Friday, December 8, 2023


RV Travel Newsletter Issue 804



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 804 • Week of July 29–August 4, 2017

Editor’s corner
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at)

Interstate 90, Wyoming

I am not old enough to remember driving before Interstates, although I do recall as a child traveling with my family on two-lane roads, and not simply as an option to a faster route, but because the two-laners were the ONLY roads.

The American interstate system was created in 1956, but not completed until 1992. Until then, most roads were two lanes.

Main highway passes through Buckeye, Arizona

Driving was a lot more fun before the interstates, on the slower highways that preceded them. They went right through downtowns and main streets, tempting you to pause occasionally when you spotted a particularly nice looking giant root beer mug atop a roadside stand — a good indicator that the beverage served inside was tasty and cold. I also remember as a child seeing many war surplus airplanes permanently affixed atop gas stations like they had crashed there.

Almost every main street had at least one small town cafe, where the locals hung out and where the waitresses were gum-chewing ladies named Betty who called you “Hon.” This was before McDonald’s, Burger King and the rest of the fast food joints ran these little guys out of business.

Most of the old two-laners still exist. Some RVers, myself included, prefer to travel these roads. Interstates are good if you like getting somewhere fast or if you enjoy the sport in which 18-wheeler trucks try to pin you between them so you can choke on their fumes and, in the case of an accident, become immortalized by ending your life as a human sandwich.

Charles Kuralt’s motorhome on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

The late CBS-TV “on the road” correspondent Charles Kuralt once said of our Interstates — and he has been quoted countless times since — that “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.” I, for one, miss Charles.

Today, driving an Interstate highway is a great way to view a never-ending parade of franchised food joints and cookie-cutter motels, now called motor inns and motor lodges. Motels that were called motels were better. The good ones had a swimming pool right out front in the middle of the parking lot instead of like today when they are squeezed into a fancy-shmancy courtyard or indoors where the experience is boring (unless you’re a kid, when a pool is a pool is a pool).

Typical motel from ’50s with pool out front

I am actually old enough to remember Motel 6’s when they cost six bucks. I bet there are many people today younger than 40 who don’t even realize how the company got its name.

The best buy ever in American roadside travel in the good ol’ motel days was the fabulous Magic Fingers “vibrating bed” machine where for 25 cents you could shake your bed and yourself up real good in what amounted to a poor man’s massage.

I once hot-wired a Magic Fingers machine in North Carolina, back when I was so poor that saving a quarter was important because it would buy a gallon of gas. But I warn you: Never, ever spend more than 15 minutes on a Magic Fingers vibrating bed unless you’re into motion sickness.

When is the last time you used a Magic Fingers machine? Do you remember? Did you ever have a memorable experience with a Magic Fingers machine? Please leave a comment.




My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Cocktails delivered by drone, not waiters.

Sign up for a faster way to see 
the newest articles on 
If you’d like to receive daily updates (most days) of new articles we post to, please sign up here. You’ll receive an email update of what we published in the past 24 hours.

back-768• Did you miss last week’s RV Travel? Read it here.
• Directory of back issues.
• Did you miss the most recent Great RV Accessories Newsletter? You can read it here

Help us continue to bring you
 information week after week

For more than 16 years, our staff has worked hard to bring you a valuable newsletter every Saturday. Readers help make it possible with their voluntary subscriptions. A pledge of $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.

We have a winner! No more entries, please. The correct answer is: Magic Fingers (vibrating bed).
Win this cool Rechargeable Portable Mini USB fan. The winner will be chosen randomly out of all correct entries received by noon (Pacific), Sunday. The question: In his essay today, our editor writes about a machine at motels of yesteryear that would literally “shake you up.” What was it called? Email your answer to RVcontests (at) 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 We’ll let you know if you win.

Folks — Please remember to include your address and phone number or your entry is disqualified. Last week the winning entry number picked by had just the answer and their name, and the next entry didn’t have their phone number, so they both missed out on a swell prize.

A Waterless RV Wash & Wax!
Spit Shine has more emulsifiers than other waterless washes. It traps and lifts dirt to leave a clean, scratch-free, glossy surface. Great for when you’re on the go and don’t have access to a water hose. Requires just a damp, and a dry, towel. Watch Wade clean all RV surfaces. Click here to buy, or learn more about, Spit Shine at the Wade Maid website.

breaking-newsUp and down — that’s the word on used RV auction statistics from June, according to Black Book. Compared to June 2016, motorhomes saw a price increase of 3 percent to an average $41,494, while sales volumes dumped 14 percent. Towables likewise saw price increases, up nearly 8 percent to $12,780, while at the same time losing sales to the tune of more than 10 percent. The service suggests the decline in sales is normal for this time of year, while increased sale prices might be attributed to a smaller volume of desirable units. 

Psst! That motorhome on the Iowa highway next to you might not be loaded with RVers — Troopers are on the highway in disguise. A new state law allows police to cite texting drivers but, alas, it seems most people simply hide their phones when they see a patrol car. So now, plainclothes troopers have taken to the highways in an “unmarked” motorhome, peeping at scofflaws to give them their just desserts. 

Steve Walser photographed this (“Snooze Alarm”) 1950 Traveleze at Sou’wester Resort, Seaview, Wash. See a larger image or Steve’s catalog by clicking here. Photo © Steve Walser

Will oil and gas drilling rigs come to Ohio state parks? It appears the matter is in the hands of Ohio’s state senate. The state’s governor vetoed a provision in a budget bill that would have essentially allowed it. The state’s House overrode the veto. If senators follow suit, it could be possible that oil and gas leases will be granted in state parks. 

The gates to paradise will be closed again. In this case, Paradise Campground in Montana’s Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness will be inaccessible from August 7 through 19, as the Forest Service replaces a culvert and Selway River Road to the campground will be shut down.

The Forest Service has reopened the campground at Oregon’s popular Cultus Lake. The campground and associated day-use area and boat ramp were closed earlier this year due to discovery of hazard trees. At that time, the agency said the area would be closed for the season, but the resulting furor from users brought the attention of a local lawmaker. Somehow the agency was able to use a contractor to remove 500 hazardous trees in short order. 

Missouri State Archives

Missouri State Fair officials say they’re not going to be on the hot seat again. Last year, in an embarrassing situation, some RVers who wanted to camp out at the fair spent up to seven hours parked on a hot asphalt lot while waiting to access their spots. The fair’s director said they just weren’t ready last year: In 2015, 400 RVs stayed at the fair; in 2016 some 1,200 showed up the first day. This year new tricks are in place to make it faster to get the rigs in the gates — pre-registration and portable credit card machines are two of the methods. And if more folks than the 1,100 full-hookup sites will accommodate show up, a large dry camp area is ready.

Apparently, some Americans have heard about the massive price hike on senior’s lifetime recreation passes to National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands. Come August 28, what’s now a $10 charge will skyrocket to $80. At California’s Cleveland National Forest, officials say they normally sell about 200 passes per year. With the congressionally mandated hike announced, they’ve sold a thousand so far this year.

Photo: Xavier Smith, Lebanon Democrat

Ray and Wilma Yoder, an 80-year-old couple from Indiana, have been to 644 of the 645 Cracker Barrel locations in the U.S., traveling more than 5 million miles in the process. This began 40 years ago as a dining preference for Ray, whose job sent him across the country delivering RVs for Coachmen RV. Ray told the Lebanon Democrat, “It took the boredom out of being on the road. It has a down-home spirit, and everybody is friendly.” The one elusive location is in Tualatin, Ore., which they might visit this year.

A Plymouth Township, Mich., supervisor watched as his plans to criminalize RV parking went up in smoke. Kurt Heise moved to fine RV users $500 and send them to jail for up to 90 days if they parked on a public street or right-of-way. Fellow board members took a dim view of Heise’s “overkill” proposal and thumbed it down.

Relax and Enjoy the Outdoors this Labor Day Weekend
Time to leave work behind — take the family and relax around a campfire this Labor Day weekend! Make lasting memories at your favorite RV Resorts. Book your Holiday weekend today, sites are filling fast! Click here to reserve your stay today! 

news524(2)More News

The north-south road through Lassen Volcanic National Park in northeastern California finally opened Thursday after nearly four months of snow-clearing work. The opening of California 89, called Lassen National Park Highway for the 30 miles it traverses through the park, set a record, park officials said. “This year’s opening of the highway will be the latest in park records dating back to 1931,” Lassen Superintendent Jim Richardson said. For the most part, the snowy winter’s still-persisting snowpack caused the delay, and visitors still can find roadside snowdrifts for snowball fights. Source: USA Today

Los Angeles County Fire Department

Heading to Yellowstone National Park? Expect to see a bit of smoke. The 2,000-acre “June Fire” will make its presence known until at least the end of September. The fire is outside the park in the Shoshone National Forest — 13 miles east. Firefighters don’t figure they can get the blaze out  — they’ll just be happy to contain it, and away from infrastructure and homes. The most visible effect on the National Park is a squad of flying “Super Scoopers” gathering water from Yellowstone Lake to combat the wildfire.

When two adjacent plots of land recently sold in Oronoco, Minn., it must have pleased the seller. But the buyers were a bit surprised when on closing in the same week, they found they’d each bought property right next door to a competitor. Hilltop Camper and RV and Noble RV had been looking for new dealership locations, and both unwittingly bought from the same seller. Both dealers claim they had no idea they’d be so close to what they describe as “friendly competitors.”

In Tennessee you can drink beer and support your state parks at the same time. Just belly up to the bar and call for “State Park Blonde Ale,” and a portion of every beer sale goes to the Tennessee State Parks Conservancy, a nonprofit group that supports the state’s parks. This craft beer is described as a “light, crisp American blonde session ale with subtle floral notes, created with high-quality grains and hops.” It’s brewed by a Tennessee brewery. You can’t miss it — on the label is the image of Randy Hedgepath, a ranger naturalist in the state park system for more than three decades.

Rock Island County, Ill., has a bit of a problem. The County Forest Preserve Commission needs nearly $2 million to repair a dam and spillway on the preserve’s Lake George. Like a lot of government agencies, where you gonna find the money? Floating a bond issue is typical, but bonds have to be paid for. So, tack on another $3 million to add a new 53-site RV campground and a few cabins — and use the rent to pay for the bonds. It’s an idea the commission is presently giving serious thought to. 

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 more than 570 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 a video interview with the founders by editor Chuck Woodbury.

Driving a tow truck is never a dull moment — at least not in the life of one tow truck driver near Kerrville, Texas. The dispatcher sent the driver to tow a motorhome away after it had been involved in a fire. Dragging the big Class A unit down the road, he spotted smoke billowing out of the coach. More firefighters responded and took action again. 

State park honchos in Indiana are unanimous: No drones over Department of Natural Resources (DNR) properties, including state parks. DNR commissioners felt they were taking a proactive stance with the ban. Still, in a seeming contradiction, the agency is also examining how it might issue licenses to drone users to fly over its properties.
A Cripple Creek, Colo., RV park tenant says he was up the creek in sewage, thanks to his landlord. Frank Wilson complained to a local TV station that as he was attempting to hook up his RV to dump his black water, the park manager of Lost Burrow Campground told him he’d have to wait until after the weekend. “You should’ve done it two days ago,” Wilson relates the words of the manager. Frank said this led to a rather unpleasant collection of human waste inside his trailer. The TV station was unable to secure a comment from the campground manager; the county health board was closed for the weekend. 
Wildlife Center of Texas

The Houston SPCA Wildlife Center of Texas is rehabilitating a 7-week-old ring-tailed cat that hitched a 200-mile ride to Houston clinging to the underside of an RV. Ring-tailed cats are members of the raccoon family and are known for their unusual sound, often compared to a typewriter. The Wildlife Center plans to return it to its natural habitat after rehab.

It’s enough to make tenters take up RVing: A woman in a sleeping bag woke up with a start — and her foot in a bear’s mouth. The incident has caused Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game to shut down camping along FR 146 and 452 in the Sawtooth National Forest — including Caribou and Murdock campgrounds. The bear was spotted one day and chased away, but returned the next to put the clamp on the woman’s foot. She was not physically injured, but her sleeping bag did take a hit of bruin saliva. 

rvbuslogo519Keep up with RV Industry news
throughout the week at

This week’s Reader Poll
How many RVs have you owned in your lifetime?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. We’ll post the final results in next week’s newsletter. CLICK HERE.

Read the up-to-the minute responses from last week’s poll:
Which cellular service do you use?
Click here for the results.

The readers write — with many reservations
Here, as edited by Russ and Tiña De Maris, are some recent comments from our readers regarding: campground site shortage, campground privatization, credit card skimming scammers, readers with reservations about park reservations, and more. Read more.

Be creative when your RV breaks down
None of us like having something break down on our rig — but, hey, it’s reality. Breakdowns happen, and they’re worse when we’re away from home. Sometimes you’re stuck and have to get help from strangers – and sometimes you can do a “workaround” until you can get back to home base. Here’s how one reader used his noodle to do a workaround and continue his trip. File his solution away for future reference – you might need it yourself. Learn more.

video camera WPTips from rangers about visiting Yellowstone
If you plan to visit Yellowstone National Park, here are some quick tips from rangers to help ensure your trip is safe and enjoyable. Watch the one-minute video.

Protect your RV’s electrical system
Chris Dougherty, certified RV technician, wrote this article while he was serving as’s technical editor. A reader had heard about RVs getting fried by bad wiring in campgrounds, and asked if Chris would recommend purchasing a surge protector for an RV to help prevent this. Read Chris’ response.

A lifestyle of simple luxury!
At Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs, return to a lifestyle of simple luxury. Park yourself on 66 acres of unspoiled wilderness along Central Florida’s Gulf Coast. Our fully equipped RV lots and coastal cottages designed exclusively for the resort come with boundless modern amenities for the watersport and outdoor adventure enthusiast, all professionally managed by Guy Harvey Outpost Collection. Learn more here.

The RV Safety and Education Foundation will hold its annual educational conference Oct. 1–5 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The event provides a positive networking opportunity for both new and veteran RVers with industry experts in classroom, roundtable and individual settings. Endorsed by RVtravel.comLearn more or watch a two-minute video about the event.

Take steps to boondocking
Most RVers have heard of boondocking and know what it is about, but surveys indicate that only a small percentage of RVers actually boondock other than an occasional night or two in a Walmart parking lot or a state park campground. Here are some logical and progressive steps to become comfortable boondocking in remote, pristine, solitary and wonderfully isolated private campsites — with no neighbors except for the nighttime coyote serenade and a sky full of the undiminished Milky Way stars. Learn more.

Even the simple things: Quick-release rings have many uses!
Most of us have a key ring. You know, the kind that bites your nails off when you try to put a key on or take one off.  Rich “The Wanderman” found a great deal on a 10-pack of quick-release rings and has discovered a whole bunch of other uses besides just keys for these little beauties. Can you come up with some additional uses? Read more.

National Parks to get millions for maintenance
Recognizing that U.S. National Parks are in need of an injection of cash to handle deferred maintenance backlogs, Ryan Zinke, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, recently announced funding to help cover the backlogs. A total of $53 million is headed to 29 states, to handle needs in 42 of America’s parks. How does this compare to what the National Park Service says is needed? Find out here.

Truma AquaGo®: Instant, Constant and Endless Hot Water
trumalogoThe revolutionary Truma AquaGo® hybrid instant water heater provides instant, constant and endless hot water. The Truma AquaGo® is the only RV water heater that can be decalcified to extend product life and maintain performance. And its “Easy Drain Lever” makes winterization simple. Use the Truma AquaGo® to replace any 6 16 gallon water heater.  Find a dealer at

Readers’ comments on recent articles
Learn more about recent popular articles through what readers added with their comments:
Mr. Fix-It — Are you a DIYer?
Dutch company Epsilon solves RV battery limitations.
Coming soon: Reservations required to visit a National Park?
Full-time RVing — What about your driver’s license?


America’s Largest RV Show runs September 13–17, 2017
See, compare and shop over 1300 new RVs from virtually every major manufacturer! Visit hundreds of vendors including campgrounds, accessories and services. Attend seminars covering subjects for the beginner to the seasoned RV enthusiast. Location is Hershey, PA. For more information, click here.

Websites of the Week

From Robin McNally. (“See more USA”) Email photos of personalized license plates you spot to Diane (at)

Here are a few we like:

75 attractions to see while driving across the country
While driving around the country in your RV, here are some attractions along America’s many iconic stretches of roadway, including Interstates 40, 95, 80, 10, and 90 and Route 66. Most are cheap or free; the others may be worth a splurge. From Cheapism and

50 budget-friendly RV campgrounds to check out
“Traveling in an RV means a homey and budget-friendly vacation. Many campgrounds charge no more than $50 a night, and many offer resort-like amenities. combed through TripAdvisor, RV Park Reviews, and campgrounds’ own review pages to find under-the-radar destinations in every state that may offer last-minute availability in high season. Discounts for seniors, military, and Good Sam RV Club members are common, as are extra fees for more than two adults and children.” From and

Current wildfire information 
Complete, up-to-the-minute wildfire information around the U.S., from Incident Information System (InciWeb), a U.S. government interagency. (There are 134 wildfires [“incidents”] in the U.S. as of Friday, July 28 — 14 more than last Friday.) 

Here is our “master list” of more than 700 websites we like.

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

RV Clubs
Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.

Tank Sensors Reading Full?
Restore them overnight with Caravan Sensor Cleaner
Caravan’s highly concentrated, bio-enzymatic formula is guaranteed to remove the debris causing your tanks to misread. No driving necessary. No dangerous chemicals. No strong odors. Perfect for full-timers and permanently parked RVs. Learn more or buy at

Ask the RV Shrink

Wife critiques every campsite, driving hubby nuts

Dear RV Shrink:
My wife and I love the RV lifestyle. We hope to visit every National Park in the country and all the other interesting points along the way. Although we stay in many wonderful state and national park campgrounds, my wife has developed an annoying hobby of critiquing each site we occupy. She can always find fault with a site no matter how perfect I think it might be. … Can you help me with her attitude adjustment? —Judgment Day in Daytona

Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new e-book: 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.

Heat your RV with Electricity, not Propane!
SAVE $$$! Until now, the standard for heating recreation vehicles of all types has been to use bottled propane (LPG). With the CheapHeat™ system there’s a better option. Now you have a choice to change the central heating system between gas and electric with the flip of a switch. When you choose to run on electric heat rather than gas, your coach will be heated by the electricity provided by the RV park. Learn more.

gas-738Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.31 (on July 24). Change from week before: Up 3 cents; Change from year before: Up 13 cents.
Diesel: $2.51 (on July 24). Change from week before: Up 2 cents; Change from year before: Up 13 cents.

mosquito-696mosquito-754Best protection from mosquitoes
Repel 100 uses a 98.1-percent DEET formula to provide complete protection from mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, chiggers, no-see-ums & biting flies. Use in areas of high infestation or prolonged periods of up to 10 hours. Repels mosquitoes that may transmit Zika and other viruses. Learn more or order.

extinguisher-697(3)RV Fire Safety Tip  

An emergency fire plan that can save your life – Part 2 of 13
Having a solid fire escape plan may help you replace panic with logical, life-saving actions if a fire occurs. Knowing exactly what to do and doing it quickly can make a big difference in an emergency situation

Recognizing the signals from each type of detector is important because different reactions are required for each type of alarm. With smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, stay low when they sound. LPG gas gathers low, so the best action is standing upright when you hear the LPG detector. An easy way to remember what to do is to observe the placement of the detectors. If they’re placed high, then you should stay low, and vice versa. Weekly testing will also help you become very familiar with the varying sounds of each so you’ll know how to respond. Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy

Editor’s note: Choose from a wide selection of fire extinguishers at Amazon. Here are links from for smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, LP gas detectors, and combination smoke and CO detectors

“The” guide to services at Interstate exits
Never take a wrong exit off an Interstate highway again. The 2017 Next Exit lists every exit along every Interstate and details exactly what you will find at each: gas stations (including if they offer diesel), campgrounds, truck stops, casinos, laundries, retail stores (by name), shopping malls, factory outlet malls, drug stores, hospitals, rest areas & more. Very helpful even if you have a GPS. Learn more or order.

Our favorite products for RVers at Check ’em out.

RV Quick Tips

Go ahead and smoke your cigarettes and cigars, but no smoking your propane! Photo by James Raia

Check your safety chains to prevent fires!
Pay particular attention to the length of the safety chains connected to a towed trailer or vehicle. They must be long enough to allow a full turn without binding, but short enough to not hit the ground. Wild fires along the highway have been traced to dangling safety chains causing sparks and igniting dry grass and tinder. Thanks to Fred Campbell for the reminder.

Check your battery shutoff switch
From reader Joe Brignolo: “If you have a battery shutoff switch, as I do, make sure that switch is ON. More than once I have started the troubleshooting process only to find that switch in the OFF position. Inadvertent operation of that switch when looking for the compartment lights could leave you in the dark.” Thanks, Joe!

Important A/C maintenance reminder
Tom Buchholzer took in our video clip on air conditioner maintenance. He adds a tip not to be missed: “I had a leak which stained the ceiling of my RV because the drain holes in the air conditioner pan were plugged. It is VERY important to be sure that the drains are clear and open while servicing the unit.” Good reminder, Tom!

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

Easy way to add water to your batteries!
Never, ever, let your automotive or RV deep cycle batteries run out of water. Here’s a simple way to keep them topped off for maximum performance and long life. Just use this syringe with distilled water. So easy. Learn more or order.

Our favorite products for RVers at Check ’em out.

Gizmos and Gadgets

Big rig? Let LAMPHUS warn other drivers where you are
If you drive a big rig with a car in tow, you might want to alert some distracted drivers around you to the size of your rig, and your limited turning radius and stopping ability. There is no better way than with an audio broadcast system that will be easily heard by those around you. But if that doesn’t work, the LAMPHUS SoundAlert Series’ feature-packed warning system also includes a very audible 100W siren guaranteed to get attention and be heard from a distance away. Learn more.

Be sure to sign up for our monthly Great RV Accessories Newsletter. Click here.

Reader RVs


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 Send to managing editor Diane McGovern at Diane (at) .

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

Secrets of RVing on Social Security
Author Jerry Minchey takes you on a journey that lets you discover how you can travel around the country and live the fascinating RV lifestyle for far less than it costs to live in your sticks-and-bricks home. Among other things, he shows you step-by-step how to enjoy the RVing lifestyle while traveling and living on just your Social Security income. Learn more or order.

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

Replace anode with drain valve on water heater?

Dear Gary,
I was told that it is best to drain your hot water tank after each excursion; therefore, I replaced the anode with a petcock. I now drain the water out but am curious as to the soundness of this plumbing exchange. Any advice would be appreciated. —Gary G.

Read Gary’s response.

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

Camco Store at
There isn’t much you need for your RV that Camco doesn’t have. If you think we’re kidding, then click through to the Camco store on Amazon where you’ll find some of their best-selling products — all for your RV or for you to make your RVing better. Click here and you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store.

bob-d-med399Ask BoondockBob
with Bob Difley

How to find boondocking spots on cross-country RV trip

Hi Bob,
My wife and I are planning a trip across the country with no planned agenda, going wherever and whenever something strikes our fancy. However, that prevents us from making campground reservations. We like to boondock and wonder whether we will be able to find dispersed camping options if we can’t find a campground with an open site. —Kevin

Read Bob’s response.

Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) .

Read the most recent BoondockBob Blog post: Affordable long-term living ideas for RVers and tiny house dwellers.

You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.

Cordless vac gets sky-high rating
More than 12,000 Amazon customers have given this Black and Decker CHV1410L cordless hand vacuum an excellent rating. It boasts lithium technology, strong suction and fade-free power. With a translucent bagless dirt bowl, the dirt is easy to see and empty. Ever-ready, the hand vac can hold a charge for up to 18 months. Perfect for the RV! Learn more or order.

RV Electricity
with Mike Sokol

LED bulb replacement dangers

Replacing tungsten and halogen bulbs with modern LED bulbs is becoming popular with many RV owners since it reduces the power load. However, you have to be careful that you’re installing LED replacement bulbs into DC-powered fixtures, and NOT AC-powered fixtures. Recently, editor Chuck Woodbury has received letters from readers about replacement LED bulbs overheating and melting the fixtures. Read why, and how to avoid this potentially dangerous situation in this article.

rv-safety-764Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

Remove ugly black streaks
from your RV!

black-streak-762Camco’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.

Your RVer Horoscope for August
RV Travel is honored to present to you the RVers’ horoscope for August from Swami Hal, a retired psychic who travels full-time in a 37-foot Pace Arrow motorhome with his considerably younger, full-figured 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

Read your RVer horoscope for August.

slideout-seal656Protect 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.

RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble

After sitting 5 years, does trailer need new tires before a long trip?

Dear Roger,
I have kind of a critical need for your expertise. I’ve been a “hard-topper” since 1970, and have always made every attempt to take good care of my travel trailers. My latest, and last, is a 2013 Flagstaff with, of course, dual axles. I brought it home new on August 31, 2012. But each year since, I have been stricken with a number of surgeries for different reasons. The tires are covered and are on wood
planks, never having touched ground. I wonder if you might offer some “practical” advice on my tires. … I’d really hate to have to replace the tires, sitting unused as they have been, after five years.  Many thanks in advance. —Grant M.”

Read the rest of the question and Roger’s response.

Camping with the Corps of Engineers
Many RVers consider Corps of Engineers campgrounds to be the best in the country. This guide is just for RVers — boat-in and tent-only sites are not included. Of all the public lands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has some of the best parks and campgrounds available. In fact, it’s the largest federal provider of outdoor recreation in the nation. Learn more or order.

mark522RV Tech Tips
from Mark Polk

RV LP gas — changing a bottle
When you change a gas bottle there is a possibility you will get air in the gas lines. A good habit to get into is to light the range burners first. What this does is help evacuate any air out of the system to make it easier to light the other appliances.

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

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 — and perfect for RVers: it pops down flat for easy storage. Lid perforations allow steam to escape to keep food moist. Doubles as a strainer, too! Learn more or order at

janet1The RV Kitchen
with Janet Groene

Shrimp Slurp
The secret’s in the sauce.

This recipe is  for people who love shrimp so much they can make an entire meal of them. You can shell and de-vein them yourself after a good catch, or buy them frozen, but this is not a peel-and-eat meal. The shrimp are too deliciously saucy and buttery to handle. Spear them with a fork and add chunks of crusty bread for sopping up the delectable sauce. It’s the simplest of all dishes to serve as an appetizer or main course. Get the recipe.

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


sponge91FkFZCzPZL__SL1500_Easily clean those
stubborn bugs off your RV
The Microfiber Mesh Bug and Tar Sponge has millions of tiny fibers embedded in the microfiber cloth that grabs and holds the dust and dirt. It is so effective it even cleans without chemicals, saving both time and money. The secret of this sponge lies in its unique, double-layer microfiber mesh. Older nylon bug sponges can harm your clear coat, but this one is completely paint safe. Learn more or order

Digital RVer

Find the perfect viewing spot for the total solar eclipse

Those of us who travel by RV have the enviable opportunity to be in the perfect spot for the historic total solar eclipse that crosses the United States on August 21, 2017. But how do you find that perfect spot? With an app on your smartphone, of course! Learn more in this article from Chris Guld of Geeks on Tour.

Learn about smartphones and tablets
… from Geeks On Tour. Here are two recent webcasts: #120 Beginners’ questions about smartphones  and #119 Photo albums with Google PhotosWatch live or archives of past programs.

Special offer for RV Travel readers!
Visit the Geeks’ Store to buy a membership. Use the coupon code rvtravel and get a 20% discount off anything you order.

Good reading from 629-rv123
• Van Buren State Park is located in northwestern Ohio about 7 miles north of Findlay.
• Popular TV chef Guy Fieri takes his family with him on a cross-country food adventure on Guy’s Family Road Trip.
• Warwick Conservation Area is located in southern Ontario near the town of Warwick.


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.

Free and bargain camping

Crawford City Park
Crawford, Nebraska
FREE: Overnight RV Parking is allowed. No formal RV spaces, no hookups. Park alongside of N loop roadway in park. Dump station. Located on Main Street. GPS: 36.483000, -90.547900

Corning Welcome Center
Corning, Arkansas
FREE. Info provided by AR DOT & Welcome Center confirms reports that overnight RV Parking is allowed, with a maximum stay of 24 hours. Located at 6717 Highway 67.

Overnight RV Parking, with more than 13,480 locations listed, is the largest and best resource for locating free and inexpensive places to spend a night in an RV. For membership information and a demo of the site, click here. A modest membership fee required, but try the free demoWatch a video about

Videos you’ll like

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 1.18.19 PM Don’t let your RV become an ant farm
Chris Dougherty has good advice. Watch the video.

A simple trick to improve your travel photos
RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury shows an easy way to make your photos better. Watch the video.


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

Upcoming RV Shows
• Midwest RV Super Show, Aug. 10-13, Elkhart, IN
America’s Largest RV Show, Sept. 13-17, Hershey, PA
• Portland RV and Van Show, Sept. 14-17, Portland, OR
• Fall Maryland RV Show, Sept. 14-17, Timonium, MD
• Indianapolis Fall Boat & RV Show, Sept. 22-24, Indianapolis, IN

See the list of all upcoming RV shows.


Don’t toss away good batteries!
Most RVers rely on battery-powered devices while on the road, whether flashlights, radios or cameras. But sometimes you just can’t tell how much life a battery has remaining so you toss it to “be sure.” This small tester, for about $8, will alert you in an instant to the condition of your batteries, saving you money from needlessly tossing ones with plenty of life left! Works on AA, AAA, C, D and 9V and button-type batteries. Learn more or order.

del-545This week in history
Week of July 29–August 4
Compiled by Dell Bert

1492 — Columbus sets sail from Spain.
1949 — NBA is born.
1958 — President Eisenhower authorizes creation of NASA.
1958 — U.S. nuclear submarine Nautilus travels under North Pole.
1961 — Six Flags Over Texas opens.
1965 — President Johnson signs Medicare into law.
1967 — The Doors score their first #1 hit with “Light My Fire.”
2003 — Last classic VW Beetle rolls off the line.

Ohio is the only U.S. state that doesn’t share a letter with the word “mackerel.” (Editor — Who thinks these things up?!)

Bumper sticker of the week
Here’s a bumper sticker on a car with Wisconsin license plates seen in Kalispell, Montana: “If you truly love someone, give them cheese.” Thanks to John Jamieson.

Funny/clever business slogan
This one’s still floating around: Seen recently on the back of an All About Plumbing of Orlando truck in Florida: “Where a flush beats a full house.” Thanks to Jann Brodrick for sending this.

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

Propane running low? This will tell you!
With this Dometic LPGC10 LP Gas Checker you can instantly monitor your LP tank’s level. It uses ultrasonic technology to tell you in just a few seconds how full – or empty – a propane tank is. It’s about the size of a writing pen and weighs less than two ounces, so it’s easy to store. For use on steel and aluminum liquid propane tanks. Learn more or order.

Joke of the Week
A man and his wife were driving their RV across Florida and were nearing a town spelled Kissimmee. They noted the strange spelling and tried to figure out how to pronounce it — KISS-a-me, kiss-A-me, kiss-a-ME. They grew more perplexed as they drove into the town. Since they were hungry, they pulled into a place to get something to eat. At the counter the man said to the waitress, “My wife and I can’t figure out how to pronounce this place. Will you tell me where we are and say it very slowly so that I can understand?” The waitress looked at him and said, “Buuurrrgerrr Kiiinnnnng.”

Random RV Thought
At home when you run out of something that you need for dinner, you make a fast trip to the supermarket. But when you are camping far from a store, there is nowhere to go. And thus begins a process of going through the cupboards or fridge to try to find what can be used as a substitute. More often than not, something is found and the meal is a success. Actually, this process can be very creative and adds a bit of a challenge to getting by while on the road.

Worth Pondering
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” —Lao Tzu (604–531 BC)

RV Travel staff 
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editor: Russ De Maris. Contributing writers: Greg Illes, Bob Difley, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Gary Bunzer, Mark Polk, Roger Marble, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld and Andrew Robinson. Administrative assistant: Emily Woodbury. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring

ADVERTISE on and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at)

cw501About the 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 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 or this newsletter.

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, 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, Inc . 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 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 to read the privacy statements of any of those websites that collect personally identifiable information. Our own privacy policy applies only to and its affiliated blogs.

This newsletter is copyright 2017 by


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Bill Massicotte (@guest_10578)
6 years ago

Traveled Rte. 66 back in 1966 from one end of continent Binghamton, NY to Calif. and yes, did use the magic fingers. Delightful!

Will Swarts (@guest_10447)
6 years ago

Problem with driving 2 lane roads they tend to be narrow twisty and hilly. Another problem is the people who lives along these roads. They all too often pull out without looking to see if any traffic is coming. I had a very frightning close call with a 18 wheeler pulling out to make a left turn in front of me. If I had been 100 feet closer I would not have gotten stopped in time. Sure interstates are boring but they are a {bleeped} site safer. As for the $50 cost of camping for a nite, that is pure bullshit. I would rather find a walmart or rest stop and put that $50 in my gas tank.

Joe Allen (@guest_10441)
6 years ago

Traveled route 66 back in ’62 and enjoyed the small towns and interesting places to stop. When we were kids, mom and dad stopped at the Howard Johnson’s motels and of course remember the Burma Shave signs. Had seen the magic fingers, but never used them. A quarter was a lot of money back then. Thanks for the memories!

James Collins (@guest_10433)
6 years ago

Chuck I am with you I really hate the interstates, love the old highways, in fact we used Us 19 and 27 coming home from the Tallahassee area just last week in our 29 ft. Jayco motor home after a week at the Grand Canyon

Janice Kibbe (@guest_10415)
6 years ago

We would rather travel the blue roads rather than the interstates any day!

You might like this Jimmy Buffett song, “Hotel Room!” Here’s the link:

Jim in NY (@guest_10402)
6 years ago

Ah yes, I remember as a kid traveling with my folks on two lanes through Canada and New England. Then we went from upstate NY to New Jersey and traveled on this brand new super highway called the NYS Thruway, now I 87. Wow was I impressed. Also tried a magic fingers once and it just stole my quarter. Never touched one again. Also on the motels, Days Inn was originally 8 Day Inn and cost just $8 a night. Stayed in them all the way to Florida back in the early 70’s with my new bride. Course by then we traveled down on I 95 and stopped at South of the Border for souvenirs. Great memories, Thanks Chuck.

John Hiler (@guest_10388)
6 years ago

Yes, it was a motel 6 and she did have magic fingers…

Dick S (@guest_10380)
6 years ago

I still love the back roads. Been border to border and coast to coast more than once. Interstates are fine but the backroads are still the best.
Keep up the good work Chuck.

Harlan Steinle (@guest_10379)
6 years ago

Enjoyed the ‘travel before Interstate’ editorial AND the mention of magic fingers. I DID travel BEFORE interstates and enjoyed all the things you say you missed BUT I will tell you as an RV’er who is almost 70 foot long if I triple tow (still long even if only towing the Toad) I am thankful for the interstate as I feel safer traveling on an Interstate in case I have a breakdown and need those wide shoulder pull overs. Nothing worse than breaking down on a narrow 2-way highway and subjecting yourself, your family, and your rigs to damage. We use the toad, once we are safely set up in the campground to do our non-interstate exploring. Sometimes we will venture off the interstate but only after careful planning—too many low obstacles and narrow issues to travel ONLY non-interstates. We have friends who like you avoid interstates at all costs—they have had 10 times the motorhome physical damage as what we have had over the past 10 years. Magic Fingers–what fun memories. I ALWAYS used them in those old motels and I DID exceed the limits you recommended and I did get ‘motion sickness’ but it didn’t stop me. Now over 60 years later I won’t buy a new bed that doesn’t have the ‘magic finger’-now called massage–option.

Tren (@guest_10375)
6 years ago

As for Magic Fingers, my parents were very thrifty so once in a great while, we were allowed to put a quarter into the Magic Fingers machine, but then we had to unplug it and save the rest for the next day, which we did. Magic Fingers for the whole weekend on one quarter.

MaryRuth Leftwich (@guest_10359)
6 years ago

The answer to this week’s contest is the Magic Fingers machine at motels which cost one quarter per use.

MaryRuth Leftwich

David Hagen (@guest_10350)
6 years ago

Your 50 budget friendly campgrounds site you mentioned this week does not have budget friendly campgrounds, in my opinion. $45 to $55 a night is not easy on my retirement budget. And some, like Cherry Creek State Park in Colorado charges $7 daily entry fee for motorized vehicles. Add $14 a day for a motorhome and a car.,

Carl Fuller (@guest_10349)
6 years ago

Tire Story. I bought a 5’er from a dealer in Williamsburg, VA, and in hindsight, he pulled a good one on me. The camper was listed as new, used on one excursion and traded. NOT. It was new, it was damaged and not reported. I started having tire issues on every trip more than a hundred miles. Catastrophic failures. I went through thousands of dollars on tires, repairs to the sides of the camper, wiring, diagnostics, and finally, with my wife driving, the rear axle came out from under the camper partially. One side actually threw out the leaf springs.Sandra crabbed to the side of the highway and we occupied a spot in “the on ramp run out”, causing issues for anyone trying to get on at that entrance. Both sides of the highway at that point had Jersey wall barriers, no shoulders. Busy, busy traffic. No one was injured, or worse, luckily. The ordeal of getting the rig off the highway and into a shop was tense and difficult. Lucky for me, a real mechanic (Harvin Truck and Trailer Repair of Fremont, OH) responded to our call and took renarkable care of everything. He rigged up a method to escort us 35 miles to his shop, with a single axle, 25-30 mph, His findings: the axle pin on one side (left) was missing allowing the axle to float some, an alignment issue at a minimum. Hence the blowouts. Shortening the story, the brakes on only one axle were hooked up to work, This was discovered by an anual inspection requirement in Virginia. Both axles had undersized brakes for the weight of the rig. This was discovered by a “trailer” repair facility in Virginia, not a RV dealer or repair. This isn’t sounding like an accident. Do you believe a rig comes out of the manufacturer with only one axle connected and both axles having undersized brakes on it? Now, to take this further, know that I am very aware of the dangers of thinking the undercarriage on a rig is “A-OK” just because it’s new. I am also aware that not many RV repair facilities even know to check for something out of alignment on these rigs. Nor do they care, especially the RV shops. As a follow up to my personal story, on our recent annual trip to Michigan, my nephew and I were caravanning to our next stop and he had the occasion to get in front of me. Immediately I saw an indication of something being out of ‘whack’. When we stopped, I asked if he was having any problems with his rig and ‘damned’ if he wasn’t suffering blow-outs on the opposite side I was, but his problem was obvious. He’d been to the dealer a few times and was assured it was normal. BS. I was seeing the rear tire being angled inward at the top, but also appeared to be trying to “turn right.” No other tire was showing any abnormal lean or angle. Taking a temperature reading across the tread width, the inside edge was running 140 degrees, and the outside was 108. Same tire. The rest were in the 104 range. My suggestion / reccommendation for anyone suffering blow outs on RV’s or other trailers, is have a professional check alignment. And…. slow down. Our trailer tires are rated for 65 mph max. Also, if an RV’er passes you on the highway, do a quick assessment of his undercarriage. If you see something, try to get his attention somehow. Even if you just follow and flash lights. He’s not wanting to injure anyone or ruin his day because of an alignment problem. Anyone else have these issues?

Alan Edes (@guest_10923)
6 years ago
Reply to  Carl Fuller

Hi Carl, I feel fortunate to have found a similar story and did not waste any time inspecting my tt for issues like you have mentioned. No axle pins missing and everything in good order. But it is terrible that there are folks out there suffering financial and possibly physical damages due to poor workmanship. For those that would like more information, try searching YouTube or Google. I got my info from “Keep your daydream” on YouTube. Don’t trust the manufacturers; read, watch videos, and learn, then prevention is possible.

Charles Maurice (@guest_10341)
6 years ago

Ah….Magic Fingers ….. the Original Quarter slot machine…..Put many coins into those gismos…..

Jack (@guest_10339)
6 years ago

Magic Fingers,
Your article mentioning Magic “Fingers and bypassing the payment brought back a memory. in about 1975 we were going across country from Washington to Maine. We stopped at a small motel in South Dakota which had the Magic Fingers. I discovered that the money box for the device could be unplugged and you were left with a short electric cord which by moving the bed you could just barely reach an outlet and plug it in. After a full day of driving it gave great satisfaction to get this “free” massage.

john & lana (@guest_10333)
6 years ago

I am 73 and never encountered the magic fingers. But I love the interstate and I love the small towns as well like Dillon, Montana, Lockhart, Texas, etc. The interstates gets me where I want to go faster and then I park my home, unhook my car and explore the little towns. Sometimes I wish we had to go thru all the small towns and other times I like to get somewhere quickly. Maybe in the years to come I will be able to slow down and spend more time enjoying the neat things in the small towns Thank you for your weekly newsletter. I enjoy it. . .

Lisa Dupree (@guest_10332)
6 years ago

Loved your story about the old two lane roads! Brought back lots of great memories.
My sister and I wanted to try the magic fingers vibrating bed. My dad gave us a quarter and said we could only use it until the quarter ran out then it was time to sleep. We put in the quarter and……nothing. So my very smart sister crawled under the bed and noticed it was unplugged. She plugged it back in. Evidently, no other motel patron had been intelligent enough to check the plug. So we vibrated happily for hours! My dad was not amused!

Homer (@guest_10318)
6 years ago

That joke of the week is the best one I’ve heard in a long, long time.

David Lee (@guest_10396)
6 years ago
Reply to  RV Staff

It’s Kiss SIM ee

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.