Saturday, December 10, 2022


RV Travel Newsletter Issue 876


Learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. This newsletter, now in its 18th year of continuous publication, is funded primarily through advertising and voluntary subscription contributions from our readers. Thank you!

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Page Contents

Issue 876 • Week of December 15-21, 2018   #rvtravel

Guest Essay

Educating RVers: Who will teach the teachers?

By Mike Sokol
mike (at)

I’ve recently talked to a first-time RV owner who had a ton of questions about hooking up power to her new Class A motorhome. What initially caused her to seek me out was the RV dealership giving her conflicting information about how she should have a home pedestal wired.

While she indeed has a 50-amp/240-volt shore power connection on her RV, and she instructed her electrician to wire up a standard NEMA 14-50 receptacle to a 2-pole/50-amp circuit breaker in her electrical panel, the dealership kept telling her all motorhomes only use 110 volts, and she needed a 3-prong adapter or else she would blow up her RV electrical system with 240 volts. Of course that’s completely wrong and could have caused real problems if she had used a 30-amp to 50-amp adapter and plugged it into an improperly wired TT-30 outlet.

Luckily she did contact me first to confirm that her electrician was wiring up her home pedestal properly, and I talked to her electrician, who pondered why an RV salesman would give a customer such incorrect information, especially about an electrical hookup. I even saw the email she received from the manufacturer tech support that didn’t help the situation. Even though what was said was technically correct, it really didn’t answer her question at all, sort of like asking for ice cream and being told the correct time.

If you’ve read any of my articles on RV power you’ll know that while a 50-amp service is indeed 240 volts between the two hot legs, inside of your RV’s electrical panel it’s split into two separate 120-volt circuits with 50 amps of current each. Yes, a 50-amp pedestal is actually 100 amps of 120 volts.

What bothers me most is that this first-time RV owner was given a lot of misinformation from the dealership, both at the Hershey RV show where she first met them, and later during her walk-thru inspection the day she took delivery. And this particular dealer is part of a very large chain of dealerships that should know better.

So where are these RV salespeople getting this type of incorrect information that they’re spreading to their customers, causing them confusion and possible injury? Who will teach the teachers?

For the last 8 years, I’ve been pitching the idea of me training large dealerships how RV electrical systems work, along with special classes for their technicians on electrical troubleshooting techniques. Don’t get me started on the hundreds of emails and calls I’ve received over the years from readers pleading with me to help figure out their electrical problem, while their RV sits in a dealership shop burning though $125/hr. paying for a technician who obviously doesn’t understand electrical system troubleshooting.

During this entire time I’ve had ZERO interest from dozens of RV dealers and manufacturers about having me set up a training program for them. And as many of you know, I’m currently an adjunct professor of electrical technology. I’ve presented hundreds of seminars around the country over the last 30 years on advanced technology and electricity. So I’m a known resource on troubleshooting electrical systems and have the credentials to create a training program for the RV industry.

BUT NOT ALL IS LOST. This month, because of my extensive exposure here at, for the first time I’ve been contracted by a large marine and RV dealership to teach 25 of its technicians about RV electrical systems and troubleshooting. The training will occur in late January 2019, and I’ve been given carte blanche to create the content for an entire 8-hour day. While 8 hours of training won’t turn anyone into an electrical engineer, hopefully it will get the ball rolling so I can create training programs for other dealerships. And better technical education of RV salespeople and technicians should help customers get better service, both during and after the sale.

Will this happen? I’m not sure. But what if there’s finally a turn in the industry where dealership training becomes just as important as sales figures or repair revenue? We can only hope so.

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

* * *
Did you get an error message last Saturday when you tried to read this newsletter?
If you tried to read this newsletter last Saturday morning, December 8, you may have instead found an error message. Oops! We blew a fuse! Well, not exactly, but a combination of factors, including a sudden burst of traffic, sent our servers into a tailspin and they just decided to shut down. Real nice! Because the outage came at our peak time of the day (and week), we lost about half our Saturday morning readers, maybe even you. Read more.

Editor’s Roadside Journal

(about whatever is on Chuck Woodbury’s mind, not necessarily RV-related).
How much of your holiday shopping are you doing online? (Includes a survey.)
What have you found along the road that you kept?

Readers’ letters

letters to the editorOh, the pain of unwise buying decisions
Read about one man’s experience when he traded up one RV for another, and then another, and ended up $30,000 upside down on his loan. He wrote us for advice asking, “How do I ever get out of this alive, if I can?” Alas, we don’t have an easy answer. Maybe you can help. Click here to read his tale (pretty sad).

Doing your holiday shopping at Amazon? Here’s the front door to the website.

Sign up for our newsletterRV Electricity Newsletter

Sign up for the RV Electricity Newsletter or any of our other newsletters here.

New to RVing?

Sign up for our newest newsletter, Beginner’s Guide to RVing. Issue #2 arrives Friday, December 21. Sign up here so you don’t miss it.

We stick our necks out for you is not too popular with RV industry bigwigs these days because we aren’t afraid to speak out honestly about things we see wrong in how they manufacture and sell their products. Our readers help make our efforts possible by becoming members with their “voluntary subscriptions.” Even a pledge of $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 membership, most $5 to $10 a month. But even a one-time contribution of whatever you feel is fair helps make it possible for us to write about important matters, not just fluff to please advertisers and RV industry big shots.


Almost Breaking News

The latest news about RVing from our newsroom
This feature will return after the first of the year.

Recent recalls:
Keystone recalls 982 model year 2019 trailers.

How to extend the life of an RV battery

The life of RV batteries varies. Factors include how they’re used, maintained, discharged and recharged, and how they’re stored. A battery cycle is one complete discharge from 100 percent down to about 50 percent and then recharged back to 100 percent. Learn more in this article from Mark Polk.

Harvest Hosts to raise fees. Adds golf courses to free overnight locations

Harvest Hosts, a membership organization that has traditionally offered free overnight RV stays at wineries, farms, breweries and other locations – an alligator farm and skeleton museum, for example – is now offering its members the opportunity to stay at 329 golf courses. The benefit is free for members through the end of this year, but will then only be available to those who have upgraded their memberships. Learn more.

More Colorado State Park campsites available only with reservation

Starting in 2019, 20 of Colorado’s state parks will offer camping by reservation only. Effective Jan. 1, 15 state parks will convert to a “reservation-only” system after it was tested successfully by five parks in 2018. Under the new system, campers can reserve a site, 24/7, anywhere from six months in advance up until the day of their arrival. Learn more.

Video: RV industry president discusses economic impact of RVing

In this 53-minute video, RV Industry Association (RVIA) President Frank Hugelmeyer discusses the economic impact of the RV industry and where it fits into the overall picture of outdoor recreation and the American economy. Watch the video.

Contest — win a prize!

We want your Statue of Liberty photos! No, not the real thing, but photos of fake ones scattered across our great land. And if you snap the best one, you’ll win a swell prize. Learn more.

Reader Poll

Reader Poll

Is your RV your only home?

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

spyWhat we learned from you last week

You’re heading south for the winter (if you’re not already there), you were probably between the ages of 10-20 the first time you flew on a plane, you consider yourself a little overweight, you don’t iron your clothes, and you didn’t want to know the date or cause of your death, but if you had to choose, you’d pick cause. All this and more, right here.

Soon-to-launch all-electric motorhome – reality or hype?

If alternative energy and RVing spark your interest, read on. Imagine the motorhome of the future: no smelly diesel fuel to pump, no high-priced gasoline to purchase. Yep, imagine the advent of an electric motorhome. This is not “future tech” stuff, says German motorhome builder WOF, it’s a “see it today, buy it next year” vehicle. Learn more.

Fire safety! Do on-board fire extinguishers expire?

While Rich “The Wanderman” was checking his RV’s smoke detector’s battery, he decided to also check that the fire extinguisher was still “in the green” on the gauge. It was. But he wondered just how long fire extinguishers last and when they should be replaced. Do you know? Find out here what he learned from his research.

New book for beginning RVers gets thumbs up

Full-time RVers Marc and Julie Bennett have penned their first book, “Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road.” It’s well done, with beautiful, sometimes dreamy photos taken by the authors that by themselves will have would-be RVers drooling. Read more.

Talk to an agent that “speaks RV” for your full-timing insurance

When you move to full-timing, you might assume your homeowner’s insurance will cover your RV adequately. But rather than making that assumption when you take the plunge, it would be prudent to talk to an insurance agent or company that “speaks RV” to make sure all aspects of your new full-time RV lifestyle are covered. Read more.

Baking holiday treats? Beware of bad ingredients

Making holiday treats in your RV? Or maybe your granddaughter’s birthday is almost here. Piece of cake! Well, if your small kitchen is somehow large, that is. So, you’ve found a cake decoration video online. It will be perfect for your granddaughter’s birthday party, but the recipe uses ingredients that you question: Are they safe to eat? The FDA wants you to be aware that some decorative glitters and dusts promoted for use on foods may, in fact, contain materials that should not be eaten. Learn more.

Helpful “water fitting” accessories for your RV

If you’ll be camping in a park with “city water,” that is, water from a faucet, here are some good accessories to keep in your RV storage compartment. These can make your visit easier, even safer, for your rig. Inexpensive, you’ll thank yourself for having them when you need them. Learn more.

Popular articles from last week’s issue

RV not winterized; camping; temp dropped to 25; worried!
How much solar power do you need?
RVer frustrated with Keystone trailer. (with video)
Wife worried she’ll be lonely as a full-time RVer.
RV Electricity – Don’t blow your fuse!
What we learned about you last week (December 1-7).
Laughs by the roadside. December 2018.

From the Reader Forums

Trailer wiring warning while towing, but dealer says nothing is wrong
We have a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD with built in brake controller, and live full-time in a 2016 NUWA Hitchhiker 32.5 FKSBG. While changing RV parks between Camp Pendleton, CA, and Petaluma, CA, we started getting the “Check Trailer Wiring” alarm. After checking everything I could on the road we continued to get the “Trailer Connected” and the “Check Trailer Wiring” along with 3 beeps constantly for 5 or 6 minutes, then it would stop until I hit the brakes and it would start again. We never completely lost braking on the trailer; when I needed it, it was there. Now months later we still have the problem and have to change parks every 2 weeks in this area. We have had the truck to dealers several times, being told nothing is wrong with the truck. Read more and comment.

How to avoid winterizing trailer in freezing weather
As a newbie with a 17′ Travel trailer in Oklahoma, I am trying to avoid winterizing my trailer as we have plans to travel to south Texas in winter. However, we do get a few days of freezing weather. Any advice or links to ways to protect the trailer without winterizing it? Comment here.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: New users register here.


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

Where to complain about bad RVs, dealers, service, RV parks. This is an ever-expanding list of resources where you can report, share or discuss your problems with RV manufacturers or dealers.

The RV Show USA
Listen each Wednesday evening on Facebook or YouTube for the live taping of America’s only syndicated radio program about RVing. Sponsored by Cheyenne Camping Center and PPL Motorhomes.

Did you buy a lemon RV? Here’s more about RV lemons and lawyers who will represent you if you need help.

What does financing an RV for 20 years REALLY mean?
In case you missed this article the first time around, here it is again. Important! Click here.

How to make money from your blog or website.

Ask the RV Shrink

Woman RVer learning the ropes annoyed with “over-helpful” men

Dear RV Shrink:
I am trying to learn everything about our RV just in case my husband keels over one day and I have to get this monster (RV) home. I seldom drive, dump the holding tanks or fill with water. Those are the things I have been practicing. The problem is there are always men standing around telling me what I am doing wrong before I even get a chance to figure things out on my own. If I hear “righty tighty, lefty loosey” one more time, I’m going to give someone a “dirty swirly”! …

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

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.

A thing that does all things!

This large silicon pad can be used in your microwave under hot bowls to pick them up, or on top of a dish as a splatter guard, on your table as a hot plate, a drying rack, or even as a jar opener. When it gets messy just toss it in the sink for a wash, or even put it in the dishwasher. $10 on Amazon makes it a great deal. Talk about a great multi-tasking gadget for your RV (or home) kitchen.

Latest fuel prices

Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.42. [Calif.: $3.32]
Change from week before: Down 3 cents; Change from year before: Down 6 cents.
Diesel: $3.16. [Calif.: $3.89]
Change from week before: Down 5 cents; Change from year before: Up 25 cents.

Lap desk puts your back to rest!
If you find yourself using your computer on your lap, reading your Kindle on the couch, or having a hard time holding that heavy hardback, you need this lap desk! Staff writer Emily uses this when she works and highly recommends it. The desk has eight adjustable levels and even has a stopper to hold objects upright. Great for those who have lower back pain or terrible posture (ahem, Emily). Learn more or order.

RV Quick Tips

Need outdoor table space? Here’s one for your lawn chair carrier

Boondockers may find a paucity of picnic tables out there in the brush. Here’s an interesting idea for those who use a lawn chair carrier on their rig’s roof access ladder. A properly configured chunk of plywood can hang on the carrier and give that little bit of extra flat space when needed. This idea’s from

Roof leak? Check this first

If you have a roof leak check your air conditioner right away. I always check all the bolts and seals. Most of the time this is the area causing the issue. –From RV Living Full Time: 100+ Amazing Tips, Secrets, Hacks & Resources to Motorhome Living Available on

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

Popular “Guide to Free Campgrounds” directory updated after four years
Any RVer that has been on the road for awhile likely has a dog-eared and ragged copy of Don Wright’s “Guide to Free Campgrounds.” It’s been four years since the latest edition, and much has changed and been added. Read more about it here, and maybe order a copy of the brand-new 832-page guide for yourself or for a holiday gift for your RVing friends.

Our favorite holiday gifts for the RVer:


Ask the RV Doctor

The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions

Water heater works but only cold water comes from faucets

Dear Gary,
I am having problems with the water heater, which is both gas and electric. The tank fills up and the water gets hot but when I turn on the hot water at any faucet all I get is cold water. I checked the valve and it is open on the water heater. … —Gerald

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

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

Camping with the Corps of Engineers

corps-book-748Many 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.


Ask BoondockBob

with Bob Difley

What’s in your RV emergency tool kit?

It is always a dilemma: Your RV is limited in carrying and storage capacity. So you have to make decisions of what to eliminate when something new comes aboard, or what to get rid of it you haven’t used it in a year. BoondockBob has had things he hasn’t used for more than a year but he won’t let them go because he knows he’ll eventually need them when boondocking (especially if he gets rid of them). Read Bob’s list of must-haves.

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

The best phone mount for an RV
Endorsed by the RVtravel staff!
This phone mount suctions or clips to your dashboard or windshield, and is a sturdy, safe place to keep your phone while driving. Perfect for using the GPS while going down the road. The mount is cushioned for a wobble-free phone and can rotate 360 degrees. We highly recommend this one! Learn more or order.

RV Electricity

with Mike Sokol

Is it a leak or a noisy water heater element?

From the Redwood Owners Forum,
My water heater started to make a noise tonight. It sounded like a leak. After fiddling around a bit, I found that if I turned the switch off inside, the noise stopped. I turned it on again, and the noise started again. Anybody ever have this happen? Any ideas?

Read Mike’s response.

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

Make popcorn in minutes with this collapsible popcorn maker! 
Virtually fat-free, no cholesterol, full of fiber and vitamins; popcorn is the best snack! Pop it in minutes in your RV with this handy collapsible popcorn maker. Simply pour the kernels in the bowl, add your favorite seasonings, microwave for a couple of minutes and the perfect bowl of popcorn will emerge! Pretty hard to resist if you ask me… Learn more or order here.

RV Tire Safety

with RV tire expert Roger Marble

How to preserve your RV’s tires when parking long-term

Many RV owners are “winterizing” their RVs. Even if you are in Arizona, you might be getting it ready to be parked for many weeks or months. There are a few things you need to do to help preserve your tires. Learn more.

Bring in da funk, bring in da noise…

Sound MachineNeed to get some sleep in a noisy campground? Here’s a simple way: white noise. What the heck is it, and what does it do? Well, if you remember old-time radio tuners without a mute function, when you tuned between stations you would hear a kind of whooshing hiss. That’s what it sounds like. Here’s a simple noise machine that costs under $20 and runs off of batteries or a wall-wart adapter. It has a white noise setting and calming nature sounds. It’s perfect for the RV!

Astronomy for RVers

with Chris Fellows

Andromeda – Our sister in the galactic family

Winter is here and that means some pretty cool, very large and, for some people, naked-eye objects in the heavens. Last time we looked at Orion and some of the fantastic objects within its boundaries, so Chris thought that this installment should carry on with that theme and direct our gaze to another glorious target in the winter’s night sky – the constellation Andromeda. Read more.

Last minute gifts for the one with a sense of humor:

The RV Kitchen

with Janet Groene

Better Batter Dilly Bread

It’s a dilly! Get all the yummy taste of a yeast bread without all the fussy steps of rising,  punching down and shaping the loaf. Even in the dead of winter dried dill weed brings the flavor of springtime to your RV table. This loaf plus hot soup makes a memorable supper on a cold night. Get the recipe.

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


The RoVing Naturalist

with Dennis Prichard

‘Tis the season … for mistletoe

A starling flew to a branch of an oak tree and began scraping the sticky fruits from its beak. Seeds within the small, whitish flesh were jammed into crevices in the rough bark and thus were planted. Upon germination, a small adhesive “foot” would anchor the seedling to its host. The life of a new mistletoe plant had begun. Read more

Maintain those slide seals!
If you’ve heard a cracking or popping sound when extending your slide outs, it means your seals are sticking and/or drying out! Using a seal conditioner about every 8-12 weeks is recommended to avoid drying and cracking. Once they begin to wear and show damage, they are no longer working to their fullest capacity. We recommend using Thetford Premium RV Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner – it works like a charm.

Digital RVer

with Geeks on Tour

Should Google Fi be part of your Internet toolkit?

If you need Internet as you travel the U.S., you know that it’s important to have more than one Internet provider. Geeks on Tour have one phone on unlimited Verizon and one hot spot on unlimited AT&T. All of their other devices use the Google Fi network. Maybe this would work as well for you as it does for them. Find out here.

Learn about smartphones and tablets
… from Geeks On Tour. Here is the most recent webcast: #157, How to send photos from your phone. Tomorrow, Sunday, watch Episode 158: How to choose a phone case. Watch live or archives of past programs.

Be sure to check out the just-released 2nd edition of Mrs. Geek’s Guide to Google Photos, available at

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.

Keep mice out of your RV
The positive reviews on this product from Earthkind make it the best bet for keeping your RV mouse-free. It’s the only plant-based rodent repellent registered for inside use by the EPA. It effectively repels rodents up to 90 days with a “woodsy” scent that’s pleasant to humans but offensive to rodents. It’s safe around kids and pets, too. 98% biodegradable. Learn more or order.

Common Terms Used by RV Salespeople

GOLD BALLS: One who has excellent credit and usually a considerable down payment.

DOORMAN: The name given to the dealer employee who stands at the doorway of the finance manager office, blocking it, when the buyer is sitting in the F&I office and the final RV sales paperwork is being signed. It’s an intimidation tactic often used by the salesperson or the floor manager when the dealer knows there is something in the transaction that the customer does not know or understand and may object to.

MOUSE HOUSE: Slang term used for a finance company.

More next issue. Courtesy of the Burdge Law Office.

Inflatable foot rest is comfortable for couch and passenger seat
Now that’s cool! Missing your favorite recliner? Miss it no more! This inflatable foot rest is perfect for lounging on the couch, in the chair by the campfire, or in the passenger seat for long drives. Take it on a plane ride, or take it to the grandkids’ soccer game (we know those can get long). It weighs less than 1 lb. and folds down small for travel. Learn more about this comfy foot rest here.

Facebook Groups about RVing

Friendly RV/Camping Women
Workcamping for single workers and campground reviews
Florida RV Camping
PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: RV Horror Stories & RV Advice

It’s time to clean your CPAP machine!
One of our past surveys told us that 51% of you (or your partner) use a CPAP machine. Wow! When was the last time your machine was cleaned thoroughly? They get very dirty! This highly rated cleaning kit will get out all those yucky germs and bacteria. The extendable brush will expand to 7 feet, but folds up into a small plastic bag so as to not take up too much room in your RV. If you use a CPAP, you’ll want to order this here.

Free and bargain camping


Cracker Barrel # 272, Tuscaloosa, AL
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed but obtain permission from the store. Well-lit and level, with moderate L-59 traffic noise. If you park overnight, please purchase your evening meal and/or breakfast here. Address: 4800 Doris Pate Dr. GPS: 33.17612, -87.4746

Flying J Travel Plaza # 633, Union Point, GA
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed and permission is not required. Level, well-lit, and appears safe and quiet. Dump station, $10. Propane available. Shower available (fee). Public Laundry on site. Wi-Fi available (fee?). Denny’s on site; hot food and pizza available in Flying J store. Address: 3600 Highway 77 S. GPS: 33.5468, -83.078536

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

The cutest ornament we’ve ever seen…
This adorable little camp stove is the perfect addition to your, or a family or friend’s, Christmas tree this year. Makes the perfect gift for an RVer, camper, hiker, fisher…well, anyone! Learn more or order here (and see some other equally cute RV-related ornaments here.)

Click here to see our staff’s favorite products at Amazon.

Museum of the Week

The National Museum of Roller Skating

Roller Skates

Lincoln, Nebraska

The weirder the better … isn’t that what they say? Well, this is pretty weird all right. Inside the USA Roller Sports headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska, sits the National Museum of Roller Skating. Inside, you’ll learn the evolution of the sport, the shoes and the wheels; you’ll learn about roller rinks and roller derbies; you’ll get to view many roller skate patents; and you can watch highlights of old competitions. Don’t roll on by, read the excellent TripAdvisor reviews here and plan your visit.

Upcoming RV Shows

Columbus RV Show, January 4-6, Columbus, OH
Knoxville RV Show, January 4-6, Sevierville, TN
Memphis RV Show, January 4-6, Memphis, TN
South Carolina RV & Camping Show – Greenville, January 4-6, Greenville, SC
Wisconsin RV Show, January 4-6, Milwaukee, WI
Florida RV SuperShow, January 16-20, Tampa, FL

See the complete list of all upcoming RV shows


The Christmas song “Silver Bells” was called “Tinkle Bells” until co-composer Jay Livingston’s wife told him “tinkle” had another meaning. (Thank you, Mrs. Livingston!)

Bumper sticker of the week

You keep tailgating – I’ll keep slowing down.

Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to Gail (at)

Joke of the Week

Why don’t helicopters fly in the morning?

Worth Pondering

“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.” —Anton Chekhov

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, Dennis Prichard, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.

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

cw501About the editor Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for three decades. In the ’90s he published the quirky travel newspaper Out West, and was an “on the road” writer for the New York Times Syndicate. His book, “The Best from Out West” is available at Woodbury’s RVing adventures have been profiled on ABC News, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, and in People Magazine, USA Today and in hundreds of newspapers. He is the host of the Better Business Bureau DVD “Buying a Recreational Vehicle,” the definitive guide to purchasing an RV the right way.

Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of or this newsletter.

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.

This newsletter is copyright 2018 by

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3 years ago

Unfortunately, your site isn’t improved it’s very much monetized, no longer interested in reading. Best of luck.

3 years ago

My first newsletter. Very interesting, and full of good tips. I just have one question, I have some new furniture out of my 2018 Prowler that I would like to sell. Does anyone know of a place or places for buy and sell RV items?

Phil Atterbery
3 years ago

Hi Mike. Glad to see some progress on training the tech. Maybe you could train the sales force to “stay in their own lane” when it comes to electrical matters.

Mike Sokol(@mike)
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil Atterbery

You’re absolutely correct. Everybody’s an “expert” until something goes wrong. But the sales force needs to know when to pass the questions on to a technician, and the technician then needs to interface appropriately with the customer. Certainly not everyone at a dealership can be an electrical expert, but everyone needs to know their place, and there really should be someone on staff who can explain the basics of shore power to a new customer. Apparently this doesn’t happen at a lot of RV dealerships since I get tons of the most basic RV electrical questions all the time.

3 years ago

When we bought our bigger TT last summer we had to get a loan on it. Knowing we could put more money on it towards the payments we opted out of the warranty. When we refused and I mean refused 5 times the lady got up and out of her chair and said I will give you a minute to think about it. This guy comes in 10 seconds later plops into her chair and tells us why we needed the warranty. I mean this guy was strong arming us into getting it. We again refused and boy it was like hell and spit fire was going to happen if we don’t. We told them no and in no uncertain terms were we going to get it. They were extremely cold to us once we finalized the paper work. This is the last trailer we are going to get because I do not want anything bigger. This new one has everything I want and will retire in. We told this to General RV in Birchrun and they told uh huh right. See you all in 5 years. We will not be back there not because of what happened but because I am happy with what I have. Period. The TT will be paid off in less then 3 years and I don’t care what any one says about Camping World but the one near us is fab. Good luck saying no to the strong arm tactics of RV dealerships. Never had this happen to us ever and hope it never does if we are forced to buy another one in the future. Happy camping.

Carl J
3 years ago

An issue I see with the transference of info from the dealer to the consumer is that many of the sales dudes and dudettes have not a clue what they are selling. Last week they may of been at a car dealership or a cell phone kiosk in the local mall. They know how to sell, they just don’t the product they are pimping.

Mike Sokol(@mike)
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl J

My main reason for writing this essay was to point out that salespeople shouldn’t be talking about things they don’t know. So if they don’t understand electrical hookups, then don’t tell buyers about the kind of shore power they need. But I think it would be great for any dealership (large or small) to offer some sort of monthly education class for both potential and new buyers. This could be a day-long class of 90 minute training modules teaching important topics like sewer hookup, electrical systems, hooking up a tow vehicle, road safety, etc. The dealerships should make their sales people attend so they’ll understand the language of RVing as well as basic concepts. To me, training is super important because it helps protect your monetary investment as well as your family safety. This is exactly the kind of training program that Chuck and I could pull together for the RV industry, providing experts on each of these topics. But baby steps for now…

3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

If you have a problem with a dealerships wrong advice and mention that it is a large dealership why not say the name of the dealership? I have seen this before and it bothers me that a name is not mentioned. Is there a concern about a legal problem? I enjoy your articles and respect your advice but, it doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t use that dealership just because you identified them.

Mike Sokol(@mike)
3 years ago
Reply to  Ron

I’m going to talk to their management first and determine if this is a one-off problem, or a widespread issue. Once I know more I’ll be glad to post it in a future article. But I won’t write about something I don’t know for sure, and right now this is all hearsay. Stay tuned.

Kim Christiansen(@imkimc)
3 years ago

Did you see this when trying to get to RVTravel today?
“This Connection is Insecure! – Get me outta here”

Was RV Travel hacked? Was the site insecure?
No and No.

Regardless of the message you saw, RVTravel operates at all times under an SSL certificate that supports all of the latest standards in security. When the site is up and running, you can see the little green LOCK in the address bar. That means that you have a secure connection to the website. There were several moments when our site was offline, and at that point there was some confusion at our hosting company as to what to show visitors and several of you saw that disturbing message. Normally, you’d be right to be suspicious of a site where that message came up. But in this case, it wasn’t a security failure, so much as a temporary glitch.

So, what the heck happened anyway? Chuck covered what happened last week in his article. But in a nutshell, we’re a really popular website with a lot of loyal readers… and some bad actors out there decided to poke our server to see what they could find. They found our security guards (firewalls, etc.) They poked more, we responded more until the cycle caused the site to become unstable.

“You need to get yourself an IT guy and fix that!”
I agree with you… and I’m the IT guy!
We kicked out the bad guys and shut the door behind them, again. Next, we’ll tweak our settings to ban these types of attacks sooner. We’ve already done some of that, and we’ll do more.

We’re going to double down on security and optimization, and we’ll bring a service online that allows us to put copies of our website on various machines around the country. This will ensure that if there’s a group of bad guys this weekend, it won’t take down the entire server. And even if it does, the copies around the country will continue to work while we kick the bad guys out.

We take both your patronage and the security of our website seriously. There’s nothing like falling flat on your face in front of thousands of good folks to buff up your sense of humility. We thought we had this well in hand, and we were wrong. I can’t say that we won’t be attacked again. There’s nothing anyone can do about that; hackers are proliferate. But I can say that we will do everything we can to stop these bad actors from taking the site down again.

Have a happy holiday!


3 years ago

While you (Kim) have your ears on, the voting still seems to have a bug that says you need to be logged in but doesn’t let you log in. Each new text post asks for name/email/web anew, with no permanence to just staying logged in. Not sure if everyone sees this, but several have commented on it.

Captn John
3 years ago

The new format is fine. I prefer articles to open in a new window as they are easily closed when read. Besides, at times I prefer to leave one open to read later or a 2nd time without having to look for it.

3 years ago
Reply to  Captn John

For a workaround press CTRL while you click the link and it will open in a new tab, pressing shift will open in a new window. I do this all the time rather than leaving it up to the whim of the website I am on.

John Hiler
3 years ago

We can send people into space and back and we can’t teach technitians here on flat earth technical electrical wiring? Could it be that corporate America sees more profits in selling junk than in a good product? And, cheap labor lends more to the CEO’s bottom line than dollars in a workmans pocket. You get just what you pay for and if you won’t pay for junk and they surround bank properties with unsold rv’s then things will change. Especially if you are taught to stay isolated and don’t trust anyone. And for god’s sake don’t join in any movement to make things better by joining your fellows to protest crap…Like your great grandfathers and great grandmothers did…

Mike Sokol(@mike)
3 years ago
Reply to  John Hiler

Well, I don’t think that we “can’t teach technicians electrical wiring” it’s that we “won’t” teach them. And that’s largely because training takes time and money. Money for a proper instructor, and time for the technicians to attend classes. Interestingly, just since my essay on “Who will teach the teachers” appeared this morning I’ve been contacted by two more dealership entities about what it would cost for me to train their technicians on electrical theory and troubleshooting. Perhaps there’s hope for the industry yet.

But I have to create the entire training program for this level of RV electrical troubleshooting, and that will take some serious time and effort on my part. Stay tuned.

3 years ago

re: your new web design….used to be that all links and articles opened in a second tab or window….now, some do, some don’t….more than once I’ve closed the entire site out of force of habit….any chance we can get more consistency?
re: your website…I STILL LOVE it…

3 years ago
Reply to  SDPeg

Here is a workaround, press CTRL while you click the link and it will open in a new tab, pressing shift will open in a new window. I do this all the time rather than leaving it up to the whim of the website I am on.

Kenna Hoyser
3 years ago

Some links not working. Example, Americas Mailbox.

Kim Christiansen(@imkimc)
3 years ago
Reply to  Kenna Hoyser

Hi Kenna, thanks for mentioning that. We’ve fixed links in the sidebar now.

3 years ago

Still saying failed to connect or not a secure site. Just have to wait until traffic slows down.

3 years ago

Ref: blows fuse. Won’t let me post there

Still getting random “Failed to connect” or the links are all over the place, wrong articles. Click on one poll, last weeks poll pops up. Click on “thing found on the side of the road” and a new poll comes up. Even got an error code a few times. Good good article from Mike to lead off the morning. Had trouble re-entering this issue a 2nd and 3rd time. It went downhill from there. Well it is 8:30 AM in Yuma and net traffic is heavy on my personal hotspot and rvtravel. Will try this afternoon when there’s less traffic.

Richard Davidson
3 years ago

I like the new format however I am wondering something. I notice that some of your “links” open new windows and some of them don’t. (which makes it confusing as I have more than once closed the window I’m reading and had to go back to my email and open the news letter again) . How do you decide which links open new windows and which ones do not? Is there any way to make them all the same?

3 years ago

Here is a workaround, press CTRL while you click the link and it will open in a new tab, pressing shift will open in a new window. I do this all the time rather than leaving it up to the whim of the website I am on.