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Issue 887 • Week of March 9–15, 2019
With Chuck Woodbury | Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
After 18 years of publishing this newsletter you’d think I would have figured things out. Well, I haven’t. For the last few weeks I have told you that this newsletter would split into two editions, one supported by advertising, the other without any advertising for our 3,700 voluntary subscribers, our members.
For years, I have been promising our members a free edition of this newsletter. Well, the time has flown by and lately I have felt increasingly guilty. And so I announced recently the new ad-free member edition on Saturday with the free edition coming a day later, on Sunday. My intent was to provide those who support us with a special, tangible benefit.
Well, after reading a couple hundred letters from confused or unhappy readers the last two weeks about the change, I knew I had to amend my plan. They asked, “What’s the point of delaying our issue a day?” Well, I must admit, there was no good point when it came right down to it. I goofed.
So, here is what we’re doing. Both newsletters will continue to be posted early Saturday morning. Our voluntary subscribers will receive their issue with no ads. The free edition, the one we have published for 18 years, will continue to include ads: Our staff needs to earn our livings one way or another. This system seems fair to me, and I hope to you.
To those of you who have never donated, keep in mind that anyone who donates even $5 one time will receive our ad-free edition (and other benefits) for as long as we publish, which should be for many years. So what would that cost them per issue? For most, it would be a fraction of a penny.
By the way, if you shop regularly through our Amazon affiliate program, then you are supporting us, too. If so, please let me know (email@example.com) so I can dig through our affiliate files to confirm. We’d be happy to include you on our members’ list.
By asking for voluntary pledges, we are not being greedy, as some readers have suggested. We work hard, trying to help improve RVers’ lives with original, high-quality articles and information.
Frankly, we feel no guilt asking our readers to help support us. If they don’t, that’s perfectly okay. I remember the day long ago when I didn’t have a spare dollar to my name: I remember digging beneath my couch’s cushions for dimes and quarters to buy popcorn or pasta to sustain myself over a weekend. Yes, I was THAT broke back when I was a “starving” freelance writer, stubbornly determined to follow my dream and not just take a job I didn’t love. In the end, I did fine. But I know what it’s like to have no extra money. I doubt many RVT readers are that poverty-stricken, but I do know that for some every dollar counts.
So please excuse me for creating a whole bunch of unnecessary confusion over the two-issue idea.
P.S. I have some thoughts about Camping World after reading its latest financial report. I was amazed at one statistic — how many of the RVs sold last year in the United States were sold by the business. It was far more than I would ever have imagined! Read more.
Welcome to the more than 2,100 new readers who have joined us since last week’s edition! If you like what you’re reading, please tell you friends about us.
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.” 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.
Several RVtravel.com readers have reported receiving messages from the Good Sam Club that it is discontinuing its trip planning tool on April 10. The Trip Planner has been one of the club’s more popular free member benefits. The club “hopes” to launch a bigger and better tool before the end of the year. Learn more.
That was the RV week that was
• Upscale RV park under construction in Biloxi, MS
• RV stuck in mud along I-5 in OR snowstorm still there a week later
• Frontier Town, NY, now taking reservations
• Police shootout at RV park startles campers
. . . and much more.
• Montana 5th wheels recalled. Long slideout bolt could cause tire failure.
• Winnebago recalls ERA motorhomes: Cabinet face may fall off.
• Heartland recalls some Prowler and Trail Runner trailers.
Stay for free at more than 700 wineries and farms
With a Harvest Hosts membership, you can stay overnight at more than 700 wineries, farms, breweries, etc., for free! Harvest Hosts offers an alternative to traditional campgrounds, where members can meet interesting people, taste great wines, eat fresh produce and stay in peaceful settings. (RVtravel.com recently stayed in a blueberry orchard.) Save 15 percent by using code HHFRIENDS15 at checkout. Learn more.
What is the Good Sam Club, exactly?
Midway into a Camping World earnings conference call with investors on March 7, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis asked Good Sam Enterprises President Thomas Wolfe to update investors on the club. Here is what he said.
Drive with your hazard flashers on?
When and when not to use your hazard lights? Is it legal or not to drive with them flashing? It all depends on what state you’re in. Find out what you need to know in this informative article from Russ and Tiña De Maris.
FMCA has announced that Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, renowned captain of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” will be the featured speaker at the association’s 100th International Convention and RV Expo, August 14-17, 2019, at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds in Minot. Learn more.
REV Group loses $14.6 million in first quarter of 2019
REV Group has reported results for the three months ended Jan. 31, showing that consolidated net sales were $518.7 million which represented a growth of 0.7 percent over the three months ended Jan. 31, 2018. The company also reported that its first quarter 2019 net loss was $14.6 million, compared to net income of $9.4 million in the first quarter of 2018. Learn more.
Where are you reading this newsletter?
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
Do you carry a spare tire for your RV? How did you first hear about RVtravel.com? What do you like to put on your hot dog or corn dog? Do you swear? Do you have any serious food allergies? All this and more, right here.
Don’t settle for the “runt” when buying an RV
In his monologue airing on radio stations across the USA this weekend, host Alan Warren of The RV Show USA tells a story about how getting the pick of the litter instead of the runt is not just important when buying a dog, but also an RV. Watch the five-minute video.
Roll your tongues back in your heads, fellas. Perhaps a more technically correct headline would read, “Top-down RV ahead.” It’s all part of an innovative motorhome – NOT coming to an RV show near you – unless you happen to live in Europe. Learn more.
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 and 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.
National Parks make progress on maintenance projects
The National Park Service (NPS) estimates that during Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, more than $671 million in needed repair work was completed at national parks across the country, one of the largest amounts of deferred maintenance needs retired in a single year. Read more.
History of Caravans – From our friends across the pond
Veteran RVer and RVtravel.com contributor Greg Illes ran across this brief history of our neighbor RVs in the U.K. – presented in an interesting timeline infographic. Read more.
Is your older GPS device about to go bonkers?
Do you own any GPS devices or equipment that relies on GPS to function? If so, now is probably a good time to check whether those products are protected against the GPS Week Number Rollover issue — a sort of mini Y2K Bug for GPS receivers that will occur in April. Read more.
Clothes pins – Not just for clothes any more!
Rich “The Wanderman” has discovered that there are far more uses for wooden clothes pins than just hanging clothes on a line to dry, and they’re really cheap. What can you do with them? Find out here.
These socks don’t stink!
If you don’t believe us when we say these compression socks really work, look at the overwhelmingly positive reviews and maybe you’ll change your mind. These socks provide instant relief to your arches and heels and work to increase blood and oxygen circulation, which helps reduce lactic acid buildup and aids muscle recovery in ankle and feet. Click here to learn more.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• Battle brewing between campers, RV parks on electricity usage. (more than 140 comments!)
• Video: Marcus Lemonis explains sometimes slow service at Camping World.
• RVer Safety: The good, the bad and the ugly of self-protection in a campground.
• RV and RV-related recalls for February 2019.
• Video: 14 luxury motorcoach resorts – What you need to know in 60 seconds.
• What we learned about you last week (February 23 – March 1).
• The Business of Work Camping: What happens if you’re let go?
• RV Electricity – Do I need a 30- or 50-amp surge protector?
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.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of March 4, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.42. [Calif.: $3.20]
Change from week before: Up 3 cents; Change from year before: Down 14 cents.
Diesel: $3.08. [Calif.: $3.78]
Change from week before: Up 3 cents; Change from year before: Up 8 cents.
RV Fire Safety Tip
First priority in case of fire: Get people away!
The first rule of RV firefighting is to save lives first and property second. Get yourself and your family to safety before attempting to extinguish a fire. Only if you can do so without endangering yourself or others should you use firefighting aids on hand. Never stay behind or re-enter a burning coach to retrieve anything. Re-emphasize to everyone aboard that objects can be replaced, people can’t.
RV Quick Tips
Jackknife sofa need renewal?
If your RV is equipped with a jackknife sofa, but the upholstery looks like it came through the war, there may be a less expensive way to give it a new look when compared to upholstery shop prices. Russ and Tiña De Maris found a 70″ sofa cover for less than $40 fit theirs, and with a little “tucking in” looked pretty sharp. Another RVer spotted the fact that her jackknife was awfully reminiscent of a futon called Beddinge Lovas, formerly carried by Ikea. She bought a futon slipcover, and with a little nipping and tucking (if you’re handy with a needle and thread) had hers looking new in no time. Here’s a search to start you out on Amazon.
Keep your RV locks working smoothly
Twice a year take a can of graphite spray, insert the small tubing into the lock, and spray every lock on the RV. This should prevent any problems with the locks. Tip from Mark Polk, RV Education 101. And here’s one such possibility from Amazon.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com
A case study – Murder on the Bear River
Mike Sherman hesitates to bring up the details of this particularly gruesome crime, so if you are sensitive in that regard you might want to pass on this week’s discussion. The lessons learned, however, are important and will be discussed at the conclusion of this week’s article.
WiFi endoscope lets you peep where your eyes won’t go
Ever wondered what the inside of your black water tank looked like? Is that “tank blaster” really doing the job? You can’t just eyeball the inside of the tank – or can you? With a flexible endoscope, you can run a tiny camera down for a “look around,” and get an eyeful of information on your tablet or phone. It’s pretty handy to have in the RV so check it out here.
Ask the RV Shrink
New RVer having difficulty adjusting to “minuscule” kitchen
The RV Shrink offers some tips (some “tongue-in-cheek,” of course) to new RVers complaining about the minuscule “one butt kitchen” in their 30-foot motorhome. Do you have suggestions? Read more.
Dealing with health issues
Getting sick or injured on the road! Sam Suva and his wife have been on the road for more than a decade and have had some interesting illnesses. How did they make it through that snarl? Grab a seat ’round the campfire and he’ll tell ya. Read more.
Ask the RV Doctor
Can you change a tire if you need to? Are you sure?
Have you ever thought much about how to change a tire? Your answer will depend on your responses to a number of very important questions that need to be considered first. Learn more.
Southwest camping for 85 cents a day!
Yes, spring is almost here, but for the last bit of winter the Southwestern deserts offer some of the most frugal camping and boondocking opportunities available to RVers in the nation. Read more.
What’s a modified/stepped inverter?
A reader asks Mike Sokol if he should get his Winnebago’s malfunctioning inverter repaired or replaced. He also wants to know what’s the difference between a pure-sine and a modified-sine inverter. Mike answers those questions here.
RV Tire Safety
Are ST tires the “best” tires made?
As a tire engineer, Roger Marble has yet to have anyone explain why or how ST tires should be expected to perform better than any other tire of the same size on the road; yet that is what some would have you believe. Learn more.
Building an RV Park
Decisions, decisions. It’s showtime!
Machelle James files another report about how she and her husband are progressing on their new Arizona RV park. “Our campground decisions seem to be changing on a daily basis,” she writes this week. “We had to make a tough decision last week. Our General Contractor probably thinks we’re crazy and our loan officer needed a moment to digest what I was telling her.” Read more.
There’s more to Barstow than a quick stop for gas and grub
Len Wilcox thinks there’s a whole lot more to Barstow, California, than what most people think. The Southern California desert town was the butt of many Johnny Carson jokes, and even today is probably well down the list of most people’s favorite places to visit. Len says they might want to rethink that. Read his post (or listen to him read it).
The RV Kitchen
Whole Lotta Cheese Sauce
A sauce for all seasons. Few foods are more versatile for the RV cook than a rich, creamy cheese sauce. This one keeps three or four days in the refrigerator, ready to nuke in batches as needed. Stir and spoon it over pasta, burgers, vegetables, rice, hot dogs, omelets, toast. Get the recipe.
RV Short Stop
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the Southeast Sunbelt
Here are some terrific ideas of where and how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the Southeast Sunbelt. Events run March 15-17, so you can choose more than one! Learn more.
NEW: Guest Bloggers
• From Andy Pargh, The Gadget Guru: VIDEO: What You Need To Know About DEF.
• From Andy Pargh, The Gadget Guru: VIDEO: Siren’s Three Favorite Preowned Prevost Models From The Prevost Expo.
RVtravel.com is interested in hosting your blog. Increase your audience hugely in most cases. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Facebook Groups about RVing
Free and bargain camping
Closed Supermarket, York, PA
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed and permission is not required. Park anywhere in the lot, without obstructing movement by other vehicles. Level, not lit, quiet, and appears safe. Click here for more details.
Olive Pit Store & Restaurant, Corning, CA
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. RVer must arrive before store closing time and must obtain permission from the store. RVer must purchase items from store as well. Lot has ‘No Trucks’ signs, but RVs with permission are welcome. Click here for more details.
Overnight RV Parking, with more than 14,000 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.
Upcoming RV Shows
• The Spring RV Show of Shows, March 6-10, Portland, OR
• Colorado RV, Sports & Travel Show, March 7-10, Denver, CO
• Port Huron RV & Camping Show, March 7-10, Port Huron, MI
• Central Wisconsin RV & Camping Show, March 8-10, Wausau, WI
• Southern New England RV & Camping Show, March 8-10, Uncasville, CT
• Virginia RV Show – Hampton, March 8-10, Hampton, VA
• York RV Show, March 8-10, York, PA
• FMCA’s 99th International Convention & RV Expo, March 13-16, Perry, GA
• Flint RV & Camping Show, March 14-17, Flint, MI
• El Paso RV Show, March 15-17, El Paso, TX
• Kitchener RV Show and Sale, March 22-24, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
• Northwest Michigan RV & Camping Show, March 22-24, Traverse City, MI
• Springfield RV & Camping Show, March 22-24, Springfield, IL
New & interesting finds on Amazon
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.
In 1955, Johnny Cash gave Carl Perkins the line “Don’t step on my blue suede shoes.” Cash heard it while standing in a chow line in the service. Perkins wrote the song a few days later after noticing a man struggling to keep his girlfriend off his blue suede shoes at a sorority dance. Elvis Presley’s recording of “Blue Suede Shoes” was the first song to become a hit on three charts: R&B, country and pop. (Do you remember blue suede shoes? Raised hand here. Wow! They’re still available!)
NEW: Silly Tourist Questions
From Dennis Prichard, retired Park Ranger
In Carlsbad Caverns a tourist asked, “How deep is the Bottomless Pit?”
From Brian Clarke
This is a good comeback from a local to a tourist question: “I was in line at the Palm Springs Aerial Tram when the elderly gentleman in front of me asked the ticket taker if there was a discount for seniors. The guy behind the counter looked at him and without a pause said, ‘This is Palm Springs. You have to be 85 to be a senior.'”
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
I fish, therefore I lie.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Bought one of those traveling irons yesterday. Woke up this morning and it was gone.
“Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.” —Bill Gates
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editor: Russ De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Greg Illes, Bob Difley, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Dave Helgeson, Chris Fellows, Dennis Prichard, Len Wilcox, Sam Suva, Mike Sherman, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Emily Woodbury. 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 Emily Woodbury at advertising(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