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Week of March 23–29, 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
Welcome to issue 889 of America’s most highly regarded, thought-provoking newsletter about RVing, now in our 18th year of serving RVers across North America and around the World.
It’s amazing to me after doing this for so long that we still mess up on occasion. Last issue, for example, we decided to hold a contest. It was just for fun, or so we thought. We chose a very simple platform, Amazon, which makes setting up a contest super-easy. We don’t make any money on these — in fact we pay full retail price for the prize. It’s just fun for some readers.
But last week, in the position in our free, ad-supported newsletter where we asked readers to click to enter, Google inserted a banner right below that took them to another contest that we had no idea about. Google tosses in a few ads each issue, and for the most part they’re relevant and even helpful.
Google has more than a million advertisers, and we never know which ads will show up. We block many categories like get rich schemes, dating services, online gambling, politics, amazing medical cures, etc., but we can’t begin to block every ad that might not please some readers. Frankly, we need the Google income, as it pays a lot of bills and we don’t have to hustle to sell the ads or get paid. Google does all the work: We simply enter a piece of code where we allow ads to show. Our members (voluntary subscribers) do not see these in their Saturday newsletter.
THE PROBLEM LAST WEEK was that many of you mistakenly clicked the banner that led to another contest that was advertised right below the link to enter ours. When you got there, the website asked for personal information that we would never request. Many of you fired off angry emails to me accusing me of pulling a “bait and switch.” For quite awhile, I had no idea what I had done wrong. Later, when reading through the newsletter, the banner of the other contest showed up, and then I knew.
My mistake was that I should have realized ahead of time that this could happen; I should have made sure there was no Google ad position butting up to our contest entry link. I apologize to those of you who clicked to the other contest. Please forgive me: I’m innocent!
Finally, I’d like to welcome the 2,100 new readers who subscribed since last week. We’re happy to have you along on our mission of finding “truth, justice and the American RV way!” (Thanks, Superman.) Because of our promotional efforts for the last six weeks, a new reader has signed up, on average, every 4 seconds of every day, 24/7. The more readers we have, the more the RV industry will pay attention to us and to our efforts to make your RVing safer, more hassle-free, and ultimately more enjoyable.
RV Electricity Seminar Series kicking off June 8
I am thrilled to report that Mike Sokol will kick off a national seminar series about RV electricity on June 8 just outside Hagerstown, Maryland, sponsored by RVtravel.com. He will teach two classes about RV electricity — a basic class in the morning followed by an advanced class in the afternoon. Read more about the seminars and let us know if you are interested in attending in person or via a live stream. RVtravel.com members receive a special discounted rate.
P.S. Did you know we publish a very informative newsletter RV Daily Tips every Monday through Thursday? If you’re not reading it, you’re missing out. Sign up here.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
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).
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Should Camping World be selling semi-automatic weapons?
RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury was surprised to open his 2019 Camping World Master Catalog and find semi-automatic rifles for sale. Because Camping World is owned by Good Sam Enterprises, which also owns the Good Sam Club, he doesn’t feel right, as a card-carrying member of Good Sam, about being associated with the sale of such weapons. And why, with so many other places to buy firearms, should Good Sam even be involved? Read more.
That was the RV week that was
• FMCA rally deemed a success.
• Camping World stock downgraded over fears of RV industry slowdown
• Big RV resort proposed near Cincinnati.
• Arson investigator joins Forest River fire probe team.
. . . and much more.
Ah, camping! Your own outdoor movie theater!
Ah, camping! Sitting under the stars by the campfire, telling scary ghost stores, making s’mores — marveling at a million stars as the light of the fire fades, watching your own outdoor movie theater (don’t forget the boombox speakers) … Say what?! Check it out.
“Toy Story 4” revolves around an RV road trip
“Toy Story 4,” an animated movie from Pixar, features Woody and the gang of toys, including a new one called “Forky,” on an RV adventure which reveals how big the world can be for a toy. The movie debuts June 21. Watch the movie trailer.
Is it worth it to take a vacuum sealer in your RV?
Rich “The Wanderman” mentions some uses for a vacuum sealer other than food and whether or not he thinks it’s worth taking one in your RV. What do you think? And do you use it for anything other than what he describes? Read more.
How often do you listen to podcasts?
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.
Happy spring! Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? If you could have anything for dinner, what would it be? Do you think humans will travel to Mars in the next 20 years? How many motor vehicles do you own? Where do you buy most of your books? All this and more, right here.
Another take on the Campground of the Future
Here’s another take by Chuck Woodbury on the “Campground of the Future” as presented by KOA at the recent RVX Industry Show in Salt Lake City. Chuck’s not exactly buying the ideas KOA presents, which he explains here.
New RV discount club website debuts
A new website by Ed and Debi Hurlburt is just underway that offers discounts on an assortment of products of interest to RVers for a small, one-time membership fee. The Hurlburts operate the hugely popular RV Tips Group page on Facebook, with 140,000 members. Learn more.
Need something for your RV?
Vent covers, roof sealant tapes, backup cameras, generators, water pressure regulators, windshield covers, water filters, leveling blocks, a new memory foam mattress cover, WiFi extenders – you name it, you can find everything you’ll ever need for your RV here and have it delivered straight to your door.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• Campground of the future? You’re kidding, right?
• UPDATE: Is your older GPS device about to go bonkers? Statement from Garmin.
• Single mom pays price for taking Camping World salesman’s advice.
• What we learned about you last week (March 9-15).
• RV manufacturer goes belly-up, leaving customers hanging.
• Does a construction generator make clean AC power?
• RVer Safety: Making that difficult decision – Firing a weapon in self-defense.
• How to wear a cowboy hat.
Online RV training courses from RV Education 101
Endorsed by RVtravel.com.
Face it, there’s a lot to know about RVing. These online video and e-book courses from Mark Polk and RV Education 101 are outstanding. Here are just a few of the many courses: VIDEOS: Travel Trailer & Fifth Wheel Trailers • RV Orientation • Tow Your Travel Trailer Like A Pro • Tow Your 5th Wheel Like A Pro • Motorhome RV Orientation Video Training Course • Drive Your Motorhome Like A Pro. E-BOOKS: Insider’s Guide to Buying an RV • Owning & Operating an RV • RV Care & Maintenance • RV Battery Care & Maintenance • Trailer Towing Basics. Learn more.
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.
Motorhomes on Fire
This is not pretty – dozens of videos of RVs burning up. But the point is to help viewers understand that RVs burn incredibly fast, and that RVers need to practice good fire-prevention habits and have an escape plan … just in case.
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.
Secrets of RVing on Social Security
Author Jerry Minchey takes you on a journey that lets you discover how you can travel around the country and live the fascinating RV lifestyle for far less than it costs to live in your sticks-and-bricks home. Among other things, he shows you step-by-step how to enjoy the RVing lifestyle while traveling and living on just your Social Security income. Learn more or order
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of March 18, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.55. [Calif.: $3.26]
Change from week before: Up 8 cents; Change from year before: Down 5 cents.
Diesel: $3.07. [Calif.: $3.78]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 10 cents.
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.
RV Fire Safety Tip
Liquid petroleum gas, like gasoline fumes, tends to pool in low spots in the coach until a spark sets it off. Newer motorhomes are equipped with an automatic shut-off for when its sensor detects an LPG leak. If you have a leak, be sure to shut the propane off at the tank.
Fire Extinguishing Aerosol, Two-pack
The First Alert Tundra Fire Extinguishing Aerosol Spray is easier to use and discharges 4 times longer than traditional fire extinguishers. With an aerosol nozzle and portable size, it’s suited for the kitchen, car, garage, boat or RV. The formula wipes away with a damp cloth & is biodegradable. Learn more or order.
RV Quick Tips
The sucky side of RVing – RVs themselves
The bloggers at technomadia.com want to remind Wantabe-RVers that not everything about the RV lifestyle is peaches and cream. Here’s one of their “peeve lists”:
While you might consider your RV your home, that doesn’t mean it has the qualities of a sticks & bricks house. RV is short for Recreational Vehicle. Just like any other vehicle, their value tends to go down as you own them. You’ll have to maintain them to keep them operational, and you’ll likely sell it for less than you paid for it … far less. It’s like paying rent in that you’re paying for housing costs but without building equity, but yet have all of the headaches of home ownership.
Construction build and suitability to full time living vary quite a bit. These are homes that are under constant earthquake conditions and thus subject to more wear and tear through normal use. When they break down, you’ll have to attend to fixing them – navigating new mechanics and repair shops all of the time. Not fixing them can mean literally being stuck.
Even ‘big’ RVs can feel feel small and constrained at times … especially when multiple people are trying to get stuff done. Tight passageways, cooking space, smaller appliances, restricted storage, etc. Appliances aren’t always the best … we have a particular dislike of how loud RV roof air conditioners are.
RVs provide little privacy with thinner walls, and even with stabilizers nearby neighbors or other people in the RV can tell when there are moments of increased physical activity (ummm… playing Dance Dance Revolution, of course. What did you think we were talking about??)
Pros: RVs allow us to be mobile and location independent. We don’t have to pack our bags, we sleep in our own bed every night, we never forget our toothbrush, we know what drawer the wine opener is in and we are always at home while traveling.
A generator that comes equipped on an RV gets its fuel supply from the same fuel tank the engine uses. When the fuel tank reaches 1/4 tank of fuel, the generator will shut down to prevent you from possibly using all the fuel without realizing it. The generator will either have an automatic transfer switch to sense whether you are using shore power or the generator, or you will need to plug the RV power cord into a generator receptacle to use the generator. It is perfectly OK to use the generator while you are traveling. Tip from Mark Polk, RV Education 101.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com
I carry a gun – Should I have insurance?
Gun ownership carries with it a high level of responsibility. Some feel it is wise to have specific insurance in the event they are involved in a shooting. Click here to learn about different types of insurance coverage for gun owners.
Ask the RV Shrink
Couple disagree on full-timing with cats
Dear RV Shrink:
My husband and I want to travel full time for a few years and are thinking about buying a large Class A motorhome. We have been planning this for some time. We read a lot about RVs and the RVing lifestyle online, and I see that many full-timers have pets. My husband doesn’t think that is a good idea. … Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s purrfect advice.
Keep rodents out of your RV!
The positive reviews on this make it the best bet for keeping your RV rodent-free. This is the only plant-based rodent repellent registered for inside use by the EPA. It effectively repels rodents up to 100 days with a “woodsy” scent that’s pleasant to humans but offensive to rodents. It’s safe around kids and pets so no safety warning is required. 98% biodegradable. Used effectively by the RV Travel staff. Learn more or order.
Out with the old (work camping gig)
There are several items to accomplish when you’re wrapping up a work camping gig. Sam Suva explains how he and his wife handle it, including tying up loose ends on projects and making sure the new, incoming staff is up to speed. Learn more.
Cheap tire tool can save you tons of trouble
What gives when you think your tires are “good to go” but down on air again the next day? Your valve stem valve probably isn’t tight enough. A loose, leaking valve stem can cause a tire failure due to low pressure under load at highway speeds. So do yourself and your vehicles a favor – pick up one of these very inexpensive tools and make sure your valve cores are snugly seated in the valve stem. Click here to order.
Ask the RV Doctor
RV spring shakedown primer
Now that spring has finally arrived [Well, Seattle went from winter straight to summer, with the last two days of winter hitting 79 degrees!] and memories of a long, cold winter begin to wane, many of us get antsy for that first RV excursion of the season. Time to get the RV ready for the road. Woo hoo! Here’s Gary’s very thorough checklist.
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.
Why did my shore power plug neutral burn up?
Our surge suppressor failed, and when we unplugged the 50-amp cable, we found this (picture attached). Our cord was hot to the touch. What could have caused this? Could we have somehow caused it? Thanks for any advice. —Maryanne Perry
The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
RV Travel contributor 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. This should be essential reading for all RVers. Learn more or order
The RoVing Naturalist
Oh rats! … and the future of humanity
Recently Dennis Prichard and his wife were on their way to Texas to volunteer at a national wildlife refuge. They stopped for the night at a state park, and the next morning the truck wouldn’t start: A rat had chewed the engine wires. (Has that ever happened to you?) What makes them do that? And what does that have to do with the future of humanity? Find out here.
RV Parks With a Twist
It’s time to break out that swimsuit and those round, color-tinted sunglasses … Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe, Utah, is calling your name! This isn’t your average RV park. A writer from outsideonline.com says it feels like “a ’60s era commune in the middle of the Utah desert.” Groovy, right? So, click here to get your groove on!
Remove ticks easily from people or pets!
This Tick Twister Remover Set will remove ticks, large and small, without squeezing it, reducing the risk of infection. It does not leave the mouthparts of the tick in the skin. It’s the safest and easiest way to remove ticks and in just a few seconds. Helps prevent Lyme Disease. Keep one of these in your RV. It’s tick season! Learn more or order.
RV Tire Safety
Valve stems, cores and caps, “Oh my!” – And how tight is “tight enough”?
Yep, the title pretty much covers Roger Marble’s information-packed article this week. Learn more.
Building an RV Park
I don’t know what I’m doing!
Machelle and AJ James’ families are offering their assistance in rehabbing the old but sturdy cabin on the property so they can live in it rather than in their 5th wheel. But the reality of the overwhelming proverbial red tape, not to mention the huge expense, to build an RV park from scratch is setting in – as you can tell in this post from Machelle. Read more.
Headed North? So is North! Huh?
Lots of people want to move north these days, but there’s a problem. North itself is moving. According to an article in the science journal Nature, magnetic north is relocating itself. Read Len’s essay or hear him read it to you here.
Propane running low? This will tell you!
With this Dometic LPGC10 LP Gas Checker you can instantly monitor your LP tank’s level. It uses ultrasonic technology to tell you in just a few seconds how full – or empty – a propane tank is. It’s about the size of a writing pen and weighs less than two ounces, so it’s easy to store. For use on steel and aluminum liquid propane tanks. Learn more or order
The RV Kitchen
Espresso cheesecake pie, actually. Janet Groene’s short list of RV provisioning favorites includes packaged crumb pie crusts. They come in many flavors and sizes, keep for weeks in your pantry, and can be filled with instant pudding, ice cream or other no-cook yummies, or turned into a “homemade” gourmet dessert like this one. Get the recipe.
RV Short Stop
Explore a different national treasure during “National Park Week” – April 20-28
For a week each April the National Park Foundation celebrates America’s treasures. It’s time to start planning for National Park Week, April 20-28, 2019. It is the perfect opportunity for a spring family outing to one of the National Parks and Monuments and take advantage of a free entrance day on Saturday, April 20. Click here for details.
NEW: Guest Bloggers
• VIDEO: From Andy Pargh, The Gadget Guru: When to lift the tag axle.
RVtravel.com is interested in hosting your blog. Increase your audience hugely in most cases. No need to abandon your current blog: Just post highlights with us (and watch traffic to your existing blog soar). Contact email@example.com to learn more.
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.
Facebook Groups about RVing
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!
Free and bargain camping
Peggy Sue’s Nifty Fifties Diner, Yermo, CA
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed, just obtain permission from the staff on duty. Lots of parking in well-lit, level paved lot, or in level, unlit gravel lot. 18-wheelers also park here, so there may be some truck noise, but the lot is large enough that you can park some distance away. RVers report excellent food and large portions at reasonable prices. The 1950s theme & nostalgic gift shop are highlights of this location. Click here for details.
Kaibab National Forest – North Rim Dispersed Camping, North Rim, AZ
FREE! Overnight parking and dispersed primitive camping are allowed. Not level, but level spots are to be found. No lighting, hookups, trash receptacles or other amenities. Open from the time SR 67 opens at spring snowmelt until snow closes SR 67 in the fall. Maximum stay: 14 days in any 30-day period. Click here for 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
• 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
• Colorado Springs RV & Travel Expo, April 4-6, Colorado Springs, CO
• Vacationland RV & Camping Show, April 6-7, Auburn, ME
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.
An average human body has 60,000 miles of blood vessels; they’d stretch around the earth twice if laid end to end. Every day, your heart pumps about 1,800 gallons of blood through your blood vessels. Over the course of a lifetime, this vast system carries about a million barrels of blood throughout the body. From the National Institute on Aging
More on “deer turning into elk”:
From Tim Slack: Heard at Grand Teton NP: “How old do the deer need to be before they turn into elk?”
From Susie Hanson and Steve Collins: “At what altitude do the deer turn into elk?” Steve’s answer: “You have to be pretty high for that to happen.”
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
You think my driving’s bad … you should try my cooking!
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
My husband and I couldn’t decide which jacket to buy our granddaughter, so we asked the young salesman. “If you were buying a jacket for your girlfriend,” I asked, “what would you get?” “A bulletproof one,” he said. “I’m married.” —From Reader’s Digest
“Don’t confuse being ‘soft’ with seeing the other guy’s point of view.” —George H.W. Bush
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.
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This newsletter is copyright 2019 by RVtravel.com