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Issue 846 • Week of May 19–25, 2018 #rvtravel
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
In my many years of RVing, there have been little moments that I will always remember fondly. Here’s an example.
One summer day, many years ago, before my daughter was born, my wife and I were traveling across central Colorado. That night, the annual Perseid meteor showers were expected. Thousands of shooting stars an hour would be streaking through the night sky. We chose the remote town of Parachute as our stopping place, and outside that small community we found a dark, treeless BLM campground to observe Mother Nature’s entertainment.
After the last daylight had vanished, we grabbed pillows and a wool blanket and climbed to the roof of our motorhome. And there we lay, our heads upon the pillows, peering up at the Milky Way, the blanket keeping us cozy. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, the Milky Way came into full view, like a wispy cloud spreading nearly from horizon to horizon. At home, with so many city lights, it’s easy to forget that the Milky Way even exists.
I RECALL A TV INTERVIEW with a woman from a poor New York inner city neighborhood during a 1977 power blackout. She said that in her entire life she had never left her neighborhood. On the night when the glow of millions of lights was extinguished, her city went black. The reporter asked, “What special memory do you have of that time?” She answered, “The sky. I had never seen stars before. There were so many. I never knew they were there.”
For us, that night in Parachute, Colorado, the sky and its stars were indeed there, providing for one of those magic times that come only so often. The Milky Way was but the stage. The show was the dazzling bombardment of one shooting star after another, blazing across the heavens. From the comfort of our perch atop the motorhome, the two of us shared a special moment, “oohing” and “aahing” until we were too hypnotized to stay awake.
That night is but one of many magical moments from my RV travels that I will always remember fondly. More will surely come. And that’s a very good thought.
P.S. I apologize for not getting back to many of you who wrote a couple of weeks ago after I wrote about my thoughts about making this newsletter better. I’m slowly getting through the 50 or so emails you sent and will get back to you soon. Gail and I are now at the RVillage Rally in Elkhart, Indiana. It’s incredible driving around here — RV factories everywhere you look. We’ll be touring some.
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How to avoid buying an RV Lemon
Last week, in the second installment of our lemon RV series, we explained how (and where) to pursue legal action if you think you bought a lemon. In this, our third installment, we offer several suggestions (including from our readers) that may help you avoid buying an RV lemon. Learn more.
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.
• Thieves apparently find RV manufacturers to be good targets.
• Camping turns scary when daughter gets bit by rattlesnake.
• Man offers to trade his pickup, trailer and kidney for a liver to save wife’s life.
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.
Couple sues Thor over defective luxury RV. Sewage ‘geysers’ into bedroom
Bill and Jennie Mangan say their dream of spending the first 10 years of joint retirement traveling the country inside their luxury RV quickly faded beneath a cloud of diesel fumes pouring into their bedroom at night as leaking hydraulic fluid seeped into a basement drawer. Then there was the sewage, which they say pooled daily in their bedroom and geysered from their shower drain each time they flushed the toilet. This week the couple sued Thor Industries, seeking a full refund of the sale price plus $100,000 in damages for the 160 separate defects that the couple says have crippled the vehicle during the short time they’ve owned it. Read more.
RV storage: But $175,000 for a storage unit?
Want to keep your Class A under cover? Check out Garage Condominiums from Monstore Garages, which “fill the gap between self storage closets, and full warehouses, with the added benefit of full ownership.” To quote the company line, “After shelling out big bucks for a big toy, these owners don’t balk at paying $90,000 to $175,000 for a secure place to keep it.” Get in line … they’re selling fast! Learn more.
Learn about your RV’s CO detector
What do those beeps from your CO detector mean? How do you change the battery? Ex-fireman and Certified RV Technician Chris Dougherty points out some features of an RV’s carbon monoxide detector that many RVers do not know about. Watch the short video.
RV tech training – via the internet
If you’ve been one of the sad unfortunates who’ve needed to have your RV in the shop, you know the backlogs and long waits are gut-wrenching. Maybe there’s a silver lining in this dark cloud, depending on your druthers. The RV industry is up against a huge shortage of RV technicians, and if you’ve got the inclination, here’s an unusual “web classroom” opportunity to get training. Read more.
This week’s Reader Poll
How much time do you think you’ll spend in your RV in 2018?
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:
When boondocking on Federal lands, how much is west or east of the Mississippi? Click here for the results.
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.
What we learned from you last week (May 12-18)
Every week we learn a little more about you. This week was no exception. We learned almost half of our readers never or almost never boondock on Federal lands, and most of those that do camp west of the Mississippi. We also learned how many of you are college graduates, and how much you swear (we’re not sure if there’s any correlation). But maybe the swearing had something to do with the number of you who hit something while backing up which required “costly repair.” Get the details here.
Even the simple things – Removing labels, gunk and stuff
Here’s one of those crazy-simple ideas that Rich “The Wanderman” wishes he’d thought of (and marketed!) himself. But at least he can share the knowledge and save you some time and aggravation. Stuck-on labels that won’t come off? Cheese stuck on your Teflon pan? Rich has found a simple tool to clean stuff off without scratching the finish. Learn more.
What to do when confronted with sudden severe weather
A rapid change in the weather can sometimes catch you by surprise; but that doesn’t mean you have to throw caution to the wind and carry on. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of damage due to high winds and inclement weather. Learn more.
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.
Is having a washer/dryer worth the extra water and weight?
New RVers contemplating purchasing their first rig often ask how important it is to have a washer/dryer in the rig. We’re sure that we’ll hear from readers on both sides of this issue, and we’ll run a poll shortly to see where our readers stand. In the meantime, Russ and Tiña De Maris debate the pros and cons of an onboard washer/dryer. Read more.
Don’t stress when driving your RV – Helpful tips for staying calm
Prospective or first-time RV owners may be intimidated by the thought of driving and parking a vehicle substantially larger than the family sedan. Without a doubt, some new skills are required, but learning them does not have to be a stressful experience. Read more.
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.
Most popular articles from last week’s issue
• When the RV dealer hands you a lemon….
• Reader questions “frugal” RV relevance. What do you think?
• Why use synthetic blocks under tires on asphalt?
• BoxKat is not a better mouse trap – It’s Better Than a mouse trap!
• Reader letter – First RV trip a disaster
• RV’s power outlets are melting. Help!
• How to avoid getting a tick-borne disease.
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.
No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.
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.
•Did you buy a lemon RV? Here’s more about RV lemons and lawyers who will represent you if you need help.
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.
Ask the RV Shrink
Wife worried about solar panels blowing off
Dear RV Shrink:
My husband just had solar panels installed on our motorhome. I am constantly worried they are going to blow off during some of the windstorms we drive through. He keeps telling me to stop thinking about it. He assures me they are fastened securely and that there is no way they will ever blow off. He also said that about our awning, but it came unraveled in a storm one day and we had to pull over and tie it down. I worry so much he calls me “Disastrous Mag.” Don’t you think it is better to worry too much than too little? —Maggie in Medford
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.
Lots of great information about trucks at Amazon
No, Amazon does not sell trucks, but it’s got a lot of information about them if you’re in shopping mode or just research mode. If you already own a truck, you’ll find a great selection of parts for it. Frankly, it’s fun exploring the incredible selection of makes and models, plus see specs, read reviews, and ask owners about their own particular trucks. Click here.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.87 (on May 14). Change from week before: NA*; Change from year before: Up 50 cents. [Calif.: $3.60]
*The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) implemented new statistical methodologies to conduct the survey, so this week’s estimate is not directly comparable to last week’s.
Diesel: $3.24 (on May 14). Change from week before: Up 7 cents; Change from year before: Up 70 cents. [Calif.: $3.93]
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.
Dear Dr. Deanna,
Help! Our dog sleeps on the bed in the RV with us and he’s scratching so much he’s keeping us awake at night. His name is Duke, and he’s a mutt, about four years old. We’ve tried flea treatments and nothing seems to help. What can we do next? —Marla G.
Remove ticks easily
from people or pets
This Tick Twister Remover Set will remove ticks, large and small, without squeezing it, reducing the risk of infection. It does not leave the mouthparts of the tick in the skin. It’s the safest and easiest way to remove ticks and in just a few seconds. Helps prevent Lyme Disease. Keep one of these in your RV. It’s tick season! Learn more or order.
RV Fire Safety Tip
How many fire extinguishers for your RV?
While the National Fire Protection Association does not require that you carry more than one fire extinguisher, don’t take chances. One fire extinguisher is simply not enough. Fire and Life Safety instructor Mac McCoy recommends having at least two extinguishers inside of your coach — one near the door and one in the bedroom — and an additional one in an unlocked outside compartment or in your towed vehicle. Make sure that everyone traveling with you is trained to use the extinguishers. Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy
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.
RV Quick Tips
Help keep dust out of your RV while on dirt roads
To keep dust out of your camper while traveling on dirt or gravel roads, turn your front roof vent around to open frontwards. Leave the vent lid wide open when traveling and it will pressurize your RV and keep dust from coming in all the little nooks and crannies. I did this for many years and never lost a vent cover. Just make sure it’s open all the way. If it starts to rain, stop and close the cover. Thanks, George Bliss!
Don’t use cruise control on wet roads
Reader Ralph Shrivalle sent in this safety tip: “Cruise control should be turned off on wet roads. Tires can lose traction and cruise control can try to adjust speed by changing tire speed,” which could lead to a loss of road control. Thanks, Ralph!
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Deanna (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!
New & interesting finds at Amazon.com
See what really cool stuff Amazon is featuring today. It’s a whole lot of fun just browsing through all these great items. The selection changes every day, so check back often. You never know what you will find, which is part of the fun of visiting here. Check it out.
Gizmos and Gadgets
Block the sun’s heat from your RV with window sunshades
Are you ready for a hot summer sun beating in your windows at the campsite? You can help reduce the heat and glare from the afternoon sun with sunshades for the windows. You can put them temporarily in place in the hottest part of the day and remove them when the sun moves on. Here are two methods: the first is a cling type that will permit visibility, and the other a reflective double-sided foil insulation for extremely hot situations. Both store easily and are inexpensive. Learn more.
Be sure to sign up for our monthly Great RV Accessories Newsletter. Click here.
Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions
How to check for a propane leak
We think we have a propane leak, so we shut off the tank. How should we check it out, or should we take it somewhere? Should it be a propane place or an RV repair shop? We live in our motorhome full time. My husband thinks it is safe because it is shut off, but I’m worried something could still happen. Please inform us. Thank you! –Susan N.
It’s tornado season: Be prepared!
For about $18, you can rest assured that anytime severe weather threatens, you’ll be notified, even if cell service is down, the Internet is down or power fails. The RVtravel.com staff travels with this small, handheld, battery-powered NOAA weather radio. If severe weather is on the way, the radio sounds an alert, followed by detailed information about the storm to let you know to seek shelter or move away. Learn more or order.
with Bob Difley
When campgrounds fill, boondock. lt’s not as difficult as you think
I’ve been reading Chuck Woodbury’s concerns that the number of RVs being manufactured are vastly outnumbering the number of new campsites being created each year. It is already difficult to find campsites without first making a reservation and my concern is that more RVers will start to use primitive campgrounds (e.g., national forests, BLM) and soon it may become difficult to find dispersed camping (boondocking) campsites as well. Is our boondocking lifestyle in danger? —Tim H.
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.
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.
with Mike Sokol
Surge protectors and Joules and MOVs, oh my!
After reading all your articles about voltage problems, I’m now in the market for a surge protector but a little confused by all these Joule numbers. Some are rated at 1,400 Joules of protection, while others are 2,100 or even 4,200 Joules. So first of all, how do you pronounce Joules, and just what are they? If these gadgets are so important, how come RV manufacturers don’t build surge protectors into their RVs at the factory? —Russ
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.
Amazon Deals of the Day!
Here are more than 8,000 pages of special deals, just for today. And the items just keep on changing. If you can’t find a great deal here on something you want, then, well, you must not need anything. If nothing else, it sure is fun to poke around here to see the incredible array of cool stuff that’s available today at bargain prices! Click here for today’s deals!
RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
ST tire belt separation “autopsy”
This info is from an inspection Roger did awhile ago. A friend of Roger’s wrote a post on an RV Forum: “This summer I had a tire failure, three actually in all by the time I was done. … I’m not a tire expert by any means, just a machinery guy trying to figure out what went wrong with my rig so I did not repeat the same problem and could correct what went wrong.” Read the rest of the post and Roger’s “autopsy report.”
Propane running low? This will tell you!
With this Dometic LPGC10 LP Gas Checker you can instantly monitor your LP tank’s level. It uses ultrasonic technology to tell you in just a few seconds how full – or empty – a propane tank is. It’s about the size of a writing pen and weighs less than an ounce, so it’s easy to store. For use on steel and aluminum liquid propane tanks. Learn more or order
with Al Hesselbart
The early RV visionaries
The men who created the concept of the RV industry and the lifestyle that accompanied it were amazing visionaries. Many of the pioneers who originated RV-related companies in the early years of the “horseless carriage” before World War I were pioneers in other industries as well. While ingenious campers and hunters were making homemade contraptions of all sorts, both motorized and towable, these dreamers created an industry building and selling camping vehicles to the public. Continue reading here.
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
Mango Garbanzo Salad
Mango makes a main dish salad. The mango in this hearty, low-fat salad can be fresh, frozen or canned. Or you might substitute diced peaches. Throw the ingredients together for your first night out. If the night turns nippy, add a mug of cream soup and hot cornbread. The salad gets better and better as it chills in the fridge for several hours. Get the recipe.
Microwave cover collapses for easy storage
When heating your food you don’t want to spend 10 minutes later cleaning the splatters inside the microwave. Here’s the solution — and perfect for RVers: it pops down flat for easy storage. Lid perforations allow steam to escape to keep food moist. Doubles as a strainer, too! Learn more or order at Amazon.com
Before you lose your phone – do this!
On both Android and iOS devices there is a website to find a lost phone. If you know the username and password for your phone, you can go to the website listed, using any computer, and find your phone. This article includes a link to the Geeks on Tour’s webcast for finding your username and password on your phone, and a demonstration of how to “find my phone.” Check this out now … in case you lose your phone!
Learn about smartphones and tablets
… from Geeks On Tour. Here are two recent webcasts: #142, Using Snapseed with Google Photos on a Chromebook, and #141, How to get music on your smartphone. 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.
Free and bargain camping
Lowe’s # 0560, Saratoga Springs, NY
Overnight parking is allowed. Permission from a manager is required. Park parallel to SE edge of the lot, but away from drive-up ATM. Do not obstruct traffic lanes. Fairly level, well-lit, quiet and safe. Address: 10 Lowe’s Dr. GPS: 43.104878, -73.744763
Kiowa State Fishing Lake, Greensburg, KS
Overnight parking is allowed. No hookups. There are picnic tables, a pit toilet, and water spigot. Park in any wide spot in circular drive around lake. Max stay: 14 nights. Passing trains can be loud, but otherwise a peaceful location. Address: Off N Bay St. GPS: 37.61007, -99.30105
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.
RV products at Amazon
We’re not sure about this, but our guess is that no other retailer has a larger selection of products and accessories for your RV than Amazon.com. In most cases, if a product is available anywhere, Amazon has it, and typically at a great price. Of all those products, click here to see the current best sellers.
Upcoming RV Shows
• Tampa Bay Summer RV Show, June 7-10, Tampa, FL
• West Palm Beach Summer RV Show, June 8-11, West Palm Beach, FL
• Green Country RV Show, July 20-22, Tulsa, OK
Power tools galore!
If it’s not at Amazon.com it’s probably not easily available anywhere! Check out this huge selection of power tools — drills, saws, air compressors, impact wrenches, car vacuums, sanders, polishers, tool boxes — the list goes on! See what’s available and maybe pick up a great deal!
While the crew of Apollo 13 didn’t get to make their scheduled Moon landing, they did set a record that still stands: They’re the humans who traveled the farthest distance from the Earth (nearly 250,000 miles), on April 15, 1970.
Bumper sticker of the week
My life is better than your vacation. Thanks to Margo Wood!
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to Gail (at) RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
A cowboy appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. “Have you ever done anything of particular merit?” asked St. Peter. “Well, I can think of one thing,” the cowboy offered. “On a trip to the Black Hills out in South Dakota, I came upon a gang of bikers who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn’t listen. So, I approached the largest and meanest looking biker and smacked him in the face, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground. I yelled, ‘Now, back off or I’ll kick the crap out of all of you!’” St. Peter was impressed. “When did this happen?” “Couple of minutes ago.” Thanks, George Bliss!
“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” —Mark Twain
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, 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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