Tuesday, November 28, 2023


RV Travel Newsletter for Sunday, September 24, 2023

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Page Contents

September 24, 2023
Issue 1123
Free, abbreviated edition


 Cover story 

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.

Photo illustration created by Dall-E

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.

Check this out 

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.

Click here to read

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.

What do you think?

Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter

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.

Reader Poll

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.

Tell us here

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

Travel Destinations

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.)

Ask Dave

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook”.

This past week’s questions that Dave answered:

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!

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.

Read more

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.

Learn about it here

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.”

Read more

RV Prospecting

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.

Continue reading about Randall’s and Bebe’s latest adventures

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

Read it here | Back issues

Recipe of the Day

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

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!

Get the recipe here

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.


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.

Sunday funny


Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?

Read it here | Back issues

The ongoing adventures of Earl and Burl Squirrel, from the mind of RVtravel.com friend R.L. Crabb.

RVtravel.com All Star Team

rv travel logo

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.

RVtravel.com is a participant in many affiliate programs, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Regardless of the potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers.

Editorial (all but news)
: editor@rvtravel.com
Editorial (news)
: chuck@rvtravel.com
Advertising. Information here.
Help desk: Contact us.

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020

This newsletter is copyright 2023 by RV Travel LLC.


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Uncle Swags (@guest_254761)
2 months ago

Reading the opening article I remember the words of my grandmother “There but for the grace of God, go I”.

Wes Sanders (@guest_254553)
2 months ago

I appreciate what you do, but . . . When I see this I can’t let it go; especially by a “writer”. I’m surprised no one has pointed this out to you before and I must admit, when I tell you, you’ll not be able to ‘unsee’ it. It’s been this way for me since Mr. Green’s (my baseball coach too) 8th grade English class. It was all diagraming – all year. I’m so thankful for that by the way!

There is no such thing as ‘very unique.’ Think about it! Either it is or it isn’t. Nothing is ‘very unique.’ There – I typed it! Now you’ll be haunted by newscasts, TV shows, and mostly by sports broadcasters. Something may be ‘almost unique’ or even ‘truly unique’. But nothing is ‘very unique.’ Apologies!

Diane McGovern
2 months ago
Reply to  Wes Sanders

Thanks, Wes. Makes sense, sort of. In fact, I just did some research on “very unique.” Here’s an interesting article about its usage: https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/articles/is-very-unique-wrong/ And here’s the bottom line from it: “The next time someone describes something to you as ‘very unique,’ instead of grinding your teeth, pat yourself on the back for noticing an example of lexical broadening.” Oh, and BTW. “Diagramming” has two m’s.😉 Have a good evening. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com

Wes (@guest_255729)
1 month ago
Reply to  Diane McGovern

Yea . . . that article is a stretch of logic. I guess it’s possible to explain away just about anything these days; pregnant men and ‘lexical broadening.’

“Degradable Unique” – I don’t think so. It either is or it isn’t and I’m not talking about coke or kleenex here.

two ‘M’s’ – really? Maybe that’s your alternative, not mine!

From Wiktionary.org:
diagraming -English
Alternative forms – diagramming
Verb – diagraming

I still grind my teeth.

Diane McGovern
1 month ago
Reply to  Wes

Hi, Wes. As they say, to each his/her own. Regarding the spelling of “diagraming,” I guess it just depends on where you look for it. Here’s what I saw on Grammarist (and elsewhere): “The past and progressive tenses may be spelled with one or two ems (diagrammed, diagramed, diagramming, or diagraming). The preferred spelling inside the United States is with two ems.” Don’t grind your teeth too much–not worth it. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com

Leona Dunn (@guest_254510)
2 months ago

Reading the story of Michael reminds me of my husband, whom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 32. He was able to work for about three more years before he became totally disabled. We sold our home and bought an RV and were full-time RVers for 11 years. During that time he could walk and then he’d be down again he’d have another surgery and able to walk, he has since passed away from complications from medication for rheumatoid arthritis. But like Michael we knew the time would come when he wouldn’t be able to do anything. Enjoy it while you can.

Brian Burry (@guest_254505)
2 months ago

Gabby looks happy! The ultimate Doggy ride!!!!😄🐶

Jesse Crouse (@guest_254476)
2 months ago

We travel with our dogs and per Pennsylvania state law they are secured in crates when the RV is moving. This is for their safety and ours. No animal should be on the dashboard or not secured while in motion.

Laura (@guest_254681)
2 months ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

Exactly what I thought! Not much cute about this, a disaster waiting to happen. Just an unexpected hard braking could do it. Our dogs have a harness that can be clipped into a seat belt. We have also used crates. Either way, secure your pets, riding on the dashboard is the worst place I can think of.

Danny (@guest_254431)
2 months ago

A chance encounter is a wonderful story. It enforces the cliche….slow down and smell the roses. I once went on a trip with another and they wanted to drive 70-80 mph the entire trip, which again enforces “ slow down” “ stop often”

Tom (@guest_254328)
2 months ago

If you take photos when leaving a RV, try to get an employee standing near by. Hard to say they did not do it.
When my RV was expertly towed, the driver took photos of all four corners before moving the coach.

Brenda (@guest_254320)
2 months ago

There are many disgusted with Camping World. We just had a new Suspension and things put on in May 2023. We drove about 800 miles back to NY, sat all summer, then started out couple days ago for the winter. We got maybe 150 miles and our “brand new “ Shackles broke. Yep, supposedly new ones, $9,000.00 worth of work. We got stuck in Lowe’s parking lot for 3 days, till a welder we found came and fixed us, the right way. We got our work done in Marion, NC. We like their park, but will warn anyone not to go there for service. You can’t get ahold of them to see what they will do, as they don’t answer. We have tried, nothing in return. So we will be going another route to fix this with them. Be aware. Take pictures before and after.

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