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!
Issue 882 • Week of February 2–8, 2019
With Chuck Woodbury | Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
First of all, I would like to welcome the more than 2,300 new readers who signed up for this newsletter in the last week. We have devoted a lot of time and energy recently building our readership and it’s paying off.
We have grown so dramatically in the last six months that we are now near the top 10,000th largest websites in the USA – and that’s out of millions. This is important to you, not just us, which I will explain below.
Also, I can’t forget to mention that we have now posted more than 5,000 articles on this website. We continue to add another 60 or so every single week and the pace will pick up as we add new writers (if interested: contact diane(at)rvtravel.com for info).
For our new subscribers, and as a reminder to those of you who have been around awhile (some of you for 18 years!), we are not like 99.9 percent of other RV websites, most mom-and-pop operations or businesses that are far more focused on profits than their customers (readers).
Speaking as a publisher, I can tell you that it’s necessary to make one important decision when you start a publishing business, online or off. You must ask yourself: “Where does my loyalty lie, with advertisers (commercial supporters) or readers?” You cannot serve both equally. It’s like trying to serve the interests of both the fox and the hen house chickens: The fox wants to eat the chickens. The chickens do not want to be eaten. How can you serve the interests of both equally?
In our case, our priority is our readers. Period! Yes, we must earn money to pay ourselves (about a dozen people currently) and pay our bills, but we always conduct ourselves in a way where readers come first.
Below are some of our projects, all aimed at helping you. We are making progress on all, some faster than others. No other website, publication or organization is as active in pursuing similar goals. Few even think about these things.
• Promote the creation of low-cost overnight stopping places for RVers. RV parks are crowded these days with full-timers and seasonal contract workers. At the same time Walmart is closing many store parking lots to overnight stops. Where will RVers stay? New RV parks are not being built nearly fast enough to keep up with demand. And the RV Industry Association doesn’t care enough to take any meaningful action. We are working behind the scenes to get something started.
• Force RV manufacturers to improve the quality of their products. Too many defective RVs are produced today. Our Facebook group RV Horror Stories allows frustrated RVers with seriously defective rigs to let the world know what they’re dealing with: Some wait for months on end before their RVs can be repaired enough to be used! You think that does not happen? It does! We promote a page on our website where RVers with defective RVs can get advice about what to do, even find a RV lemon lawyer.
• Educate new RVers that they must never finance an RV for 20 years (or buy with no money down). Too many naive newbies get sucked into such loans and ultimately end up with the financial nightmare of RV payments long after their RV has fallen apart. How would you like to be saddled with monthly payments for 5 or 10 years after your RV was worn out and unusable? Think you’d just sell it? Sure, but be prepared to write a check for $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 or more just to pay off the upside-down loan.
• Fix and repair dangerous electrical pedestals at RV parks across America. Hundreds are out there. Our Stray Voltage Patrol of nearly 400 volunteers is checking campsites wherever they go, and we have already identified some pedestals that are miswired that could cause a dangerous “hot skin” condition that could ruin an RV’s electronics and even severely shock an RVer (sometimes causing death).
• Promote the idea of portable defibrillators (A.E.D.s) in RV parks. Many parks are far from 911 emergency help. With an A.E.D. on hand, the life of someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest could be saved.
• And we have RV Electricity expert Mike Sokol on our team. What you learn from him you simply will not learn anywhere else, and it’s important!
We have much more to do. With the exception of The RV Show USA, no other media organization is actively focused on helping RVers.
Finally, please consider becoming a voluntary subscriber (a member-reader) to help us fund and expand our projects.
P.S. If you are a member-reader (voluntary subscriber) and did not receive a special Member Update from me yesterday, please let me know so I can see what happened. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also — For RVers or industry professionals who need more detailed help or advice about RV electricity than Mike Sokol can respond to in a short email, he is now available as a consultant at the normal hourly rate charged by RV technicians. To learn more or arrange a phone meeting, click here.
Finally — Don’t miss Mike Sokol’s timely article about being safe with portable space heaters. As Mike says, the danger of using these comfort-enhancing devices is not necessarily the heaters themselves but that “in the USA electric outlets weren’t designed to be heavy enough for the task of providing 1,500 watts continuously for hours on end.”
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
• Me and an ugly tent trailer a long time ago.
• Who is this old man?
• What happened to the blue mailboxes?
• The fish that should have kept its big mouth shut!
Readers speak out
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Sign up for our RV Electricity Newsletter or any of our other newsletters, including editor Chuck Woodbury’s Roadside Journal, here. Also, we’re restarting our Full Time RVer Newsletter after more than a year’s absence. If you are not among the nearly 16,000 subscribers already signed up please do so here. No charge, of course (and no spam).
Help us serve you better! Become a member-reader
The staff of RVtravel.com works hard to bring you an honest, unbiased, valuable newsletter every Saturday. Readers help make it possible by becoming member-readers 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 membership, most $5 to $10 a month. But even a one-time contribution of $10 or $20 helps make it possible for us to write about important matters, not just fluff to please advertisers and RV industry big shots.
Crime in the RV parks. More than ever?
Chuck Woodbury discusses how much more often he hears about violent crime in RV parks these days, much more so than even a decade ago. He writes about why he thinks it’s happening. Read his story.
Limited list of RV-related recalls for January
Due to the recent partial federal government shutdown, the listings are limited to what was provided by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in January. It includes models from Heartland, Keystone, and Winnebago — plus several other vehicles commonly used by RVers. Is your RV or other vehicle on the list? Find out here.
• Newmar recalls RVs for potential brake problem.
That was the RV week that was …
• National parks reopen, but services may be limited
• Bedrock City roadside attraction closes its doors
• Mother Nature shuts down RV plants in subzero temperatures
• Two men, posing as RV World employees, are scamming RV owners
RVers: To arm or not to arm
In this brand-new monthly feature, Mike Sherman – a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience – will cover the topic of self-protection for RVers. In this first installment, he discusses why you should consider developing a plan about your personal safety, and asks the question: “What would you do if someone suddenly started banging on your door at 2:00 a.m.?” Read more.
In this 14-minute video interview, RVtravel.com’s RV electricity expert Mike Sokol talks with Eric Foellmer of XLfleet.com, who discusses the operation of the new Ford F-150 pickup plug-in hybrid conversion. Watch the interesting interview.
Is your RV 10 years old or older? Any problems being denied a site?
There’s an unwritten law about RVing that states if your RV is older than a decade you will not be allowed to stay at certain RV parks, resorts or campgrounds. While this “Ten Year Rule” is strictly applied at only some destinations it, nevertheless, exists. Read more, and please take the survey.
Ford recalls 410,000 pickup trucks
How has your RV performed based on your expectations when you bought it?
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.
What we learned about you last week
You’re pretty nice people! If you found $1,000 in an unmarked bag, you’d probably give it to the police (or charity). You didn’t rent an RV before buying one, and you usually listen to music on the radio when you drive. You prefer butter to margarine, and you probably won’t be watching the Super Bowl this weekend. All this and more, right here.
Hotel Airstream: What would Wally think?
Ah, the iconic Airstream trailer, the creation of Wally Bynum. Sleek. Shiny. Whizzing down the highway, it could well be the epitome of Joe American’s vision of what RVing is all about. But when reflecting on the Father of Airstream’s humble beginnings, one might wonder about a recent development on the Airstream scene. An Airstream hotel? Learn more.
In this promotional video produced by Jayco, tour the 2019 Hummingbird travel trailer. It’s a cutie, just like its namesake!
Visit the independent nation of Molossia in a tiny piece of Nevada
In this week’s Western Views, Len Wilcox takes you to Molossia, a tiny piece of Nevada proclaimed an independent micro nation by its self-appointed President and Dictator, Kevin Baugh. Molossia has a flag and its own currency, which is not based on silver or gold, but something really valuable and important: chocolate chip cookie dough. Read more.
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.
FMCA headed back to Tucson for 2020 national rally
FMCA, North America’s largest independent organization for RV owners, has announced it will return to the Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson, Arizona, March 26 through 29, 2020, for its 101st International Convention and RV Expo. The last time the group met there was in March 1985. Read about this and more upcoming FMCA conventions here.
Tenting underwater? Well, yes… sort of!
Where do you like to camp — in the mountains, the desert, maybe along the ocean shore? Oh, that is so ordinary! How about camping deep down in the ocean? That’s now possible – well, sort of, but only for a certain kind of camper. Read more.
More low-carb “cheats” – How to not feel like you’re missing out
Rich “The Wanderman” wrote recently about his successful low-carb diet. He’s now found a great substitute for something he used to always take on RV trips – the granola bar. Read more.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• Is this the longest fifth wheel trailer?
• Another RV Horror Story.
• Why you should NOT refill disposable propane cylinders, with an exception. (Many comments.)
• RV has rooftop swimming pool.
• The Roadtrek/Hymer scandal. An update.
• RV Electricity – What’s up with upside-down outlets? (Lots of comments.)
• Reader comment: Shortage of RV spaces a big problem.
• What we learned about you last week (January 19-25).
• Keeping RV water lines from freezing during cold winter use.
Stay free at more than 300 golf courses!
NOW SAVE 15%
Our friends at Harvest Hosts have expanded their offerings of free overnight RV stays at wineries, farms, breweries and other attractions to include hundreds of golf courses. Save 15 percent by using code HHFRIENDS15 at checkout. Learn more.
Prefer to travel with a group of RVers? There are plenty of great RV trips to choose from. Here are a few.
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.
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.
If you shop at Amazon, would you use one of the links below to do your shopping? The link in the blue bar above also works. Thanks.
Ask the RV Shrink
Wife wants to hire RV mechanic but hubby is a die-hard DIYer
Dear RV Shrink:
My husband thinks he’s a bona fide RV mechanic. He’ll work on a problem until he’s probably spent more money than having a qualified RV mechanic do the job. He refuses to have anyone work on our rig until he has exhausted all of his possible do-it-yourself fixes. … Wouldn’t it be wiser to just have a mechanic repair our rig? Wouldn’t it be cheaper in the long run, not to mention less hassle and headache? —Cheap Tricks in Toledo
Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including the brand-new Book 2 in his two-book series: 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.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of January 28, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.26. [Calif.: $3.13]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 35 cents.
Diesel: $2.97. [Calif.: $3.73]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 11 cents.
RV Quick Tips
Don’t let a battery charger ruin your whole day
“Battery chargers create high voltages when not connected securely to the battery circuit. Don’t disconnect the batteries or main 12-volt power circuits while the RV is plugged into A/C power or when a separate charger is being used. Spike voltage can damage contacts and logic boards. Connect a service battery charger at the batteries and DO NOT CONNECT OR DISCONNECT THE CABLES WHILE THE CHARGER IS PLUGGED IN. Sparks could cause an explosion of one or more batteries! Keep battery area ventilated well while charging a discharged battery.” Thanks to Dan Kooienga!
Patience at day’s end
“Be patient with the other people traveling with you. Pulling into a campground after a long day of driving when you’re tired can be a frustrating time. There are a lot of little things to do, and you’re mentally and physically tired. Remember that everyone else is too, so cut them some slack. Have patience with spouse, kids, and even your dog. Your dog may not be tired, but he is full of energy and wants to check things out and do something.” From RVing: Less Hassle—More Joy: Secrets of Having More Fun with Your RV—Even on a Limited Budget.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com
2019 Guide to Firearm Laws now available
If you travel with a firearm, you need this to avoid breaking state laws. This details the firearm laws of all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, and how to prepare, carry and transport your weapons. What’s legal in one state may be a felony in another! Essential for RVers who cross state lines. Learn more or order.
The business of work camping – How work campers can help relieve our National Parks crisis
With criminal acts of vandalism and theft rampant in national parks across the U.S., as well as staff shortages, Sam Suva considers some ways to be involved in working for or volunteering at a national park. He reviews the potential work available on volunteer, paid part-time or full-time, and permanent opportunities at a national park. Learn more.
Protect yourself from intruders, bears and more!
*Used by the RV Travel staff!
The BASUeAlarm lets us explore, sleep, and adventure with confidence! This tiny device emits a ear-piercing alarm to scare away intruders, burglars, wild animals, and will call for help if you’re stranded. You can count on this alarm to help keep you safe. Click here to order.
Contests for RVers
Here are some contests we’ve found for RVers where you can win swell prizes.
• Cruise America holds a photo contest every month. The winner gets a $500 credit on a future RV rental.
• Someone will win a 2019 TAB Teardrop trailer from nuCamp. Just complete the entry form by February 15, which you will find here.
Inflatable footrest is comfortable for couch and passenger seat
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 or to the grandkids’ soccer game. It weighs less than 1 lb. and folds down small for travel. Learn more.
Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions
Can we use bottled water for RV toilet in winter?
This is our first winter with an RV. If we winterize our 5th wheel and then want to go camping in the cold weather, is it safe to use the black tank with bottled water only? … We would be using bottled water only for any fresh water needs, so we wouldn’t disturb the anti-freeze in the rest of the system. Is our thinking right on this? —Barb
Ask Boondock Bob
with Bob Difley
Make plug-in electric heaters safer with SmartPlug
Here is a timely product review from Boondock Bob for these cold winter days, when many people in RVs or sticks-and-bricks houses are using plug-in electric heaters in an attempt to stay warm. Learn more.
You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.
with Mike Sokol
Life-saving space heater safety reminders
Since much of the country is gripped by the coldest winter in a generation, this is a good time to remind you about electrical safety for using portable electric space heaters in your RV as well as your bricks-and-sticks house. Please read this important information.
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40+ years in the industry. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
The best book on RV electricity!
RV Travel’s 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. Essential reading! Learn more or order.
RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
What you should know about different tire types
Whenever you ask a question about tires, whether you ask about price, load capacity or inflation, the first response may be “What size is it?” The answer you give should not be “It’s a 22.5” or “It’s a 225-R-15.” These are just partial answers and indicate to many that you don’t really understand much about your tires. Learn (much) more.
Astronomy for RVers
with Chris Fellows
(Your favorite RVing amateur astronomer will be back in two weeks; he’s down with the crud. Get well soon, Chris!)
Amazon Deals of the Day
Here are more than 1,000 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!
with Janet Groene
Burgers to brag about. These are meaty burgers you can get your teeth into and they don’t fall apart on the grill. In fact, they are not grilled at all but are skillet-made to crusty perfection. Buy buttery, oversize buns from a good bakery and have a supper to sing about. Get the recipe.
with Geeks on Tour
Keeping track of time in different time zones
If you travel to different time zones, you’ll want to know the time where you are and also maybe the time back home – like Chris and Jim Guld, Geeks on Tour, who are currently traveling in Australia and New Zealand. (Check out their photo album, linked in the article.) Learn how to use the Dual Clock widget on Android phones and the iPhone World Clock here.
Be sure to check out the recently released 2nd edition of Mrs. Geek’s Guide to Google Photos, available at Amazon.com.
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.
“Guide to Free Campgrounds” directory updated after 4 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 update, and much has changed and been added to this new one. Read more about it here, and maybe order a copy of the brand-new 832-page guide for yourself or for a gift for your RVing friends.
Facebook Groups about RVing
Free and bargain camping
Camping World, Syracuse, NY
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Obtain permission from the store. Some RVers report several 30A electric outlets were available. Dump station and propane available. Click here for more information.
Nancy’s Airport Café, Willows, CA
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed, just obtain permission from staff on duty. Park in gravel lot to the west of the restaurant. Click here for more information.
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.
Protect your RV “pigtail”
That 7-way connector on your travel trailer or fifth wheel is a critical component. When not plugged into your tow rig, the thing is susceptible to the onslaught of dirt, rain and even bugs. Here’s a plug cover that slips right over your precious plug and keeps out the crud. One user says, “This works perfectly to keep the plug on my RV clear. I remove it when not in use and place it in my ‘RV emergency tool kit.’ This way, it’s not knocked around when driving.” Learn more or order.
Museum of the Week
The Reptile Zoo
Not quite a museum, but not quite a zoo either, The Reptile Zoo in Monroe, Washington, along U.S. 2, has the most extensive reptile “collection” in the Pacific Northwest. Former biology teacher Scott Petersen, aka the “The Reptile Man,” opened the zoo in 1996. Get up close and personal with turtles, alligators and snakes (including the world’s deadliest … don’t get too personal with that one). You can even see a two-headed turtle and an albino alligator. Slither over to the museum website here.
Upcoming RV Shows
• St. Louis RV Vacation & Travel Show, Now through February 3, St. Louis, MO
• Topeka Boat & Outdoor Show, Now through February 3, Topeka, KS
• Fort Wayne RV & Camping Show, Now through February 3, Fort Wayne, IN
• Detroit RV & Camping Show, February 6-10, Novi, MI
• Colorado Springs RV & Outdoor Show, February 7-9, Colorado Springs, CO
• Seattle RV Show, February
7 8-10, Seattle, WA. Visit website. Opening delayed to Friday due to snow.
• Chicago RV & Camping Show, February 7-10, Rosemont, IL
• Erie RV, Powersports & Camping Show, February 7-10, Erie, PA
• Jacksonville RV MegaShow, February 7-10, Jacksonville, FL
• Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show, February 7-10, Minneapolis, MN
• Salem Spring RV Show, February 7-10, Salem, OR
• Georgia RV & Camper Show, February 8-10, Atlanta, GA
• Richmond Camping RV Expo, February 8-10, Richmond, VA
• Ottawa RV Expo and Sale, February 8-10, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
• Earlybird RV Show and Sale, February 14-17, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
• OKC RV Super Show, February 14-17, Oklahoma City, OK
• Utah Sportsman, Vacation & RV Show, February 14-17, Sandy, UT
• Arkansas RV Show, February 15-17, Little Rock, AR
• Atlantic City RV & Camping Show, February 15-17, Atlantic City, NJ
• Chattanooga RV Show, February 15-17, Chattanooga, TN
• Topeka RV & Sport Show, February 15-17, Topeka, KS
• Northeast RV Show, February 15-18, Suffern, NY
• Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show, February 15-24, Indianapolis, IN
• Maryland RV Show, February 15-24, Timonium MD
Would you believe that 488 Rhode Islands could fit inside Alaska? Yep.
NEW: Silly Tourist Questions
Tom Gutzke and his wife visited Hawaii in 2018. At the Kilauea volcano Visitor’s Center a tourist asked the ranger where he could see the lava flow going into the ocean. The ranger replied that you couldn’t see it from land – you had to take a tour boat to see it – but he should save his money because the flow stopped about three weeks prior. Then the tourist asked, “When will you turn it back on?”
A rather hefty lady asked Dennis Prichard, a ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, “Does someone weigh less underground?”
Have you overheard a silly tourist question at a National Park or other well-known tourist location? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Bumper sticker of the week
Give me ambiguity or give me something else.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
I always get pickle and chutney mixed up. It makes me chuckle.
“Laughter is an instant vacation.” —Milton Berle
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
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, Len Wilcox, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
REGIONAL AND LOCAL ADVERTISING: We can now run banners on RVtravel.com in your town or in a designated area near you, for example to readers within 100, 200, etc., miles of your business. 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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This newsletter is copyright 2019 by RVtravel.com