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!
Week of March 16–22, 2019
This is the free, advertising-supported issue of this newsletter. If you are a volunteer subscriber and received this instead of the ad-free member edition, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org .
With Chuck Woodbury
ere are some tips about choosing a campsite based on my many years of RVing. I urge you to add your own suggestions to this list after reading it. You can thank me for this advice next time we meet.
1. First, the obvious: Be sure the site is level or close to it, and long enough so your RV doesn’t stick out in the road (so no bumps in the night).
2. Pay careful attention before pulling into a campsite to whether you can clear tree branches above and beside your RV. Scratches (or worse) are not your friend.
3. Check the power pedestal before pulling in or immediately thereafter before leveling up. Be sure it works and is safe.
4. Check the position of the water faucet. Will your hose reach? Ditto the sewer hookup.
5. If you choose a campsite on a curve in the park road, choose a site on the inside of it to avoid headlights of passing campers after dark.
6. Never park under a tree with ripe berries or other fruit. They will drop on your roof and stain it.
7. If the daytime temperature is really cold or really hot, choose a campsite that will either provide lots of sunshine or a minimum of it. In hot weather, it’s a good idea to position the RV so its refrigerator gets the least amount of heat (as in sunshine). If you have a pet you may need to leave alone for brief times in the summer, park where the RV is completely shaded in the afternoon.
8. Avoid parking under pine trees that drop sap. Sap is no fun to remove.
9. Before choosing a site, check to see if the ground is covered with bird poop. If so, then birds likely roost at night in the tree above. Unless you’re into a slimy, poopy roof, choose another site.
10. If it’s windy, choose a site where the front or back of the RV points toward the wind. You’ll experience a lot of rockin’ and rollin’ if the wind slams against the side of your RV.
11. Don’t park under a tree with nuts or pine cones that squirrels will chew then drop when finished (right on your roof with a loud thud!).
12. In the fall, if your campsite is under deciduous trees, be prepared to climb onto your roof before you leave to brush leaves off the roof and slides.
13. Check out your neighbors before setting up: If there’s a boombox and lots of beer cans tossed about, you may wish to move farther away if you treasure quiet time.
14. If there’s a long line of high bushes next to your campsite, look behind the bushes for train tracks. If you love the sound of trains, stay. If not, move.
15. If you have kids and/or love kids, then parking near the playground might be fun. But if you prefer peace and quiet to screaming kids, you might want to choose a site across the park.
Do you have a tip to add to this list? Please leave it here.
P.S. Did you read yesterday’s Beginner’s Guide to RVing newsletter? My essay offered some very practical RV buying advice, as well as a cautionary note about shopping at a well-known chain of RV dealerships. Read the issue.
P.S. Do not miss my daughter Emily’s post this issue about what we learned about you (from last week’s polls). Check out where all over the world people were reading last issue’s newsletter. It’s mind-boggling to know we have such a world-wide reach.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Win this drone today!
We’re giving away one of these at random from the first 1,600 entrants. The contest begins today (March 16) at 7 a.m. Pacific (10 a.m. Eastern). (The link won’t work until the contest begins.). Click here to enter AFTER 7 a.m. (Pacific). You must have an Amazon account to be eligible (most readers of this newsletter do). There is no charge to enter.
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 Fulltime 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.
Campground of the future? Are you kidding?
The RV industry wrapped up its annual convention/lovefest on Thursday. Among the displays was one with KOA’s vision of the “campground of the future.” Their ideas rival Walt Disney’s dream of Fantasyland, which he in fact created, while KOA’s vision is just wacko fantasy. Do they really believe this? I’m thinking: Where’s George Jetson in this picture? What do you think? Click here.
That was the RV week that was …
• Moon rover a lot like a lunar RV!
• Zion National Park rangers looking for thief.
• Luxury RV resort set to open in August in Arizona.
• Forest River recalls trailers: Tire placard advises over-inflating tires.
• Forest River recall: Bunk bed latch may open unexpectedly.
• Forest River recalls trailers: breakaway switch issue.
• Dynamic Tire Corp. recalls some Sailun tires for incomplete TIN.
Arizona wildflower bloom a show stopper
Arizona is currently experiencing what may be the best wildflower bloom in two decades. Mexican poppies, purple lupine, brittlebush, scorpion weed, and globe mallows (among others) are blanketing the deserts as they put on a vivid and virtually unforgettable springtime display. Read more and watch a video.
Single mom pays price for taking Camping World salesman’s advice
How important is doing your research and homework before buying an RV? Listen to Jessica Knoelk’s story of how her dream of RV ownership became a nightmare, as explained in an interview on The RV Show USA. Watch the video.
Graphic helps sort out hazard flasher driving laws
A short while back we posted a story, “Drive with your hazard flashers on?” The laws vary by state, and reader Jeff Myers created a map to easily identify the laws of each state. Click here to read more and then print out a map to keep handy as you travel throughout the U.S.
Forest River plant explodes in Elkhart, totally destroyed
On March 12, Forest River Plant 59 in Elkhart, Indiana, was destroyed by a fire, and we presume all the RVs inside were also destroyed. There were no injuries. Learn more.
Update: Is your older GPS device about to go bonkers? Garmin responds.
Did you see our post last Saturday asking if you own any GPS devices or equipment that relies on GPS to function? Some of them may be affected by the GPS Week Number Rollover issue — a sort of mini Y2K Bug for GPS receivers that will occur in April. Here’s an update from Garmin. We’re waiting to hear back from Magellan.
Do you plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
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.
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 we learned about you last week
Where are you reading this newsletter? Turns out you’re all over the world! Did you get a flu shot? Do you attend your high school reunions? Have you ever uploaded a video to YouTube? Have you ever buried a pet in your yard? All this and more, right here.
RV manufacturer goes belly-up, leaving customers hanging
A lightweight travel trailer manufacturer, Lil Snoozy, LLC, has apparently closed its doors, leaving an undetermined number of RVers who put deposits down for new rigs in the lurch. Learn more.
RVtravel.com editor talks about great places to RV in the West
RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury joined The RV Show USA host Alan Warren on the live taping of the syndicated radio program on March 6, 2019. In this episode he and Warren talk about great places to travel with an RV in America, and more. Watch/listen here.
Amazing RV folds up, squeezes into van when moving
This “camping house” is among the most unique RV innovations we’ve seen. The ioCamper is stored inside a normal van during travel. But at the campsite it slides out, then unfolds for a spacious three-room living space. Wow! Read about it and watch a short video demonstration of its setup.
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.
You want to tow this behind your truck?
Is this the world’s largest travel trailer? Is it the amazing creation of a man who built it in his backyard from spare aircraft parts? With his tongue firmly in cheek, Chuck Woodbury tells you the story, and teaches you a little lesson when he wraps up.
Put a WiFi camera in your RV and look inside while you’re out!
Rich “The Wanderman” likes to know his RV is secure whenever he’s not in it. (Don’t we all – especially when it’s in storage for months at a time?) What if you could see what’s going on (if anything) in real time and have a recording to give to the police in case of a break-in? Well, here’s how to do it.
Can you find Elvis in this Georgia museum?
The Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro, Georgia, is a terrific place to find “Gone With the Wind” memorabilia and Civil War artifacts. The museum strikes the right balance between the film, the book and the history of the war that inspired it all. But hidden in plain sight in the museum is an image of Elvis. Read more.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• Some thoughts about Camping World.
• Good Sam Club drops basic member benefit.
• What is the Good Sam Club, exactly?
[Yes, those were the top three articles, by far.]
• Is your older GPS device about to go bonkers?
• Drive with your hazard flashers on?
• Building an RV park: Decisions, decisions. It’s showtime!
• RVer Safety: A case study – Murder on the Bear River.
• What we learned about you last week (March 2-8)
Find what’s along the Interstate
Never take a wrong exit off an Interstate. The 2019 Next Exit lists every exit along every Interstate and lists what you’ll find: gas stations (including those with diesel), campgrounds, truck stops, casinos, retail stores (by name), malls, factory outlets, drug stores, hospitals, rest areas & more. Very helpful even if you have a GPS. Learn more or order.
NEW: RV Inspection and Mobile Repair Services Directory
These RV technicians and inspectors will inspect an RV you plan to purchase (new or used) for a fee, and some offer mobile RV repair services as well. (The list will grow weekly, so check back.)
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 11, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.47. [Calif.: $3.22]
Change from week before: Up 5 cents; Change from year before: Down 9 cents.
Diesel: $3.08. [Calif.: $3.78]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Up 10 cents.
“Guide to Free Campgrounds” directory updated
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 new 832-page guide.
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!
Contests for RVers
Here is a contest we’ve found for RVers where you can win a swell prize.
Easily hang heavy objects in your RV
RV walls aren’t exactly designed for having screws or nails driven into them. Enter acrylic mounting tape. This is a clear, double-sided tape that is sturdy enough to hang heavy objects and can easily be removed without doing damage to the walls. Get some on Amazon here.
RV Quick Tips
Make tarp seams watertight
If you use a tarp in your travels or back home, you know they can be great for keeping out the weather – but occasionally the seams can leak, ruining your whole day. Here are a couple of suggestions from sailrite.com on keeping the weather out. “Like to waterproof the seams on an existing cover? Use a topical seam sealer. We recommend using Iosso Seam Sealer on cotton, polyester, Sunbrella and other synthetic woven fabrics. This seam sealer will effectively protect and seal your seams without changing the look and feel of your fabric. Iosso Seam Sealer comes with a sponge applicator for easy application directly to your sewn seams. You’ll get the best results if you apply the seam sealer to both sides of the seams. Seam Sealer should be re-applied periodically if your cover sees a lot of harsh weather and after each cleaning.
“To protect seams on a vinyl tarp or cover, you can use HH-66 Vinyl Cement as a seam sealer. Just carefully brush the HH-66 right on top of the sewn seams on the underside of the fabric only. The glue will dry clear and after it has cured it won’t be sticky.” Learn more about waterproofing products here.
“Manly” stove backsplash
If you’ve got a rugged RV and want to maintain the look-and-feel, and keep grease off the wall behind the oven, here’s a tip for a do-it-yourself backsplash: Diamond plate. Cut some thin diamond plate to the correct size, then use automotive door edge strip to finish out the raw edges for safety and appearance. Mount to the wall behind the stove with heavy-duty double stick tape.
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, 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.
Making that difficult decision – Firing a weapon in self-defense
We have spent several weeks discussing various aspects of self-protection in your RV. It is time to take a closer look at the ramifications of any shooting, should you ever be faced with that difficult decision. Learn more.
Ask the RV Shrink
RV buying – Why you should shop ’til you drop
Dear RV Shrink:
We have a dilemma that I am sure many people would love to have. We want to buy some type of RV and travel. The problem is, we have no clue what we want or need. We change our minds every day. … Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.
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.
In with the new (work camping gig)
Sam Suva explains how he and his wife prepare for a new work camping gig, both ahead of time and upon arrival. Learn more.
Forget drones, fly a Bluetooth-controlled “paper airplane” and see the view from your phone! Take a look here, this is pretty darn neat.
Ask the RV Doctor
George Bunzer: Where Gary got his smarts and his passion for RVs
We’re taking a little side trip this week. The editor ran into this awesome post from Gary in the archives and was fascinated by the story about his dad, George, and the huge part he played in what Gary is still doing in his life. If you’ve seen Gary at any of his many seminars, you’ll thank his dad after reading this. Also, be sure to listen to Gary’s beautiful and moving tribute to his dad, “Old Man from the Hills,” at the end of the article. Read more. [Sorry, I messed up on the link before. If you missed Gary’s song, please try it again. —Diane]
Does a construction generator provide clean AC power?
I understand the concept of inverters, but what about generators? Does a construction-type generator put out a clean sine wave, or do I need an inverter generator? … Read the rest of the question and Mike’s response.
Make the whole RV park laugh
You’ll want this shirt if you’re on a family vacation, this one if you own (or are buying) a Class C, this shirt if you haven’t mastered backing up yet, and this one you’ll want just because. It made us laugh out loud.
Camp hosting is not the only form of volunteer position open to RVers. RVers who bring their houses with them are top-tier candidates for other volunteer positions. Here are some great opportunities.
RV Tire Safety
How much “reserve load” or “headroom” is enough in a tire?
There’s a lot of confusion among RVers, on forums and elsewhere, about how much extra load capacity or “reserve load” or “headroom” is enough in a tire. RV tire expert Roger Marble explains (thoroughly) here.
Astronomy for RVers
Intro to astrophotography – Interested in jumping into this “rabbit hole”?
Chris Fellows explains that if you make the decision to get into astrophotography you are essentially taking the “red pill” – you’ll stay in Wonderland and the rabbit hole can go very deep. But the rewards are literally out of this world. Learn more.
How to wear a cowboy hat
There’s a right way and a wrong way, and there are customs you need to respect when you get around a cowboy and his hat. Read Len Wilcox’s take on this, or listen to him read his essay.
The RV Kitchen
Soda Pop Baked Apples
Fun for RV kids who cook. [Editor: Or maybe the kid in us grownups!] Kids will love choosing the flavor of soda to be used here. Orange and cherry soda make it colorful. Colas make it caramel brown. Ginger ale makes it kicky or grape soda makes it grapey. Get the recipe.
My go-to app to find a place to park my RV
If you’ve attended any of Geeks on Tour’s seminars at RV rallies, you know that their favorite app for RVers is Allstays Camp & RV. Find out why.
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.
Facebook Groups about RVing
Free and bargain camping
Unnamed Gravel Lot, Inuvik, Northwest Territories
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed at this remote gravel turnout. There are no signs prohibiting parking or setting a length of stay. Trash dumpster on site. Turnout is quiet, fairly level, and presents no security concerns other than its remote location. Unlighted, but north of Arctic Circle so sun never sets in summer. Click here for more details.
Bomgaars Farm & Ranch Store, Spearfish, SD
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed at most times, but may not be allowed just before, during and after Sturgis, SD, Motorcycle Rally in early August. Obtain permission from store management. 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.
If you’re new to RVing, you’re going to want to know where all the dump stations along your route are (trust us on this). The new 2019 RVer’s Guide to Dump Stations is available and we highly recommend you keep it handy. Read more about it here or order here.
Museum of the Week
The Super Museum
In Superman’s hometown of Metropolis sprawls the Superman Museum, the life’s work of Jim Hambrick, who also owns the overstuffed Superman souvenir and collectibles store at the museum entrance. The place is a dense assemblage of collectibles, movie props, Superman products, and promotional materials. There are costumed mannequins, theater lobby cards, posters, thousands of toys and plastic figures and even the Kryptonian crystal that helped Christopher Reeve create the Fortress of Solitude in the Superman movie. Click here to visit the museum website and plan your trip.
Upcoming RV Shows
• 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
• Mid-Atlantic RV Expo, March 15-17, Caroline County, VA
• Boat, RV & Outdoor Sports Show, March 21-24, Scottsdale, AZ
• 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
• Acadiana Boat, Sport & RV Show, March 29-31, Lafayette, LA
• New Hampshire Camping & RV Show, March 29-31, Bedford, NH
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
Saint Patrick’s Day Trivia
• The cheerful, friendly version of the leprechaun known to us today is based in large part on Walt Disney’s 1959 film “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.” It quickly evolved into a symbol of Saint Patrick’s Day and Ireland in general.
• Corned beef and cabbage is the traditional meal enjoyed by many on Saint Patrick’s Day, but only half of it is truly Irish. Cabbage has long been a staple of the Irish diet, but it was traditionally served with Irish bacon, not corned beef. Corned beef was substituted for bacon by Irish immigrants to the Americas who could not afford the real thing around the turn of the 20th century. They learned about the cheaper alternative from their Jewish neighbors.
NEW: Silly Tourist Questions
From Steve Collins:
A friend of mine worked at a T-shirt shop in downtown Breckenridge, CO. One summer day, a family came in to shop. In a totally serious manner, they asked, “Are those mountains real, or is it just a painted backdrop?” (Too many trips to Disneyland, perhaps?)
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
Sarcasm. The body’s natural defense against stupid.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
My son believes he’s a crescent moon. I’m very worried, but my wife says it’s just a phase.
“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.” —Elie Wiesel
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 director: 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.
Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.
This newsletter is copyright 2019 by RVtravel.com