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October 15, 2023
Free, abbreviated edition
I am such a hypocrite!
By Chuck Woodbury
Iam such a hypocrite. I’m mad at myself for having to admit that. But it’s true. I’m a human, and for whatever reason, we humans seem to have some sort of “hypocrite” program running in our DNA. I speak for myself, of course, but I think I am right.
The woman in the photo above: she’s very attractive, wouldn’t you say? I think so. The truth? She was never born. I created her out of just a few instructions to a computer algorithm. When I stare at her I feel sad she never existed. How can that be? Surely, somebody snapped this photo of her!
I used Bing’s new Image Creator tool to create this woman. It took me less than 30 seconds. I instructed the program to create a woman who was “attractive with long brown hair, sitting at an office chair at her laptop computer inside an RV working on her blog.” The result was the image above and three others, which are below. I could choose the one I wanted for my purpose or click “refresh” and get four more images.
Yet here I am, week after week (as you may know), whining about how artificial intelligence (A.I.) is so terrible, how it’s a threat to me and my fellow writers. And then along comes this illustration tool, free for now, and I jump right on it to create images to illustrate my writing.
Oh, to my friends who are graphic artists and photographers, I am so very sorry. And I apologize to the people who earn their livings as models. Some of them must be very angry with people like me for being critics of A.I., and then embracing it so quickly for business purposes! I’d be embarrassed to admit this to you if I didn’t want to scream my excitement at the top of my lungs for what I have done, and with such ease, and not a penny spent. I created a human—well, an image of one.
WHAT THIS TELLS ME is that no matter how ethical many people are, they can be seduced into creating such fake “reality.” For me, it’s not (honestly) about making more money with the technology but about the incredible rush I get using it. But, like I said, I am a hypocrite when I do it, and so willingly. Bad, Chuck!
This is why A.I. is here to stay. It’s too incredibly tempting to avoid. That’s my point.
Oh, finally, here’s an experiment. I just gave the same instructions to Bing as the one I used to create the women above, except I instructed that the woman be a heavy-set 70-year-old with gray hair instead of brown. Again, it look less than 30 seconds for the image to appear.
Is this crazy, or what?
Our new staff writer: Mona Lisa
Okay … now, another treat for you: Meet the latest edition to our RVtravel.com staff — Mona Lisa. We asked Bing to create an image similar to those above but with the face of the famous Mona Lisa. Get ready to laugh, or at least be amazed.
Beginning in November, we will report the news daily
We are changing our Saturday newsletter (more info later). One major difference will be our weekly news briefs feature will not be included, but will be replaced with an automated email recap of the very latest RVing news every weekday afternoon. Sign up to receive these timely emails here. (You can easily unsubscribe if you wish.) As always, no spam and your personal information is never shared with outsiders.
Today’s RV review…
RV sneak peek – Grand Design’s “copy-cat” design travel trailer
By Tony Barthel
Today’s RV review is another breaking story from the RV industry’s recent RV Open House. I so enjoyed seeing and touching all the different new RVs and really appreciated that there was a spirit of innovation at the show. I have also written about flattery in the form of RV R&D—that’s “ripoff and duplicate” in normal speak. It seems that Grand Design has looked over at our friends at inTech RV and thought, yeah, we can copy that. Uh oh. Find out what Tony’s talking about here.
RV Service Centers and Repairs Report
“If you let the folks fix your RV who were responsible for the terrible quality to begin with, you are setting yourself up for an expensive, disappointing lesson.”
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 stories, including one from Curt M., who bought an extended bumper-to-bumper warranty and got a three-year nightmare (which he “couldn’t even begin to describe here”). There’s a request from an RVer for suggestions on how to deal with Forest River and the poor-quality furniture in their RV. And there are more mixed reviews on Camping World.
Airbags on cars and RVs deteriorate. What you need to know about maintaining your air ride system
By Randall Brink
If you have a newer Class C motorhome or a Class A manufactured since the mid-1980s, there is a good chance that your coach has an air ride system with “air springs” as part of its suspension. The system may seem shrouded in mystery because its components are underneath the coach chassis. If everything is in good working order – it’s out of sight and out of mind. But, like all coach systems, the components are subject to wear and tear from use and should be inspected regularly. Learn all about them here.
Visit two highways that sing to you as you drive!
By Gail Marsh
Call me a skeptic, but really? Highways that sing? Yes, it’s true! The original concept came back in 1995 when two Danish artists invented the Asphaltophone: a series of raised pavement dots spaced apart in varying intervals to create different sounds as a vehicle drives over them at a specific speed. In other words, orchestrated rumble strips. Continue reading.
A bad hitch can leave you in the ditch—or worse
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Many RVers have a safety checklist they go over when pulling out on the road. For some, it’s a paper checklist; others just keep it all upstairs. Tail lights working? Sewer port cover in place? But how about that trailer hitch? We’ve pulled Larry Lang’s story from our archives as a still-timely reminder—a bad hitch can leave you in the ditch. Larry thinks all travel trailer owners ought to add another little item to that safety checklist—and Larry is a man who speaks from experience—scary experience. Read this important safety reminder.
HAVE YOU LOST your husband or wife, leaving you a widow or widower? If you are a member of Facebook, please join our new RV Widow and Widowers group. Meet others who have lost their spouses.
Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter
- RV refrigerator tips you should know
- What to do about a sticky black tank valve
- Tips and considerations for finding affordable, safe places to camp
- 10 helpful tips for driving an RV at night
- RV Electricity: Protecting lithium batteries for winter storage
The history of the diesel engine and why it’s “better” than gas
By Gail Marsh
My husband won’t even consider buying a different truck to tow our fifth wheel RV unless the truck has a diesel engine. He insists that the power provided by a diesel motor far surpasses any gasoline engine. His loyalty to the diesel engine got me wondering how the diesel engine came to be. Find out here.
Why it’s important to have a plan in case of a health scare
Note: This Letter to the Editor was originally published in 2021
Do you have a plan if one of you has a health scare? This week it happened to us. My husband had a stroke. He was first at the ER, then an acute care hospital and now in a rehabilitation center. Will be in hospital for at least another 14 days. Why am I speaking about this? To tell you to talk about the “what ifs” now, not while it is happening. Continue reading this critical message.
Driving safety: What we’ve learned from highway mishaps
By Gail Marsh
On September 12, 2023, a family in Utah was on their way for tacos when suddenly an object hit and shattered their windshield. … Thankfully, everyone was okay—just minor cuts and abrasions. This incident reminded me of highway mishaps that we’ve personally experienced while RVing. I believe that we can all learn from these incidents to perhaps avoid them or at least lessen the chance of damage to our RVs and passengers, too. Read these important safety tips for a refresher.
What the heck is this, you may ask? It’s sculptor Joe Scarpa’s playful interpretation of a future Airstream trailer. … It’s actually a Modified Curtis Wright travel trailer. Even though it’s impressive to visit during the day, it’s even better at night, when the neon lights turn it magical. Check this out.
Do you travel in your RV alone or with others?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment.
Did you miss yesterday’s poll? We asked “Do you have social media accounts that together add up to an audience of at least 100?” Please respond and see how others responded.
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook”.
This past week’s questions that Dave answered:
- Should I run the RV roof air conditioners when I am not using the RV?
- The check engine light in RV came on and it needed three oxygen sensors. Really?
- Is it better to leave RV’s electric water heater off when not using it?
- Storing my RV for a month. Drain the water and leave RV cold, or heat it?
- Is it better to leave RV’s electric water heater off when not using it? Part 2 – With a great cost analysis/comparison provided by Jim!
Have a question for Dave? Click any Ask Dave article and scroll down to fill out the form.
?? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??
It’s entirely possible that this product, either intentionally or unintentionally, could lure someone to your bed. Oh, don’t let your mind take that statement too far. We’re just staying that this could happen. See if you agree.
In the RV shop with Dustin
RV underbelly leak repairs can be a nightmare, but this will help
By Dustin Simpson
One of the most frustrating things for an RVer is having to deal with a leak underneath the RV in the underbelly area. If you didn’t know, this is a dreaded repair for any RV technician. As you will see in the pictures below, there is a mess of wires and plumbing that we have to contend with when trying to pinpoint the leak. RV underbelly leak repairs can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
New, high-tech hearing aids are a game-changer—Wow!
By Nanci Dixon
Our audiologist, Michael Oscarson with Audiologists Hearing Center, pointed out something to my husband and me at our recent appointment. We were talking about our travels all over the country and he reminded us that when driving or towing an RV it is extremely important to be able to hear what is going on around us. Semitrucks and other vehicles approach quickly, road construction equipment is loud around us, and we especially need to hear emergency vehicle sirens. And being able to identify the mechanical sounds of the RV or tow vehicle is of no small significance.
WANT MORE GADGETS? Read the latest issue of our RV Great Accessories Newsletter. There are gadgets galore!
Midwest Travel Destinations
Columbus, Indiana—Not your typical Midwest town
By Gail Marsh
Surprised and thrilled. That’s how my husband and I felt upon discovering this Midwest gem. Columbus, Indiana, is not your typical Midwest town!
Ghost Town Trails
Rhyolite, Nevada—An easy ghost town for RVers to visit
By Dave Helgeson
Rhyolite, Nevada, is this month’s featured Ghost Town Trails stop. I chose Rhyolite as it is an easy stop just off Hwy 95 for snowbirds heading south from the Pacific Northwest. A paved road leads you directly into the “downtown” business district, for those who just want to stop by with their RV for the day. RV parks and boondocking opportunities abound nearby, for those who want to rest a spell on their way south.
RV Tire Safety
Why you should not spin your tires: A forensic analysis
By Roger Marble
I have mentioned a few times that toward the end of my career as a tire design engineer, I became a specialist in failed tire inspection. In my RV tire seminars these days at RV shows, I have likened this work to what was shown in the TV series “CSI”. I will share the results of a few of my inspections over the coming weeks and months, but will start off with one of the more exciting types of tire failure. Read more and watch the “exciting” video here.
Adventures in prospecting and boondocking, Part 8
By Randall Brink
The autumn solstice brings marked changes to the Idaho backcountry. Nighttime temperatures drop into the 40s and barely reach 70 during the day. The humidity increases. Woodsmoke lingers in camp on the calm, heavy air. Shorter days mean packing more activity into fewer hours. At the same time, the cooler mountain air is invigorating, and the deciduous alder, poplar, Douglas maple, and birch trees, and Syringa bushes, burst into glorious yellow, orange, and red almost overnight.
Did you miss yesterday’s Latest News for RVers?
If so, stories you missed:
• Security cameras in public campgrounds. What do you think?
• California upends state park reservation system. Is relief in sight?
• Amazon Kuiper first launch—Real competition for Starlink?
• Disabled Army officer writes, ‘Enjoying our parks helps with PTSD’ but ‘Americans are being farmed for money; can’t even escape to the outdoors’
• “We thought we were in hell.” Couple’s motorhome was hit/flipped by Lamborghini and Ferrari [Video]
… and much more
Recipe of the Day
by Chef Charles Smith from Taftville, CT
What a cute meal to have for your little goblins before they go out trick or treating. It’s a delicious stuffed pepper recipe that’s turned into an adorable Jack-O’-Lantern. The filling is full of meat and rice with just enough sauce. This is a meal your entire family will love.
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“Patagonia, AZ, is a favorite camping destination. We encountered a donkey (Angel) who was frightened of dogs, having been attacked by a dog pack earlier in her life. However, my therapy dog, Miss Buffington (Cockerpoo), soon had Angel calm and interested. Angel looked for us every day thereafter! Buffy is a ‘calmer’ of animals, as well as people, and Angel is just one of her ‘success stories’!” —Jeanette Dickson
• RVing with Dogs group on Facebook. You’ll love it.
Stay warm and cozy in RV slippers!
These adorable trailer-themed slippers are just what your favorite RVer needs to get them through the winter months. They’re ultra-soft, warm, and comfortable and have nonslip soles so you won’t slip and slide across your RV’s floors. They come in two sizes S/M and L/XL so every foot will be happy! Check ’em out here.
Think you’ve been to a desert before? Think again! You’ve never seen a desert like the Atacama Desert along the northern coast of Chile. The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world. How dry? Some weather stations in the desert have never (we repeat: never) recorded a drop of rainfall. Geologic evidence suggests that certain regions across the desert may not have had rainfall from 1570 to 1971. The desert is bone dry. NASA has used the region to test equipment for Mars missions.
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN TODAY’S EMAIL ALERT: Nearly 30 percent of our readers have had a bear wander into their campsite. Another 20 percent have had a bear wander into their campground, but not to their site. See the actual poll.
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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