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Issue 827 • Week of January 6–12, 2018 #rvtravel
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With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
For nearly three weeks last month I lived out of a suitcase on a fly-drive trip to the West Coast.
I checked in three times at airports. At one security gate, I was selected for a pat down. “You see that sign over there?” a TSA agent asked me as he pointed to it. I said yes, I had seen it, an illustration of man standing with his hands above his head, but with a little yellow square hiding his man parts. “Do you mind if I pat you down?” he asked, “including over the spot you see on the sign?” He assured me he would pat me down using the back of his hands, not the palms. I said, “Okay.” So I stood with my hands above my head and he had his way with me.
Then I was led a few feet away where another agent swabbed my hand. “It will only take a few seconds for the results,” she said politely. She was making sure I hadn’t been making any bombs. Even though my memory is not the best, I was confident I hadn’t been working lately on any weapons of mass destruction. Sure enough, I was cleared to pass.
You know, it’s times like these that make you really, truly appreciate travel by RV.
Three weeks living in a suitcase is not fun. I am too impatient to pack properly, so my clothes are always wrinkled. Packing and unpacking is also not fun. Traveling with a suitcase, instead of with an RV where you have a closet and drawers, is stressful. After three weeks of meeting with friends, doing some business and enjoying Christmas dinner at my aunt’s farmhouse in central California, I was worn out and talked out — overstimulated for a guy who is, unbeknownst to most people, a closet introvert.
On our flight back to Texas, Gail and I talked about how glad we were to be “going home.” The thing is, we had only been in our park in the Texas Hill Country for five days before flying away to Seattle and then California for the holidays. So how, we wondered, could we feel such delight at going “home?” We concluded that our RV is our home, not the place where it’s parked. It’s where we feel secure and happy. It’s where we have all the material possessions that mean something to us.
And sure enough, when we finally pulled up to our little home on wheels, we both felt we had arrived at our special place. A few hours later, we climbed into our own bed and fell contentedly to sleep, the previous three weeks now a blur.
Even though I sometimes write here about crummy stuff happening in the RV world – mostly crowded campgrounds and poorly built RVs – I still love RVing as much as when I began doing it half my life ago in my leaky, 18-foot, mechanically challenged motorhome. I am typing now at my tiny home-built desk in the bedroom. Gail is working on some business matters at the table in our living room. Life is very good!
Outside, it’s cold – the coldest it’s been in these parts in decades, the locals say. It was 24 degrees last night and is now 30 at noon. Inside my little bungalow on wheels, it’s warm and cozy and wonderful. Gail I will be here for another two months – lots of time to explore the countryside. Oh, happy days!
P.S. RVtravel.com was viciously (but unsuccessfully) attacked by hackers last week and the result was that our sophisticated filters inadvertently blocked some of you from entering this website.
Nearly 1,000 attempts to gain entry came from China alone. Our I.T. person Kim Christiansen explains what happened and offers some tips for you about how to avoid becoming a victim of this ever-increasing problem, not just for publishers like RVtravel.com, but for everyday users. And, FYI, even if hackers were to gain entry to our site (they won’t), they would learn fast that we store no information about our readers – addresses, emails, credit cards … nothing. All they would find is nearly 3,000 articles about RVing, likely not what they were looking for.
Also: We’re bringing back our Zip Code Contest next week. If you see your randomly selected Zip Code in this newsletter and are the first to tell us, you win cash. In the past, we given away as much as a few hundred dollars to individual winners.
Letters to the editor (your comments are welcome)
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Comprehensive list of
RV-related recalls for December
The list of latest recalls on RVs and other vehicles and/or products of interest to RVers has been released by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The list includes models from Forest River, Grand Design, Gulf Stream, Heartland, Highland Ridge, Jayco, Keystone, Newmar, Thor and others — plus other vehicles commonly used by RVers. Is your RV or other vehicle on the list? Find out here.
• Airbag recalls continue: 34 million vehicles affected.
• Satellite dish may fly off motorhome roofs, forcing recalls.
• Newmar recalls 34,699 motorhomes for defective fire extinguisher.
We have a winner! No more entries for this contest, please!
The answer: C.) The Moon
Win this fascinating book, Nomadland. (Read Chuck’s review of this book here.)
The question: Where is the Sea of Tranquility located?
C.) The Moon
The winner will be chosen randomly out of all correct entries received by noon (Pacific), Monday.
Email your answer to RVcontests(at)gmail.com. The correct answer is hidden somewhere in this newsletter!
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. We’ll email you if you win.
No contest last week, so no winner to report.
BEST SELLERS IN THE AMAZON KINDLE STORE.
If you thought you got stuck with stiff fuel prices during your holiday travels, your pinprick sensation was spot-on. The highest number of holiday drivers ever spiked fuel prices around the country. But take heart, says auto club AAA, prices should start spiraling back down this month.
Comparing movement of new RVs from manufacturers to dealers for November 2017 with November 2016 shows quite a change. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association says shipments were up nearly 20 percent in the most recent November. Towable units were up a solid 20 percent, while motorhomes moved ahead more than 16 percent.
The Thomas Fire of 2017 has gone down in the books as California’s largest wildfire. While fire officials say the cause of the conflagration – which started not far from the Ventura Ranch KOA in Santa Paula – is still under investigation, others feel differently. A group of residents has filed suit against the City of Ventura and utility companies. The suit claims that power crews working above the KOA did so “in an unsafe manner which ignited vegetation,” or failed to maintain overhead electric and communications facilities.
Camping World (CW) is back in court, this time facing off against recreation gear manufacturer The North Face. It relates to Camping World’s acquisition of Gander Mountain, a recreation gear retailer. After CW renamed Gander Mountain as Gander Outdoors, it held a contest for a new logo design. That design, says The North Face, looks too much like one of their product line logos (Summit Series), and the company complained to CW about it in August. But CW said it wasn’t likely customers would be confused and forged ahead with the new logo. Now the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware will need to make the call.
They’ve pulled the “welcome mat” at California’s Joshua Tree National Park. The unseasonably warm weather before Christmas drove huge crowds to the normally quiet park – creating mile-long backups at the park’s north entrance gate and filling up every campsite. Park staff were busy suggesting visitors go elsewhere – like Death Valley – or if they just had to come to Joshua Tree, be prepared for crowds like “the Santa Monica Freeway at rush hour,” said one park staffer. Read more.
Maryland says all military veterans can now have free admission to any of the 72 state parks managed by its park service agency. The state is home to 414,000 vets, and 1.4 million are said to live in the region.
In Wisconsin, it’s not just the fish that bite. The new 2018 state budget allows the Department of Natural Resources that manages state parks to jump gate fees as much as $5 per day per vehicle. Those overnighting will take a worse hit: up to $15 a night more for state residents and $16 for non-residents for campsites. And if you want an electrical hookup, that could cost you an additional $5 more per night at certain Wisconsin parks. DNR officials say they’re still working out the details about how much and where the new fees will start biting.
Levy County, Fla., commissioners have given approval for zoning changes that will make the way for a new RV park near Williston. The 180-acre site received approval to receive water and sewer services from the city. No word on when the new park will open.
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Tourism is important “deep in the toes of Texas,” and there was likely some anxiety for local chambers of commerce when surveying the damage left by Hurricane Harvey. Rockport usually sees 5,000 to 8,000 “Winter Texans,” and each one of them is considered a foundation block to the local economy. This year, somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 have returned. Since many hotels and condos were severely damaged, the bulk of those thousands are staying at the nearly 45 RV parks in the area. Officials are hoping still more will be showing up in the next few weeks.
New Jersey state park campsites can now be reserved online. Last month the Garden State opened its new website.
It hasn’t been long since Lassen Volcanic Park (Calif.) raised entry fees – that was in 2015. At that time, park officials explained it was the first fee increase in 17 years. Now, a bit over two years later, the rates will rise yet again: Gate fees will jump $5 per car to $25 for a 7-day admission pass. Campground rates are also jumping – up $2 per night. Those overnight fees went up back in 2015 as well, anywhere between $2 and $6 per night. Park officials say the new rate structure is to “keep fees in line with other, similar National Park areas.”
An Oklahoma City, Okla., family was heartbroken when someone stole their renovated travel trailer, but their feelings were restored after a homeless man helped them get it back. After a beloved family pet died, the family rigged out the unit to make it easier to camp with their remaining dogs, and when it vanished it left them devastated. A homeless man saw a news account about the theft and immediately called police, as he’d watched the rig being dropped off, evidently by the crooks. Though the RV had been “cleaned out,” the family got their beloved rig back, and a “moved-to-tears” “finder” was given a $1,000 reward by the grateful family.
Plainfield Township, Mich., officials have a tentative agreement to purchase the now-closed Grand Rogue Campground in Belmont. They offered $950,000 for the site, with $700,000 of the offer coming out of a state trust grant. There’s enough environmental clean up on the site to cost an additional $125,000. It’s still not clear if the township will reopen to camping. A decision on the issue should be made this year.
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.
When the 2012 Little Bear Fire roared through New Mexico’s Lincoln National Forest, it left plenty of damage in its wake. The South Fork Campground took a particularly hard hit, and was thought to be useless to campers until sometime in 2019. But, if things go right, it could open this year. At present, crews are reworking low water crossings and rebuilding restrooms.
Officials in Lee County, Iowa, have told an RV park owner she needs to hire a witch. Mary Hobbs operates Lake Wilderness Campground in West Point. Local authorities want each site at the park to have a county-issued address number sign, making it easier for emergency response. But Hobbs points out when she bought the park, there was no plan showing where underground utilities in the park are located – and there’s no rhyme or reason as to how they run. Hobbs says if the county pounds stakes in the ground to put in the address signs, they’re bound to hit underground utilities, but the county won’t authorize its utility locating service to work on private land, leaving Hobbs with the only “location” alternative of hiring a water witch to find the lines – which doesn’t always work. So far, it’s a standoff.
Ashland, Neb., city councilors have received an unusual request: A local businessman wants to build a 44-site RV park in town – but wants the city to not only vacate streets and alleys in the project confines, but asks the city to give him a couple of chunks of city-owned land, too. Developer Bob Luebbe told councilors he could easily see how each park guest could pump $100 per day of their visit into the city’s economy, and he’d be happy to grant easements to the city to handle utility issues. To top it off, adding those currently city-owned properties to his land would put them back on the property tax rolls. No decision made, but comments from city councilors were reportedly skeptical, at best.
Keep up with RV Industry news
throughout the week at RVbusiness.com.
This week’s Reader Poll
Do you insure your RV and passenger vehicles together or separately?
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.
No poll last week.
Is reverse osmosis water safe for your RV batteries?
Not long ago we got a message from a reader who was traveling across the United States. Before he left home, he’d hit the local shopping centers looking for distilled water for use in his RV batteries and, much to his dismay, couldn’t find any. Could he use RO (reverse osmosis) water to keep his battery cells topped off? Find out in Russ and Tiña De Maris’ well-researched article.
RV Mods: Is a “solar ready” RV right for your needs?
As you stroll through the miles of aisles at the big RV shows, be prepared for a new offer from some of the RV manufacturers. At first glance it might seem like something far more practical than the usual “bling” thrown at RV shoppers – it’s the feature that calls itself “Solar Ready!” Read the pros and cons of this new “solar system in a suitcase.”
Doing the “Quartzsite Crawl”
In their travels, RVers encounter many unexpected phenomenons – circumstances on the road that just seem to pop up that try our ability to adapt, which is the key to continuing happiness. Witness the phenomenon of the “Quartzsite Crawl.” Long-time Quartzsite residents Russ and Tiña De Maris share some experiences along with tips and tricks to help you survive, and even enjoy, your trip to Quartzsite. Read more.
RV burns before Sugar Bowl game. See it go up in flames
RVs burn, and when they do they burn fast. Nearly every day, somewhere in America, an RV goes up in flames. Here’s an example of a catastrophic fire from last weekend’s Sugar Bowl football game, where an Alabama fan’s late-model motorhome caught fire and turned to toast quickly. (At least her team won.) Watch the short video (and weep).
New book paints dark picture of “work campers”
“Nomadland, Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” is not a feel-good book. If anything, it’s a feel-bad book. It paints a very dark picture of RVers who work as they travel. In the world which author Jessica Bruder portrays, these people are desperate and must work to survive. She does not discuss the tens of thousands of other “work campers” who work because they enjoy being productive and the extra income allows them to live a better life. Still, the RVers Bruder profiles are real. RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury found the book fascinating, although disturbing. Read his review.
Even the simple things: Get a grip!
If you are like Rich “The Wanderman” (and the rest of us) you drop small stuff … a lot. Do you drop screws, nuts, connectors, etc., when you’re working on your RV? Do they invariably end up in an inaccessible spot? Well, there is a solution and it’s old school – and it’s not pre-chewed gum on a stick. Learn about this handy gadget that Rich can’t do without – especially in the freezing cold.
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.
Snowbirds – Can you feast on fresh fruits and veggies?
As RVers, we travel to many new and different locations, and the preparation and enjoyment of local foods can become a highlight of our travels. The best local foods in season will be found at farmer’s markets, farm stands and U-pick farms. Here are tips from Boondock Bob Difley on where to find the freshest produce no matter where you are or what time of year it is. Read more.
A sewer hose that withstands cold weather
Chris Dougherty, certified RV technician, wrote this review of the RhinoExtreme hose from Camco while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor. RVing in winter has its challenges as well as rewards. One major challenge is trying to keep liquids liquid, whether that be fresh water or waste. Chris broke many sewer hoses in the Northeast’s frigid winters before he found this one. Learn more.
Mini electric car doubles as office, living space
This article was written for RVtravel.com by our friend James Raia at the Weekly Driver, one of our favorite websites about automobiles. It’s about a vehicle at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show which attracted more bizarre reaction than any other. The Redspace REDS EV is the automotive version of a tiny house. It’s transportation. It’s living space. And it’s a mobile office all in one small, futuristic-looking machine. Check it out!
When RV locks get sticky, do this to lubricate them
Eventually, all RV compartment and door locks will get sticky or hard to open and close. After all, they are exposed to the weather. But there is an easy way to get them working smoothly again. Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, explains a very easy way to lubricate the locks on your RV doors and outside compartments. Watch the short video.
Volunteer positions available on BLM lands and elsewhere
Looking for a meaningful way to spend your time by helping others? The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other federal agencies offer many opportunities perfect for RVers with extra time on their hands, from one-time volunteer positions to others of longer terms. Some positions involve pay. Learn more.
Can you be shocked by camping near high power lines?
Mike Sokol has the answer in this short video. You’ll be surprised at what he says. Hint: If you park your RV beneath some really high power lines it could be electrified to 10,000 volts or so. Sound scary? Watch the two-minute video to see if you should be concerned.
Add a fancy outhouse to your small RV
Is your RV too small for a decent-sized bathroom, or any bathroom? Well, do we have good news for you — at least if you like the comforts of home but don’t want to buy a more fully equipped RV! It’s called bath2go. It’s a fancy outhouse that’s carried on the back of a vehicle, typically a van conversion. Inside, there’s room for a toilet, shower and water tank. Learn more.
Need mail forwarding? Choose the best!
Bonus for joining: Get a $25 gift certificate good at 25,000 restaurants
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.
Readers’ comments on recent articles
Recent popular articles that attracted high numbers of reader comments
• What’s all this electrical “ground” stuff about?
• RVer concerned about “too much” tire pressure increase.
• If in doubt, check it out before parking – or pay a hefty price.
• Are public land boondocking options now in jeopardy?
• Get more from your amps and watts.
• Road Signs – Peripheral vision.
More popular articles from last week’s issue
• RVer needs help finding slideout’s manual override.
• How to make a map of your travels – free and easy.
• Thumbs up – Positive comments from readers (lots of topics) in December.
• A few of the many uses for WD-40.
• Reader’s Recipe: Irv’s Make-Ahead Frittata Muffins.
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.
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.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System has 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
Couple disagree on RVing full-time with cat
Dear RV Shrink:
We have been considering selling our home, buying a motorhome and traveling full-time. There are several things about that lifestyle that my wife and I do not agree on. The biggest obstacle is our 14-year-old cat. She wants to take the cat and I think that’s a bad idea. I have taken that cat in the car to the vet on occasion and he freaks out and howls during the whole trip. I can just picture us traveling throughout North America with a howling cat screeching in my ear. Can you give us some direction to common ground on this issue. Thanks in advance. —Categorically Against Traveling with Felix
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.
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.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.52 (on Jan. 1). Change from week before: Up 5 cents; Change from year before: Up 14 cents.
Diesel: $2.97 (on Jan. 1). Change from week before: Up 7 cents; Change from year before: Up 39 cents.
BRAND NEW EDITION FOR 2018
“The” guide to services at Interstate exits
Never take a wrong exit off an Interstate highway again. The 2018 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.
RV Fire Safety Tip
Educate your guests, just in case
Show your guests how to unhook electricity (screw-on cords can be tricky) and how to close propane valves, in case either of these measures is called for. 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.
2018 Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States
PUBLISHED JAN. 2018: Learn how to prepare, carry & transport your firearm in all 50 states, Canada & Mexico. Includes state breakdowns of firearms ownership, semi-auto gun ownership, castle doctrine, right to protect, open & concealed carry, state & national parks, permit reciprocity, loaded vs. unloaded, interstate transport restrictions, traffic stops, universal restricted areas, motorhome & RV issues, preemptive local laws & more. Learn more or order.
RV Quick Tips
More help for your fridge in cold weather
“Perhaps a cleaner, better way to modify the vents on the fridge intake [aside from covering them with duct tape] is to insert a section of round foam pipe insulation cut to length to fit your units vents. We spent have spent three years in ski country (often below 0 degrees) and this technique, along with a 40-watt lightbulb in the compartment, kept the fridge working normally even at 9000 feet elevation. And afterwards, no duct tape residue to clean up, and you have just what you need for the next time it’s needed.” Thanks to Gary Vines and Deb Locke, full-timers
Upgrade your steps with carpet samples
Use carpet samples (they have a finished edge on them) to put a temporary carpet on the inside steps of your RV. Cut the sample to step-size and use two-sided carpet tape to hold it down. Put the finished edge out (it looks better). Toss when dirty. Thanks to Ron Jones, AboutRVing.com.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!
Too cold at night? Not for long!
Are your sheets cold at night? Are you going to bed wearing socks and a hat? Don’t fear, the electric blanket is here! This soft, good-looking blanket has a light-up remote with three warming settings and an auto on/off switch. The 6-ft. power cord will reach nearly any outlet – in the bed and on the couch! Worried it might get dirty? Don’t be! It can be machine washed and dried. Learn more by clicking here.
Gizmos and Gadgets
DIY upgrade from OEM showerhead to Oxygenics BodySpa
Economic use of water for RVers that frequently boondock without a water hookup is a given. But for those who like copious water flow and strong pressure from their shower head, this presents a conundrum. Oxygenics hopes to give you the best of both circumstances by putting jet engine power in your shower. The Oxygenics BodySpa Showerhead, using patented technology, increases oxygen content in your water and self-pressurizes for the best shower experience possible. Learn more.
Be sure to sign up for our monthly Great RV Accessories Newsletter. Click here.
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.
Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions
What are the blue flakes coming out of the water heater?
I was winterizing our 10-year-old coach and flushing out the water heater. Some scale, I know, is usual, but what came out were lots of blue flakes. I am assuming that this is the glass lining of the tank and that the heater is basically totaled and not usable. I’d be very pleased if you could confirm that for me. —George N.
Avoid hitting low bridges!
2018 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 by Rand McNally 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: USA, Canada & Mexico. Click the video by Chuck Woodbury or order at Amazon.
with Bob Difley
Searching for evidence of prehistoric hunters and gatherers
We’re headed to the deserts for the winter right after New Year’s Day and were told by another RVer that it was possible to find signs of the existence of prehistoric Native Americans in places not protected (such as in National Parks and monuments). We thought it would be fun to explore the areas where we boondock looking for these signs. How would we go about it? Thanks. —Sylvia and Marshall
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.
The Complete Book of Boondock RVing
Frustrated by crowded RV parks? Learn how to camp out in the wild beside a babbling mountain brook or by a saguaro in the desert. The Complete Book of Boondock RVing is the complete guide to camping without hookups (aka “dry camping”). Whether overnighting in a parking lot or holing up in the wilderness, learn how to equip your rig, find great campsites, manage electricity and water, and more. Learn more or order at Amazon.
with Mike Sokol
Can water puddles shock you?
I have a major concern. We host at a popular state park that has allowed some conditions to develop at several sites that allows water to stand after a rain that covers the pad and extends to around the power pedestal for a depth of several inches. The result is a camper is an island with their power cord in the water and going up to the electric plugs. This can last for 6-10 hours after a rain of only an inch or so. Park staff knows about this as the condition has existed for several years. My thought is that this is totally not safe. Park staff responds that it will drain and dry up. How best to address this? —Michael F.
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.
Easily clean 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.
RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
How do you figure an ST-type tire’s maximum safe speed?
Roger recently read a post on an online forum which stated, regarding the maximum speed for an ST-type tire: “The 65 mph is not really correct. It depends on load and air pressure. They can go to 80 mph.” He explains in this article how load formulas in the Load/Inflation table used by the tire industry for ST-type tires are calculated, and how to make adjustments when needed. Roger also cautions against believing in “magic or marketing claims” when it comes to your RV’s tires and your safety. Learn more.
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 $16! Learn more or order.
Astronomy for RVers
with Chris Fellows
See the majesty of M42 – Orion the hunter
Winter is upon us and for those who have the fortitude and constitution it brings a treat that amateur astronomers wait all year for. The mighty Orion Nebula blazes so brightly that most mistake it for a star. Even through very modest telescopes or decent binoculars this is a sprawling nebula with fantastic structure and beauty. In this article, Chris Fellows will show you how to find M42 – Orion – and gives some observing tips to help you better enjoy the spectacle. Read more.
Protect yourself from intruders, bears and more!
The BASU eAlarm lets us explore, sleep, and adventure with confidence! This tiny device emits a 130-decibel alarm which scares away intruders, burglars and wild animals, and will call for help if you find yourself stranded. Used by the RV Travel staff, you can count on this alarm to keep you safe. Watch the video to learn more or click here to order for about $10.
The RV Kitchen
with Janet Groene
Sour Cream Banana Pudding
Going bananas. Banana pudding is a Southern classic that begins with bananas, vanilla wafers and vanilla pudding. Every cook in Dixie has a cherished recipe that may include instant or cooked pudding and more or fewer bananas and wafers plus, perhaps, his or her own secret ingredient. What’s Janet’s secret ingredient? Find out here.
RVtravel.com Readers’ Favorite Recipes
with Emily Woodbury
Einar’s Chuckwagon Range Rub
Not much has changed in my life since I wrote last week, moaning about getting back into the kitchen after the holidays. Which is why, just like Irv’s Frittata Muffins (last week’s recipe), Einar’s Range Rub is what appeals during this slow, sleepy time of year.
Spices, rubs and herbs can make or break a dish. Before I really started appreciating food, I couldn’t tell what needed more salt and what needed more paprika and what needed more cinnamon. Seasoning foods doesn’t just make them taste better, it physically cooks them better too. Read more and get the recipe here.
Pop popcorn the fun, easy way
Pop your popcorn with Colonel Popper, the all-silicone popcorn maker that folds down for compact storage. It’s super durable, safe and eco-friendly. You can eat fresh microwave popcorn right out of its colorful bowl! Perfect for the RV. Click the video for a one-minute demonstration or order at Amazon.
RV Short stop
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Navajo Reservation, Arizona
Canyon de Chelly (pronounced de shay) is a red rock natural wonder. Located within the Navajo Reservation in eastern Arizona, the canyon has been occupied by Native Americans for thousands of years. Pictographs and ruins of early pueblos remind us of their presence. The Navajo still farm the canyon and consider it sacred. Except for hikers at White House trail, visitors must be accompanied by an authorized Navajo guide. Tours of the canyon visit several overlooks where you can look down hundreds of feet and appreciate the beauty of the meandering sculpted walls, the cottonwood-lined valley floor and the Navajo farm lands. At the mouth of the canyon, the National Park Service runs a visitor center and the free first-come first-serve Cottonwood Campground is operated by the Navajo (call 928-674-2106 for info). It’s dry camping only, but restrooms are provided. Most of the sites are shaded by tall cottonwoods.
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.
Good reading from RV123.com
• Find An Oasis This Winter in Clearwater, Florida
• Vegan Guide for Camping
• Featured App: Good Sam Camping
2018 Large Scale Road Atlas now available
This 2018 Rand McNally Large Scale Road Atlas has maps of every U.S. state that are 35% larger than the standard atlas version plus over 350 city inset & national park maps & a comprehensive index. Road construction & conditions contact info is located above maps. Mileage chart shows distances & drive time between 77 North American cities & national parks. Tough spiral binding allows the atlas to lay open easily. Learn more.
Free and bargain camping
Chambers County EB Rest Area, Hankamer, TX
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. State allows parking (not camping) for up to 24 hours in rest areas on all TX highways. Exit to the rest area and park in RV area. Restrooms, picnic tables, playground, vending machines, interpretive displays. Address: EB I-10, ~ Milepost 814. GPS:29.836614, -94.608185
Walmart Supercenter # 1477, Summersville, WV
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Obtain permission from store. Park in far south end of lot, close to Sheetz gas station & convenience store. Well-lit and appears fairly level. Subway and Arby’s are close and there are 6-8 other dining options nearby. Address: 200 Wal Street. GPS: 38.302866, -80.83502
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.
The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
RV Travel contributor Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. Mike has taken his 40+ years of experience to write this book about RV electricity that nearly anyone can understand. Covers the basics of Voltage, Amperage, Wattage and Grounding, with additional chapters on RV Hot-Skin testing, GFCI operation, portable generator hookups and troubleshooting RV electrical systems. This should be essential reading for all RVers. Learn more or order
Upcoming RV Shows
• Ohio RV and Boat Show, Jan. 5-14, Columbus, OH
• Pittsburgh RV Show, Jan. 6-14, Pittsburgh, PA
• Indy RV Expo, Jan. 6-14, Indianapolis, IN
• Ohio RV Supershow, Jan, 10-14, Cleveland, Ohio
• Mid America RV Show, Jan. 11-14, Kansas City, MO
• 57th Annual RV & Campgrounds Show, Jan. 12-14, Allentown, PA
• Valley RV and Camping Show, Jan. 12-14, South Bend, IN
• Washington Camping RV Expo, Jan. 12-14, Chantilly, VA
• OKC Boat & RV Show, Jan. 12-14, Oklahoma City, OK
• Boston RV & Camping Expo, Jan. 12-15, Boston, MA. Visit Show Website.
• Florida RV Supershow, Jan. 16-21, Tampa, FL
• Austin Boat & Travel Trailer Show, Jan. 18-21, Austin, TX
• Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show, Jan. 18-21, Grand Rapids, MI
• Inland Northwest RV Show and Sale, Jan. 18-21, Spokane, WA
• Tacoma RV Show, Jan. 18-21, Tacoma, WA
• Toronto RV Show and Sale, Jan. 18-21, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
• Georgia RV & Camper Show, Jan. 19-21, Atlanta, GA
• Greater Chicago RV Show, Jan. 19-21, N. Schaumburg, IL
• Lexington RV Show, Jan. 19-21, Lexington, KY
• New Jersey RV & Camping Show, Jan. 19-21, Edison, NJ
• Quartzsite RV Show, Jan. 20-28, Quartzsite, AZ. Free parking and admission.
See the complete list of all upcoming RV shows.
The only logical way to store your water bottle – flat!
Tired of having your cabinet explode with falling water bottles every time you open it? This space-saving collapsible 26-oz water bottle rolls up and collapses. No more worrying about all those water bottles taking up room! This BPA-free bottle is helpful for tight storage, but also great to bring on hikes or day-trips. Hot tea or coffee? It’ll work for that too! Find it on Amazon here.
This week in history
Week of January 6–12
Compiled by Dell Bert
1908 – Theodore Roosevelt makes Grand Canyon a national monument.
1912 – New Mexico joins the Union.
1935 – Amelia Earhart is the first to fly from Hawaii to California.
1972 – RMS Queen Elizabeth is destroyed by fire.
1976 – “Convoy,” by C.W. McCall, is #1 song on U.S. pop charts.
1981 – “Dynasty” premieres on ABC.
1996 – Blizzard in Northeast U.S. kills 154 people.
2007 – Steve Jobs debuts the iPhone.
In 1965, a Senate subcommittee predicted that by 2000, Americans would only be working 20 hours a week with seven weeks of vacation. (Oops.)
Bumper sticker of the week
Oh, I see! You are TURNING! If only there was something to let me KNOW that!
Funny/clever business slogan
On a travel agent’s marquee: Do us both a favor and get out of town!
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker or business slogan? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com
CONTEST ANSWER The Sea of Tranquility is located on the Moon!
Joke of the Week
Did you hear about the guy who dreamed he was a muffler? He woke up exhausted!
Random RV Thought
The best time to camp with an RV, most people will agree, is when the weather is sunny and warm (but not too warm). But even on a cold and rainy day, holing up in an RV can be a special experience. The sound of the rain falling on the roof, combined with feeling secure in a warm and cozy space that’s your very own “home sweet home,” can be very comforting.
“Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.” —Henry David Thoreau
Missing Children Report, January 5, 2018
As RVers, we get around. We not only see a lot of beautiful scenery, but a lot of people too. With 60,000 of us keeping our eyes open, maybe we can help find a missing child. Click here to see six currently missing children. Wouldn’t it be great if we could help bring them home?
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, J.M. 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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