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 April 6–12, 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 Greg Illes
Later, I became an engineer, hobbyist, tinkerer and fix-it man. “Opa can fix anything,” say my grandkids. So please, take it with a grain of salt when I say that there is never any better time for RVers to get handy – or maybe just handy-er. Yes, I’m biased, but let me make my case…
Read about the many advantages of DIYing here.
From Editor Chuck Woodbury
I will be live on our RVtravel.com Facebook page this morning (and afterwards in the archives), April 6, beginning at 8 a.m., Pacific time (11 a.m., Eastern). Please stop by. You do not need to be a member of Facebook to watch, but you do need to be a member to participate in the chat. This will be very informal – just me sitting at my computer doing my best to keep up with the comments and questions. In the future, we will make these webcasts also available on YouTube for those of you who are not fans of Facebook.
Next week, we will begin taking formal registrations for Mike Sokol’s June 8 RV Electricity seminars in Hagerstown, Maryland. You can preregister for one or both of the seminars (Basic RV Electricity and Advanced RV Electricity) by clicking here. We expect both seminars to sell out, so register early for a guaranteed seat. A live webinar of the Advanced class will also be available for a fee.
We now have a form where you can submit news, ideas, letters to the editor or even articles that you wish us to consider publishing. Click here.
If you have a popular RVing-related website and would like to earn money publicizing RVtravel.com, please email us at email@example.com for details.
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Letter to the editor
A question if time permits. I can just imagine the comments you have received regarding your article on Camping World gun sales. My question is, as an editor, knowing you are going to open a can of worms, are the negative, sometimes rude responses taken personally? Do they sometimes hurt or, over the years, do they just become part of the job of being an honest journalist? Thanks for your wonderful newsletter. —Todd B.
Read Chuck’s response. (Please keep your comments civil – this is not an invitation to mud-sling. —Diane, Managing Editor)
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
New, glitzy industry RV show comes up short: Future events canned
The recently concluded RVX industry show in Salt Lake City was supposed to be a replacement for the decades long, but declining, Louisville RV Show presented by the RV Industry Association (RVIA). The new show, like Louisville, was only open to members of the industry, not consumers. It was highly touted, glitzy in its presentation, but in the end it came up short of what the RV industry or its members anticipated, which was never adequately defined to begin with. Read more.
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.
Comprehensive list of
RV-related recalls for March
The list of latest recalls on RVs and other vehicles and/or products of interest to RVers has been released by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The list includes models from Airstream, Forest River (lots), Keystone and others — plus other vehicles and tires commonly used by RVers. Is your RV or other vehicle on the list? Find out here.
Win this drone
WE HAVE OUR TWO WINNERS.
SO HOLD YOUR ENTRIES
Click here to enter the contest we announced three weeks ago that, alas, ended up with no winner! Heck, we’ll give away two drones this week just because we’re such good, caring people and we love giving you cool things. (Plus, we got a good deal on the drones.) But we’ve got a little puzzle for you to solve first if you want a chance to win. But don’t worry: It’s easy and lotsa fun! Winners will be announced next week.
If you sometimes use your phone to send or respond to text messages, then please, please, please watch this short video. Watch it all the way through. In doing so, you may save your life or someone in your family — or a perfect stranger.
That Was The RV Week That Was
• Baby Boomers not going away fast as RV buyers
• RV dealer arrested for scamming customers
• Fire investigators continue search for clues in RV plant explosion
• Campfire wood delivered by drone? Could be!
. . . and much more.
How robots build cars, but not RVs
On each stop of an RV assembly line, workers with power drills and staple guns piece together one part or section of an RV. Considering that so many people — including those with minimal skills — touch each RV in the production process, it’s no wonder that the level of quality of the RVs they turn out is all over the place. Now, contrast that process with the fascinating scene in this video in a German Mercedes Benz factory, where robots perform all but the final detail work. Watch the video.
A visit to the place “where the music died …”
Recently, RV lemon law attorney Ron Burdge was in Iowa for a deposition. He noticed a framed newspaper article about “the day the music died” on the wall as he was checking into his hotel. That night, his cousin just happened to email the family a link to a YouTube video titled “Meaning of American Pie by Don McLean.” Read more to find out why the trip for this deposition turned out to be a very special one for Ron.
New RV park to join ranks of “trailer parks”
If you travel America with an RV and need hookups, there are few options in many places about where to stay except an RV park. … It’s becoming harder and harder for RVers who move often to find a place to stay. Here is an example of a new park that, by definition, is more like what we commonly think of as a “trailer park,” that is, made for long-term living. Read more.
Pros and cons of joining Thousand Trails
This is one of the best reviews of the Thousand Trails membership program we’ve seen. John and Michelle, the RV Odd Couple on YouTube, took a lot of time to analyze the TT program, offering both pros and cons of the various levels of membership. If you’re thinking about becoming a member, you should definitely watch this video.
How likely are to you to stay more than a night where there is no Internet access of any kind?
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.
When RVing, how often have you felt your life was in imminent danger from bad guys? How often do you play board or card games? What’s your favorite way to eat a potato? Do you have a bumper sticker on your car or RV? How many countries have you visited? All this and more, right here.
RV association president paints rosy picture of industry health
After seven years of record RV sales, shipments of RVs have declined. … RV Industry Association President Hugelmeyer believes all is good, as evidenced in this 10-minute speech he presented at last month’s RVX industry convention in Salt Lake City. Watch the video.
Camping World customer afraid to drive his faulty RV
In this interview from the syndicated radio program The RV Show USA, a listener from Massachusetts named Tom joins host Alan Warren by phone to explain the nightmare he has endured at the hands of Thor and Camping World. Tom is now afraid to drive his Class C motorhome. It’s a sad story with an uncertain ending. Watch the video.
Is it safe to run that cheaper Walmart DEF?
Does your diesel engine require DEF (diesel exhaust fluid)? If it does, you may have heard contradictory information about DEF sources. Some diesel runners will buy only at a DEF dispenser, often at a truck stop. Others swear by “DEF in a box” from places like Walmart, and crow about the significant price break they get. But does Walmart’s DEF meet ISO standard 22241? Here’s the lowdown.
VIN check? You may not need to spend money for a report
If you’re in the market for buying a used RV, tow vehicle, or car to tow, you may have seen the advertisements for checking up on a vehicle’s history. Some of the big names in the business are Carfax and autodna. Enter a VIN (vehicle identification number) code and if the company has records on the vehicle, hand over your cash. But here are some options to get your vehicle’s history for free.
Reclaim some storage space with vacuum compression bags
Rich “The Wanderman” wrote recently about using a vacuum sealer in your RV. It has its uses but the width of the bags is limited, so he decided to check out vacuum compression bags for stuff like pillows, blankets and quilts. Find out how much storage space he is reclaiming, and some other benefits of using these bags. Read more.
In Alaska, the search for the fattest bear is on
There’s a lot going on in Alaska’s eight national parks including the annual Fat Bear Contest, where the public is enlisted to find the bear with the mostest – fat, that is. Read all about it.
Why NOT to travel with your propane tank on
From beneath his coach, certified RV technician and journalist Chris Dougherty shows you how a blown tire could ignite an RV’s propane if the propane tank is still turned on. How do you avoid this happening? Chris has the answer. Watch here.
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!
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• What has happened to us, that we are so angry?
• A new take on the offensive neighbor in the RV park.
• The RV Proctologists relate an RV sewer nightmare.
• Another RVer with a horror story.
• What we learned about you last week (March 23-29).
• Readers’ tips for picking out a campsite.
• How to handle “needy” RV campground neighbors.
• Use common sense to become a happy boondocker.
• Two NYC millennials see an RV up close and personal.
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 fast, and they need to practice good fire-prevention habits and practice 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.
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.
Keep your food cool with this RV fridge fan
Every RV refrigerator should have one of these!
This small refrigerator fan from Valterra Products will help keep the food in your RV fridge cool and from spoiling. It cuts down initial cool-down time by 50 percent. Runs for more than 30 days on 2 D batteries. Don’t leave home without this! Learn more or order from Amazon.com.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of April 1, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.69 [Calif.: $3.53]
Change from week before: Up 7 cents; Change from year before: Down 1 cent.
Diesel: $3.08 [Calif.: $3.85]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Up 4 cents.
RV Fire Safety Tip
Have a CO detector in the bedroom
Deadly, invisible, odorless CO usually results from exhaust leaks or misuse of heating devices. Be sure to put your CO detector in the bedroom. The proper location is on an inside wall at least eight inches from the ceiling and at least four feet from the floor.
Check out some videos of motorhomes on fire.
RV Quick Tips
Is low water flow due to your water pressure regulator?
It can be frustrating to step in the RV shower, crank on the water – and get only a trickle. Don’t immediately condemn your pressure regulator. The folks at everthingaboutrving.com provide some other culprits.
“If your drinking water hose has kinks in it or is beginning to collapse due to prolonged exposure to the elements, it will cut down the flow of water going to your RV and should be replaced. The in-line water filter connected to the city water connection on your RV can also severely restrict the flow of water getting in your RV, especially when the filter is starting to get plugged up by the sediment that it is filtering. If you have a replaceable in-line water filter, a good rule of thumb is to replace it at least once a year. If you use a filter that can be cleaned, you should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how often to clean it.
“If you have an under-sink water filtration system, you should also follow the system manufacturer’s guidelines on replacing or cleaning the filters. Some campgrounds just have low water pressure and no matter what you do, you may not get sufficient water flow to your RV.”
Water heater reminders
Your RV water heater will either be a manual model that you light with a striker or it will be a Direct Spark Ignition or DSI model that you light by simply pressing a button. Some water heaters work on both LP gas and electricity. If you use the water heater in the electric mode keep in mind that it will have a typical amperage draw of 9 to 13 amps. RV water heaters will recover faster in the LP gas mode.
Note: Always make sure the water heater tank is full of water before lighting it. Open a hot water faucet and when you get a steady flow of water the tank is full. If it is spitting air and water the tank is not full. Make sure the water heater is not in the bypass mode before lighting it. Damage can occur to the water heater tank and other components if you light the water heater without water in the tank. Tip from Mark Polk, RV Education 101.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com
Food for thought – A grab bag of ideas for personal safety
Here are a few suggestions that can affect your safety and security, and also help avoid some frustration. Some of these points are no-brainers, but the idea this week is to urge readers to add to the list so we can all learn something new. Read more.
Come into the light!
Our favorite electricity guy, Mike Sokol, uses this Caterpillar pocket light for just about everything. He writes, “I bought one of these CAT CY1000 Pocket COB Lights a few months ago and liked it so much that I also picked up one for my dad. I’ve dropped it a bunch of times, and it still keeps working, like any of the other tough-as-nails CAT products.” It easily clips on to your belt, shirt pocket, or anything magnetic, so you can work hands-free. Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Shrink
Retired wife wants new career; retired husband is opposed
Dear RV Shrink:
My wife, Ruth, and I are both retired and started living half the year in our travel trailer in the warmer climates of the U.S. My wife has always been very active and loves our travels, but she found herself bored after a couple of years of sightseeing. Ruth started volunteering during the winter and now wants to start a new career with the Interior Department. … Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.
Health insurance options
The type of health insurance you have while on the road depends on how much you want to pay for health care during that time. There are several options including private insurance, insurance through previous full-time employment (COBRA), Medicare and Marketplace. Let’s explore these options. Learn more.
Ask the RV Doctor
Is a sway bar necessary for a short travel trailer?
I am a newbie to RVing. I just purchased a used 22-foot Prowler travel trailer and I am towing it behind my F-250. My question is, do I need a sway bar? I am getting mixed messages, mostly leaning towards not needing one. —Tami W.
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.
You’re hiking a woodland trail when suddenly you come upon a bear. Whether you’re boondocking or staying in a campground, if you hike in the woods, sooner or later this could happen. So what to do? Get some tips here.
Weekly update, and 50-amp pedestal wiring
Lots of things are happening this week, so here’s a quick update, plus an answer to one reader’s question about grounding a 50-amp pedestal outlet an electrician is installing at their house. Read more.
Join Mike’s new Facebook group, RV Electricity.
The RoVing Naturalist
Too habituated: The squirrel and the brand-new Lincoln
What happens when wildlife becomes too “habituated” around people? Here’s an interesting tale of the encounter between a couple out for a picnic and a squirrel who came for a treat and got more than he (and the couple) bargained for! You won’t believe this!
RV Tire Safety
Do you need an external spare tire cover?
Roger Marble was recently reading a forum where the owners of one brand of trailers were complaining about the $21 the RV company wanted to charge for a spare tire cover. He previously covered in detail the advantages of and “why” we should be storing our tires inside or under our RV or under light-colored covers. Learn more.
Building an RV Park
We met the neighbors!
The past two weeks have been a blur. We made the decision to formally introduce ourselves on a Heber-Overgaard Facebook group. I was asking so many questions, I thought it was only fair to the group to know why I was asking them. Read more.
Ever stood under the shade of a Moon Tree?
Have you ever stood under the shade of a Moon Tree? Well, you can, and you don’t have to go to the moon to do it. Thanks to a Colorado boy who grew up to be an astronaut, Moon Trees are growing right here on Earth. Read Len Wilcox’s story or listen to him read it to you.
The RV Kitchen
Indian Sausage Bread
Check out this Cherokee breakfast. No time for breakfast because you need to get an early start for a first-come, first-served campground? This dense breakfast bread has all the elements of a hearty meal. It’s baked long and slow, so it’s a good choice to make on a cold day when the oven heat and the sweet scents of baking are oh, so welcome in a cozy RV. Get the recipe.
RV Short Stop
Texas wildflowers, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Now is the peak of Texas’ spring wildflower season. More than 5,000 species of flowering plants are native to Texas. The University of Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is 284 acres devoted to the preservation and use of native plants. It includes an arboretum, managed natural areas and wildlands. Read more.
Facebook Groups about RVing
• Our new group RV Electricity, moderated by Mike Sokol, is live!
• RV to Freedom Group – Learn to Live in an RV
• RVers with Telescopes
PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: RV Horror Stories, RV Advice & RV Electricity
Maintain those slide seals!
If you’ve heard a cracking or popping sound when extending your slide outs, it means your seals are sticking and/or drying out! Using a seal conditioner about every 8-12 weeks is recommended to avoid drying and cracking. Once they begin to wear and show damage, they are no longer working to their fullest capacity. We recommend using Thetford Premium RV Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner – it works like a charm.
Free and bargain camping
Yellowstone Big Sky Truck Stop, Dillon, MT
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed but please speak with staff on duty to verify permission to park. The lot is level, well lit, appears safe, and is surprisingly quiet for a truck stop. Click here for details.
Cracker Barrel # 362, Gallup, NM
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Obtain permission from the staff or manager. The lot is small and may not be suitable for larger RVs. Park in one of four marked Bus/RV spaces behind the store, or as directed. 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
• Colorado Springs RV & Travel Expo, April 4-6, Colorado Springs, CO
• Vacationland RV & Camping Show, April 6-7, Auburn, ME
• Evergreen RV Show, April 12-14, Monroe, WA
Tape it to the limit…
Rather than an adhesive, this type of tape fuses to itself. It makes a totally waterproof seal that can be used to repair the insulation on electrical wiring in the field. It has all kinds of other emergency uses advertised such as a quick fix for a leaking radiator hose, so it certainly deserves a place in your RV toolbox since it’s a multi-tasking piece of equipment that could save your bacon. Learn more or order.
The first McDonald’s drive-thru was created in 1975 near an Arizona military base – to serve soldiers who weren’t permitted to get out of their cars while wearing fatigues.
From Lee and Shelia Brandt:
My wife and I camp host in Yosemite and had a tourist call us up to the car and ask what time do we turn off the waterfalls. (I let my wife answer because I was taught to never laugh at someone to their face.)
From Susie Hanson:
One of my favorites is about Mt. Rushmore: “How did they know where to dig to find it?”
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
From Rick Seely:
Seen on the back of a local garbage company truck: “Satisfaction guaranteed or double your garbage back.”
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Not a joke this week, but a looney driving law. This law is still on the books in Green Bay, Wisconsin: “An owner of a motor vehicle that drips oil on the pavement will be fined $1 for each drip.”
“Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.” —Isaac Newton
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. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. 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 200, 300, 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