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Issue 844 • Week of May 5–11, 2018 #rvtravel
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
Every day of every week, I spend some time thinking about how I can make this newsletter better. I want a big ol’ game changing idea that’s presently hidden away in my brain to break loose and rise to the top of all that gray matter. I’m waiting for that lightbulb to show up, fully illuminated, right over my head!
It’s happened to me a few times in my life and, damn, it needs to happen again! I like what we do — the service we provide to RVers with this newsletter — but I yearn to do more. I want it to be different from everything else out there about RVing, and better.
I subscribe to every newsletter about RVing I can find. All day long, every day of the week, they arrive in my inbox. It’s the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over. How many ways can you write about how to dump a holding tank?
I’m looking for better ways to help you and other readers stay out of trouble on the road and help newbies make wise buying decisions. That’s why my staff and I write about crowded RV parks and defective RVs rolling out of factories. And it’s why we preach to not let Camping World talk you into a 20-year loan or an overpriced extended warranty! Nobody else writes about that. This week we’re introducing a three-part feature on Lemon Laws — how you can use them to get your money back on a defective RV.
Everybody else writes the same ol’ boring stuff either because they’re clueless about what’s going on or because the publishers refuse to pay professional writers or, very often, they don’t want to offend an advertiser and lose their money. (Read this story which illustrates that last point.)
I get letters every day from readers angry at RV manufacturers. This one arrived a few days ago:
“We’ve discovered our five-year-old Forest River RV, made for wheelchair-accessibility, has floor joists 24″ on center. For someone standing, their weight is distributed over about 36 square inches on each foot. In a wheelchair that same weight is spread out over four square inches — one square inch (if that) for each wheel. No wonder the floor is sagging after only three, three-month trips. What kind of designer would ignore the vastly different load from a wheelchair? Now I have to have everything inside removed to replace the floor!”
That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. That’s not what the glowing GoRVing ads promise. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) sent out a survey this week that asks respondents to rate their RV lifestyle. It’s so slanted that the results will only further enable the industry to boast, among other things, the affordability of an RV vacation. Yes, it can be affordable, but so can dozens of other ways to travel.
I am past the age when I planned to retire. My problem was when that magic 65th birthday came along, I had no clue what to do without this newsletter and website. So I just watched that birthday come and go, saluted as it passed, and here I am now, headed off to the still distant (I hope) sunset. There’s more fire in my belly now than ever before!
All the way back to my college days working on the student newspaper, I have envisioned myself a communicator, not simply a writer. Until about age 45, I was broke, the stereotypical “starving writer.” My father was all over me — “Get a job!” To everybody but me and a few friends I was going nowhere. But I knew in my heart I could find my way. I read every book I could find about publishing. I read case studies of newspapers and magazines from the Saturday Evening Post to the National Enquirer to Life Magazine to the New York Times.
I READ BIOGRAPHIES of William Randolph Hearst, Walter Winchell, Edward R. Murrow, Rupert Murdoch, Charles Kuralt, Walter Cronkite, Ernie Pyle, etc. I read books on the history of newspapers, magazines, radio and lately the Internet. It all sank in, where it remains.
Heck, when I had barely started freelancing, for some reason, I hooked up with the National Enquirer and wrote a few articles for it. The pay was incredible; I could afford to buy decent food for a change. To this day every time I use the word “whopping,” as in “the fish was a whopping five feet long,” I smile, recalling the Enquirer. I didn’t write for the tabloid for more than a few months: I didn’t like putting words into people’s mouths or doing surveys asking women if they slept in “sexy nightgowns”! But I sure learned a lot — the good, the bad and definitely the ugly. In the end, it was a valuable experience.
I spent a year covering occasional news stories for USA Today and learned how to write without wasting words! Then I wrote for six years for the New York Times Syndicate. Along the way, I learned the good that journalism could do. I also learned how it could be misused (epidemic today).
Nowadays, everybody is a writer and publisher and even TV producer. All that’s necessary are free Facebook and YouTube accounts. Millennial RVers take advantage of both. Their subject matter, with rare exceptions, is only about them.
Their education was Facebook, not journalism school, and I don’t think they know how to craft a meaningful story. Most of these people will not survive long on the RV road. Some, I hope, will stay the course, learn as they go, and perhaps one day devote themselves to more important matters than themselves.
At this stage of my life earning more money means nothing to me except it allows me to afford to find and pay writers fairer so they can afford to spend more time writing meaty articles that matter. Today, I’ll bet more than two-thirds the financial support we receive from our cherished “volunteer subscribers” funds the creation of the valuable information we provide you, not pad our pockets.
We want to be the best we can be, and that is no lie.
Let there be obnoxious lights in the RV park
Have you had the opportunity to stay next to an RVer who lit up his rig at night, even though he never came outside to actually benefit from the light? Have you had to shut your bedroom blinds at bedtime to keep your room dark? If so, read on.
Letters to the editor (Your comments are welcome – please add them below the specific article.)
• RVer turned off by RV parks.
• RVs built for ‘living’ not ‘RVing’
(about whatever is on the editor’s mind, not necessarily RV-related).
WRITER WANTED: Are you an expert on RV solar power, tow vehicles, engine performance or any topic related to RVing that we don’t cover well enough? If so, maybe you should be writing for us. We pay. You won’t make a fortune, but we’ll do our best. Interested? Contact Deanna Tolliver at Deanna (at) RVtravel.com
Trying to pay off your RV?
RVing should be about freedom, not monthly payments. The income you earn by renting it out could cover the cost of ownership — up to $4,250 a month for a Class A motorhome or $1,780 a month for a popup trailer. Find out how to rent your RV safely on Campanda.com.
Fugitive may be hiding in campground. Seen him?
Officials in Calumet County, Wisc., are asking campers to be on the lookout for a wanted man who could be hiding in an area campground. U.S. Marshals have been searching for 38-year-old Dallas Christel since March. Although he is most likely in a Wisconsin campground, he has connections in Michigan and Colorado, too. Learn more.
Featured in the most
recent RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• Make that screen door grab handle easier to reach.
• Protect your pets from wily coyotes.
• Changes coming to this (RV Daily Tips) newsletter.
• Do-it-yourself custom sink-matched cutting board.
Sign up for RVtravel.com’s
new monthly newsletter about RV electricity.
•Did you miss last week’s RV Travel? Read it here.
•Directory of back issues.
Help us do more! Support this newsletter
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 (add another 208 if you read our RV Daily Tips Newsletter)! Many readers set up an ongoing subscription, most $5 to $10 a month. But even a one-time contribution of $5 or $10 helps 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.
Comprehensive list of
RV-related recalls for April
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 (many), Keystone, Lazy Daze, Newmar, REV Recreation Group, and others — plus other vehicles and equipment commonly used by RVers. Is your RV, other vehicle or equipment on the list? Find out here.
• Forest River recalls some Coachmen trailers for propane-related issue.
• Forest River recalls some RVs for wrong weight label.
• Newmar recalls 2,038 motorhomes for headlight issue.
• Fire risk forces recall of some 2018 Newmar motorhomes.
• Gulf Stream recalls motorhomes with missing side lights.
The latest news about RVing from our newsroom
Our writers and editors have selected the most important, most interesting and helpful news about RVing from the past week and boiled it all down into a fast-paced digest. Click here to read it.
• 45,000 new RVs shipped to dealers last month
• Winnebago rolls out electric bloodmobile; are electric RVs next?
• Wyoming recreation area eliminates entrance fees
Don’t Pay for
RV Repairs this Travel Season
Bad news: the average RV repair costs $300 per hour between parts and labor! The good news? You can protect yourself from these trip-ending costs with reliable RV protection from Wholesale Warranties! Get your Free Quote for an RV Warranty you can count on today, and travel with peace of mind tomorrow.
Got a Lemon RV? Help is available (sometimes)
Do you think your RV may be a lemon? If you bought a new RV and you’ve taken it back to the dealer or manufacturer for numerous repairs and it’s STILL not fixed, you may, in fact, have a lemon RV. Discussions among RVers about the quality of RV construction generally lead to the same conclusion: Manufacturers are sending many substandard units out their doors these days. Why? Learn more.
What we learned about you last week
Another five RV Travel Reader Polls have come and gone and we now know more about you than we did last week at this time. For example, we know how much you’d be willing to pay for dependable high-speed internet in an RV park. We also know something that really has nothing to do with RVing but is kinda interesting. You’ll need to click here to find out about these poll results and a few others.
Whoa! – Use a brake controller to slow down a trailer properly
A few weeks ago, Rich “The Wanderman” towed a trailer a long way over various roads including some big hills with steep descents. It all worked out OK, but when he arrived home he noticed a significant amount of additional brake pad wear. Why was that? He had made a mistake – one that could have cost him dearly. Read more.
Best-selling RVs – Is yours on the list?
Sales of all RV types increased last year except for folding trailers (sometimes called pop-ups) and Class A gas motorhomes, according to the RV Dealers Association (RVDA). Here’s a breakdown (no pun intended) of new units sold, by RV type, in 2017, as well as the most popular models (in descending order) in each category. Interesting!
This week’s Reader Poll
Has an RV dealer refused to service your RV because you bought it elsewhere?
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:
How much extra would you pay per day for dependable, unlimited high-speed internet at an RV park? Click here for the results.
Need an RV Home Base?
Then you need Americas Mailbox! You’ll enjoy great tax advantages with your South Dakota “residency,” like no state income tax and low insurance rates (second lowest in the USA says the Insurance Information Institute). Many plans are available. Click the video where RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury talks with Americas Mailbox owner Don Humes. Or click here to learn more or enroll.
Eat in or out – and still save some bucks
Saving money where you can on the RV budget can make your trip last longer, or leave a few bucks for other attractions. Eating “in” can be a real money saver, but occasionally there is a need for “fast food.” Here are some suggestions from Russ and Tiña De Maris that you can make in your galley, store in the freezer, then eat when you’re in a hurry – cheaper than at McDoogie’s. They also have some handy tips for saving on the tab when eating out. Read more.
Refrigerator failure: Replace or repair?
“While visiting Jackson, Mississippi, I noticed things were not as cold in my RV refrigerator or freezer. After an Internet search, I learned about high temperature switches installed on Norcold refrigerators. Apparently some Norcold models had a bad habit of bursting into flames, and this recall box shuts the refrigerator off when the boiler gets too hot. According to many web articles, the switch has been known to trip when there is no overheating. There is a hack for that, which could save the expense of a service call.” Read the rest of this informative (and entertaining) article by Tammy Williams.
Free 2018 dinghy towing guide now available
The folks at motorhome.com have released the 2018 Guide to Dinghy Towing. It’s a free PDF download, and features “all manufacturer-approved, flat-towable cars, trucks and SUVs.” Many important towing issues are addressed in this guide. Get or read the free guide here.
Worries about tornadoes, and a video of RVs getting blown over
RVTravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury is not accustomed to being in the Midwest in the spring, when tornadoes most often occur. “Why do people live here?” he wonders after experiencing a tornado watch the night before. And then, the next morning, the news video of a tornado not far away toppling RVs. Read more and watch the video.
Commonsense guidelines for boondocking
One simple way to reduce RVing expenses is to occasionally boondock to save RV resort and campground fees. But some RVers have been turned off of boondocking by finding many dispersed camping areas to be trashed by previous campers. It seems some campers think that when you are boondocking on free public lands you don’t have any rules to follow and are free to act irresponsibly. Here are some commonsense guidelines to make boondocking a good experience for everyone, and our planet. Read more.
How to recall trips and campgrounds years later
Fulltimers spend a lot of time on the road, in lots of campgrounds, boondocking locations, state and national parks, and numerous other camping locations. You may think that you will have perfect recall when you try to remember exactly where that perfect campground in Montana was a year after camping there. Surprise – you won’t. But Chris Guld has a solution for perfect recall. Read on.
Plan Your Getaway to Tropical Palms Today!
Tropical Palms is a hidden gem set on 69 beautiful sun-kissed acres that are perfect for your Orlando vacation getaway. We are approximately 4 miles from Walt Disney World Resort, 11 miles from the Orange County Convention Center and within walking distance from Old Town and Fun Spot. You will find our convenient location and affordable prices provide the perfect RV resort to enjoy all that Central Florida offers. Click here to learn more.
State programs for first-time campers a big hit
Several states are encouraging the camping lifestyle this year by offering first-time camper programs. The itineraries vary state-to-state but the hoped-for result is that after introducing families to camping, they’ll get excited and will continue to do it on their own. Learn more.
New system uses smartphone to level RV
Venture RV recently teamed up with LogicBlue Technology on an exclusive program promoting the LevelMatePRO wireless leveling system. LevelMatePRO calculates and displays the height required to achieve a perfectly level position. Using an app and your smartphone, a red indicator shows which areas the height needs to be added. When the red indicator turns green, you’re level! Learn more.
Protect tires from UV rays with white or black covers?
Some of you may not know that you should use tire covers when your RV is parked for any length of time to protect them from the sun’s UV rays, which will deteriorate the tires and shorten their life – even when you have tread left. But which color – black or white – does the best job of protection? Roger Marble answers that question in this short video.
20% off RoverPass, unlimited booking to over 6,000 campgrounds!
RoverPass Unlimited is the all-access fast pass to booking campgrounds online. It allows you to search and book at over 6,000 campgrounds and RV parks without a platform fee. You’ll also get priority booking and one-on-one access with customer service representatives. Click here to receive 20 percent off an unlimited membership.
Readers’ comments on recent articles
Recent popular articles that attracted high numbers of reader comments
• RV hitch company owner in hot water over vandalizing Utah arch.
• Soapbox: RV industry continues to disappoint.
• Get ready to pay more at the pump!
• Would you pay extra at an RV park for fast Internet?
• Ripped off surge protector needed protecting.
• Motorhome doesn’t slow at exit. Terrible crash.
• More random GFCI tripping.
More popular articles from last week’s issue
• RV generator seems to always “run out of gas.”
• The tale of the spider and the wasp.
• Fulltime RVing: What of your “stuff” do you miss?
• Eight tips for taking great cell phone photos!
• A closer look at the moon.
• Are you ticked off by ticks?
• Keep chipmunks (and other rodents) out of your RV.
• Don’t let Death Valley be the death of you.
Goodbye Holding Tank Odors and Clogs, Hello Convenience!
The best just got better. Now you can get the unsurpassed strength of RV Digest-It Holding Tank Treatment in a convenient, easy to use drop-in pod. RV Digest-It has long been known as the premier all-around tank treatment for those looking for the best in both odor elimination and waste digestion – now you can add convenience to that list. Learn more here.
No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.
Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.
Readers’ comments on the poor quality of their new RVs
RVs today are being built fast, and in many cases poorly. Here are some examples.
Contact information for RV industry leaders
Want to voice your opinion about RVing to an industry honcho? Here’s where to do it.
Waterless trap for your RV plumbing system
Make foul smelling odors a thing of the past!
Already used by major RV manufacturers, the revolutionary HepvO waterless trap is a fantastic alternative to a conventional ‘P’ trap and it won’t fail due to evaporation, movement, freezing or leakage. Its unique membrane prevents foul air from the grey water tank entering your RV and its in-line design helps create extra storage space! Learn more.
Ask the RV Shrink
Feeling dumped on at the RV dump
Dear RV Shrink:
I have a question about RV dump etiquette. My wife just yelled at me for asking a guy at the dump station to hurry it along. I’m not bold or rude. This guy just pushed my wrong buttons. First he dumped, then he did a complete scrub as if he were going to deliver a baby next. Then he filled his very large water tank, which took about 15 minutes. I was a little annoyed, but still had my anger in check at this point. It wasn’t until he started washing his motorhome windshield and the rest of the front end with a little dish scrubber that I started to lose it. …
Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.
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.
How can you end the “military” RV shower?
You know the routine, constantly turning off the shower to conserve hot water. That’s because most RVs have tank heaters with limited hot water. You never have to run out of hot water with a hybrid instant hot water heater. Find out how the Truma AquaGo® gives you a real shower in your RV. Learn more here.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.85 (on Apr. 30). Change from week before: Up 5 cents; Change from year before: Up 44 cents. [Calif.: $3.61]
Diesel: $3.16 (on Apr. 30). Change from week before: Up 2 cents; Change from year before: Up 57 cents. [Calif.: $3.83]
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.
The RV Vet
With Dr. Deanna Tolliver, M.S., DVM
Retractable leashes: Dangerous for you and your dog
For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, a retractable leash has a molded plastic handle; inside is a length of thin cord or nylon tape wrapped around a spring-loaded “axle.” On the other end of the cord is a snap that attaches to your dog’s collar. A button on the handle releases the cord. So what’s wrong with that? A lot, it turns out. Dr. Deanna looks at both sides of the story. Read this important information.
Organize your bath with a shower caddy
This waterproof hanging shower caddy has 6 durable mesh pockets — 3 generously sized pockets with holes for holding bottles upside down and 3 smaller accessory pockets to store loofahs, bar soaps, razors and more. It has rust-proof grommets and is made of quick-drying breathable mesh — wipe with a damp cloth or wash by hand. Just hang using your existing shower curtain rings or hooks. Great for the RV! Learn more or order.
RV Fire Safety Tip
Fire extinguisher classifications explained
Fires extinguishers are divided into classifications based on what type of materials are burning. The most common classes are A, B and C. Following is what each class includes:
Class A: Ordinary Combustibles — wood, cloth, rubber, paper, many plastics and fiberglass — basically anything that leaves an ash.
Class B: Flammable Liquids — gasoline, oil and oil-based paint.
Class C: Energized Electrical Equipment — wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances. Class C does not include fires involving the 12-volt equipment found in all coaches. Once you de-energize or unhook from shore power and turn off your inverter or generator, a fire that occurs is a Class A fire rather than a Class C fire. Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy
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.
RV Quick Tips
Don’t assume there’s a dump station where you’re headed
Do not assume that a public campground where you are headed has a dump station based on what you read in a directory or other literature. Sometimes you will find it has been closed for repairs or even for good. If you show up with full holding tanks, expecting to dump on arrival, you may have a problem. It’s always a good idea to seek out a location to dump before you arrive … just in case.
Don’t have your propane on while driving down the road
Tire blowouts are one of the most common insurance claims as they can cause damage not only to the tire but to the undercarriage of the RV as well. Watch this video to see why it isn’t safe to keep your propane on while driving.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Deanna (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!
Camco Store at Amazon.com
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.
Gizmos and Gadgets
New Stacker LEDs offer variable intensity and direction
LED bulbs, or Electronic Lighting Devices (ELDs), are like lawn sprinklers but instead of directing water they direct photons or light beams just like a flashlight. If the little “flashlights” are not pointing in the direction where the light is wanted and in the intensity wanted, then the ELD will have to be replaced with another ELD, thus wasting money. The Stacker-Bulb™ is the only upgradeable ELD in the RV industry. Learn more
Be sure to sign up for our monthly Great RV Accessories Newsletter. Click here.
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.
Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions
Why is no water coming out of hot water faucet?
The 10-gallon water heater in my Holiday Rambler is still producing hot water but there is nothing coming out of the faucets. It is as if there is no water pressure, but there is no leak evident. When I turn the bypass valve to the “off” position, I noticed that water is still flowing into the water heater because I pulled the plastic drain plug. Either way, the water was flowing into the heater and draining out the drain hole. If the valve is bad would this be the answer as to why there is no pressure coming out of the faucet? —Kevin
Read more from Gary Bunzer at the RVdoctor.com. See Gary’s videos about RV repair and maintenance.
with Bob Difley
Boondocking east of the Rocky Mountains
We do most of our camping east of the Rocky Mountains, and therefore have fewer public lands for boondocking such as National Forests and BLM land. Are there other public lands in our area that we may not be aware of where we can camp and boondock? —Bruce and Theresa
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .
Read the most recent BoondockBob Blog post: Protect our forests: Build a safe campfire.
You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.
with Mike Sokol
Elkhart RVillage Rally seminar topics
What sort of topics will you be covering in your seminars at the RVillage Rally in Elkhart this May 17-21? —Keith
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.
RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
New RV owner asks: How much inflation in my tires?
Roger recently read yet another forum post on the topic of “How much inflation should I run?” This post followed the standard format of: A. “I just bought an XXX RV. How much air do I need in my tires?” and B. Numerous replies ranging from “I use xx psi,” to “You must always run the pressure on the tire sidewall,” to the more correct reply of “You need to know your tire loads first.” Some forum threads run to dozens of back-and-forth exchanges, some have correct info, while others are still using what Roger considers “old wives’ tales.” Read Roger’s response.
Endorsed by tire expert Roger Marble!
Outstanding tire pressure gauge
The Accutire MS-4021B digital tire pressure gauge has an easy-to-read LCD display that provides pressure readings from 5-150 PSI. It’s ergonomically designed with an angled head and a rubber-coated easy-grip handle. If you forget to turn it off, it will do so automatically. The included lithium battery never needs to be recharged or replaced. Used by the RV Travel staff. Learn more or order.
with Al Hesselbart
Throughout the history of the recreational vehicle, the most popular style of camper, by volume of models sold, has always been the folding tent trailer, or its very early predecessor the non-folding tent trailer. They most closely resembled the tents with which all outdoorsmen were familiar. The popularity of these models has been based on price and on ease of towing with standard family autos. Continue reading.
Al Hesselbart is the author of “The Dumb Things Sold … Just Like That!” – a history of the recreational vehicle industry in America.
The RV Kitchen
with Janet Groene
Slow Cooker Saffron Chicken
A new take on slow cooker chicken. Clever you, throwing this together in the slow cooker so you can forget it until supper time. Enjoy your day while your dinner cooks itself. A smart sauce on marinated chicken means you don’t have to brown it first. Hate chicken? Make this with beef patties or boneless pork chops instead. A boxed rice mix saves time while adding a celebration flavor. Get the recipe.
Check out hundreds of other recipes by Janet . . . and her many books at Amazon.com, including “The Survival Food Handbook.”
BEST-SELLERS IN KITCHEN AND DINING AT AMAZON.COM
‘Earthquake Putty’ keeps stuff in place
Do you have items in your RV you like to keep in place — on a table, bedstand or counter? You need this. Collectors Hold Museum Putty is designed to keep items secure in earthquakes! Hey, a moving RV is a constant earthquake! To use this, pull off what you need, roll until soft, apply to the base of the object then lightly press it to the surface. Later, it comes off clean. RVers love it! Cheap, too! Learn more or order.
Take a picture inside a pipe, and other places you can’t see
Have you ever needed to look somewhere that you just couldn’t see? Maybe you dropped something behind the couch, or down a drain? Chris and Jim Guld, Geeks on Tour, go to a lot of rallies and ask people their favorite uses of smartphones. The most unique one recently was an inspection camera. Learn more.
Learn about smartphones and tablets
… from Geeks On Tour. Here is a popular webcast with lots of great tips: #113, Google Maps Tips. Watch 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.
City and U.S. maps
A GPS is great, but there’s nothing like a folded map to plan a trip or guide you where you’re going once you’re underway. Just about every folded map you would ever need is here. Most sell from about $2 to $6. Check ’em out or order.
Free and bargain camping
Walmart Supercenter # 4201, Edgewood, NM
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed; obtain permission from customer service desk. Park at either north end or south end of the lot, without obstructing traffic lanes. Level, well-lit, and there is security patrol. McDonald’s in store; Denny’s next door. Address: 66 State Road #344. GPS: 36.543383, -105.236003
Cracker Barrel # 478, Jacksonville, NC.
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Obtain permission from a manager. No marked bus/RV spaces in this small lot so recommended for small to medium-size rigs. Well-lit, level, and appears safe. Address: 1260 Western Blvd. GPS: 34.784764, -77.398905
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.
Keep insects and bird nests out of your RV furnace
Wasps, mud daubers, birds and rodents pose a serious threat to the furnace on your RV. They can enter through the furnace vents. Their nests can interfere with air flow and cause serious damage. Camco 42141 (Model FUR 200) Flying Insect RV Furnace Screen fits Duo-therm and Suburban furnace vents. Camco offers several furnace screens so check that this screen will fit your vent. Learn more or order at Amazon.com.
Upcoming RV Shows
• Puyallup RV Show, May 3-6, Puyallup, WA. Visit the show website.
• Tampa Bay Summer RV Show, June 7-10, Tampa, FL
• West Palm Beach Summer RV Show, June 8-11, West Palm Beach, FL
See the complete list of all upcoming RV shows.
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
Wrigley’s gum was the first product with a barcode to be scanned at a supermarket (in 1974).
Bumper sticker of the week
The closer you get, the slower I’ll drive.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to Gail (at) RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Three good ol’ boys are on Death Row. They discuss how to distract the firing squad so they can escape, and come up with a plan. When the first one’s in front of the firing squad he yells “Tornado!” and the firing squad drop their rifles, run for cover and he escapes. The second man comes in front of the firing squad and at the last moment he yells “Earthquake!” and the firing squad drop their rifles, run for cover and he escapes. The third man, who’s not the brightest candle on the cake, then comes in front of the firing squad and at the last moment yells “Fire!” Thanks to George Bliss for this!
“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” —John Steinbeck
RV Travel staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Associate editor: Deanna Tolliver. 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, Dennis Prichard, 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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I’ll admit I get a little turned off by frequent complaints about how hard it is to find campgrounds and how many RVs are sold. One thing that would help is when you talk about how full campgrounds are is to talk about how you can manage that. You may have done this some but to provide options. We have always avoided popular places when they are busy and so far have never had a problem. That isn’t always possible but if you plan ahead when needed and don’t get upset when places are full you will do better. If campgrounds were always 1/2 full and easy to get into many of them would probably close. If they don’t make money they won’t stay open. I know of a campground in WA that was recently sold and they are planning an expansion. They are always full during the peak season and expensive, but they need that as in the winter they are rarely full.
I’m with you Mike! I too am tired of always hearing about all the RV’s being sold. Unfortunately, most of the RV’s that are shipped from the manufacturer are not always sold right away. Many just sit on Dealers lots and some of them for years before being sold! You see it all the time driving down the interstate, hundreds of RV’s sitting. Planning ahead for your RV Stay, like My Wife and I do, is a must. Stay away from the crowded BIG Attraction areas.
How about a “tips” column about clever ways to improve the livability of a RV.? Print note worthy submissions.
Chuck, you comment on worthless extended warranties, then have advirtisments for them , Does this mean you endorse the quality of anything that is advirtised in the newsletter? Or are we just susposed to know you need the money and we are susposed to know which items are junk or worthless?
Hi Tom. I don’t recall saying they were worthless. I have advised not paying $8,000 for one at Camping World (then financing it for 15 or 20 years). Our surveys on this subject have always resulted in a mixed bag — those who swear by an extended warranty and those who do not like them. Interestingly, Gail and I have filed three claims on an extended warranty (in the last six months) we inherited when we bought our used motorhome two years ago. It has paid for a new water heater, sway bar and two rear jacks. We had to pay $100 each time for the deductible, but the rest was paid for by the extended warranty company. So I am personally not for or against them. If our present extended warranty advertiser didn’t like something we said and dropped its advertising, the loss of the income would make very little difference to us. The name of our extended warranty company is Portfolio, https://portfolioco.com
Chuck, this may not be a game changing idea, but there are two things that current rvers, especially fulltimers, need to make their lives & travels easier. We have reliable data bases & web sites for campgrounds, dump sites, Walmarts, & all other kinds of shopping or service needs except two of the most important ones. We don’t have a good source of info on laundromats or propane refill locations.
The laundromat locations in the typical gps are unreliable & are frequently out of business or are in poor condition with many broken machines. The internet Yellow pages isn’t much more reliable.
My gps & the Yellow pages also don’t show many of the propane locations. I’ll check my gps & the internet before travelling thru a town & find nothing. Then when I travel thru the town I notice 3 or 4 locations, but many are closed if it’s late or on a weekend.
The rv community needs a good source of info on propane & laundromat locations, just like the current ones on boondocking & dump stations.
The laundromat list needs to have info on:
-how many machines, front or top load
The propane info needs to include operating hours, but probably not pricing as it changes too often. This list should also specify if this is a tank exchange only location, since most rvers want a refill, not an exchange.
Hopefully someone out there will develop these info databases.
Chuck, I really enjoy the way you write your News Letters…”off the cuff”. It’s like you’re talking directly to me, not scripted. I know you can’t please everybody ‘all’ the time, but just being yourself is the best way to do it. You ain’t Ann Landers by a long shot, but keep up the good work, man. I still have my ’88 Dolphin but don’t go RV’ing anymore, but really envy everyone out there every time I see a rig going down the road.
I’ll get back out there again, one day soon.
I can’t figure out how to use this newsletter prompts to donate. This newsletter is so good I feel guilty reading it and not giving to keep it going.
For a lot of these comments and questions about general RVing issues and things like setting up setting up, how to do this, how to do that, etc. can be found on the numerous forums on the internet. If you started trying to keep up with all that kind of stuff, your newsletter would be 10 pages long. Maybe some readers aren’t aware of the RV forums out there. Maybe you could touch on this one of these days…
Chuck- you are so right-on about millenial YouTubers. I just recently started watching RV videos, and they seem to be more about themselves than what their subject matter is, i.e. camping, and trying to make money without working. It’s usually 90% their own face time with no valuable info. I commented about that on one of their videos, and they got mad at me, so I just look and don’t comment. I also don’t “like” or “subscribe”.
I’m on a number of Facebook groups that feature articles about RVing. Many of them feature posta about going fulltime. They proudly say they have sold their house and going out on the road. They have no clue what they are getting into they are only looking at the glory of being an RVr. Would like to see an article about the real life of a fulltimer What we have gone thru.. what is required and the good the bad and the ugly.
Glory? What glory, this is everyday life with ups and downs. They may be some that are different, but they are still ups and downs. Don’t misunderstand, I love it, and have no plans to give it up, but glory?
Chuck, keep being blunt and honest about things. You say things that many of us think but are afraid to say. That is how Trump was elected – he spoke for the average guy. You speak for the average RVer. Does everything in your newsletter apply to me? No, I read what does or interest me and skip what doesn’t. We do the same with newspapers, magazines, etc. so how is your newsletter any different?
As for the guy whose floor is sagging – I would check into the disability act (forget their formal name) and see what they can offer as far as help now and to make the RV manufactures stick to a code when building one claiming to be wheelchair safe. But I guess it only said wheelchair accessible not safe. That will be their escape clause.
As for poor quality coming out – they rush through manufacturing to maximize profits. Until companies – manufacturers and dealers demand better quality, it won’t change.
I have to let you know that I wanted to answer the survey for the ‘Let there be obnoxious lights in the RV park’ article, but my answer was not available. If I would have had a place to leave a write in vote, here is how I would have responded:
I am bothered by the obnoxious lights, but I can’t get my husband to turn them off.
Chuck, good day to you and your staff.
In your editorial today you are asking yourself how to make the newsletter better? I am not sure that you want suggestions from your readers, but , in case you do.
I believe that there may be a group of RVers that you are not reaching. I may be wrong. I bet you have your own stats.
I have been subscribed to this newsletter for about a year, I look forward to all it has to offer, especially your editorial.
I own and use a Casita travel trailer. I also consider it an RV. Perhaps there is an unwritten definition of RV that limits it to a motor driven vehicle unitized with living space. I believe all Travel Trailers are in fact Recreational Vehicles. I use mine the same as class A, B or C units. I stay in the same parks, and enjoy some of the same comforts, albeit on a smaller scale.
I am not alone. There are thousands of folks who tow their recreational vehicles. Is it that folks that tow don’t want to be associated with the term RV, or is it that those who own motor driven unitized recreational vehicles, don’t want to be associated with towable trailer folks?
There are rallys all across this country and Canada filled with folks who use Travel trailers. There are similar problems with construction of a majority of stick and metal trailers, ( glad mine is fiberglass).
May not be a major benefit for you to teach out and include travel trailers in your RV magazine, but from what I see, it would be a unique approach, not taken by any other recreational vehicle mag, except as seen this month in Trailer Life, a rare article about Oliver travel trailers.
As a final personal observation, when I walk around the RV park of choice, all the folks greet me the same, no matter what kind of rig they stepped out of.
Well Mark, I agree that a vehicle used to camp in, is a recreation vehicle (RV). I respect all up-right campers and their RVs. Hey, I wave and I’ll talk to you.
Several times he has and does indeed speak of travel trailers, 5th wheels (which is a travel trailer), truck campers, class Bs, Class As, tent trailers and tents and sometimes a homemade rig.
I love it when Chuck mentions something in my area of the USA.
Until there is some oversight of RVs by an independent source I would not look to see much improvement in quality. Before you buy check it out or have someone who has the knowledge give you an opinion. The obvious trend is less regulation.
What to write about?
There are dozens of new products for RV’s coming out all the time. But because of the good old boy system in Elkhart it takes years before we see them installed or offered by the OEM’s (if ever). I would suggest that someone like RV Travel provide and in depth review of these products in the weekly newsletter. Many of these products have been out for years but because of big business politics the average RV owner never hears about them.
This would help RV owners educate themselves as to the latest advances in technology and hopefully if enough people start requesting the products from there local dealers. It may help to push the OEMs to bring them out sooner rather than later. The sad news it that many good ideas never make it pass their initial offering because of big business politics.
I don’t know about anyone else, but as I opened this mornings newsletter I was struck by the lack of ANY advertisements or side bars. As I read Chuck’s opening letter, I thought maybe that was on purpose as he talked about “a big ol’ game changing idea.” Was this it, or am I wrong?
Chuck, I have a rant that no one has addressed before and I’m not sure why. So here goes. And this is but one example.
Traveling down the road in or towing, you have a flat or worse, a blowout. No ones hurt and you safely get to the side of the road. After surveying the damage you notice there is also a age to the inner fender well and some wires or pipes (blue or red) are hanging out. Now, an untrained mind can tell this is not just about the tire (which still needs to be repaired), but what about all that other damage? Joe the tire guy ain’t gonna fix that. So, here you are, waiting for the tire to be repaired or replaced, and your mind has now picked up on the “other” things that also need repaired.
Will the water work?
What about those wires hanging down? What do they go to?
Will the camp or RV spot know of a repairman who may be able to help?
So, you call your “Bumper to Bumper” Warranty only to find out it has to be inspected by one of their Company’s Agents before they can approve any or all those repairs of hanging wires and red and blue PVC lines. (All the while, Spot-the dog, your beautiful wife, and two teenagers and their friends, are patiently waiting for this whole situation to be over with).
My issue is “what now?” What do we do? Do we fix the flat and turn tail to home? What?
Who can I call to help me decide? It’s not like there’s “A Good Neighbor” when your stuck on the side of the road.
We had a similar experience – but no warranty. You have touched on an important fact with this post. When a tire blows it is incredibly powerful and will likely take out something else under the RV, i.e., wiring, mud flap, other. Our experience – headed to the nearest tire shop, sat in the waiting room for two hours, with our kitten in a bag, while they replaced the tire. New tire but torn wire that took out the electrical – go home or go camping. We went camping, had a great time, took RV to shop for repair after we got home. So lessons learned – 1. If there is any doubt that the rig is not driving quite ‘right’. Get to a tire dealer asap and have the tires checked; 2. If a tire blows, it will likely damage something else on the rig as there is lots of exposed stuff under there; 3. Hope your wait for help is not long, that you can keep calm and that, even if things are not quite normal, you are safe and able to proceed as best meets your need.
I love what you do and love how you do it! Thank you for the effort you put in for everyone’s benefit
Relative to this week’s essay about you getting a job… I just wouldn’t associate you with this George Thorogood song.
Good morning – RV Travel is an incredible resource and people need to understand the level of effort it took to create and the enormous effort it takes to maintain. Joe Hewitt has some good thoughts and suggestions. BUT I’m not sure he is aware of just how much work each requires to become a reality, let alone the enormous effort to manage/maintain each. That said, how can RV Travel be the very best in a few areas that really matter to Chuck? Yes, it is for ‘the RV people’ but if you do not enjoy doing it, well, you know how that goes – you will lose interest. OK that’s my soapbox rant.
I get your comment about company surveys but what really rankles me is that many are geared to the ‘neutral’ response that the companies report as ‘glowing’ acceptance. How can I rate a service/company before I’ve had an ‘issue’ that tests the service/company response. Ask me about my experience AFTER the water pump leaked during my first outing following the purchase of the rig. How was the situation handled by the company, service people, etc. Yes, we need better surveys, that really expose the good/bad/ugly.
Back to your letter today. I’m interested in campsite/campground reviews from people that really use them – cost, amenities that matter (environment, electric, water, other), noise levels/courtesy level (generator use), etc. Reviews should include every type of campsite. Free: overnight stop overs, State/National parks, city parks, fairgrounds, private campgrounds, etc. RV Travel has been touching on these but it would be nice to see them organized under each State’s name.
I’m also interested in a group that reports real ‘tips & tricks” that make RVing easier and better. From rig info to lifestyle info to current & new products (i.e., bike racks, etc). The RV Travel group that helps with issues RVing poses is terrific. I’ve used it a number of times and it’s really helpful. There is a need to separate Tips & Tricks and Help/Support into two distinct groups.
And, yes, it would be nice to find a way to hold the RV industry accountable. We should all take some responsibility to support this effort. The challenge: a method to gather information that is not too complicated and the results are real, focused, and meaningful. Could be a real can of worms.
RV Travel videos are invaluable, electricity newsletter is invaluable, web suggestions are invaluable, actually there is nothing that is not of value. BUT you can do just so much with the resources you have and what you, yourself, can/want to manage. So, I come back to this question, what matters to you?
Look at Campendium for reviews. They also have an iPhone app.
I have been reading your articles for awhile now and find most things applicable . However, what I haven’t seen is tips on setting up you RV properly. I do not to belittle a seasoned RVer, but I’ve seen many RV’s parked with wheels of the ground. I’m sure there has not been one sales center that, during the walk through, has mentioned that this is not how to steady your rig. Those jacks may be powerful enough to lift your rig, but they were never meant to hold it up for days.
Maybe it’s time to remind all of those campers how to level their rigs.
I have seen that too. When I say something their reply is: it is only for overnight!
Our MH is lower in the front so often we have to put boards under the front tires to get level. Right now the park we are in, we have 4 2×6 boards under the front which meant putting the block under the front jacks, raising the front as high as possible, put boards under tires, lower and repeat again to get level because our site is higher in the back than the front. But we will never leave the tire up in the air. If I can turn it then it needs to go down or up and put another board under it.
If the rear tires on most motor homes are off the ground, there is no brake or park securing it to the site.
My motor home was lower in the front also. I replaced the coil springs with heavier coil springs along with shock absorbers. It helped a lot. the front sits higher and it drives better.