Tuesday, September 27, 2022


RV Travel Newsletter Issue 773

Learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. This newsletter, now in its 16th year of continuous publication, is funded primarily through advertising and voluntary subscription contributions from our readers. Thank you!

Issue 773 • Week of Dec. 17–23, 2016

Editor’s corner
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com

I just dumped my motorhome’s holding tanks and I didn’t even go outside to do it. I simply pushed two buttons inside my coach — black tank first, gray tank next — no need to go outside, put on gloves or pull handles. I simply pushed a couple of buttons. Presto! Waste gone!

I’m only one of few RVers around the country with this new automated “Ultimate” waste management system from Drain Master of Hollister, Calif., a few miles from my RV park. For a guy like me, who has dumped his holding tanks a couple thousand times in his lifetime, my new automated system is like a dream come true. 

Push these two buttons and your tanks are emptied

The system includes a permanently attached Waste Master sewer hose (far superior, hands down, to anything else on the market), a cam loc adapter to replace the standard (inferior) bayonet hose fitting, a 12-volt electronic dump valve, and a 3×4 inch wall panel with two buttons to push to dump your tanks. The panel can be installed in an outdoor wet bay and/or anywhere inside the coach (mine is in the bathroom beneath the medicine cabinet).

WITH THIS SYSTEM, Drain Master owner and Waste Master inventor Doug Swarts has come up with one of the most innovative, helpful RV products in recent times. It seems to me that many RVers will want this setup. It’s so handy!

I’m working on a video about this and will show it to you next week. Hanging out with Doug has been like going back to school, I’ve learned so much. Some of his stories about RV waste dumping are hilarious, even creepy. I love the one about the woman who left her gray water tank open and then one day starting hearing occasional banging beneath her RV. After a lot of head scratching and consulting with other RVers, she discovered to her horror that a rat had climbed up inside her sewer hose into her gray water tank and got trapped. This is absolutely true! I’ll tell you more later.

If you’re tired of the hassle of dumping your holding tanks and are interested in an automated system like mine, I suggest you email Doug at doug@drainmaster.com or call him at 877-787-8833. He’s a truly nice guy, passionate about his products and inventions, and eager to answer your questions. Learn more, too, at the Drain Master website.

I can’t quote a price because it varies depending upon the coach and other factors. But the Waste Master hose and cam loc adapter is around $150, and worth every penny. Installation of the fully automated system like mine is considerably more, but you’d need to ask Doug for a quote for your particular RV.

For handy RVers, the installation of the “Ultimate” system can be a DIY project. Others can either take their RV to Doug’s shop in Hollister to have it installed or hire an RV technician in their area.

The Waste Master hose and cam loc is available at Drain Master and Amazon. Camping World has it online and in its stores, but was more expensive when I looked.

I could keep blabbing on and on here about what I have learned in the last few days about waste management and my new system but, alas, I’ve said enough for now. So I’d better get moving. Please stay tuned.

By the way, my friend David Bott just installed the same system as mine. He blogged about it, going into more detail that I have here, and recorded a five minute video displaying the new setup. 




P.S. If you’d like to hear what the president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) thinks about the state of the RV industry (all is great!) watch this video of his speech at the recent National RV Trade Show. 

My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
The incredible shrinking keychain.
Share a hotel bed with a stranger? Don’t laugh
Toy cocktail lounge for preschoolers?

Roadside Journal Index: Click here.

back-768•Did you miss last week’s RV Travel? Read it here.
Directory of ALL back issues.


woman-748Is reading this newsletter
worth 10 cents to you?
Our staff works hard to bring you a valuable newsletter every Saturday. Readers help make it possible with their voluntary subscriptions. Even a pledge of $5 a year is appreciated — that’s less than 10 cents an issue! Many readers pledge more — $10 a year is less than 20 cents an issue! Your contributions make it possible for us to write about important matters, not just fluff to make advertisers and RV industry big shots happy. Enter a voluntary subscription. Use a credit card, PayPal or mail a check.

Reader RVs


rv-sudtell-12-3-2016What RV do you drive or tow?
Send us a photo of your RV (and tow vehicle) with a 150-200 word description of where and how often you travel with it, and what you like or don’t like about it. Include your name(s) and hometown. We’ll post them to RVtravel.com. Send to assistant editor Diane McGovern at Diane(at)RVtravel.com .

CLICK HERE to see this week’s RV Travel Reader RVs.

Reduce air drag and boost fuel efficiency — Airtab® your RV!
Airtab-logoJust peel and stick Airtabs™ to the rear sides and the rear roof of your RV coach or trailer to create swirls of air that reduce aerodynamic drag, save fuel and improve stability. Airtabs™ dramatically reduce trailer ‘fish tailing’ and crosswinds pressure to RVs from passing trucks, while improving fuel efficiency 2% – 5%! Click on the video.

Click here for more information about using Airtabs.
Click here to purchase Airtabs.


We’ll be back next issue with another contest and swell prize.

Last week’s winner: David Kaiser, of Grand Junction, Colorado who won the  Good Sam RV park directory.

breaking-newsRV manufacturer Forest River, Inc. has taken umbrage with statements published in RV Daily Report regarding recalls of its products. Early this week an attorney representing the giant RV manufacturer sent editor Greg Gerber a terse e-mail regarding what the company calls “misleading and defamatory” statements. Forest River calls on Gerber to “immediately correct the many misstatements … otherwise Forest River will look at all of its available options, including legal action, to protect its business reputation.” Click here for the full statement.

Sales of new motorhomes in October were a manufacturer’s disappointment, barely staying in the plus column, up only 0.3 percent compared to October 2015. Dragging the figures down, Class A sales crashed 12 percent, while the only light in the report was provided by Class C rigs, showing a 16 percent gain. Not included in the overall figure, sales of new Class B “van conversion” units bombed out, losing 16 percent. Source: Statistical Surveys Inc.

Steve Walser photographed this (“Needle in the Rear”) at the Vintage Rally in Roslyn, Wash., 2014. See a larger image of this photo or Steve’s catalog. Photo © Steve Walser

Travel trailer sales kept the overall new towable market afloat in October, says Statistical Surveys Inc. Travel trailers moved out better than 7 percent in comparison to October 2015. Park model sales also shot up 12 percent. On the other hand, pop-up sales deflated 3 percent, racing toward the bottom with fifth wheels, which lost 5 percent. Overall, towable sales managed a 4 percent increase in sales during the month, largely based on the volume of travel trailer sales.

Michigan needs campground hosts for 2017. A stint of 30 hours per week helping folks find sites, answering questions, and doing a bit of light maintenance gets you a spot to park your rig in a state park, recreation area or “rustic forest campground.” You’ll need to show up for two days of training within the first two years of acceptance as a host. More info here, or contact Miguel Rodriguez at 517 284-6127.

Ford’s new 2017 model year F-150 and Raptor pickups that sport a 10-speed transmission have hit a bit of a snag on the way to dealer lots. While the company has rolled 7,500 of the new trucks to dealers, twice as many have been held back to “ensure quality.” It was reported that shipments had been slowed out of concern of some issue with the transmission. The company evidently hasn’t said what the issue is but assures that the bug – or whatever it was – has now been fixed.

How do you operate state parks without state funding? That’s the question Wisconsin state park managers will have to figure out, as state officials have now removed all state support, and jacked up admission fees to boot. If number crunchers are correct, a deficit of $1.4 million lies ahead. To fund parks, managers are thinking more fee jack-ups, adding more utility hookups to attract additional RVers, even soliciting corporate sponsorships.

Photo: Florida Highway Patrol

If you’re a motorhomer who recently lost an oar on Florida’s Interstate 75, Broward County law enforcement officials say they may have found it – stuck in a car windshield. Christina Theisen, 33, was passing a slow-moving RV towing a boat when an oar on the boat apparently got loose and blasted through her windshield. Her quick instinct to duck possibly saved her life, and she avoided serious injury. The motorhome kept going, but the Florida Highway Patrol says the case is closed unless more information becomes available.

As winter closes in, so go camping opportunities in Illinois. At the state’s southern end, the Shawnee National Forest reported closures of its campgrounds on December 15. Expect reopenings for most of these on March 15.

Wade Maid Holiday Sale! Use coupon code: HolidayRV
Save 5% on Beast Wash and all other products.
beastwash-xmas-illoYour RV’s large surface area makes it a beast that collects more bugs, grit, grime, soot and industrial pollution than your car does. And it may have different surfaces of paint, fiberglass, vinyl and aluminum. Click on the video to see Wade clean, shine and protect EVERYTHING with Beast Wash. Click here to buy. Offer expires 1/31/17. Cannot combine with other offers.

news524(2)More News

Photo: Hopland Fire Department

Hopland, Calif., firefighters were called out for an unusual rescue last weekend. Callers indicated a motorhome stuck in the middle of the Russian River between Ukiah and Hopland. Hitched up to a safety rope, three firemen got to the locked rig to find two dogs on the dashboard, barking – presumably for help. After forcing their way into the rig and providing the victims with leashes, all five then swam back to shore. The rig’s owners later turned up. They said unusual floodwaters had dislodged their coach from a nearby shore.

Don’t look now, but Walbridge, Ohio, RVers may actually get a break from the local council. If it passes, a new ordinance will allow property owners to park RVs in their yards, even in driveways and on corner lots. The rigs can be hooked up to utilities – but no, you won’t be able to live in them. Additionally, the rigs must be licensed and operable, and none may be parked on a street or in an alley.


Management at La Mesa RV, with dealerships in four states, quickly took down some of its Facebook posts that apparently went online without a lot of thinking. The posts were advertisements inviting customers with the hashtag #HappyPearlHarborDay. The opening line of the post read, “Tis the season to visit the Best RVShows across the US if you’re looking for a variety from Motorhomes to Toy Haulers & Travel Trailers.” An official with the company said the posts were made without management review. As to the origin of the hashtag, “We are in the business of selling recreational vehicles, not researching hashtag origins,” said Timothy O’Connor, the company’s chief financial officer. Source: timesofsandiego.com.

Photo: Weston back country on instagram

Cross a Sno-Cat and an Airstream trailer with snowboards, and what do you get? An adventuremobile that will carry you into Colorado’s backcountry in comfort. Experimenters at Airstream took a new Basecamp model travel trailer, stuck it on a pair of snowboards, then hitched it up to a Tucker Sno-Cat and sent a team of adventurers off to test it out. Don’t try this at home!

vulcan-salute-rvt773An intrastellar decision by the Vulcans has determined it is more logical to cease operations of their Twin Valley Campground than to continue. Describing the campground as a “perpetual money-losing machine,” members of the Vulcan County, Alberta, council voted to terminate their agreement to lease the campground, following a one solar-year notification. If any travelers cling onto the idea of visiting there in 2018, they’ll need to communicate with the owners – Alberta, Canada – since Vulcan County bids the campground to “Live long, and prosper – without us.”

A Colorado RV sales manager, Jeffrey T. Mullins, could be facing a long time without RVing. Mullins could be indicted on charges he stole almost $900,000 through his employment with Transwest in Frederick, Colo. The charges allege he took kickbacks from both RV dealers and individuals, and filed false tax forms to evade tax payments. Transwest is the same dealership from which three RVs worth almost $2 million were stolen in October. Mullins is not thought to be connected with that theft, according to the local district attorney’s office.

devils-773Fees at Devils Tower National Monument (Wyoming) (a popular landmark for UFO sightings) are heading up come January 1. Campsite fees will rise to $20 for a single site, while group site fees will hit $30. Entrance fees will be $15 per vehicle. No word on entrance charges for UFOs.

An RV industry slogan says, “Life’s an adventure – go RVing!” We add, “Only, use your own RV.” Royal Canadian Mounties got a report a few weeks back of an RV stolen in Alberta – and, as is their habit, they started checking out camping venues. Sure enough, the rig turned up at a Revelstoke, British Columbia, campground. Living behind bars could be the next adventure for two men found in the rig, now arrested for theft.

rvbuslogo519Keep up with RV Industry news
throughout the week at RVbusiness.com.

RV driving on snow or ice
Winter is decidedly upon us. What would you do if you’re driving your rig when suddenly some “not too bad” weather turns cold and the white stuff begins to fall? Can you drive your RV in snow or ice? Should you? We’ve gathered several winter driving suggestions for RVers – and many of these come from the trucking industry, where nasty weather and big rigs often have to mix. Learn more.

More than free camping from BLM — if you hurry!
The Bureau of Land Management provides plenty of free boondocking opportunities on public land throughout the West. But did you know there’s another freebie that the BLM’s California office provides? It’s a huge, colorful, 12-month “planner.” But supplies are limited, so act now.

video camera WPthor-773“Norse god” shows off many defects in new RV
In this short video, the owner of a 2015 Thor A.C.E. motorhome transforms himself into the Norse god Thor to show the many defects that came with his new motorhome and the difficulties of getting them fixed. The RV spent 5 of its first 18 months in the shop. Watch as “Thor” describes the frustrations he had dealing with Thor and the Camping World where he purchased the vehicle.

RV too long for that site? Maybe not
When a national park’s or forest’s campground designates a maximum length limitation, what does that mean? You’ve seen it in campground guides and on entry kiosks: “Maximum size 27 feet,” for instance. So, driving a 28-foot Class C, or towing a 28-foot fiver, you crossed it off as a potential camping location Unfortunately, that would likely be making a mistake. Find out why.

The readers write — plenty of strong views
If you’ve been a bit chilled by the weather, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe it’s the cold weather that warms up the opinions. Comments from our readers over the last couple of weeks show there’s no question about where folks stand on some RV topics, including: Vanishing RV fun, RV quality becomes a bone of contention, “gas hog” RVs, and Ban diesels from big cities? Read more.

Last Chance to Save on RV Warranty Coverage

Summer doesn’t last forever, and neither will our best RV protection rates! RV Warranty prices will increase on January 1st, 2017, and some vehicles will become ineligible for any type of coverage. Get your free quote from BBB A+ rated Wholesale Warranties before it’s too late, and roll into 2017 with peace of mind.

Click Here to save on RV protection.

Even the simple things — easily clean stainless steel sink
Since it’s cold outside and his RV isn’t going anywhere soon, Rich “The Wanderman” decided to do some additional pre-season cleaning — in this case, the stainless steel lavatory sink. But what to use that’s strong enough to do the job but won’t harm the pipes and tanks? And what’s his secret for an extra special gleam? Find out here.

Full-time RVing: Insurance to meet your needs
One of the big questions of folks making the jump from “sticks and bricks” to a “life on the road” is a good, solid, important one: What about insurance on the RV? Not just “any” insurance company will be able to handle your new circumstances on the road. It’s best to talk to companies that are completely literate and often specialize i

Starting battery croaks in campground
Chris Dougherty, certified RV technician, received a letter from a reader while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor. It contained several questions including why the under-the-hood engine battery kept going dead when the RV was hooked up to an electric post at campgrounds, and what the metal bar on the battery is for. Read Chris’ response.

Forest River recalls some motorhomes, toy haulers
Forest River is recalling more than 2,800 model year 2015-2017 FR3 motorhomes manufactured September 24, 2014 to May 12, 2016; 2015-2017 Prime Time Spartan toyhaulers manufactured June 10, 2014 to May 31, 2016; 2013-2016 Palomino Columbus toyhaulers manufactured October 4, 2012 to December 4, 2015; and 2015-2016 XLR Thunderbolt and Nitro toyhaulers manufactured May 23, 2014 to November 23, 2016. The vehicles were equipped with certain black, aluminum ladders manufactured by Christianson Industries. The affected ladders have retractable hinges, each with a welded ‘top hat’ that can separate from the hinge. If the hinges separate from the ladder while in use, the ladder may fall from the vehicle, increasing the risk of injury. Learn more.

Grand Design recalls some toy haulers, trailers
Grand Design RV is recalling nearly 2,000 model year 2015-2016 Momentum toy haulers and Solitude travel trailers manufactured July 8, 2014, to August 31, 2015, equipped with certain aluminum black ladders manufactured by Christianson Industries. These ladders have retractable hinges, each with a welded “top hat” that can separate from the hinge. If the hinges separate from the ladder while in use, the ladder may fall from the vehicle, increasing the risk of injury. Learn more.

del-545This week in history
Week of Dec. 17–23
Compiled by Dell Bert

1843 — “A Christmas Carol” is published.
1865 — Slavery is abolished in America.
1903 — First airplane flies — 12 seconds, 120 feet (Orville and Wilbur Wright).
1917 — National Hockey League (NHL) opens its first season.
1961 — The Tokens earn a #1 hit with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
1963 — Berlin Wall is opened for first time.
1967 — “The Graduate” opens in New York.
1997 — “Titanic” sails into theaters.

Light up your RV with Boogey Lights!
New Boogey Lights photo 7 15 16RV accent lighting is all the rage! Just look around the RV park! Enter Boogey Lights®! These robust, super-bright, state-of-the-art LED lights with hi-tech controller technology represent the next generation in LED lighting for RVs. The AWNING & UNDER-GLOW LIGHT KITS are specifically designed to withstand harsh operating environments. Don’t waste your money on junk! Get Boogey Lights! You can even control them with your Smart Phone! Learn more or click the video for a demonstration.

RV Club of the Week
Here is an RV club we like. We hope you do, too! 

WIT Club
For anyone who owns a Winnebago Industries RV. More than 14,000 members. WIT Club members receive special benefits, gather with other people with similar interests, and travel on a variety of special events called caravans and rallies.

The New TireTraker™ TT-500 with a Lifetime Warranty
The new TireTraker™ TT-500 is the most innovative & user friendly TPMS on the market with an unprecedented “Lifetime Warranty”, the only TPMS company in the industry to do so. The TT-500 features a larger, easier to read display, continuous pressure & temperature monitoring, automatic update, & monitoring up to 22 tires on your motorhome, trailer & tow vehicle from 0-232 psi ! Seven day per week sales & technical support, & over 12 years of experience. List price (4 tires) $389. Our price only $289. SAVE $100! (Additional Sensors $35 each). Learn more or order. Read testimonials.

Bumper sticker of the week
The closer you get, the slower I’ll drive.

Funny/clever business slogan
“We don’t want an arm and a leg … we just want your tows!” Seen on tow trucks in different states several years ago.

Have you seen a funny bumper sticker or business slogan? Send it to Diane(at)RVtravel.com

1Horizontal-for-RVtravel_com-72-pix-1 1Moran_Host_NC_D-RVtravel_com-72-pix-1Unique RV overnight stops at wineries and farms
With membership in Harvest Hosts® you can stay overnight at 500 wineries, farms and attractions across North America. Harvest Hosts offers an exciting alternative to traditional overnight stops where you can meet interesting people and learn about their lifestyle. Learn more at the Harvest Hosts website, or watch an interview with the founders by RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury.

Upcoming RV Shows
See the list of upcoming RV shows for 2017.

No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.

wal-mart-loc-748Walmart Locator: 
Find stores for shopping and overnight stays

This is an invaluable aid for RVers who occasionally spend a night in a Walmart parking lot. State maps identify where the stores are located in the USA. Detailed information includes city or town where each store is located, type of store (Walmart or Supercenter), availability of gas and diesel fuel, distance from Interstate if within 10 miles, and more. Published 2016. Learn more or order.

Photo: Hidden Splendor, Utah, by La Donna & Travis Ward. From Waste & Water Logistics, LLC, Utah, web address: www.igotpoop.com.

Websites of the Week
Here are three we like:

German-style Christmas markets in the U.S.
“Ringing in the holiday season, cities across the U.S. are celebrating with their own versions of the traditional German Christmas market. Not unlike the Christmas markets in Germany, each of its American cousins has a flair that is unique to the city or region where it takes place.” There are 30 markets across the U.S. listed here, with foods, crafts, entertainment, and so much more. From Germany.info.

The West’s best quirky attractions
Here are nine strange and fascinating roadside attractions in the West — some are nature-made, some are man-made, but none are necessarily “normal.” From Sunset.com and msn.com.

The funniest slang term from every state
As you’re RVing around the country and hear a term you don’t understand, check it out on this list. How many of these have you heard (or used) before? From thedailymeal.com and msn.com

Here is our “master list” of more than 700 websites we like, which we have compiled over the years.

gift-cards-770Give gift cards for your
favorite stores and restaurants

You can’t go wrong giving a gift card for the holidays — or any other occasion. Here’s where to order most of America’s most popular gift cards.

Good reading from RV123.com 629-rv123
• Watch this video to learn some useful camping hacks!
• This quesadilla recipe is simple but so delicious!
• Take a look at this very unique custom motorhome

motor-carrier-2017-752Essential for big RVs!
2017 Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas
christmas-package-sm-770If you drive a big RV — extra long or extra tall — then this truck driver’s road atlas will be a huge help in knowing where you can drive without encountering a low bridge or getting stuck hanging over a cliff. This is an essential aid even if you have a GPS! Coverage: United States, Canada, and Mexico. Learn more or order.

rvshrinkAsk the RV Shrink

Bad location for television in RV

Dear RV Shrink:
We bought a used motorhome recently. We love the layout better than any new models we’ve looked at. The only problem is the location of the TV. I think the engineers put it in the only place they had left. I am surprised they didn’t stick it in the freezer. It is driving my husband nuts. He isn’t an engineer, but he thinks he could play one on TV. Now he wants to play engineer with our TV. He has so many ideas where to put it, I can’t even keep track anymore. Should I just give up and let him do his thing? I’m afraid he will put it somewhere that is worse than where it is now. —Misplaced in Middlebury

Read the RV Shrink’s response.

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new eBook: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.

good-sam-770Good Sam Campground Guide
NOW AVAILABLEBe the first to get this guide by ordering through Amazon.com. With more than 12,500 locations listed across the USA and Canada, the Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide is the only print directory of RV parks and campgrounds. The 2017 edition features an expert rating system with all evaluations completed on site in the past 12 months. Park listings include amenities, services, restrictions, rates, contact info, Good Sam discount locations, hundreds of dollars’ worth of Camping World savings and pages of helpful information. Learn more or order.

mark522RV Tech Tips
from Mark Polk

Stopping distances when towing a dinghy
Tests performed on a flat, dry, paved surface using a 34-foot Class A motorhome show that traveling at 50 mph required 132 feet of braking distance to come to a complete stop. Under the same speed and surface conditions but with a car in tow that weighed 4,110 pounds and no braking system, the stopping distance of the motorhome expands to 209 feet. If you are towing a car behind your motorhome, talk to your dealer about a supplemental braking system. You may be breaking the law in some states for the amount of weight you can tow without a supplemental braking system.

Mark Polk is the owner of RV Education 101, the premiere source of educational DVDs about buying, maintaining and using an RV. Learn more.

lost-in-america-773 rv-773Two hilarious RV movies!
You can’t go wrong giving either of these DVDs for a holiday gift. “Lost in America” is about a middle-aged couple who sell everything and hit the road in a motorhome. What happens next is hilarious. “RV,” with Robin Williams and Jeff Daniels, is equally funny — an RV movie classic! Order, rent or watch the trailer of “RV.” • Order, rent or watch the trailer of “Lost in America.

gas-738Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.24 (on Dec. 12). Change from week before: Up 3 cents; Change from year before: Up 20 cents.
Diesel: $2.49 (on Dec. 12). Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 16 cents.

tote-773Dump your holding tanks
without moving your RV

Sometimes it’s a hassle or impossible to dump your RV’s holding tanks without driving your RV to a dump station. That’s where a portable waste tank tote comes in handy. Just empty your RV’s tank/tanks into the tote and take it to the dump station — by foot or behind a tow car, ATV or other vehicle. The tanks come all sizes. Learn more or order.

RV Travel Reader Pets dog and photographer - left
Do you travel with a pet? We’d love to introduce your pet(s) to fellow readers. Send a photo or two of Fido or Boots and a 150-200 word description of your furry friend(s), along with your name(s) and hometown to Diane(at)RVtravel.com .

Click here to see the last issue of RV Travel Reader Pets.


‘Best club for motorhome owners!’
Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 2.55.19 PMThe Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is THE “best club, hands down, for motorhome owners.” That’s the word from RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury, who has been a member for 25 years! The group has many local and special interest clubs, national rallies, valuable member-only web content, and a wonderful monthly magazine. RV Travel readers who click this link to join save $10 off a new membership.

janet1The RV Kitchen
with Janet Groene

Catfish Stew
Fishing for compliments.

Take a cue from New Englanders, who know that tiny bits of crispy salt pork are the key to a great chowder. It takes a few minutes to cut the salt pork into small dice, but these little nuggets are bursts of flavor that make this more than just another fish soup. Get the recipe.

Check out hundreds of other recipes by Janet . . . and her many books at Amazon.com, including the brand-new “The Survival Food Handbook.”


swatter-773Bring on the flies!
With an Electronic Bug Zapper the insect is doomed
Fly swatting is fun with this, not a chore! A single swing of this electronic fly swatter with a powerful 2,000-volt grid eliminates flies, mosquitoes and other flying insects. Toss your old fly swatter and take the modern approach! Plug into any USB device to charge this fly swatter quickly and efficiently. Learn more.

extinguisher-697(3)RV Fire Safety Tip  

Check your brakes for drag and tires for “softness”
A dragging brake can create enough friction to ignite a tire or brake fluid. Some of the worst fires are those caused when one tire of a dual or tandem pair goes flat, scuffs, and ignites long before the driver feels any change in handling. At each stop, give tires at least an eyeball check. When tires are cool, tap your duals with a club and listen for a difference in sound from one tire to the next. You can often tell if one is going soft. Courtesy: MacTheFireGuy.com

Editor’s note: Choose from a wide selection of fire extinguishers at Amazon.

tire-guage660gauge4Endorsed by Roger Marble of RVtireSafety.com!
An excellent tire pressure gauge
The Accutire MS-4021B digital tire pressure gauge has an easy-to-read LCD display that provides pressure readings from 5-150 PSI. It’s ergonomically designed with an angled head and a rubber-coated easy-grip handle. If you forget to turn off the gauge, don’t worry, it will automatically shut off. The included lithium battery never needs to be recharged or replaced. And all this for less than $13! Learn more or order.

RV Quick Tips


Easy check for water leaks
Check your RV for plumbing system water leaks easily. With water in the fresh tank, turn on your water pump. After it shuts off, signaling the system is pressurized, it won’t turn on again until you “call for water.” If it does turn on, you have a leak.

Correct RV tire pressure saves them
Keeping RV tires at the right inflation saves them. Too much pressure — uneven tread wear. Too little pressure — risk ruining the tires from overheating, plus uneven wear. Tires give off air even without actual “leaks,” so check them before you start out on a trip and at least weekly on the road.

Check the battery’s water level before charging
Need to charge your batteries, but the “water level” is low? Wait until after you’ve charged them, then fill. Exception: If the level is below the top of the plates, fill to just cover the plates, then charge. After charging, complete the “fill up.”

Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!

Perfect stocking stuffer!
Lucy and Desi go RVing

Now, here’s the perfect stocking stuffer — Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz go RVing! In this 1954 classic — in gorgeous Technicolor — the famous couple (as newlyweds) invest in a 40-foot travel trailer and hit the road. The result is hilarious! The scene in which Lucy tries to make beef stew, a Caesar salad and cake in the wobbling, moving trailer is a classic! This DVD is a great gift for your favorite RVer! Learn more or order for only $5.97.

gary-736Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions

Our P-trap froze!

Dear Gary,
We were recently caught in an arctic freeze. We went to ready our RV today for a trip next week and found our sink drain P-trap in the bathroom frozen shut. We had to pour hot water down the sink in order to melt what appeared to be a solid block of ice. My husband tried to take apart the P-trap at the joint, but it would not budge. Was anything damaged by this? How can we avoid this in the future? We don’t winterize the RV since we use it during the winter some. We’re sure it had something to do with the recent very cold weather system that came through. Thanks for your helpful hints! —Mary D.

Read Gary’s response.

Read more from Gary Bunzer at the RVdoctor.com. See Gary’s videos about RV repair and maintenance.

micro-2-762Microwave cover collapses for easy storage
micro-2-flatWhen heating your food you don’t want to spend 10 minutes later cleaning the splatters inside the microwave. Here’s the solution — perfect for RVers: It pops down flat for easy storage. Lid perforations allow steam to escape to keep food moist. Doubles as a strainer! Learn more or order.

Gizmos and Gadgets

Star Brite Black Streak Remover

Banish ugly streaks with Star brite® Black Streak Remover
If those ugly black streaks from water run-off bug you, Star brite® has a spray that will get rid of them. Black Streak Remover begins working on contact to eliminate black streaks on side walls or anywhere else. Ideal for removing black streaks or grime from fiberglass, metal, plastic, rubber, vinyl or painted surfaces. Learn more.

Keep the warm air inside with a vent insulatorCamco Vent Insulator
RVs are meant to be used not just in summer and not just when it is warm and sunny. Achieving comfortable living in your RV when the outside is either too cold or too hot is a challenge. One way to prevent heat from escaping during colder periods or to prevent hot air from entering under a full desert sun is to stop the unwanted flow of heat or cold through your overhead vents. Here’s a simple solution.

water-filter-677Essential equipment for many RVers!
Camco TastePURE Water Filter with Flexible Hose Protector
This best-selling product reduces bad taste, odor, chlorine and sediment in drinking water with a 100-micron fiber filter. Its durable in-line, exterior mount filter has a wider body to increase flow. Use it at your campsite to keep sediment out of your RV water tank and to improve the taste and smell of your drinking water for a whole season. Many RVers consider this essential equipment. Learn more or order at a big discount.

Upcoming RV Shows

• Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show, January 5-7, Denver, CO
• Greenville RV Show, January 6-8, Greenville, SC
• Knoxville RV Show, January 6-8, Sevierville, TN
• Wisconsin RV Show, January 6-8, Milwaukee, WI
• Houston Boat, Sport & Travel Show, January 6-15, Houston, TX
• Indy RV Expo, January 7-15, Indianapolis, IN
• Pittsburgh RV Show, January 7-15, Pittsburgh, PA

See the list of all upcoming RV shows.

convection767Cooking with Convection
christmas-package-sm-770Don’t know how to cook with your RV’s convection oven? Then this book is for you. Beatrice Ojakangas, an authority on convection cooking, explains how to use your convection oven to achieve perfect results in dramatically less time than with a conventional oven – from meat to side dishes to dessert — all at the same time. GREAT GIFT! Learn more or order.

Memorabilia everywhere in Lutes Casino, Julianne G. Crane

RV Short Stop

Lutes Casino in Historic Downtown Yuma
Yuma, Arizona

If you want to gamble, this is not that kind of casino. Lutes Casino Restaurant is a fun, historic destination in Historic Downtown Yuma that appeals to both locals and Snowbirds from all over North America who are looking for a casual dining experience with lots and lots of memorabilia covering every surface in the place.

There’s plenty of parking in the back — RVs welcome. Lots of historic sites nearby.

Read Julianne G. Crane’s article.

Space heater uses only 200 watts!
It’s hard to believe that an electric space heater could use a mere 200 watts — the same as a couple of light bulbs —a fraction of other space heaters. And this one really works! It’s meant to heat a nearby person, not a room (although it will keep the chill off a small bathroom). Put it on your desk or at your feet. It’s perfect for the RVer who’s “always cold.” Click the video by RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury. Or order at Amazon.com.

laugh-667 Joke of the Week
An RVer named Stanley was stopped by a game warden as he was returning to his motorhome with a bucket of live fish. “Do you have a license to catch those?” the warden asked. Stanly replied, “No, sir, these are my pet fish. Every night I take them to the lake and let them swim around for awhile. When they hear my whistle, they jump back into the bucket and I take them back to the motorhome.”

“That’s a bunch of baloney,” said the warden, to which Stanley replied, “If you don’t believe me, then follow me back to the lake to see how it works.” Still suspicious, but curious, the game warden agreed. At the lake, the man poured the fish into the water, where they disappeared.

“Okay,” said the game warden. “Call them back.” “Call who back?” asked Stanley. “The fish,” replied the warden. “What fish?” asked Stanley.

nextexit17-771Pre-order now
Locate services at Interstate exits
The 2017 Next Exit is the most complete USA Interstate highway exit directory ever published for every exit of major and most minor routes. Find what’s located at upcoming exits on your route — gas, food, lodging, camping, shopping, hospitals, Walmarts and much more. A best-seller year after year. Learn more or order.

Videos you’ll like

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 1.18.19 PM Cars of the future as predicted by Disney in 1958
Here’s what cars of the future will look like as envisioned in 1958 by Walt Disney. Jet cars, electro suspension cars and atomic cars will speed across the USA and in underwater tubes beneath the seas to connect continents. And how about highways with radiant heat to melt ice and snow? Watch the video.

Don’t confuse RV light bulbs with brake bulbs
Mike Sokol and Chris Dougherty discuss a common mistake: using the wrong bulb for an RV light, which could mean trouble! Watch the video.


youtube_logoVisit our YouTube Channel.
More than 500 great videos about RVing!

Random RV Thought
Carry candles with you in your RV and car. In a wintertime emergency even the tiny bit of heat they produce can be a lifesaver if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Donner and Blitzen are the German words for thunder and lightning. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May for a coloring book for Montgomery Ward. Rudolph was at first supposed to be a moose but was changed to a reindeer. Other ideas for his name were Rollo and Reginald. But Rudolph won out! 

scenic767The Most Scenic Drives in America
christmas-package-sm-770The newly updated trip planner & travel guide will steer you down the most scenic road every time. From Florida’s Road to Flamingo, to British Columbia’s Sea to Sky Highway, to Cape Cod’s Sandy Shores, each featured road trip is pictured in stunning full color and described in vivid text, keyed to an easy-to-follow map. Whether you choose a drive on a distant road or a back road in your own state, this book is your ticket to North America’s most beautiful byways. Learn more or order.

Worth Pondering
“Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.” —Anaïs Nin


Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 7.42.17 PMReaders’ Birthday and Anniversary Greetings

Happy (belated) Birthday!
December 15: To Tom Giamanco from Lori Giamanco. Happy Birthday to my wonderful FULL TIME husband! I love you!

Happy Anniversary!
• December 23: To Joan from Lee. Happy Anniversary from your loving husband. You have made my life happier than I deserve. Your suggestion years ago that we purchase an RV was right on! It has been a happy ride being married to you.
• December 27: To Ken from Bonnie. Two years and counting on lots more!  Thank you for being so wonderful. (
Editor: Sorry to publish this so early, but we wanted to get it in before we pause this feature for awhile.)

We will soon pause this section. So please hold any messages for now.

RV Travel staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Assistant editor: Diane McGovern. Contributing editor: Russ De Maris. Contributing writers: Greg Illes, Bob Difley, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Janet Groene, Roger Marble, Julianne Crane and Chris Guld. 

ADVERTISE on RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Chuck Woodbury at Chuck(at)RVtravel.com. cw501

About the RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for three decades. In the ’90s he published the quirky travel newspaper Out West, and was an “on the road” writer for the New York Times Syndicate. His book, “The Best from Out West” is available at Amazon.com. Woodbury’s RVing adventures have been profiled on ABC News, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, and in People Magazine, USA Today and in hundreds of newspapers. He is the host of the Better Business Bureau DVD “Buying a Recreational Vehicle,” the definitive guide to purchasing an RV the right way.

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.

Our offices are located at 610 5th Ave. S, Suite F, Edmonds, WA 98020.

This website utilizes some advertising services. Sometimes we are paid if you click one of those links and purchase a product or service. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc . RVtravel.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

RVtravel.com includes links to other websites. We cannot control the content and/or privacy policies of those sites. Please be aware when you leave this newsletter or any other section of RVtravel.com to read the privacy statements of any of those websites that collect personally identifiable information. Our own privacy policy applies only to RVtravel.com and its affiliated blogs.

This newsletter is copyright 2016 by RVtravel.com

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Richard Davidson
5 years ago

RV Electric dump valves: I do like the idea of the electric dump valves but I think they should be designed with a manual dump option. If you loose power for some reason, you should still be able to dump your tanks if need be. I’m of the opinion, if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. Therefore I will forgo installing these unless/until such time as a manual override is available on them.

John Connaughton
5 years ago

Like a lot of the comments, I would not recommend the Drain Master. For the simple reason, an electrically operated valve is just something else that can go wrong and cost more to fix when it does. Keep it simple as much as possible is usually always the better way to go.

Dave Graham
5 years ago

Does it work on 5th wheels. I have 1 black tank and 2 gray tanks. I don’t see a 3 switch plate on Drain Masters website.

5 years ago

Drain Master: After looking at their website I’m pretty unimpressed. For about 500$ you get to parts for and automatic opening valve system. Big deal! Opening the waste valves is a pretty small part of dumping your waste tanks.

Chuck, while I have really enjoyed your writing over the years, I find your write-up of DrainMaster to be unlike you. It’s not a fare assessment of an RV device. It a blatant shill for the company.

Chuck Woodbury(@chuck)
5 years ago
Reply to  TomG

Tom, I’ve known Doug at Drainmaster for at least a dozen years. My friend Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, is a huge fan of his products as are my other RV tech friends. His sewer hoses, which, yes, are more expensive than others, are far superior — not even close. Two friends of mine have installed Doug’s system in their coaches and are totally satisfied.

I will be writing a lot more about waste management in the weeks ahead, not necessarily in the newsletter. How can you possibly say I am a shrill for the company based on one look at the Drainmaster website?

Richard Kuhwarth
5 years ago

I read with horror the attack by the mad dog attorneys at Forest Rivers’s high powered law firm. This is a classic example of kill the messenger. All you did was to report facts without editorial comments. If Forest River cannot deal with the facts, that’s their problem not yours. After reading this attack on our beloved little RV newsletter, my opinion of Forest River has fallen from positive to very negative.

Since 1968 I have owned 14 RVs, from small to fairly large, and back to small. Four of these were Forest River products. In 2011, I purchased a new Surveyor travel trailer. Shortly after purchase I received a recall concerning the labels being in error. This was followed by a letter from Forest River stating that corrected labels would be mailed. In the five years I owned the trailer, I received two or three additional recalls concerning the same issue, but I never did receive the corrected labels. If Forest River had complied with the initial notice, the subsequent recall notices probably would not have been necessary. Forrest River should clean up their own mess before they attack people for reporting on it.

I now own a 2016 r-Pod, and have been fairly pleased with it. At 81, it’s all I can and want to handle. However, positive comments concerning Forest River will no longer be sheared with fellow RVers. Shame on the management of Forest River.

5 years ago

I hope you have a better experience with your Drain Master valves than I and everyone I know has had with them in the past. They worked great to start with but required so much maintenance (cleaning, lubing, adjusting) that we all junked them after the first year. You never knew it they would open or not. I look forward to a longer-term use report from you.

Ed Day
5 years ago
Reply to  Wayne

10-4 on the Drain master electric valves! Ours never worked for more than 5 uses. Our 5th wheel spent a lot of time in the shop with no acceptable fix. I finally paid to have hand pulls placed on our three holding tanks. I spoke with Drain Master direct and two repair facilities without an acceptable fix. I am into hand pulls and co-pay on extended warranty over $2 grand not to mention the time and hassle. I hope Chuck has better luck!

Chuck Woodbury(@chuck)
5 years ago
Reply to  Ed Day

Two thousand dollars to replace a defective valve? Did I read that right? I’m not even handy and I replaced a valve once for about $20. I don’t believe Doug at Drainmaster would have ever stood by without making good on whatever problem you had with the valve.

Jim A.
5 years ago
Reply to  Wayne

We have had the Drain Master valves for about 3 months. We are fulltimers. We love the valves especially the DW. Yes it was not that hard to dump the tanks but now it is so much more convenient. Now the wife can close the grey tank when the black tank is getting high. It always seemed to need closing when it was late at night and either raining or cold. I still go out and flush the black tank but there are those occasions when we just push the buttons.
I love them, have had no problems and paid for them out of my own pocket with no affiliation to the company.

5 years ago
Reply to  Jim A.

Good morning Jim,
Thank you for your comments regarding our valves. We have been building and improving the valve over the past 15 years and while a few customers have had issues with past units, we have worked very hard to eliminate mechanical and electrical issues as we are made aware of a potential weakness. Today our valves are extremely reliable IF they are installed and used properly. Wayne’s issue with Blue seals was resolved by changing the materiel and adding Graphite to the seals themselves, about 14 years ago. We have made quite a few changes to improve performance over the years and have always tried our best to resolve issues brought to our attention in a fair and equitable way.. Our 800 number is on every valve we have ever sold and we encourage our customers to contact us.
Our goal is to make dumping your holding tanks Uneventful, Sanitary and Environmentally friendly.

5 years ago
Reply to  Wayne

Hi Dave,
We do not have a 3 switch panel currently however we do have a single swith which you can use in line for your 3 tanks or you could use the 2 switch panel and a single switch for the third tank. More information iis available on our web site http://www.drainmaster.com and you can call us at 877 787 8833 Toll Free.
Best Regards,

5 years ago
Reply to  Wayne

Hi Wayne,
I will check on Monday morning to see if you are in our customer database so I can better understand your situation. Please email me directly doug@drainmaster.com with your contact information. Lots of questions beginning with who installed the valves the OEM or a dealer etc. We do stand behind our products and work hard to resolve issues customers experience. I look forward to hearing from you .

5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

While I owned that RV, you and your company were very helpful in providing advice, replacement blue gaskets, and even a complete replacement unit for my Drainmaster valves. Still, they would be stuck open, stuck closed, leaking, or stripped gears. Before I sold that vehicle, I disassembled, cleaned and lubed one valve, and bought another new one so they would operate for the new owner. Four months later I helped him replace the Drainmasters with manual valves.

Will Shure
5 years ago
Reply to  Wayne

I too had the valves. I had trouble with them either not closing or not opening. I would take them apart and grease them and they would work fine until the grease wash away. I even tried leaving the hardware just barely tighten to the point of leakage. I finally concluded the valves would stick to the rubber seals and the motors were not powerful enough to break them loose. I finally decided to junk them and I went to an air operated valve. Since I had air horns on my motorhome I decided to go this route. I did have to do a little more wiring with the electric air valves and plumbing the air lines. At first I loved the motorized valves, but when they would start sticking I quickly got fed up with them. I have had no problem with the air valves I installed. Oh yes I forgot, I did have to replace all of my sewer pipes to use the air valves. The reason, the valves had to be cemented in and once done the system could not be take apart. I found some screw together pipe unions that could be taken apart if need be. If you go this route you had better be handy because it will cost you a fortune to have a repair shop to install.

Dick Goldsmith
5 years ago

Just watched the video: Don’t confuse RV light bulbs with brake bulbs, we found our new Keystone Sprinter travel trailer lights over the dinning table were factory installed 1156 light bulbs (taillight bulbs) the whole light housing was very hot by the time dinner was finished, all the bulbs were changed out to led bulbs that I learned about on one of rvtravel.com videos.
Just a heads up, the rv manufacturer’s may not know the difference or just don’t care.

Concerned One
5 years ago

More than free camping from BLM — if you hurry!
The Bureau of Land Management provides plenty of free boondocking opportunities on public land throughout the West. But did you know there’s another freebie that the BLM’s California office provides? It’s a huge, colorful, 12-month “planner.” But supplies are limited, so act now.

Be careful…ANY indication that you are “living” in California could be cause to pay “Taxes” (i.e. employment, estate, Social Security, License and registration, etc.) within that State. Giving away “Free Planners” could be one way of finding out (more like tracking and proving) that you are “Residing” or “Home Basing” there if you are not careful.

John Connaughton
5 years ago
Reply to  Concerned One

Well since you have to fill in your address, in my case Florida, they’d have a real tough time getting CA tax money out of me, and I’m sure if they took it to court, even less of a chance of winning that. Especially the whole angle of the federal govt (BLM), helping to gin-up state taxes.

5 years ago

We had a Georgetown a few years ago and it fell apart going down the road. Every time we stopped I had to repair stuff. One day the bed slide went out and the frame around it was still sitting there. Every drawer had broken and had to be rebuilt. The last straw was the dinnett drawer came out and broke fell on my foot broke my toe and hurt my foot and I said sell it for what you can get piece of trash but looked beautiful inside! A friend bought a brand new Acer and it was always in shop first six months and the dealer told him “Well you bought a cheap entry level motorhome what do you expect for your money!!!” He sold it and quit motorhoming.

Bobby moreman
5 years ago

Rain deer names. According to clement. moore, donder is a raindeer, not donner. Donner was in the song many years later after ..twas the night before Christmas…Was published. The rest of the raindeer names are the same.

Bobby moreman.

5 years ago
Reply to  Bobby moreman

Actually… The original poem was Dunder and Blixem, which was a reference to a Dutch expression. It was then anglocized to Blixen to match the rhyme, then “Germanized” to Blitzen und Donder (incorrect) then finally Donner (correct Thunder in German).