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Issue 776 • Week of Jan. 14–20, 2017
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
I’ve read four books about Mars in the last few weeks. If I were half my age, I would have applied to be on the first mission. I loved the book The Martian and then the Martian movie starring Matt Damon. Both fueled my wanderlust — the same wanderlust that’s kept me on the road in an RV for much of three decades.
I subscribe to an email newsletter called Mars Daily, which keeps me updated on the latest news about the Red Planet and planned manned missions. It drives me crazy that I will never get to go. No, actually, it makes me mad! I want to go!
If I would have lived during the early 1800s, and were aware of Lewis and Clark’s expeditions to the Pacific Coast, I would have begged to come along. I am so envious of the guys who went to the Moon. Oh, what I would give to go there, too (or maybe I already did?). I’d settle for a trip to an asteroid.
If you missed the National Geographic Channel’s six-part series about the first settlers of Mars, try to see it. It’s fascinating. You may be able to stream episodes on the Nat Geo website. With a Prime membership, watch it on Amazon Video.
THE REASON I BRING THIS UP is that sometimes, mostly in the evening when the weather keeps Gail and me inside our motorhome, I find myself daydreaming that we are in a spaceship headed to Mars. Please don’t laugh too hard at this silly-sounding thought. . .
The space we occupy in our 32-foot motorhome is about what the first voyagers will have on their seven-month journey to the Red Planet. Gail and I have everything we need in our little Earthbound spaceship, but what if we could never step outdoors, even open a window for fresh air, and the view from our window was the same day after day? That, I think, would be hard!
IN ALL THE BOOKS I’VE READ about a Mars journey, the biggest challenge according to most mission planners is how well the crew will get along. What if one member doesn’t get along with others or goes crazy? That happened once on the International Space Station and two astronauts had to be isolated in different areas until they could return to Earth.
Living with someone full-time in our RV is in many ways similar to what those early spacemen and women will experience. They will face far more challenges, of course, than those of us in RVs on Earth. Still, many of the challenges of living with another person (or a few other people) in close proximity are the same in a spaceship or an RV.
The fact is, people living in small spaces can often get on each other’s nerves (maybe you have experienced that!). With our RVs, if we’re a little steamed we can take a walk to cool off, or even split up for awhile if things get bad. In a spaceship and later in very tight living quarters on a vast, inhospitable planet, such escape would not be possible. Those early Mars settlers will likely never return to Earth, or if they do, after many years. That will be a big challenge to their psyches all by itself.
Gail and I are lucky because we get along so well even in our small living quarters. But I have been in situations where my travel partner and I were not so compatible and under a lot of stress. That situation would be awful aboard a tiny spacecraft where no escape were possible.
MY VIDEO FOR THIS ISSUE
I recorded a personal video for subscribers only. I talk a little bit about why I picked the topic of Mars for my essay. It’s six minutes long. Watch it here.
Here are the Mars books I read with their links to Amazon. If you have incurable wanderlust like me and are fascinated with space travel, then you may enjoy them, too. Buzz Aldrin: Mission to Mars • Mars: Our future on the Red Planet • How We’ll Live on Mars • Mars One: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure: Inside the First Human Settlement on Mars
Thanks to those of you who helped spread the word about this newsletter last week. We picked up about 600 new subscribers. And a special “thank you” to those of you who pledged voluntary subscriptions, which are essential to us these days to continue publishing (and get better).
Many of you commented last week with horror stories about problems with your new RVs or service after the sale. I will keep working to do what I can to help these people and others from ending up in RV horror situations. It will be a battle. As is, RV makers can turn out crap and there is often little a buyer can do to get things right. I urge you to download and read my friend Greg Gerber’s series “The RV industry death spiral.” It’s free.
Roadside Journal Index: Click here.
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Winter Differently in Yuma, AZ!
With 7 resorts to choose from, book your stay in one of the sunniest places on earth, Yuma, Arizona! Whether you are looking to book an RV site or relax in one of our beautiful rentals, we have something for everyone. Stay a week, a month, all season or all year long! Click here to reserve your Yuma site today!
What 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 last week’s RV Travel Reader RVs.
RV Consignment Dealer
Buy or sell your used motorhome, diesel pusher, fifth wheel or travel trailer hassle free at PPL Motor Homes. And check our huge selection of parts! PPL is the largest RV consignment dealer in the USA, selling more than 24,000 consigned RVs since 1972. Visit the PPL website.
THIS WEEK’S CONTEST!
Win this very cool apron! You’ll be the hit of the RV park potluck when you show up in this! THE QUESTION: In the photo to the right, what was the machine from the late 1800s used for? The 21st person to answer correctly wins the prize. CLICK HERE TO ANSWER (multiple choice). We can only ship prizes to addresses with a U.S. Zip Code. Only one entry per household. All entries must include your mailing address and telephone number or your entry will be disqualified. Contest ends Sunday at noon (Pacific). If we do not have a winner by then, we’ll save the prize for another time.
Last week’s winner: Tammy Ellis of Monroe, Wash. She won the MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater.
Not surprisingly, Monday, January 16, admission is free to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (Atlanta, Ga.), in honor of King’s birthday commemoration. But all national park sites across the nation will also throw open the doors and gates for free admission that day, the first of 10 free admission days in 2017.
After several months of high used-RV auction prices, more “normal” prices have returned. Industry watcher, Black Book, reports December prices of motorhomes were down more than 8 percent to an average of $35,015. Similarly, towable unit prices dropped a huge 15 percent to come in at $11,181 – all percentages in comparison to November 2016 sales. Black Book officials suggest the drop in prices is related to the relatively poor condition of the rigs, attributing it to dealers shucking non-moving units at year-end.
Californians praying for drought relief are getting what they asked for, but with some added side-effects. In one case, Pismo Beach State Park campgrounds are flooded and shut down, and won’t reopen this month. Refunds will be issued.
Looking to book a Yosemite National Park (Calif.) campsite? Reservations for May 15 through June 14 will open at 7:00 a.m. (Pacific time) on January 15 – and you can be sure that by 7:15 or earlier, all available sites will be booked. So what can you do to increase your chances of getting a reservation? One thing – know in advance where you want to camp and know for certain the campground is reservable. Long before the reservation window opens, create an account at recreation.gov. Then, start clicking to “book a site” a couple of minutes before 7:00 rolls around – and keep clicking. For more tips, visit The Union Democrat.
Reading between the lines of statements made by the new chairman of the RV Dealers Association (RVDA), Darrel Friesen, one thing that could make the RV industry more responsive to customer needs isn’t a tide of noisy complaints – instead it’s (surprise!) money. Friesen writes in “RV Executive Today” that the new big RV customer base, Millennials, just don’t have the patience of older folks. Older RV owners will put up with long waits for repair parts, perhaps even doing some fixes themselves. But Millennials? They “expect replacement parts to be available almost overnight, and they don’t care about why we can’t fulfill their expectations. ‘The car industry does it, so why can’t you?’ they often say to us. They’re used to instant gratification.” Without being responsive to such a driving force, Friesen says the RV industry could become like so many business Dodo birds, ones with names like Block Buster, Circuit City and Borders Books. Guess some of us are just too patient.
For decades people have traveled to California’s Calaveras Big Trees State Park to see – and walk through – the giant sequoia named Pioneer Cabin. Alas, the giant rainstorms took down the giant tree on January 8. Also known as the Tunnel Tree, it was hollowed out sometime in the 1880s and was 33 feet in diameter when it fell. It was about 2,000 years old.
Connecticut’s state parks are facing some tough times ahead, says Governor Dannel Malloy. He warned that with the potential state budget deficit of $1.4 billion “some compromises” will have to be made, although he said the state won’t “lose the crown jewels,” as he describes the parklands. But park managers have already turned off future reservations for many popular campgrounds, concerned they won’t have the staff to handle crowds.
Fees at a number of Washington, D.C., area national parks have shot up. Entrance fees at Washington Park, Md., have jumped by $5 to $10 per carload; camping fees at Maryland’s Greenbelt Park have gone up $4 per night to $20. And picnic fees at other parks in the D.C. area have also risen. The Service says the rate jumps were put in place after consultation with the public.
How can you end the “military” RV shower?
You know the routine, constantly turning off the shower to conserve hot water. That’s because most RVs have tank heaters with limited hot water. You never have to run out of hot water with a hybrid instant hot water heater. Find out how the Truma AquaGo® gives you a real shower in your RV. Learn more here.
Camping in Saskatchewan provincial parks will cost more this year. Overnight camping fees will jump anywhere from $2 to $4, while gate costs will jump between $2 and $10. Reservation fees will also jump, up $3 to $5. Still, officials tout the “value-added” services that come with your fees – free firewood and hot showers.
Some private campground owners aren’t happy with the proposal to create a new state park in South Dakota. The proposal from the governor, backed by a state Senate bill, would make Spearfish Canyon into a state park. At a recent public forum in Rapid City, private park owners came forward suggesting use of tax dollars to create a new park would be competing against private campgrounds.
If you’re old enough to remember what a Dodgem car is, listen up. Pennsylvania’s Conneaut Lake Park – home of the classic Blue Streak roller coaster — was in need of funds to expand its RV park. A little short on cash, they did what any wise family would do – dig around in the “attic” and see what could be sold to make up the difference. Park officials dredged out the storage facility and held an auction – with hot interest in some vintage Dodgem cars. For you too young to recall them, think of bumper cars. No word on what the winning bidders paid.
Some Necedah, Wisc., RV owners are getting the blame for a revision of a local ordinance on RV parking in the town. Under the pretext of promoting “public safety and welfare, including the prevention of vandalism and property offenses and the promotion of healthful and sanitary recreational opportunities,” the revision will knuckle down on how and how many RVs can be parked on private property. Some locals suggest that RVers brought the ordinance on themselves, with one saying, “We’re seeing more trash strewn across the roads, illegal dumping, problems with sewers … it has to stop now.”
A number of snowbirds in Yuma, Ariz., got a cold awakening recently when a major propane service company refused to pump LP. Propane provider AmeriGas bought out Cactus Propane, and the new company found that more than 80 percent of the 2,000 existing Cactus Propane customers had gas safety violations. AmeriGas won’t pump LP for those not meeting safety codes, leaving a lot of unhappy Winter Yumans in the middle of a cold snap.
It’s taken six years to do it, but the Brookings, Ore., city council has finally moved ahead with plans to have campground hosts at Azalea Park. First, local ordinances ruled out the use of RVs as a “permanent residence.” Then there were concerns that a host might be considered an employee – leaving the city open to other expenses. But “security” concerns trumped – homeless people sleeping in the bushes and loiterers in the park after hours, for example. But the worst offenses? Kidnapping! Three times crooks made off with the park’s Nativity scene baby doll, the last time, returning the divine child painted up to be anatomically correct. Whoever gets the new $6,500 paved volunteer pad has a tough job ahead.
A Janesville, Wisc., RV salesman, up on charges of defrauding nearly 40 customers involved in RV consignment sales, apparently won’t be going to court. As of the last report issued near the end of December, Troy Tofte, formerly associated with Janesville RV Center, was accused of selling RVs for others, then pocketing the proceeds, but is now ready to enter a plea agreement to avoid trial. Tofte’s total restitution could reach $400,000.
We’ve heard of campgrounds shut down due to invasive bears, but invasive ants? New Zealand’s Rarawa Beach campground in the Far North closed the gates after Argentine ants moved in. The only ant species known for cooperating colonies, they build “super colonies,” which wipe out native ant species and give a nasty bite to humans. To help sniff out the problem, the world’s only Argentine-ant-sniffing dog, Rhys Jones, a Welsh springer spaniel, made an appearance to see how far the ants had spread. No word on how Rhys’ nose is protected, but it’s so sensitive that he can tell the difference between Argentine ants and native ants!
Keep up with RV Industry news
throughout the week at RVbusiness.com.
We are THE RV Insurance Experts!
Explorer RV offers more than just standard RV insurance. As an independent insurance agent, we provide access to a wide range of RV coverages from leading insurance companies. Many aren’t available through typical agencies — such as total loss replacement, purchase price guarantee, personal effects, awning replacement, towing and more. Learn more or get a free quote.
RV Quick Tips
Handy hint for using a gas oven
If your oven at home is electric, adjusting to a gas stove in the RV can be a trick. Gas ovens usually don’t heat as evenly and may have hot spots. Turn your items several times when baking to even out the cooking.
Get all your wheels aligned
Got strange tire wear issues? When was the last time you had your RV wheels aligned? Motorhomes are obvious candidates, but even towable RV wheels can need alignment. Not every corner tire shop can do it, so be prepared to make a few phone calls to find a shop that can.
Scraping bottom when exiting a parking lot?
If your RV bumper scrapes when entering or exiting a parking lot or other driveway, try taking the exit with your rig at an angle rather than straight on. Still no help? You may want to add skid wheels to the back of your trailer. Two types: bolt on and weld on. The former sometimes tear off, so the added hassle of finding a welding shop may be worth the trouble.
Avoid nasty odors from your RV toilet
Porta-Pak is currently used every year in millions of commercial applications. No other product available offers the combination of deodorizing performance in an easy to use drop-in packet — making it a snap to use without worry of spills. Comes in pack of 10. Formaldehyde free (RV septic systems like that!). Learn more or order.
Want better quality tires on your RV?
Many people complain around campfires or on RV forums about the poor quality of various components on their RV. Roger Marble, RV tire expert, is highly qualified to comment on the quality of RV tires. With an industry that focuses on quantity and low cost, is it any wonder that tire performance isn’t as good as we would like? Roger feels this topic continues to be important, especially given recent posts on RVTravel.com and rvdailyreport.com regarding the low quality of RV components. Learn more.
Okay to overnight in an RV at a truck stop?
Many RVers routinely stay overnight in truck stops. Some do it only as a last resort when an RV park is not nearby. Is staying in these places okay? Jim O’Briant of OvernightRVparking.com says that yes, it is okay to stay at some truck stops, but there are ways to do it and ways not to do it. Watch the video.
Airport “insecurity” underscores joy of RVing instead
If you need another reason to enjoy traveling by RV, here’s a real-life adventure that underscores the point. An RVer, who asked to remain unnamed, recently got news that she was a first-time great-grandmother. To see the new “grand,” she’d have to travel from Arizona to Washington state, and the weather seemed to suggest flying would be a better choice. So she packed her bags and headed to the airport. Read what she had to endure from TSA — terrible!
Full-time RVing: Sell the house to hit the road?
One of the critical issues for those considering the full-time RV lifestyle is whether or not to sell the “landlocked” home. It’s not only a financial and physical question, it also touches deeply on the heart. In this article, Russ and Tiña De Maris weigh in on different considerations.
Volunteer: Save on campground fees, do good, have fun
Camp hosting is not the only form of volunteer position open to RVers. RVers who bring their houses with them are top-tier candidates for volunteer positions where local housing may not be available and where there is room to park RVs for the volunteers. These locations include parks or other entities such as a wildlife refuges, national forests or wilderness areas. Learn more.
Bring Grizzly Bears back to Cascade Range?
The National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are inviting the public to participate in a series of informational open houses regarding the proposed alternatives for the restoration of grizzly bears to the North Cascades ecosystem. The alternatives are described in the draft Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (draft EIS), released by the two agencies. The purpose of the EIS is to determine what actions, if any, should be taken to restore the grizzly bear to the North Cascades Ecosystem. Learn more and weigh in on this.
The readers write — Hammer-toss at poor-quality RVs
In a hilarious and sad-but-true fashion, a YouTube feature we highlighted showed just how bad things can be for folks buying new RVs. What a nerve that struck with our readers. Here’s just a small sample of the many responses that came rushing in
A very cool, easy way to cook eggs quickly
Ever since the powers that be have changed their minds about the healthfulness of fresh eggs, Rich “The Wanderman” has been enjoying at least one for breakfast most days. He makes them lots of different ways and he now has another way that he’s excited about — using the microwave oven and with minimal cleanup. This gadget cooks 1-4 eggs at a time, either scrambled, poached or “mcmuffin” style, and takes 3.5 minutes or less. Read more.
Cheap device prevents accidental RV sewer overflow
Doug Swarts (Drainmaster.com) and Chuck Woodbury of RVtravel.com discuss how a simple, inexpensive device can save the day (as well as a lot of money on a major repair) when cleaning out an RV’s black water (sewer) tank. Watch the video.
Different model year on chassis versus motorhome
“Help! Our 2014 Axis motorhome is built on a 2013 chassis. We had both titles and the VIN number was the same for the coach as the chassis. No matter how much we explained to our local DMV office that there was no such thing as a 2013 Axis, they still issued the title to a 2013 Axis. We’re still trying to get this squared away. Does anyone have any suggestions? Is this normal?” Find out here.
Off, off, dratted sealant!
Chris Dougherty, certified RV technician, received a question about RV caulking from a reader while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor. The reader had inadvertently applied white caulking on the exterior of her beige fiberglass-clad trailer, assuming it would dry clear. Oops! Chris tells her how to fix it.
Stay warm with this 12-volt Warming Blanket!
Here’s a way to keep warm in your RV without wasting propane to run your heater. Just snuggle up with a warming blanket! This one has an 8-foot cord and operates on 12-volt, perfect for RV use. Stitched from 100 percent polyester fleece, the blanket is comfortable, functional, safe and gentle on your RV’s battery. Put it on your bed before turning in to warm your sheets! Learn more or order from Amazon.
This week in history
Week of Jan. 14–20
Compiled by Dell Bert
1916 — PGA (Professional Golfers Association) is formed.
1919 — Prohibition takes effect.
1953 — Corvette unveiled at GM Motorama.
1972 — “American Pie” hits #1 on the pop charts.
1993 — Actress Audrey Hepburn dies at age 63.
1994 — Earthquake rocks Los Angeles, killing 54 people.
2009 — Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger performs Miracle on the Hudson.
Organize your RV’s shower!
Quit hassling with shampoo and conditioner bottles
RV showers are small! Hassling with bottles of shampoo, conditioner and soap are a pain! Make it easy with this Better Living Classic 3-Chamber Dispenser. It utilizes a “patented pump technology” and comes with a lifetime warranty. The liquid is stored in three 15 oz. refillable chambers. The right amount of product is dispensed with a stroke or two of the pump. Installs in minutes without tools. Learn more or order.
Bumper sticker of the week
Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.
Funny/clever business slogan
Seen in several dentists’ offices: “Be true to your teeth or they will be false to you.”
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker or business slogan? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com
Toss your colander. This is better!
The adjustable Snap ‘n Strain silicone strainer fits nearly all pots and pans. Once snapped in, the pot can be tilted over a sink or bowl to do its magic. Leave it on the pan even while cooking! Works with heavier foods like potatoes. Super compact for storing, perfect for RVs. Dishwasher safe. Learn more or order or watch the video.
No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.
Good Sam Campground Guide
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.
Websites of the Week
Here are two we like:
Where to find indoor fun in all 50 states this winter
Too cold or rainy to head out for a hike or a picnic? Try one of these great indoor attractions across the U.S. Some are free or cheap, and provide a full day of entertainment along with a little learning. Included are an amazing variety of museums, conservatories and lush indoor gardens, the world’s largest arcade, and more. From Cheapism and msn.com.
Best places to visit in the U.S. in 2017
This is Lonely Planet’s annual list of the 10 most exciting places to visit in the U.S. in 2017. Suggestions for an awesome RVing bucket list, perhaps? From Lonely Planet and msn.com.
Here is our “master list” of more than 700 websites we like, which we have compiled over the years.
Be prepared for a roadside emergency!
Forget messing around with flares.
You’ll be thankful to have this set of three emergency flashers along with you if you’re forced to the side of a busy highway with a flat tire, mechanical or other issue. One FlareAlert™ provides about 20 hours of safety before a battery change (three AAAs in each). You’d need to strike 80 incendiary flares, one after another, to achieve the same thing. Learn more or order.
Good reading from RV123.com
• If you’re traveling to Hot Springs, Arkansas by RV, there’s no better place to stay than Catherine’s Landing.
• Everplaces is slick app that helps you keep track of all the places which you would like to remember.
• You’ll be the most popular person in the campground when you make this tasty treat!
Avoid moisture damage to your RV
DampRid FG50T Hi-Capacity Moisture Absorber, 4-Pound Tub eliminates musty odors in RVs and other spaces, protecting them from moisture damage for up to 60 days in areas up to 1000-square feet, and up to 6 months in a 250-square foot area. Don’t let your rig get damaged from moisture this winter. Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Shrink
Gun-shy about boondocking near Mexico border
Dear RV Shrink:
This is our first year living in our RV. We are not looking for the next RV resort with a pickleball team; we prefer the wide-open spaces. The problem is one you have talked about before: border safety. We have never camped down near the border on boondock BLM land because of all the stories we’ve heard about problems with illegals. We keep talking about going but then back out. Are we overreacting? Should we just try it? —Gun-shy in Glendale
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.
2017 Traveler’s Guide
to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States
JUST PUBLISHED: Learn how to prepare, carry & transport your firearm during travel in all 50 states, Canada & Mexico. Includes state breakdowns of firearms ownership, semi-auto gun ownership, castle doctrine, right to protect, open carry, concealed carry, state & national parks, permit reciprocity, loaded vs. unloaded, interstate transport restrictions, traffic stops, universal restricted areas, motorhome & RV issues, preemptive local laws & more. Learn more or order.
RV Tech Tips
from Mark Polk
Care of rubber roofs on RVs
Rubber roofs on RVs should be cleaned three to four times a year, and depending on where you park or store your RV it may need to be cleaned more often. Regardless of the type of rubber roof you have, never use any cleaners or conditioners that contain petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives or citrus ingredients. These types of cleaners can cause permanent damage to any rubber or vinyl surface. Most manufacturers of rubber roofs recommend you use a medium bristle brush and a non-abrasive cleaner. For light cleaning you can use warm water and a mild detergent like Dawn dishwashing liquid. Hard-to-clean areas like stubborn stains caused by leaves, sap, mold or mildew may require a second treatment. Use caution to prevent the cleaners from getting on the sides of the RV. ALWAYS rinse the sides, front and back of your RV before and after rinsing the roof to prevent streaking or damage to the finish on your RV.
Mark Polk is the owner of RV Education 101, the premiere source of educational DVDs about buying, maintaining and using an RV. Learn more.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.39 (on Jan. 9). Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 39 cents.
Diesel: $2.60 (on Jan. 9). Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 42 cents.
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.
The RV Kitchen
with Janet Groene
Homemade Breakfast Sausage
Make your own sausage.
Don’t eat pork? Want less fat in your diet? Take control of your breakfast sausage. Get the recipe.
Fix it In Foil! Tasty Recipes. Easy cleanup!
Easy prep, great taste, good nutrition, quick clean-up! “Fix It In Foil” includes 51 fantastic recipes to make in foil — plus instructions for cooking in an oven, on an outdoor grill, or on a campfire. Fix it in foil and forget about scrubbing pots and pans. And, with plenty of substitution suggestions, enjoy a whole new list of recipe possibilities! Great for RVing! Learn more or order.
The Digital RVer
Organizing and safely storing your photos
If you have photos you want to keep safely stored and organized for easy access, read these tips from Chris Guld, of Geeks on Tour. She has 58,000(!) photos on file, all sorted and safe, so she has some great tips on how you can sort your photos into albums, and even make a slideshow from them. Learn how.
Learn about smartphones and tablets
… every Sunday on a live webcast from Geeks On Tour. Here’s the most recent show: Teaching your friends and family, Guest: Abby Stokes. And here’s another great show: Navigating with Google Maps. Watch live or archives of past programs.
The special offer for RV Travel readers is back!
Become a member of Geeks on Tour and get a 20% discount. Click here.
Keep your food cool with this RV fridge fan
Every RV refrigerator should have one of these!
This small refrigerator fan from Valterra Products will help keep the food in your RV fridge cool and from spoiling. It cuts down initial cool-down time by 50 percent. Runs for more than 30 days on 2 D batteries. Don’t leave home without this! Learn more or order from Amazon.com.
Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions
RV generator cannot carry a load
I read your column with much interest and one question regarding inexpensive water heater bypass valves caught my attention as I had a similar problem with my fifth-wheel. In my unit the hot water pressure was very low and flow was slow but the cold water was full bore at all taps. Living here in Calgary, I had stored my unit for a lengthy period in a winterized condition and that was exacerbated by a delay. I now have an older Rialta and until this year all was fine. Now the generator will start and run with no problem and I can turn on low load lighting without trouble, but as soon as a load is placed on it like the air conditioning or microwave, it quits right away. Any ideas for a fix? —Hank G.
‘Best club for motorhome owners!’
The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is THE “best club, hands down, for motorhome owners.” So says RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury, who has been a member for 25 years! The group has many local & special interest clubs, rallies, valuable member-only web content & a great magazine. A normal first-year membership is $60 per family, but FMCA is offering a special rate of $50 to RV Travel readers who click this link to join.
Ask Boondock Bob
with Bob Difley
RVer wants to boondock but nervous about isolation
I have always wanted to try boondocking, but my husband is nervous about being out in the “boonies” away from all support when we’ve never tried it and don’t know what to expect. Is there a way to ease into this way of camping without cutting all ties to civilization? —Joyce A.
You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.
Essential for big RVs!
2017 Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas
If 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.
Gadgets and Gizmos
Brighten or dim your RV’s interior lights with 3-way switch
You can now vary the brightness of your cabin lights with the simple flip of a switch — no dimmer required, a press release from SalVinCo reports. Bee Green LED’s new Three Way G4 bi-pin LED bulbs offer you the option to choose among three levels of lighting from one bulb. Learn more.
Intellitec Battery Disconnect Relay prevents dead batteries
It is not a pleasant surprise to find dead batteries in your RV after storing it for a few weeks. The phantom discharges will do that; However, you can prevent your batteries from becoming discharged with a switch-controlled battery disconnect. Read more.
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. 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 & more. Published 2016. Learn more or order.
Upcoming RV Shows
• Florida RV SuperShow, January 18-22, Tampa, FL
• Inland Northwest RV Show & Sale, January 19-22, Spokane, WA
• Tacoma RV Show, January 19-22, Tacoma, WA
• Austin Boat & Travel Trailer Show, January 19-22, Austin, TX
• Toronto RV Show & Sale, January 19-22, Toronto, ON, Canada
• Northeast RV and Camping Show, January 20-22, Hartford, CT
• Chattanooga RV Show, January 20-22, Chattanooga, TN
• New Jersey RV & Camping Show, January 20-22, Edison, NJ
• Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, January 21-29, Quartzsite, AZ
• Georgia RV & Camper Show, January 23-25, Atlanta, GA
• Louisville Boat, RV Sport Show, January 25-29, Louisville , KY
• Ft. Myers RV Show, January 26-29, Ft. Myers, FL
• Atlanta Camping & RV Show, January 27-29, Atlanta, GA
• Seattle RV Show, February 9-12, Seattle, WA
See the list of all upcoming RV shows.
Add an outdoor water faucet to your RV!
This lead-free outdoor faucet is really handy. If you don’t have one, here’s a super inexpensive way to add one. No tools required and it installs in a minute (just screw it on). Brass T included with the plastic faucet, just as it’s shown in the product photo. Learn more or order.
Joke of the Week
True story: An assignment in a creative writing class at Slippery Rock University required students to write a concise essay containing the following elements: religion, royalty, sex and mystery. The winning essay: “My God,” said the Queen. “I am pregnant! I wonder who did it?”
Keep rodents out of your RV!
The overwhelmingly positive reviews on this make it a best bet for keeping your RV rodent-free. This is the only plant-based rodent repellent registered for inside use by the EPA. It effectively repels rodents up to 100 days with a “woodsy” scent that’s pleasant to humans but offensive to rodents. It’s safe around kids and pets so no safety warning is required. 98% biodegradable. Tested and endorsed by the Good Sam Club. Learn more or order.
Videos you’ll like
How do an RV electrical converter and inverter differ?
Chris Dougherty explains the difference between an RV electrical converter and an RV electrical inverter. Watch the video.
Why dual tires should be matched
Roger Marble of RVtireSafety.com discusses why dual tires should be matched and how to determine if they are. Watch the video.
Random RV Thought
To help keep your RV fridge cold on hot days when traveling without having it turned on, place two or three frozen ice packs inside before departing. When you arrive and turn your refrigerator back on, place the ice packs back in the freezer compartment to freeze for your next journey.
Cooking with Convection
Don’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. Learn more or order.
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960) is the first American film to show a toilet being flushed on screen.
Don’t come up short!
Sometimes your 50 amp power cord is not quite long enough! That’s when this 15-foot extension cord will come in very handy. Sure, you can use a wimpy orange extension cord with an adapter, but don’t try using much power (like your air conditioner) or you’ll burn up the cord or maybe even your rig! Carry this cord along and you’ll be all set. Learn more or order.
“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” —Warren Buffett
RV Travel staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Assistant editor: Diane McGovern. Contributing editor: Russ De Maris. Contributing writers: 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.
About the RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for nearly 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. Nowadays, he lives near Seattle, where he drinks massive amounts of coffee and travels often in his motorhome and sometimes by plane when vast expanses of saltwater would turn his RV into a leaky submarine. 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.
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