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Issue 821 • Week of November 25–December 1, 2017 #rvtravel
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
RVs are selling faster than anytime in history. A whopping 378,006 new units shipped to dealers through nine months of 2017, up 16.6 percent from last year. The latest projections from industry analyst Richard Curtain estimate shipments of 479,700 units by the end of this year, and 491,200 in 2018.
Let’s put that in perspective: If each of those RVs average two RVers, then in one year we’re talking about almost 10 Rose Bowl crowds of new RVers, or the equivalent of the entire population of Austin, Texas! In just one year!
Perhaps a few dozen RV parks were built this year, if that. All those new RVers will soon be competing for a space in our favorite parks. It’s crazy! The RV industry is blind to the crisis ahead when RVers will get fed up with the crowds and will opt out of a lifestyle they once loved.
The park I’m in now in Texas is half occupied with seasonal or permanent residents. I walked by an entire row of RVs this morning — probably 15, mostly large fifth wheels — and there wasn’t a single car or truck in front of any of them. The residents were all at work. This evening, they’ll roll back in. I see this everywhere — parks half-filled with permanent or seasonal residents or monthly renters. If you’re just passing through town, good luck finding a space.
As I wrote a few issues ago, “camping” is no longer appropriate to describe what many of us do with our RVs. We live in them, not camp — some of us full-time, others months on end. They’re mobile homes.
Younger RVers still “camp” by some loose definitions — but even most 12-foot travel trailers these days have air conditioning and a bath with shower.
DO YOU CAMP?
Here’s a definition I came across on PlacesJournal.org that I believe the word “camping” is intended to mean:
There is a satisfying immediacy about the prospect of establishing an encampment for the night — clearing the site, erecting the tent, chopping wood, building a fire and cooking over the live flame — that in turn suggests a meaningful connection to landscape, place and the rugged life of backwoods adventurers.
In essence camping is an act of faith and survival, a way to buttress a modest, isolated human settlement against the forces of nature. Situated “somewhere between challenging new circumstances and the safe reassurances of familiarity,” the camp is a temporary substitute for the home — a place to dwell, to sleep, to interact socially, to prepare and eat food. Stripped of any but the most vital conveniences, the camp is literally and figuratively open to the stimuli of its natural surroundings.
Is that the way you “camp”? Not most readers of this newsletter, most of whom are 50-plus and done with sleeping on the ground, tents and pop-up trailers. Four out of five readers consider an electric hookup essential. How would you describe how you use your RV? Take our quick survey.
Thanks to the support of our “voluntary subscribers” we have brought back our NewRVer.com website where we will help new RVers buy smarter. We are also debuting our new RV Electricity newsletter tomorrow (see below).
If you did not receive yesterday’s special newsletter and video for our supporters, please let me know ([email protected]). I wrote about my wonderful Thanksgiving with Gail, and recorded a special video comparing what I see happening in today’s RV world with what I observed growing up near Los Angeles. If you would like to help us grow and help influence the RV industry to get its act together, please consider pledging your support. I’ll be sure to send you yesterday’s special email/video right away.
The first issue of our new RV Electricity Newsletter by Mike Sokol will be posted tomorrow, Nov. 26. If you have not signed up for an email alert, please do so today so you don’t miss out. Improper use of electricity can lead to serious damage to an RV, even a fire, and, sad to say, even death from electric-related accidents.
Welcome to the many new readers who learned about us last week in the New York Times. We’re happy to have you onboard. Here’s the article.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
EARN EXCELLENT MONEY RENTING OUT YOUR RV
Is your RV just sitting around?
Rent it. You’ll be amazed at how much you can earn! The owner of a Class A motorhome, for example, could earn up to $4,520 a month. Own a popup trailer? It could bring you $1,780 a month in rental income. Join thousands of happy RV owners making real money! Learn more at Campanda.
Support Honest Journalism
The staff of RVtravel.com works hard to bring you an honest, unbiased, valuable newsletter every Saturday. Readers help make it possible with their “voluntary subscriptions.” Even a pledge of $5, $10 or $20 a year is appreciated — that’s for more than 50 weekly issues! Many readers set up an ongoing subscription, most $5 to $10 month. Your contributions make it possible for us to write about important matters, not just fluff to please advertisers and RV industry big shots. Enter a voluntary subscription. Use a credit card, PayPal or mail a check.
Politics: Would the end of mortgage interest deductions hurt RVers?
As Washington lawmakers battle it out over a tax plan, everyone wonders who the winners – and losers – will be. Published information about the House tax bill, which has already passed, could be of interest to RV buyers and present-day owners who’ve floated loans to finance their rigs. The federal mortgage interest deduction, including on RVs classified as a “second home,” could vanish. Learn more.
NO CONTEST THIS WEEK
We’ll be back next week with another swell prize!
Last week’s winner: Stanley Talbert of Aurora, Colo. He won the super handy shoe dryer/sanitizers.
A group of ten states attorneys general have fired off a letter of protest against the Department of Interior’s intention to dramatically increase entrance fees at national parks. The letter objected to the move that, in their words, “threaten[s] to distance (Americans) from the places in which so many experience the natural wonder of our great and unique nation. … We cannot let the most popular and awe-inspiring national parks become places only for the wealthy.” While the opinion holds no legal standing, at least one attorney general, Xavier Becerra of California, would not rule out legal action should the federal agency continue with its plans.
The National Park Service has extended the public comment period for proposed peak-season entrance fees at 17 national parks to December 22, 2017, to accommodate interest in this issue from members of Congress and the public. Already, more than 65,000 comments have been received. The public can comment on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website. Written comments can be sent to 1849 C Street NW, Mail Stop: 2346, Washington, DC 20240. Read our recent article about this.
It’s a great time to be a towable RV manufacturer – unless you build pop-ups or park models. According to Statistical Surveys Inc., the first nine months of 2017 saw travel trailer sales jump ahead 11 percent, with fifth-wheels close behind showing a near 8 percent surge. However, open the “oven door” and see pop-ups decompress with a loss of 6 percent. Park models did little better, losing only 4 percent ground.
Retailers looking to mark big profits on Black Friday may not have had as many shoppers as they anticipated this year – at least not in the Pacific Northwest. State parks in both Washington and Oregon have moved to make Black Friday an outdoor-going day by reducing day use fees. In Washington, the $10 gate fee was waived, and in Oregon, all parks that normally charge a $5 parking fee gave a free pass. Walk off the Thanksgiving stuffing.
Sales of new motorhomes in the U.S. are continuing to be a mixed lot. Class C units rolled on, gaining more than 11 percent from January to September, compared to the same months of 2016. On the other hand, Class A sales advanced less than a wimpy half-percent. Source: Statistical Surveys Inc.
Visit any New York state park or recreational facility and you’ll soon see a major change: recycle bins. A new law mandates recycling of paper, glass, plastics, metals and any other easily recycled material.
Tire failure is suspected in a motorhome accident that resulted in the death of an Illinois RVer. Richard D. Harris, 77, of Herrin, was eastbound on Illinois Interstate 70 near marker 2. Evidently a right steer tire pulled the rig off the pavement and into a guard rail. Mr. Harris was ejected through the windshield and died at the scene.
Winter Texans, take notice! If you’re fond of South Padre Island’s Isla Blanca Park, your wallet may soon feel a pinch. The popular resort is owned by Cameron County, and word is that price hikes could be in the cards. Eddie Trevino, Jr., a county judge, recently told the park director, “We’re going to have the nicest facility on the Gulf Coast. So I don’t think it’s a problem to charge the individuals a proper rate since they’ll have the use of state-of-the-art facilities.” Those “state-of-the-art facilities” are a hint at improvements the county plans to bring on, along with the higher overnight price bite.
Bridging Freedom, a new sanctuary in the Tampa Bay area for survivors of child sex trafficking, announced it has received a major gift of $350,000 from the Lazydays Employee Foundation. The money will be put toward the construction of a four-bedroom “gateway home,” which will be named Lazydays House. Lazydays RV is the second home sponsor for the complex, and Lazydays House will serve as the intake home for girls rescued from sex trafficking.
Three campgrounds in California’s Los Padres National Forest have been closed while old restroom buildings are removed and replaced. Brookshire, La Panza and Miranda Pine campgrounds are closed to the public while these improvements are made over the next four to five weeks.
As maintenance backlogs on federal lands continue to build, who gets the bill? That’s not hard to guess, and the axe appears to be set to fall in Arizona’s Coronado National Forest. Officials say the money they receive from Congress and users falls about $2.5 million short annually, and they’re now considering doubling campground fees to $20 per night, and jumping day use fees from the existing $5 to $8. Some campgrounds that are currently free would also see new fees imposed. More information here. You can comment by email through March 2018 at [email protected]
“SafetyStruts™ Prevent RV Bumper Failure”
Sales of the innovative SafetyStruts™ RV Bumper Support Brackets exploded in 2014 after the US-based start-up was profiled by RVTravel.com. The product line has grown with 5 types of SafetyStruts, 4-inch & 6-inch aluminum replacement bumpers, generator trays, hitches, etc. Watch the video or visit Mount-n-Lock.com to learn more.
The American Legion in Detroit Lakes, Minn., has a money-making campground there. Trouble is, the city owns the land the campground sits on and now has plans to “redevelop” the area. Legionnaires thought they’d pulled a rabbit out of the hat when they found the original deed doesn’t allow commercial development on the site. But hang on, the city says that only applies to a chunk of the parking lot that’s a portion of the campground site the city leases to the Legion. In mid-December, city councilors will take up the problem.
If you’re keeping score, you can erase 141 campsites from the U.S. inventory next year. Claire Hibbard and her family have owned 3 Ponds Campground in Brentwood, N.H., since 1984. But at 86, Claire says it’s time to call it quits, and the new owner says he’ll turn the 120-acre site into tracts for up to 90 homes. The last hurrah for 3 Ponds will be next summer.
Early snowfall is getting the blame for a quirky statistic from Yellowstone National Park. While many national parks are seeing a surge in visitation, Yellowstone recorded a 12 percent decline in October callers compared to 2016. Only 212,000 visitors came through the gate during the month. Nevertheless, it still marked the third largest number of visitors in any October for the park.
Devil’s Lake is the most popular state park in the Wisconsin system, and attendance figures indicate there’s just no stopping it. Since 2010, visitation rocketed from 1.7 million to 2.6 million last year.
RV owners in Crestview, Fla., have been left hanging by the inability of the city council to come to conclusions on a proposed RV parking ordinance. RV owners would be forced by the new ordinance to park only on the side or back of residences, not on the street, and provide the RV with a proper “screen.” When it was thought the council would vote on the proposal, dissension broke out between both councilors, and between the body and city staff. No one, it seems, could figure out who would approve said screening, or if it was such a great idea after all, since a screen would preclude city spies from determining if someone was unlawfully living in an RV. It’s possible the city could go back to the previous law – no RV over 24 feet parked on the street. They’ll try to reach a conclusion in late January.
Clean your RV… with beastly-good results!
Your RV’s not your car, it’s your “beast.”
Your RV’s large surface area makes it a beast that collects more bugs, grit, grime, soot and industrial pollution than your car does. And it may have different surfaces of paint, fiberglass, vinyl and aluminum. Click on the video to see Wade clean, shine and protect EVERYTHING with Beast Wash. Click here to buy, or learn more about, Beast Wash at the Wade Maid website.
Firefighters in Commerce City, Colo., got a surprise when called to the site of a burning motorhome. Peeping inside the rig’s window they spotted a puppy, locked up in a crate in the passenger seat. One fireman pulled the pup out of the inferno, then another joined him to try and revive him. Happily, the resuscitation efforts worked, and the “lucky dog” is presumably wagging his tail in thanks.
East Palo Alto, Calif., city commissioners met with opposition, both at a public meeting and then next day on the streets, when they passed an “emergency eviction ordinance” affecting RV dwellers. About 200 people turned up at a hearing where running RVers off some streets was considered – and passed. Most demanded commissioners do something to help the homeless. Next day, when tow trucks rolled in to tow RVs, 75 people attempted to block the tow-aways, to no avail. City commissioners said waste from the RVs could block storm sewers and posed an immediate crisis.
For RVers with an intrepid spirit (and mukluks) you can now drive the first permanent year-round access road from Canada’s interior out to the Arctic coast. The 85-mile two-laner, specially built to prevent permafrost damage, runs from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk on the coast. Tuktoyaktuks are already working on parking accommodations and a visitor center to welcome RV traffic.
German vehicle builder Daimler wants to give Detroit’s Big 3 pickup manufacturers a run in the marketplace. Rolling out its Mercedes-Benz X class mid-size pickups claiming a 2,000 pound payload and a tow ability of 7,000 pounds, they’re not apt to be packing any huge fivers down the road. But still, Daimler says it’s looking for the “right” kind of customer. “SUVs are elegant lifestyle products with a high-quality finish to them. Not every customer takes them into the wilderness anymore. We believe pickups could go in a similar direction,” says a promotional release. Put on the white driving gloves, Ja?
Keep up with RV Industry news
throughout the week at RVbusiness.com.
This week’s Reader Poll
Do you own your RV outright or are you making payments?
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:
What’s the longest you’ve waited for RV or automotive repairs on the road? Click here for the results.
How to keep your water lines from freezing
With winter around the corner, it’s smart to be aware of freezing water in your RV water lines. A parked RV is one that’s susceptible to the ravages of Old Man Winter. An area that can hurt you the most: water. RVs are full of water, both in freshwater systems and on the back end, too. If you don’t get the water out, expansion can break pipes and create misery. Learn here how to winterize your water lines and waste tanks.
Holiday gifts for the RVer
Can you believe it’s that time again? Time to open the floodgates of our bank accounts, time to start measuring our weight in desserts, time to shower ourselves in family traditions, and time to be jolly and merry and bright. This year, we’ve selected a few of our favorite products to share with you for our 2017 Holiday Gift Guide. Check it out.
Coyote camping: Your RV at home on the open desert
Boondocking around Quartzsite on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and called Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA) is an easy and effective introduction to desert boondocking and snowbirding. Support services and supplies are plentiful, and veteran boondockers stand ready to help out if needed. But once you’ve perfected your boondocking skills, plenty more snowbird/boondocking possibilities exist outside the LTVAs. Here’s how to find them.
RV park WiFi bad? It may not be the park’s fault
Most RVers have experienced great RV park WiFi, as well as marginally good WiFi, as well as terrible WiFi. It’s easy to blame the RV park when the service is bad. But, as David Bott explains in this video, it may not be the park’s fault. Then, again, it could be the park’s fault. David explains. This is well worth watching.
National parks: Did you make your reservation?
Some say America’s national parks are being “loved to death.” The popularity of some parks makes for irritable visitors as parking spaces are scarce and the solitude of many parks gives way to crowds vying for places at scenic lookouts. Some park managers have given serious thought to forcing visitors to make reservations to visit their parks. Some say it’s bound to happen, but they’re wrong – it’s already happened. Learn more.
Even the simple things – magnetic liquid crystal thermometers
Rich “The Wanderman” explains what “magnetic liquid crystal thermometers” are, how they work, and why they’re “incredibly useful” in an RV. Learn more.
Need mail forwarding? Choose the best!
Choose Americas Mailbox! It’s the best, endorsed by RVtravel.com which has toured its South Dakota facility and interviewed its very customer-oriented owner. Many plans available. Learn more. Or view the video interview RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury conducted with Americas Mailbox owner Don Humes.
Class A owners ask: Can you spare a tire?
An RVer lamented that his brand-new motorhome had no spare tire. Concerned about what kind of outcome he’d face should he have a flat or blowout, he struggled mightily to get a spare and put it on board his rig. Some colossus motorhome jockeys tell us they rely on their road service provider to bail them out in the event of a blown tire, no spare scenario. Some carry a spare tire, unmounted. Others carry a mounted spare tire. Learn some pros and cons of various scenarios.
RV Mods: Table drop-leg chewing floor? Here’s a quick fix!
If you own a “vintage” RV, you probably have a “bag of tricks” you reach into to make your RVing life easier. Older equipment can sometimes act up, and there’s not always a modern fix for problems. Russ and Tiña De Maris ran into a problem with the folding leg on their dinette digging a hole in their new vinyl floor, but they came up with a quick, easy, attractive and inexpensive fix. Read more.
How to easily remove old, ugly decals from your RV
If your RV is getting up there in age, there’s a good chance its decals are not looking so good — faded out, cracked, even peeling. Here’s an easy way to remove them using a blow dryer and WD-40. Easy! Watch the short video.
Trim your RV weight and increase storage space, too
There is a direct connection between reducing the weight inside your RV and increasing the mileage for every gallon of expensive gas you purchase. Storage space is limited, but you can make the best use of the space you have by thinking outside the box or can. Learn how here.
Campsite checklists: arrival and departure
Camping with your RV can seem like a complicated process when you’re first getting started – kind of like flying a plane. Here are two “checklists” that can make your own RV “flight” arrivals and departures easier and safer. These might be good reminders for veteran RVers, also. Read more.
RV Parts and Accessories
Give Dyers a try on your next purchase of RV parts or accessories. Large selection, great service, low prices and fast shipping. Visit our website.
Readers’ comments on recent articles
Recent popular articles that attracted high numbers of reader comments
• Letter to editor: Snake in the RV grass.
• Couple’s “storage turf” battle in a Class B motorhome.
• Video: Trailer flips, tumbles on highway.
• When to replace tires? Can you drive on one “dual”?
• How long have you ever waited for repairs on the road?
• Town’s RV parks are booked solid with pipeline workers.
More popular articles from last week’s issue
• How to find boondocking campsites in our national forests.
• This is much better than a P-trap.
• Clean your RV’s interior (and more) with Baby Wipes.
• Heading to the desert? Read these tips.
• Safely welding on your RV.
• Have you checked your rig for recalls?
Unique 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 an interview with the founders by RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury.
No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.
Click here to see many submissions from our readers about their RVs.
Upcoming RV Shows
See the complete list.
The New TireTraker™ TT-500 with a Lifetime Warranty
The new TireTraker™ TT-500 is the most innovative & user-friendly TPMS on the market with an unprecedented “Lifetime Warranty”, the only TPMS company in the industry to do so. The TT-500 features a larger, easier to read display, continuous pressure & temperature monitoring, automatic update, & monitoring up to 22 tires on your motorhome, trailer & tow vehicle from 0-232 psi! Seven days per week sales & technical support & over 13 years of experience. List price (4 tires) $389. Our price only $289. SAVE $100! (Additional Sensors $35 each). Learn more or order. Read testimonials.
Ask the RV Shrink
Avoid pulling a flat-tired toad – or you’ll be sorry
Dear RV Shrink:
We tow a Saturn behind our motorhome. I think we should have some type of alarm system or indicator to warn us if a tire goes flat on the Saturn. While driving I can’t see or feel the car. It only weighs 2400 lbs. I know my husband can’t see it either, but he refuses to look into a system that will give us some warning if a tire goes flat. He says they cost too much and that he would be able to tell if we had a problem. I don’t agree and I don’t want to find out the hard way. Can you tell me how to pound some sense into him? —Flat Out Nervous in New Orleans
Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his 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.
Avoid hitting low bridges!
2018 Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas
If you drive a big RV — extra long or extra tall — then this is for you. The truck driver’s Road Atlas shows all the highways 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. Click the video by Chuck Woodbury or order at Amazon.com.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.57 (on Nov. 20). Change from week before: Down 2 cents; Change from year before: Up 41 cents.
Diesel: $2.91 (on Nov. 20). Change from week before: None; Change from year before: Up 49 cents.
Stinky holding tank odors? Here’s the solution
Eliminate disgusting tank odors for less than $1 per treatment with formaldehyde-free Unique RV Digest-It. Unique’s highly concentrated, non-toxic blend of tank cleaning microbes maintains clean sensors, eliminates odors and liquefies the solids in your tank, ensuring no backups. All without harsh chemicals or dangerous ingredients. Try it once and you’ll be shocked at how clean your tank can be! Learn more or order.
RV Fire Safety Tip
How not to test your fire extinguisher
Do not pull the pin and expel the contents to test your powder extinguisher. If you use a portion of the powder extinguisher, have it refilled or replaced immediately. When you have a fire extinguisher refilled, ask to shoot off the charge first (most refill stations have a special place where this can be done safely). This lets you see how far it shoots and how long a charge lasts. Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy
Editor’s note: Choose from a wide selection of fire extinguishers at Amazon. Here are links from Amazon.com for smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, LP gas detectors, and combination smoke and CO detectors.
Enjoy a campfire anywhere, anytime!
Camco’s “Little Red Portable Propane Outdoor Campfire” allows you to take your campfire with you even when in-ground fires are prohibited. Realistic log pieces create the ambiance of a real campfire. Includes an 8′ propane hose for use with standard LP gas cylinders and an adjustable regulator with a maximum output of 65,000 BTU/HR. Learn more or order.
RV Quick Tips
Mold and mildew can creep into your RV when winter camping in a humid area. Electric dehumidifiers are noisy and eat lots of power. Keeping the air moving in your rig can often chase off the mildew creatures, so try running a fan to keep the air circulating. And don’t let your furniture come up against an outside wall if you can help it
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!
Perfect stocking stuffer!
Lucy and Desi go RVing
Now, here’s the perfect stocking stuffer — Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz go RVing! In this 1954 classic — in gorgeous Technicolor — the famous couple (as newlyweds) invest in a 40-foot travel trailer and hit the road. The result is hilarious! The scene in which Lucy tries to make beef stew, a Caesar salad and cake in the wobbling, moving trailer is a classic! This DVD is a great gift for your favorite RVer! Learn more or order for only $7.97.
Gizmos and Gadgets
Protect RV and dinghy seats with PetSafe’s Premium Seat Covers
More and more RVers are deciding that their canine best friends are an important part of their RV lifestyle and take them along on their trips, but this means cleanup of dog hair and tracked in dirt and sand. With a PetSafe SmartFit Premium Seat Cover designed just for Fido, cleanup is a breeze. Made with high-quality materials and unique features not found on any other seat covers, these seat covers are built to last a lifetime! Learn more.
Be sure to sign up for our monthly Great RV Accessories Newsletter. Click here.
“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 which brands and if they offer diesel), campgrounds, truck stops, casinos, laundries, retail stores (by name), shopping malls, movie theaters, factory outlet malls, drug stores, hospitals, rest areas & more. Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions
Buying a bargain-priced “flooded” RV? Beware!
I’m thinking of buying a previously flooded travel trailer off a salvage site. The unit was in a freshwater flood with water sitting in there for about 15 days before it was cleaned up. Water was up over the fuse panel but the batteries were not hooked up and it wasn’t plugged in at the time of flooding. If the fuse panel was dried out, it would be okay to connect, correct? —Patrick L.
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.
with Bob Difley
Steps to conserving and supplying power for RV boondocking
My wife and I have boondocked a couple of times and like it, but it seems that we run out of power too soon. What are the best ways for boondockers to increase their available power supply without breaking the bank buying an expensive solar system? —Walt and Betty
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .
You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.
Give gift cards to your favorite stores and restaurants
You can’t go wrong giving a gift card for the holidays — or any other occasion. Here’s where to order most of America’s most popular gift cards.
with Mike Sokol
Television battery usage
I’m having a perplexing situation here. Wifey and I are heavy-duty boondockers with our RV. Our trailer is a 2012. The TV that came with it was a Jensen and was 120 volts AC. We would power it with our older Cobra 2500-watt inverter. We’ve changed out all our lights in the trailer to LEDs, and I figured if we swapped our TV to a 12-volt LED as well, we’d be using less power since the inverter wouldn’t have to supply the power for the TV. Well, after the swap I hooked up my multi-meter to see how much of a voltage drop there would be when I turned on the TV. To my surprise, it seems like this new TV pulls more volts than the older one even on the inverter. Can this be? —Tommy Molnar
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit
NoShockZone.org for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
Keep your food cool with this RV fridge fan
Every RV refrigerator should have one of these!
This small refrigerator fan from Valterra Products will help keep the food in your RV fridge cool and from spoiling. It cuts down initial cool-down time by 50 percent. Runs for more than 30 days on 2 D batteries. Don’t leave home without this! Learn more or order from Amazon.com.
RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
Is it worth it to inflate tires with nitrogen?
Regarding nitrogen (N2) passing through (permeating) tire rubber more slowly than oxygen (O2) due to molecular size, are nitrogen molecules really larger than oxygen molecules? According to the Get Nitrogen Institute in their paper on N2 effusion, “The correct answer, with respect to ‘permeation,’ is yes.” So you might wonder why Roger doesn’t support the effort to “sell” the idea of always inflating your tires with just nitrogen. Find out here.
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 off the gauge, don’t worry, it will automatically shut off. The included lithium battery never needs to be recharged or replaced. And all this for about $10! Learn more or order.
Astronomy for RVers
with Chris Fellows
Visiting the Very Large Array – Will you make “contact”?
This week Chris highlights another very interesting astronomically related destination, the Very Large Array (VLA), located on The Plains of San Agustin at Magdalena, New Mexico. This iconic telescope was made famous by its inclusion in the 1997 summer blockbuster “Contact,” starring Jodie Foster. The VLA Visitor Center is open every day. There are guided tours (no reservations required) on the first Saturday of each month, and there is also a self-guided walking tour of the facility. Read more.
Photo: M 34 – Open star cluster in the constellation Perseus. It is about 1500 light years from Earth and contains about 400 member stars. Photo taken by Chris Fellows from Meteor Crater in Northern Arizona on November 9, 2017.
NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe
The first three editions of NightWatch sold more than 600,000 copies, making it the top-selling stargazing guide in the world for the last 20 years. The key feature is the section of star charts that are cherished by backyard astronomers everywhere. NightWatch has been acclaimed as the best general interest introduction to astronomy. Learn more or order.
The RV Kitchen
with Janet Groene
Pass the sherry, Cherie. The gravy is to die for. This carefree dish cooks on the stove top and warms up beautifully in the microwave, so don’t hesitate to make the full, six-serving batch even if you’re just cooking for two. Serve it with jasmine rice tonight, noodles tomorrow. Learn a nifty way to cook rice without getting a pan dirty. Get the recipe.
RVtravel.com Readers’ Favorite Recipes
with Emily Woodbury
Flourless Plantain Cake
I love plantains. Whenever I’m out at a restaurant with plantains on the menu, I order about five sides of them. I can’t resist. Though they look similar to bananas, there’s no mistaking the two in flavor or appearance. Plantains are much larger than bananas and are only sweet when very, very ripe. Plantains also have a much higher percentage of starch than bananas, making them great for frying into fritters or using them as a bread substitute. Have you ever had a Jibarito (a Puerto Rican sandwich made with plantain)? If not, be on the lookout. Read more and get the recipe here.
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.
RV Short stop
Fort Davis National Historic Site and Davis Mountains State Park Campground
One of the biggest surprises to snowbird Julianne G. Crane was the Davis Mountains in southwest Texas. This unique and remote area offers all sorts of adventures, including hiking, backpacking, taking a scenic drive through the mountains, stargazing, geocaching and more. This historic site is set in the rugged beauty of the Davis Mountains, the most extensive mountain range in Texas. About four miles away is Davis Mountains State Park, including full-hookup sites and an Indian lodge with a restaurant, as well as a Texas State Park store. Read Julianne G. Crane’s article.
Best seller year after year
The Ultimate RV Cookbook
This popular cookbook will help you prepare cuisine in your RV that’s appetizing, healthy and convenient. Each chapter provides a grocery list and recipes for three days’ worth of meals! There’s a reason this has been a best-selling cookbook in RV kitchens for years. Learn more or order.
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.
Free and bargain camping
Trail’s Petro Travel Center # 398, Albert Lea, MN
FREE: Overnight RV parking is allowed. Park in marked long-vehicle spaces NE of McDonald’s and E of auto pumps. Fairly level, well lit, has no apparent security issues and is far enough from trucks that it’s fairly quiet. Diesel and propane available. Dump station, free. Free Wi-Fi at on-site McDonald’s. Public laundry on site. Truck/RV wash on site. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Cold Stone Creamery, Iron Skillet Restaurant and Skol Tavern on premises. Address: 820 Happy Trails Ln. GPS: 43.65756, -93.31678.
Cabela’s, Tulalip, WA
FREE: Overnight RV parking is allowed. Note that in the past, store discontinued allowing it for a time due to RVers abusing the overnight RV parking privilege. Obtain permission from the customer service desk. The store has told some RVers they must depart no later than 8:30 the following morning. Park in marked RV spaces on south side of store. The spaces are also used by trucks, which can be noisy. The adjacent Tulalip Resort Casino has several restaurants. Address: 9810 Quil Ceda Blvd. GPS: 48.083204, -122.187385.
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 demo. Watch a video about OvernightRVparking.com.
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.
This week in history
Week of November 25–December 1
Compiled by Dell Bert
1913 – Ford’s assembly line starts rolling.
1925 – The Grand Ole Opry begins broadcasting.
1941 – FDR establishes modern Thanksgiving holiday.
1942 – “Casablanca” premieres in NYC.
1942 – Coffee rationing begins.
1955 – Rosa Parks ignites bus boycott.
1991 – Dust storm causes 100-car pileup and kills 17 people in Calif.
In 1961, Martha Stewart was selected as one of Glamour magazine’s “ten best-dressed college girls.”
Bumper sticker of the week
If this RV’s a rockin’ … call the cops. Someone stole it!
Funny/clever business slogan
“Welcome to Stanton – Home to 3,000 friendly people and a few old soreheads.” – Billboard along I-20 in Texas. Stanton hosts Old Sorehead Trade Days three weekends a year, with 615 booths (vendors from all over Texas and the southwest) and 30,000 visitors. –Thanks to John Taylor, full-time RVer, for sending this in.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker or business slogan? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com
Casino Guide includes RVer info
The highly rated 2017 American Casino Guide provides detailed information on more than 750 casino/resorts, riverboats and Indian casinos in 41 states including which have RV parks and/or allow RV overnighting for free. Includes maps and more than $1,000 in coupons. Discloses the actual slot machine payback percentages for every state’s casinos. Learn more or order.
Joke of the Week
A chicken walks up to a duck standing at the side of the road and says, “Don’t do it, mate. You’ll never hear the end of it!”
Random RV Thought
Always keep your motorhome’s or tow vehicle’s fuel and propane tanks filled up in case you need to rush out of town in an emergency.
“It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.” –Andre Gide
RV Travel staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editor: Russ De Maris. Staff writer: Emily Woodbury. Contributing writers: Greg Illes, Bob Difley, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Mike Sokol, Chris Guld, Julianne Crane, Chris Fellows, Jason Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring.
ADVERTISE on RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at)RVtravel.com.
About the RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for three decades. In the ’90s he published the quirky travel newspaper Out West, and was an “on the road” writer for the New York Times Syndicate. His book, “The Best from Out West” is available at Amazon.com. Woodbury’s RVing adventures have been profiled on ABC News, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, and in People Magazine, USA Today and in hundreds of newspapers. He is the host of the Better Business Bureau DVD “Buying a Recreational Vehicle,” the definitive guide to purchasing an RV the right way.
Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com or this newsletter.
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