mold issues with memory foam mattresses in RVs can be a common headache. And once memory foam mold issues set in, there is sadly not much you can do besides get rid of that mattress. The folks from New Family Dream learned this lesson the hard way. Read more and watch the video on how to prevent mold on a memory foam mattress.
We almost hit a bicyclist with our RV! Don’t be like us!
By Gail Marsh
It was a close call—a very close call! My husband and I were pulling our 39-foot fifth wheel RV with our dually, diesel truck. We were driving in the far-right lane because we intended to turn right at the upcoming stop sign. My husband signaled his intentions and we rolled to a complete stop. After both of us checked for cross traffic, my husband pulled out to make the right-hand turn. That’s when it happened—we almost hit a bicyclist with our RV! Continue reading.
Nature’s GPS: The secret to tree ‘eyes’ and how they can help you navigate
By Gail Marsh
“If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The answer may befuddle some, but what I want to know is, “Will other trees watch it happen?” Do trees have eyes? The answer may surprise you and perhaps make you wonder, “Are the trees watching me?” Learn about this amazing, and possibly helpful, fact.
At the grocery store, would you prefer to use a self-checkout or go through a line with a “real human” to check you out?
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: Did you camp with a tent before taking up RVing? What do you think? Did most RVers tent camp pre-RV? Find out here and see if your guess is right.
Brand-new book for county park camping
Roundabout Publications and the Ultimate Campground Project have published the first edition of “Camping in America’s County Parks.” The 192-page directory profiles 2,068 RV, van and tent camping areas at 1,408 parks in 42 states. Inside, maps pinpoint campgrounds with information about staying, including types of restrooms, showers, dump stations and RV length limits. Rates, contact and reservation information is also listed. Read more about it here.
NEW FACEBOOK GROUP: RV Camping in City and County Parks
5 charming Midwest Mississippi River towns you should definitely visit
By Gail Marsh
When it comes to picturesque landscapes, historic charm, and a slice of quintessential Americana, the Midwest offers an abundance of hidden gems. You’ll find many wonderful river towns nestled along the central portion of the country’s winding waterways, but here are five Midwest Mississippi River towns you should definitely visit.
Traveling New Mexico’s U.S. Highway 64: Brazos Summit
By Dale Wade
We are driving the Brazos Summit via US-64. Our trip began in Taos, making a few stops of interest: Taos Pueblo, Rio Grande Gorge, and Greater World Earthship Community. We finished in the village of Tres Piedras. It is time to drive to the summit. So, let’s go!
WOWIE! Aren’t you glad you’re not this RVer?! Check this out and weep! (Thanks, George.)
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook”.
This past week’s questions that Dave answered:
- Will water standing in bottom of RV’s water heater corrode the tank?
- My RV’s refrigerator outside fans are not working. Why not?
- Trail of Confusion: Navigating the crossroads of trailer safety chain hookup
- RV’s house and chassis batteries drain fast during storage. What causes this?
- Why are wheel lug holes collapsing toward brake drum?
Have a question for Dave? Click any Ask Dave article and scroll down to fill out the form. He’ll get back to you!
?? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??
Years ago RVtravel.com publisher Chuck Woodbury joked that anyone who ever saw him wearing one of these, which he considered the ultimate in corny, should shoot him (again, he was joking!). Now he’s starting to think he kinda likes them. Learn more.
In the RV shop with Dustin
Cool RV Tools: Meet the Spider Tool Holster Bitgripper
By Dustin Simpson
These “cool tools” are tools and gadgets that we actually use in the RV industry! We also believe they will be helpful to you. Today, we’re looking at the Spider Tool Holster Bitgripper. This is a great RV gadget for your drill gun or impact gun. It comes as a two-pack and has a high-strength 3M adhesive bit holder. This add-on is for easy access to six driver bits on the side of your power drill or driver gun.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
Flexible holding tank repair material easy to apply—and it works!
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Like many RVers, we suffered through holding tank leaks on a variety of RVs. … We’ve tried all sorts of tank repair nostrums, to a variety of results, usually disappointing. Those that have worked (for our black tank disaster) were complicated and posed major safety issues. Others often just peeled off, or didn’t hold. We’ve now tried a new flexible holding tank repair, and we’re really jazzed.
LIKE GADGETS? Make sure you read the latest edition of our Great RV Accessories newsletter. You’ll love it!
Our fake, artificial-intelligence-created staff writers, Johnny Robot and Millie MacWilly, discuss artificial intelligence and how it is affecting our lives as RVers and as humans. Today, Johnny shares a poem he wrote in 15 seconds, “The Joy of RVing,” and Millie reads part of it in her unique. A.I. way. “Wow, that really moves me,” she says after reading the first stanza. Join Johnny and Millie.
RV Tire Safety
Proper care of tires is NOT rocket science
By Roger Marble
Looking at some posts and questions on various RV forums, it seems that some folks think that proper care of tires is as complex as rocket science. While I will admit I can get very wrapped up when talking about tires, I do try to be reasonable, as I believe that if the instructions are too complex, detailed, or long-winded, some folks will throw up their hands and give up. I definitely do not want you to give up. Here are four basic things I think every RV owner should do. These are probably the biggest “bang for the buck” actions you can take to avoid having a tire “blowout.”
RV Prospector: Adventures in prospecting and boondocking, Part 7
By Randall Brink
The month of August was busy with hard placer mining work and all the chores associated with maintaining an RV boondock camp. We also worked through Bebe’s first encounter with her nocturnal wolf cousins, who thankfully remained at a distance from our camp; a Bullsnake the size of a boa constrictor; and myriad brushes with stinging nettles and poison ivy. We ate huckleberries and brook trout after long days mucking the heavy gravels, sands, and clays. Before we knew it, Labor Day had come and gone.
Did you miss yesterday’s Latest News for RVers?
If so, stories you missed:
• Guided RV group trips, families, taking up campsites: ’10 school buses come into the park morning and night!’
• Starlink News: SpaceX gets green light for two new dishes, loses 200+ satellites
• Disadvantaged RVers on “the street”: Homeless “solutions” have mixed results
• The tragic case of Brooks Roberts: A tale of U.S. Forest Service law enforcement overreach and homelessness
… and much more
Recipe of the Day
by Marcia McCance from Stone Mountain, GA
Creamy, savory and super-satisfying – everyone is sure to enjoy this dish. I used fettuccine when tasting this dish because that’s what I had on hand. Everyone loved it! Grab a glass of wine and you have a perfect date night dinner!
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“Gabby (Maltese) is always ready to ride. If the door to our RV is open she hops in! Gabby is a sweet, loving member of our family and excellent travel buddy!” —Kathy Daniel
• RVing with Dogs group on Facebook. You’ll love it.
WHERE ARE THE WILDFIRES AND SMOKE? Find out here:
Current Wildfire Report. (Includes map and details of fires.)
Current smoke and fire report for where you live or where you’re traveling.
Canadian Wildland Fire Information.
Weather & Air Quality Data in National Parks.
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.
Why farmhouses are white
By Gail Marsh
As we travel around the United States, I love seeing the similarities of regional traditions. One of my favorites is the iconic farmhouse. I love seeing the large and welcoming front porches surrounded by expansive yards. I grew up in an Iowa farmhouse, but I often wondered why most farmhouses are white. Now, several decades later, I have my answer.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
RVtravel.com All Star Team
Publisher and Ethics Editor: 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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