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Issue 782 • Week of Feb. 25–Mar. 3, 2017
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
In 2001 when I started this newsletter most readers were still on dial up connections. The World Wide Web was finding its way.
People still bought music at record stores: iTunes was a mere eight months old. A “tablet” was a pad of paper. Nobody had a blog; there was no Blogger or WordPress. Facebook and YouTube were four years away, Twitter five years. The iPhone wouldn’t debut for six years. Email was catching on, but most people still used “snail mail” to communicate.
Almost everyone read this newsletter on a desktop computer. Hardly anybody had a laptop. People still used Kodak film: Digital cameras were just catching on.
How things have changed!
I did everything myself back then. My initial business investment was $30, which was about all I could afford. I remember making friends with the editor of another RV-related startup that had invested a million dollars. Three years later it was dead and buried and I was still plodding along — the hare and the tortoise.
The newsletter was mostly text. If I added very many photos, readers complained. “They take too long to download,” they said. I get the same complaint today, only about videos.
The audience of this newsletter grew quickly, and peaked at more than 100,000. Through the years it dipped to half that as more websites came along vying for RVers’ attention, then Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, etc. For the last two years it has steadily climbed again to about 60,000. Another thousand sign up now every month, thanks in large part to current readers who “tell their friends.”
Until about ten years ago, I never made a campground reservation: They were not necessary even at the height of summer season. For my first 20 years of RVing, “staying connected” meant camping near a phone booth.
Today, there are thousands of websites and blogs about RVing. It’s now cool to travel with an RV. They are no longer “Grandma and Grandpa’s Playhouse.” The popular bumper sticker “We’re spending our children’s inheritance” is gone (miracles DO happen). I’m a bit sad, though, that the “Don’t Tailgate or I’ll Flush” sticker has disappeared.
I BOUGHT MY FIRST MOTORHOME when I was 34, but I had already been RVing a few years with my folks’ truck camper. Most RVers then were twice my age. I liked being the kid. The only roving journalists back then were a few newspaper reporters and Charles Kuralt of CBS News. They were my heroes.
When I started my “on the road” newspaper Out West in 1989, I was bombarded by interview requests. I didn’t realize I was living out most journalists’ dreams. Within a couple of years I had been profiled on all the TV networks’ evening news programs (“We’ve never seen another paper quite like Out West,” said ABC anchor Peter Jennings), the Today Show, and had done 100 radio interviews, most from rural phone booths. I’d been featured in hundreds of newspapers plus People Magazine, the Washington Post and USA Today. I picked the brains of all the reporters and camera people I met. I learned 10 times more about writing, photography and videography from them than in all my college journalism classes.
Nobody calls to interview me anymore, which is fine. The amazing experience I had from about 1989 to 1995 was like a Walter Mitty fantasy come true. I couldn’t believe big time reporters would want to write stories about little ol’ me or make flattering two-minute “movies” for their television networks. To transform — almost overnight — from a “nobody” to a “somebody” was a life-changing experience. What an incredibly fun ride!
And now I have a nice, comfy motorhome and my sweet Gail, who I have searched for my whole life but only recently found. My regular house is sold, and I’m on the road full-time — a 21st century drifter.
After all the years I remain in love with RVing, and I still get excited every time I find a story to share with you.
P.S. If you have an extra minute or two, would you please tell your friends about this newsletter? Here’s an idea of what to say: “Please (name of friend) check out this cool newsletter. You should sign up!” A good word on your Facebook page or blog would also be appreciated. The actual address is https://www.rvtravel.com/rv-travel-newsletter-issue-782
ALSO: Our gaffer tape giveaway was a huge success! Readers grabbed a whopping 4,800 free rolls of the tape — a retail value of $63,000. Read the news release we issued about this successful promotion. Thanks to Gaffer Power for its generosity. If you missed out on the offer, you can order a roll of the tape at a discount at Amazon.com by clicking here. It’s better than duct tape.
Is reading this newsletter
worth 10 cents to you?
Our staff works very hard to bring you a valuable newsletter every Saturday. Readers increasingly make it possible with their voluntary subscriptions (thank you!). 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, like the RV printed magazines do. Enter a voluntary subscription. Use a credit card, PayPal or mail a check.
We want to take you out to the ball game! Spring Training is right around the corner, and we have your Cactus/Grapefruit League guide to nearby accommodations for your visit. Check out our resorts near the Arizona/Florida stadiums and get ready to kickoff your team spirit this upcoming baseball season. Click here to reserve your Spring Training site today!
Tiffin limits factory service on older motorhomes
Tiffin Motorhomes has advised RV owners of a change to its factory service policy that prohibits work on motorhomes older than four years. In an email to RV owners, Tiffin advised owners of changes being made for factory service effective April 3. The new policy indicates that service is available on “eligible coaches” on a first-come, first-served basis from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day the center is open. Learn more.
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.
What RV do you drive or tow?
Send us a photo of your RV (and tow vehicle) with a 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.
Don’t get stuck without 110V AC power
If your RV doesn’t have a built-in inverter, this can save the day when you need to use a small 110v appliance, small TV, stereo, printer — or to charge your computer, cell phone, etc. Just plug it into a 12-volt outlet & then plug in any 110v device that uses 300 watts or less. No need to crank up a generator. “I relied on a small inverter like this for years,” said RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury. “It was by far the most useful accessory I’ve ever used in my RVs.” Learn more or order.
THIS WEEK’S CONTEST!
We have a winner! No more entries, please.
Win this compact portable charger. Slip the Astro E1 into your pocket then grab it for a boost when your phone is running low. Good for around 2 full charges. The winner will be chosen randomly out of all correct entries received by noon (Pacific), Sunday. The Question: What is the secret sentence listed somewhere below in this newsletter? Email your answer to RVcontests (at) gmail.com. 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 (only used for mailing if you win) or your entry will be disqualified and we’ll choose the next (correct) entry. Contest ends Sunday at noon (Pacific), at which time a winner will be selected by Random.org. We’ll let you know if you win.
A rash of complaints from owners of Grand Design towable RVs about possible axle failure has caught the attention of component manufacturer, Lippert. An informal poll of Grand Design trailer owners on an RV forum suggests that as many as 74 percent of respondents say they’ve found grease on their trailer brakes. Lippert Components, who built the axles for the RVs, says it doesn’t believe that this is related to a failure of their axles, but will pay for an inspection for any concerned Lippert axle owner, and for any needed repairs if they’re found by the inspection. Contact the company at 574-537-8900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Source: rvdailyreport.com.
Waiting times at the entrance gate to the Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim (Ariz.) can sometimes exceed an hour. Here’s a “workaround” to save time and frustration: Take the shuttle from nearby Tusayan. The Park Service shuttle route picks up at several spots in the town, then whisks passengers past the congestion at the gate. Service starts March 1 (think Spring Break) and continues through September 30. Click here for details.
Hoosier favorite camping? Indiana State Parks is offering 25 percent discounts for Sunday through Wednesday camping nights, April 16 to May 24. Discounted reservations can be booked now at camp.IN.gov or by calling (866) 622-6746. Use the promo code “SPRING17”.
Concerns about the loss of one of Montana’s state parks have been put to bed – at least for five years. The state’s Parks Board has renewed a five-year lease for Ackley Lake State Park from the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Since the park is not considered to be of high interest across the state but more to locals, there were concerns that in budget-cutting moves the state might not continue to pick up the lease, leaving camping opportunities in a state of flux.
It looks like Camping World is lifting a page from The New York Tribune. In 1861, frustrated with the Civil War’s lack of progress, Horace Greeley, the paper’s editor, wrote, “We mean to conquer them and we shall do this most mercifully, the more speedily we do it.” The Tribune continued to trumpet: “On to Richmond!” Now comes news that Camping World is “on to Richmond!” as it takes over McGeorge’s Rolling Hills RV dealership. In a news release, CW eerily echo’s Greeley: “This important acquisition reinforces our commitment to planned expansion in the state of Virginia and our focus on increased market share with our country-wide expansion.”
Rumors of layoffs at Winnebago’s Forest City, Iowa, motorhome plant caught local officials off guard on February 16. Since the RV builder wouldn’t return phone calls, it probably proved a bit nerve-wracking for some, since there were already concerns about the company’s situation. “Winnie” now says there were indeed layoffs – about 25 manufacturing workers in what the company describes as a ” workforce pacing adjustment” that will see them back at work in four weeks. Source: globegazette.com.
Road construction at Arches National Park (Utah) will have a major impact on RVers and other visitors this travel season. The road through the park will shut down from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights, starting sometime in March. The park will be closed during the construction hours, and the park’s campground, Devil’s Garden, will be completely shut down from March 1 through November 30.
New RV sales in Canada showed a mixed bag of returns, according to information from Statistical Surveys Inc. Towable RV sales in December showed a strong jump, up nearly 19 percent compared to December 2015. For the same time period, motorhome sales zoomed ahead better than 20 percent. Still, sales of both towables and motorhomes for the entire year were a disappointment to manufacturers: Towables lost 12 percent in sales, and motorhomes 11 percent, in a year-to-year comparison with 2015 sales.
The 200,000 people run out of their homes after the emergency created by the erosion of water spillways at the Lake Oroville Dam in California weren’t the only ones affected. RVers who wanted to camp out at local public recreation areas and private RV parks have seen a few changes. Three public campgrounds at the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area are closed (Loafer Creek, Lime Saddle, and Bidwell Canyon campgrounds). Additionally, at least two private RV parks, Riffles RV Park and Dingerville Creek, were shut down. Riffles’ owner reports its park is under water.
Remove ugly black streaks
from your RV!
Camco’s Pro-Strength Black Streak Remover is a specially formulated cleaner & degreaser that removes stubborn black streaks caused by window & door sealants & roof coatings. Also powers through bugs & built-up tar, grease, oil & dirt, helping to restore a like-new appearance. 32-ounces. Learn more or order.
Speaking of excess water: Woodson Bridge RV Park in Corning, Calif., is getting lots of attention lately – but not in a way that’s benefiting its owners. The Sacramento River has run so high that the park’s picnic tables are now under water, and the bridge across the river that serves the park is closed to vehicle traffic. That hasn’t stopped hoards of lookie-loos from parading across the bridge regardless, creating headaches for local law enforcement. Some report this is the deepest flooding in 60 years in the area.
If early figures are any indication, this could be a busy year for camping in California. State park campground reservations are 16 percent ahead of the tally over this same time last year. What’s the cause? Better economic times, the view that the drought is over and, maybe, an anticipated wildflower bloom.
Imagine listing your motorhome on an Internet website and not having a bite after 43,000 views. Well, hang in there – the experience of Graham Flett from New Zealand provides hope. Flett listed a 1982 Hino Rainbow in the middle of 2016. At the end of the year it hit near the top of the charts for the number of hits. Why no sale? Flett was asking $13,000 for the rig, described as “a rusty old vehicle with lichen growing around the windows and up over the roof.” But in the middle of February, Flett got a sight-unseen offer from a dealer who says he likes to rent out older motor homes. No price disclosed but, finally, it’s gone.
An RVer and mechanic are in the midst of a messy dispute in Port Charlotte, Fla. Mike Colson took his Class C motorhome to Charlotte Harbor Exhaust and Auto Service, asking for repairs. A few weeks later he got a call, not from the mechanic but from police. Seems a homeless man had gotten into the rig, laid down on the bed – and died. The man’s body wasn’t found for some time, and an environmental cleanup firm says it’s a total loss and it’ll cost $2,000 to properly dispose of it. The repair shop’s insurance company denied the claim; the mechanic won’t pay. Colson says it looks like he’s simply out the RV – an older rig valued at $6,000.
Campervan rental agency Wicked Campers will have to clean up some of their rental units – at least in parts of Australia. The worldwide rental agency, known for the risqué-to-patently-offensive slogans it emblazons on its units, took the ire of the Queensland parliament, which put through a new law that will invalidate motor vehicle licenses for owners who refuse to remove “inappropriate” pictures or words. What is “inappropriate” will be judged by the independent Australian Advertising Standards Bureau.
Last year we reported on the case of a Montana couple who lived with a body stashed under a pile of clothes in their RV shower for several months. Stephen Seese pleaded guilty to killing his nephew, Richard Warner, with a hammer, and together with his wife, living with the corpse. Now Seese will live, not in an RV, but a jail cell for up to 40 years, following a sentence handed down by a judge in Lake County District Court.
An RVer from New Zealand might be hailed as a hero, or possibly accused of stupidity. Basil Lloyd had fired up his Class C motorhome’s gas range to fry up a steak, but forgot one important detail: When he switched out his RV refrigerator, he’d forgotten to reconnect the gas line. The resulting explosion blew the sides out of the rig and ignited a major fire. Neighboring RV park guests ran to the scene armed with fire extinguishers. When it became apparent they were useless and Lloyd figured other RVers’ rigs were in danger, he ran back into the motorhome, fired up the engine and drove his rolling inferno 300 feet away to clear ground. Lloyd is in the hospital and will be getting skin grafts on his arms and legs.
Keep up with RV Industry
news at RVbusiness.com.
Your RVer Horoscope for March
RV Travel is honored to present to you a special monthly RVers’ horoscope from Swami Hal, a retired psychic who travels full-time in a 37-foot Pace Arrow motorhome with his considerably younger German wife Helga, aka Helga the Magnificent. Swami Hal has won many awards (he says), due to his uncanny ability to predict the future with fairly decent accuracy.
50 States, 5,000 Ideas:
Where to Go, When to Go, What to See, What to Do
This richly illustrated book from National Geographic showcases the best travel experiences in every state from the obvious to the unexpected. Includes national parks, beaches, Civil War battlefields, out-of-the-way museums & more. Discover the world’s longest yard sale in Tennessee, swamp tours in Louisiana, dinosaur trails in Colorado, America’s oldest street in NYC & the best spot to see sea otters on the California coast. PUBLISHED IN 2017. Learn more or order.
RV Quick Tips
Don’t let your tire pressure get low
Tire load ratings are great — provided you keep the tire at the recommended inflation rate. If the tire pressure is low, forget the weight ratings — you’re playing with fire in the form of excessive tire heat that can blow your tire in flight.
Motorhome got a cold draft you can’t account for? After eliminating an open window or roof vent, check your dashboard environmental controls. Vacuum-operated intakes left in the open position when the engine is shut down may well stay open, allowing cold air to infiltrate. Turn the engine on, close the vents, shut engine off. Shut eyelids.
Nighttime blackout help
“Day and night” shades not giving you enough “night”? One RVer sews up dark cloth panels with a pocket across the top, sized to fit the window. She attaches the panel, via the pocket, to a tension rod across the top, hidden under the valence.
Camco Wheel Chocks. Two Pack
Wheel chocks are one of those “must have” basic items for all RVers. Hey, who wants to go rolling outta their campsite at 3 a.m.? For trailer owners, the chocks are designed to keep your RV in place so that you can re-hitch with confidence. The chalks are constructed of durable hard plastic with UV inhibitors and are easy to use. Learn more or order.
The readers write: From poop to gas, some folks came unstuck
Here’s a quick roundup of what some of our readers have had to say recently about a few “hot” topics, including: Gaffer tape gaff?, Poop de Grace? and Carbon monoxide gas warnings, as edited by Russ and Tiña De Maris. Read more.
Spring RV checklist for boondockers
In Alaska, when spring comes and the ice starts to melt, the daytime temperatures become tolerable, and those who have survived cabin fever venture out once again. For the rest of us southerners, we’re now starting to anticipate bright sun, warmer air and getting out on the open road. But the weather can change in an instant, bringing rain or cold winds. Here is a quick checklist of lifestyle items that you may miss when preparing for your spring camping trips.
Get rid of nasty RV toilet odors for about $25
RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury explains how an inexpensive 360 Siphon vent will virtually eliminate toilet odors in your RV’s living space. Those cheap vents RV makers put on your RV actually promote those odors, and the RV makers are too cheap to spend a few dollars more so your living space doesn’t have to smell like an outhouse. Watch the video.
Are RVers introverts? Our survey says “yes!”
Are most RVers introverts? Well, that is surely what one of our reader surveys suggests. In fact, it shows that RVers are overwhelmingly introverts — not extroverts, who are much more outgoing. Learn more.
Full-time RVing: Shop, but make sure the galley “works”
There are many areas of concern when evaluating an RV for full-time-ability. In this article, Russ and Tiña De Maris talk about the galley and things to take into consideration if you’re planning on full-time RVing, including space, configuration, storage, appliances, etc. Read more.
Thor recalls motorhomes: windshield wipers may fail
Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling 1,824 model year 2014-2015 Tuscany, Tuscany XTE and Palazzo motorhomes. The windshield wiper systems on these vehicles may have been improperly installed or secured, causing the wipers to fail during operation. Learn more.
Guide to RV Camping in State Parks
Learn about more than 1,730 state parks, forests & recreation areas for RVers. Book includes maps, locator charts, reservation & fee info, plus contact details & website. Plus park location, directions, GPS coordinates, contact info, type of hookups, season, RV length limit & availability of showers, dump station, Wi-Fi, etc. Learn more or order.
Newbie tips: Can you drive a Class A RV?
Many folks, on “thinking” about getting their first Class A motorhome, are a bit intimidated. After all, they’re so BIG! How ever do you pilot that big thing down the road? How could you ever get comfortable maneuvering so much mass? Here’s some advice (a lot, actually) from those who’ve made the big leap and now are proud pilots of those big coaches. Read more.
Crazy kitchen gadget that’s not that crazy! – With bonus recipe
Have you ever found a kitchen gadget and thought, “This thing is ridiculous!”? Rich “The Wanderman” has, many times. He recently came across something that seemed like a dumb idea but he decided to try it out (it was only a dollar). He now has a new kitchen gadget (i.e., toy) and he’s coming up with all kinds of things to use it for. Check it out. Oh, and there’s a bonus recipe from Rich, too!
Which Big Box stores let you stay overnight
in their parking lots?
It’s common knowledge that most Walmart stores allow a free overnight stay in their parking lot. But what about other “big box” stores like Target, Kmart, Home Depot and Cabela’s? Jim O’Briant of OvernightRVparking.com outlines these stores and others’ overnight parking policies. Watch the video.
Keeping your powder — er, paper — dry
Some RVs have a bathroom situated in such a way that you can sit on the pot and take a shower at the same time. For some, that’s a mighty convenient thing, especially for those of us with bad knees or sore feet. But it does tend to create one unintended consequence. How do you keep those bathroom roll goods from turning into a pulpy mess, and useless for their intended purpose? Here are some suggestions.
RV covers — Are they a good thing?
Chris Dougherty, certified RV technician, received questions from several readers about covering an RV in winter while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor. As he explains in this article, there are pros and cons to covering an RV during the winter. He also discusses what type to buy, as well as how to use it. Learn more.
HOT OFF THE PRESS FOR 2017
Headed to Alaska? Let this be your guide!
This is THE mile-by-mile guidebook for RV and auto travelers headed to Alaska, the Yukon Territory, British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. First published in 1949 as a guide about traveling along the Alaska Highway, The 2017 Milepost includes more than 600 pictures, more than 100 maps and details every place travelers might eat, sleep or pull off the road for scenic viewing. Learn more or order.
This week in history
Week of February 25–March 3
Compiled by Dell Bert
1827 — The beginning of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras celebrations.
1872 — Yellowstone National Park is established.
1919 — Grand Canyon National Park is established.
1929 — Grand Teton National Park is established.
1932 — Charles Lindbergh Jr. is kidnapped.
1961 — President Kennedy establishes Peace Corps.
1964 — Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston with a technical knockout.
1966 — Ford celebrates 1 millionth Mustang.
1972 — Dam collapses in West Virginia, killing 118 people.
1983 — Final episode of M*A*S*H airs.
Bumper sticker of the week
If you can read this, I can hit my brakes and sue you.
Funny/clever business slogan
A garbage company near Seeley Lake, Mont., had this slogan painted on the side of its trucks: “Service With A Smell.” Thanks to John Jamieson.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker or business slogan? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com
2017 Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 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.
No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.
Websites of the Week
Here are two we like:
Six of America’s most beautiful places to visit in the spring
Spring is almost here (March 20). Time to start planning your spring trip(s), and here are some great suggestions. Did you know that, according to the U.S. News & World Report, the Grand Canyon is the number one spring escape? Find out why. From Reader’s Digest and msn.com.
Recipes for the road. Lots of great recipes perfect for RVing. You can filter your search for just the right recipe by season and by meal type — handy! You can even share your favorite recipes online, once they pass the hungry panelists’ taste test. From GoRVing.com.
Here is our “master list” of more than 700 websites we like, which we have compiled over the years.
PUBLISHED IN 2017
Guide to the National Parks
This award-winning guide, completely updated for the 2017 edition, includes more than 450 new photographs, 160 revised maps, and 50 hiking tables, making it the only guidebook you’ll need to explore the United States National Parks. Attractions beyond the parks and suggested road trips make it even more valuable. Learn more or order.
RV Tire Safety
with RV Tire expert Roger Marble
Q&A about fifth wheel and tow vehicle tires plus an announcement
“I pull a fifth wheel trailer. When I am towing, I inflate all tires on the truck and fifth wheel to their max load pressure. The truck tires are load E, Max psi is 80. The fifth wheel tires are load G, full steel belted with max pressure 110psi. Weighing the rig at Cat scales shows me that the weights on the axles are not heavy enough to warrant using the maximum pressures. I would like to inflate the tires so that the psi matches the actual load. Is there a way to calculate this? I have scoured the internet and cannot seem to find any tables that would give me a clear answer.”
Endorsed 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 it off it will do so automatically. The included lithium battery never needs to be recharged or replaced. Used by the RV Travel staff. About $11! Learn more or order.
Good reading from RV123.com
• This campground in western Pennsylvania is designed to make camping a blast for the whole family!
• This recipe is a Dutch oven twist on everyone’s favorite campfire treat!
• Snapseed makes it super easy to do simple picture editing right from your phone!
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.
Ask the RV Shrink
Time to switch RV pilot/co-pilot? Maybe downsize RV?
Dear RV Shrink:
My husband is blind in his right eye and has no depth perception. We have a new 40-foot motorhome and he always needs me in the front seat to watch the passenger side when changing lanes. Also he cannot park the thing without me giving him constant direction. He should have been a kamikaze pilot. He won’t stay in a campground unless they have a pull-thru site, he’s nervous as a turkey at Thanksgiving when we are city driving and he has a panic attack every time we have to weave into a gas pump island. … —Co-pilot in Columbus
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.
SECRET SENTENCE: Gophers often have dark thoughts.
RV Tech Tips
from Mark Polk
Lock your RV
Always lock the RV when you’re not physically at the campsite. Do not store valuable equipment in outside storage compartments. Believe it or not, a vast majority of RVs use the same exact key as yours for outside storage compartments. If you store valuables like golf clubs, fishing gear or tools in the outside compartments you may want to have the storage compartment locks changed.
(Editor: Check out the Combi-Cam combination locks at Amazon.)
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: $2.30 (on Feb. 20). Change from week before: Down 0.5 (1/2) cent; Change from year before: Up 57 cents.
Diesel: $2.57 (on Feb. 20). Change from week before: Up 0.7 (7/10) cent; Change from year before: Up 59 cents.
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 RV Kitchen
with Janet Groene
OrangeNilla Cookie Mix
Belly up to the bar (cookie).
If you love an Orange Julius, you’ll make this bar cookie recipe time and again. The best part is that you can measure and bag all the dry ingredients ahead of time, then whip up a batch at a moment’s notice in the campground. Keep dry ingredients well sealed and in a cool place for up to a month. Get the recipe.
Microwave cover collapses for easy storage
When 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.
App of the Week
How to take panorama photos with your smartphone
When you travel, you get so many opportunities for beautiful photos, and if you have a smartphone you have one of the best cameras ever made. Taking panoramas is just a simple setting. Find out how simple it is in this article from Chris Guld.
Learn about smartphones and tablets
… every Sunday on a live webcast from Geeks On Tour. Here are two great shows: How to back up your smartphone and Smartphone photography essentials. 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.
Downsizing The Family Home: What to Save, What to Let Go
Whether you’re downsizing to go full-time or for other reasons, this best-selling AARP book will guide you through the process, from opening that first closet, to sorting through a lifetime of possessions, to selling your home. The author helps you create a strategy and mindset to accomplish the task quickly and rewardingly, both practically and emotionally. Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions
Electric brakes — Unintended breakaway switch activation
After we set up our 5th wheel at the RV park, the breakaway switch cable got snagged in the truck box and I pulled the plug out of the breakaway switch. I noticed it laying in the box three days later. I immediately put the plug back in. The trailer is plugged into 50-amp service so the batteries are continuously being charged. Would there be any damage to the brake magnets or the switch itself? Also when would the magnets release — when I reinserted the plugs, or would I need to jack up the trailer and spin the wheels? Your assistance would be appreciated. —Garry F.
Best way to fill your batteries
Fill this container with distilled water, insert the nozzle into the cell of your battery, then push and hold. When the battery is at the proper level, the water will automatically stop. Then move to the next cell, etc. You won’t over- or under-fill your batteries this way, helping extend their lives. Learn more or order at Amazon.com.
with Bob Difley
When, how and why to use a dehumidifier
I am a fairly new RVer and have been reading up on dehumidifiers. Is it recommended to have one? How often do you use it? Should I keep one on while it is parked in the driveway? And when do I use it when traveling? I assume I will do some dry camping as I travel and somewhere I’ll plug into utilities when I stay a few days. Thank you in advance for any and all information. —Ken
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .
Read the most recent BoondockBob’s blog post: Are you paying too much for your drugs while on the road?
You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.
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.
Small towns you gotta love. . .
Hot Coffee, Mississippi
In the early 1800s, travelers to this area along two-lane highway 532, about halfway between Jackson and Hattiesburg, would stop at Levi Davis’ inn, where there was always a pot of hot coffee and ginger cakes made by his wife. One day, Davis decided to put up a big coffee pot and a sign outside that read “Hot Coffee.” Soon, that’s what people started calling his inn, and later when settlers began moving into the area that’s what they called the settlement as well.
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.
Gizmos and Gadgets
Mix it up with Cuisinart’s Smart Stick Hand Blender
This Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender is designed to handle a variety of basic tasks, such as blending, mixing, chopping, grinding, whipping, and pureeing, to give you time for more creative culinary undertakings. One-touch operation and the ability to blend right in a pot, pitcher or bowl make it an all-time favorite of home cooks. And the compact blender takes up very little drawer space in your space-challenged RV. Read more.
If it were Christmas, these would be stocking stuffers
Here are four little gadgets that BoondockBob recommends for RVers. Think of all the little gadgets you see when browsing the Internet but when you decide to buy it, the shipping is as much as the article so you skip it. But if you are an Amazon shopper, a feature allows you to add one of these small items to a regular order and you don’t have to pay extra shipping for it. Check these out.
Protect your RV’s slideout
with this rubber seal lubricant
If you don’t take care of your slideout you’re asking for problems including dangerous, costly water damage. This rubber seal lubricant from Thetford prevents fading, cracking and deterioration. It cleans, conditions and shines, keeping seals flexible and protected from sunlight destruction. It is also useful on door seals and window seals. It’s a mineral oil product and also acts as a lubricant. Learn more or order.
Upcoming RV Shows
• Good Sam RV Super Show, February 23-26, Phoenix, AZ
• Harrisburg RV and Camping Show, February 23-26, Harrisburg, PA
• Maryland RV Show, February 24-26, Timonium, MD
• Raleigh RV Show, February 24-26, Raleigh, NC
• Colorado RV, Sports and Travel Show, March 2-5, Denver, CO
• Greater Philadelphia RV Show, March 2-5, Oaks , PA
• Ocala RV Show, March 2-5, Ocala, FL
• Toronto Spring Camping and RV Show, March 2-5, Mississauga , Ontario, Canada
• Montana RV, Boat & Powersports Show, March 3-5, Kalispell, MT
• Central-Illinois Recreational Show, March 3-5, Peoria, IL
• Eugene Spring RV Show, March 3-5, Eugene, OR
• Fredericksburg RV Show, March 3-5, Fredericksburg, VA
• Rhode Island RV, Camping Show and Sale, March 3-5, Providence, RI
• Virginia RV Show, March 10-12, Hampton, VA
• Rockford, Illinois RV, Camping & Travel Show, March 10-12, Loves Park, IL
• York RV Show, March 10-12, York, PA
See the list of all upcoming RV shows.
Riding the rails! Tourist Trains Guidebook
Do you like to ride tourist railroads on your travels? If so, you’ll love this guidebook. It thoroughly describes at least 500 excursion trains and railroad museums in the USA and Canada. About 200 of the most popular sites are presented in full-page reviews written by a Trains magazine editor or correspondent. Reviewers offer advice on what to see, when to go, and how to get there. Learn more or order.
Joke of the Week
A week after Mozart died, a drunk walking by his grave heard faint, strange music. Terrified, he summoned a priest who heard the same thing. The priest summoned a local orchestra director. “Ah, yes,” the man said, recognizing that it was Mozart’s Ninth Symphony, but being played backwards. By now, a crowd had formed. “Ah, that’s the Eighth Symphony, and it’s backwards, too,” he said. Then it was the Seventh … the Sixth … the Fifth …. Suddenly the music director realized what was happening and gleefully proclaimed to the crowd, “My fellow citizens, there is nothing to worry about. It’s just Mozart decomposing.”
Liquefy solid wastes in sewer holding tanks
Happy Campers Treatment liquefies solid waste and household tissue. It’s a natural formula that’s environmentally friendly and biodegradable, with no formaldehyde or harsh chemicals. Basically, the good bacteria overtakes the bad bacteria to eliminate odor and accelerate the natural decomposition of waste. Because it is totally organic and odor free, you won’t be embarrassed by bad odors inside or when you dump. Learn more or order at Amazon.com.
Videos you’ll like
Tour the 2017 Pleasure-Way Plateau XLMB motorhome
The company’s CEO shows you this Class C/Class B hybrid inside and out. Watch the video.
Hydraulic jacks failure. What happened
The RV Geeks learned a lesson or two about hydraulic jacks and how they can fail. Watching this might save you from the same fate. Watch the video.
Random RV Thought
It is sometimes hard to hear the television or stereo in your RV during a pounding rainstorm. But the sound of the storm is a very nice reminder that you are cozy and dry, which is pleasing. This is an excellent time to relax with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book.
For one very brief moment of time, you were the youngest person on Earth.
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” —Michael Jordan
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.
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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