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Week of May 11–17, 2019
With Chuck Woodbury
Ilive in Seattle, and am not accustomed to severe weather. We have earthquakes, but they are infrequent and almost never cause harm. But when I travel in the Midwest and other parts of the country, I often encounter threatening storms. When my weather radio issues a Tornado Watch or Tornado Alert I freak out.
One time, in Illinois, that happened. The heavens opened and the rain poured down in buckets. Thunder and lightning slammed all around. The radio reported a tornado was headed right for us. I had no idea what to do. I did not have a car, just the motorhome, so my wife, young daughter and I were stuck.
Someone from the RV park knocked on our door and said we should rush immediately to the clubhouse, which we did. Meanwhile, the tornado was getting closer. The clubhouse, I figured, offered little more protection than the RV, but it was the only permanent structure close by.
We were instructed to get under the pool table. I couldn’t fathom how that would help, but I crawled under, holding my little Emily, age 4, tightly in my arms. I remember thinking that no matter how hard I held her, if the tornado should embrace us there was no way I could keep her from being ripped away. I had never felt so helpless or vulnerable.
Lucky for us, the tornado passed ten miles away.
Many times since, I have endured severe weather, but so far luck has been with me.
After awhile I began to check RV parks where I stayed to see if they had an emergency shelter. Most didn’t have one. I asked a Minnesota RV park owner if there was a place to wait out a storm if necessary — severe weather was in the forecast. She said the church a short walk away would open its basement. Sometimes there is such a place to go, but my experience is it’s not common.
I realize that people in Tornado Alley and other areas where severe weather is common don’t worry much: They have survived so many scares they simply assume they’ll never be a victim.
But for those of us not accustomed to violent storms, the fear can be real.
Because there is no website that lists parks with storm shelters, we will soon start a directory on RV Travel. It will take a while to populate.
In the meantime, we have set up a Facebook Group, RV Parks with Storm Shelters, to learn from RVers where such parks are located so we can include them in our directory. Please, if you are a member of Facebook, join the group and then post any information about parks you encounter where there is a place to wait out a severe weather event.
Portable Generators will be the topic of Mike Sokol’s Sunday evening (May 12) webcast on the RV Electricity Group on Facebook from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern Time (6 p.m in the far West). You’ll need to be a member of the group to ask questions. Watch here. The recorded program will be available Monday on the RV Travel YouTube Channel.
Number of posts on this website: 5,527
Number of reader comments: 32,065
Total subscribers: 94,663
Total members (voluntary subscribers): 4,396
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
• See the picture of the girl? Guess what? She is not a girl at all and never was. In fact, she never spent a single day on Planet Earth. How can that be? Click to find out.
• Laugh of the day: Peekaboo parrot (hilarious 23-second video).
Readers speak out
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Speaking out for RVers does not come easily
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.
RV salesman spills the beans on Camping World’s sales tactics
If you think Camping World is just another RV dealer, one where you can get a great deal, then think again. While you may get a good price, it may be far from a good deal for you after all is said and done. Here, in part one of a two-part series on the RV Show USA, an ex-salesman reveals the tactics salesmen use to get as deeply into your pocketbook as possible. Very enlightening.
That was the RV week that was …
• Be famous! Star in a Camping World commercial
• RVtravel.com editor in the headlines across America
• Win a blinds “Makeover” in contest
• RV sales drop again
• RV struck by lightning explodes
• Poison oak is abundant now in California, CPCS warns.
• RV SnapPads receive U.S. patent.
Developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA
Janet Groene is reporting each week on developments at RV parks and campgrounds. Lots of good information here that you can use to plan your travels. Read the current installment of “Campground Chatter” here.
Inverter shopping? Here’s a handy primer on inverters
Considering the RV boondocking lifestyle? You’ve probably already been mulling over solar panels and bigger battery banks. That’s great for your low-voltage needs – lights, fans, all that typically 12-volt stuff. But today’s RVer generally won’t be satisfied with “just” 12-volt power. There are plenty of uses for “shore power,” and if you truly want to take advantage of your solar system, an inverter is a requirement. Learn more.
Watch a replay of Mike Sokol’s webcast about RV park pedestals
Mike Sokol explains what every RVer should know about the power pedestals they plug into at RV parks and other campgrounds. If the pedestal is wired incorrectly you could blow out all your electronics or even shock yourself (fatally, in some cases). Watch the one hour video.
RVers scramble to escape Missouri flood waters
Two levees in St. Charles, Mo., failed on Tuesday, spilling water across the land. The opening at the Elm Point Levee breach continued to grow larger as chunks of the earthen levee collapsed into the rushing water, according to FOX2. Watch the video.
Is it harder for you today to obtain an RV park space without an advance reservation than 5 years ago?
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.
How long have your fellow readers ever spent at one time on public lands? How many readers have ever broken a bone in their body? And, the question on everyone’s mind, how many readers received an allowance from their parents as a child? Oh, and guess how many credit cards our readers carry? The answers are all right here.
Buy an RV park. Only $100,000 per site!
If you wonder why it costs so much to stay in an RV park, you may want to read this article about a park for sale in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The Pigeon Forge Jellystone RV Resort and Campground can be yours for a mere $13,356,000. (Heck, offer ’em $13 million and maybe you can “steal it.”) Learn more.
Finding the stuff you’ve “stored” in your RV
As we RVers add years to our experience, we also add stuff to our cabinets and lockers. Sooner or later we arrive at one of two choices: (1) buy a larger rig to hold all our stuff; or (2) when something comes aboard, something has to leave. From years of experience, here’s how Bob Difley learned how to store, and then find, everything onboard his RV.
TV show to feature RV road trip in Texas Hill Country
The syndicated television program Raw Travel will feature an RV road trip through the Texas Hill Country, an area near Austin and San Antonio popular with winter RVers. Host Rob Rose travels with a Winnebago Navion on the episode that will air on May 11th and 12th. Learn more.
RV pests: How to keep them out of your RV
One of the most disconcerting things that can happen to an RVer is for his or her RV to become home to unwelcome guests. While there’s little that can be done to absolutely prevent this from happening, there are some steps that a proactive RV owner can take which will help reduce an unwelcome infestation. Read more.
The easiest way to adjust your engine belts
Rich “The Wanderman” had a slipping power steering belt after replacing his power steering pump last year. The only way to adjust the tension was to have two people underneath the RV, but it was almost impossible to get the correct tension – which can be bad for the belt and pulley. But he found a solution that works really well! Learn more.
Drive your car right into luxury motorhome’s rear garage
Oh, come on now. Do we really need this German motorhome? No word on how much it costs but it’s well over a million, that’s for sure. Maybe two million. If you’re filthy rich and can’t stand the thought of RVing in anything short of the world’s most extravagant rig, then here you go. Watch the video.
Poem of the Week
This poem comes to us from veteran RVer and frequent contributor to RVtravel.com, Greg Illes. Read his “Ode to a Housefly” here.
Do you have a poem to submit inspired by your RVing? Submit it here.
Win this beautiful stereo turntable
Use it to convert your old record albums into audio files!
This beautiful turntable could be yours. Play your old records (33, 45 or 78 RPM) and convert them to audio files at the same time to play later on your computer or mobile devices. Enter the contest.
Congratulations to last week’s winner, Kjell Pederson of Kenora, Ontario, who won a very cool coffee mug.
The correct answer: The machine was made in 1908.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• RV Horror Story of the Week.
• The many brands of Good Sam head honcho Marcus Lemonis.
• Dealing with noisy neighbors during campground quiet time.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, May 3, 2019.
• RV and RV-related recalls for April 2019.
• Replacing the RV carpet.
• How to watch YouTube videos using very little bandwidth.
• “I had to shoot him” – A (graphic) encounter between a homeowner and an intruder.
• What this disfigured face can tell you.
• What we learned about you last week (April 27 – May 3).
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.
Common RV-related terms: If you’re an RVer newbie, you should know the meaning of these words.
Did you buy a lemon RV? Here’s more about RV lemons and lawyers who will represent you if you need help.
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.
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.
Save bandwidth while watching YouTube videos
How to watch YouTube videos using very little bandwidth.
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 May 6, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.90. [Calif.: $4.01]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 5 cents.
Diesel: $3.17. [Calif.: $4.10]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: No change.
Affordable tire tool will 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.
RV Quick Tips
Make tires last longer
RVers depend on their RV tires – and they’re an expensive thing to replace. We’ve often talked about the matter of safety and RV tires, but this time we’ll highlight finances and what you can do to cut costs.
Industry experts, including tire-consuming fleet folks – all agree: “The largest contributing factor [to a tire’s life span],” says Pat Martindale, “is air pressure. It was years ago, and it still is today.” Martindale is a maintenance guru for Penske Truck Leasing, and gave this maxim to Light & Medium Duty Truck magazine.
Similar views are echoed by Michelin North America through their customer engineering support manager, Doug Jones. Jones says that underinflated or overinflated tires simply wear unevenly and prematurely wear out. Underinflation can lead to zipper ruptures along the sidewall that lead to rapid deflation. As little as 10 pounds “under recommended pressure” can cause an increase in tire wear of 7 to 15 percent. Overinflate that big rubber roundie and you can look to see increased wear and tear on the center of the tire tread, a stiffer ride and a lot less forgiveness when hitting “road hazards.”
You dually runners, listen up: Pressure between two tires in a dual set should not differ by more than 5 pounds. If the difference is bigger than that, one tire will be larger than the other, and the smaller one won’t roll nor deflect as it should. —Russ and Tiña De Maris
Check your battery shutoff switch
“If you have a battery shutoff switch, as I do, make sure that switch is ON. More than once I have started the troubleshooting process only to find that switch in the OFF position. Inadvertent operation of that switch when looking for the compartment lights or curious children/grandchildren could leave you in the dark.” —Thanks to Joe Brignolo [Editor’s note: No, the feller on the right is not Joe!]
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com
Always park RV far off the road, if possible – Sad story
We have addressed this subject in the past, but perhaps without a greater urgency to the dangers of sleeping in your RV while parked on the shoulder of the roadway. We advocate getting off the road if you become disabled, even if it requires just a short tow. A shopping center parking lot or rest stop area could save your life. Read more.
Hide dirty laundry, and save space too!
Sometimes where to put those worn clothes waiting for wash day is the pits. Many hide a basket in the shower stall, but here’s another approach: Hang that dirty laundry out – not for everyone to see, but on the back of a closet door. Zippers on this one make it easy to open when it’s time to disgorge the dirties, and the company includes a couple of different hooks to help you hang it. You can find it on Amazon for less than $15.
Ask the RV Shrink
Couple disagree on what RV is right for them
Dear RV Shrink:
I’m in my late 50s and met a wonderful old hippie who has great social security. We have so much in common and have decided we’d like to be traveling companions. The problem is she is a vegetarian minimalist and I am a meat-and-potatoes abstract. She wants to buy a small trailer that looks like a fiberglass egg. I want an old 35-foot school bus. Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.
The day-to-day life of a work camper
Do you want the skinny on the day-to-day life of a work camper? Come spend a day with Sam Suva in RV park maintenance. Read more.
Ask the RV Doctor
You have helped me several times in the past and now I have a minor problem. The toilet brush we have been using has really scratched our RV toilet badly. (We think the brush we were using is designed for ceramic toilets.) I have managed to get rid of the gouges with rubbing compound and then car wax. My question is: What can we use to clean the toilet without leaving the scratches? Many thanks! —John E.
Camco vent insulator keeps you cool
Is your RV too hot in the summer? Too cold in the winter? Camco’s vent insulator and skylight cover features a thick layer of foam which helps stop heat transfer, keeping you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Installation is easy. The insulator is designed to fit standard 14″x14″ RV vents. Learn more or order here.
Can I plug my 50-amp RV into a 240-volt generator?
We just bought a travel trailer with 50-amp service. Can I plug my trailer into my generator directly? The generator is 50 amps at 240 volts. The RV is a brand-new Rockwood 2912BS. Thanks. —Bruce Johnson
Sign up for Mike’s new RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
Have you “tested” your TPMS?
Like anything mechanical or electrical, tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) parts can die, wear out or malfunction. Here’s a list from Roger Marble of parts of the TPMS to check, as well as a suggested operation test you should conduct every six months or so. Learn 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.
Astronomy for RVers
Due to other time-consuming work responsibilities, Chris Fellows, our favorite amateur astronomer, is taking a leave of absence from writing this feature for RVtravel.com. We hope to see him back here in the near future. In the meantime, watch for him (and his big telescope) at your RV park.
Basque sheepherders in the West
Do you remember sheepherder wagons? They were found on the open range around the West, on land where cows don’t do well but sheep thrive. That sheep wagon, with its white canvas top, was a beacon in the wilderness, a lonely home for a herdsman with his trusty dogs, guarding the sheep as they grazed the open range. Read more.
The RV Kitchen
Stuffed Tube Steaks
A new take on tube steaks. This is a quick and easy skillet meal to make indoors or out. And what’s not to love about everyone’s two favorite food groups: (1) hot dogs and (2) stuffing? Serve the dogs with or without buns, with or without condiments. You can also make this a tasty knife-and-fork dinner by cooking the stuffed wieners on a bed of shredded cabbage. Get the recipe.
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.
In Case of Emergency – Your smartphone can help
Smartphones save lives. Or at least they can, if you are prepared. At the very least, you should use your phone’s facilities to specify one or more emergency contacts. Your “In Case of Emergency” information should be available from your lock screen so that a first responder can find it. Here’s how to do that. Be prepared!
NEW: Guest Bloggers
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
You’ve heard of collapsible food storage containers
. . . but we’ve just found a solution for all those crowded cupboards. Yes, that’s right, collapsible pots and pans are a real thing and you can buy one here (or a set here). You can thank us by having us over for dinner. Deal?
Facebook Groups about RVing
Free and bargain camping
Pheasant City Drive-In Theater, Redfield, SD
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed for patrons who attend a movie here. Obtain permission when you purchase movie tickets. Park in the back, so your RV doesn’t block the view of the screen. No hookups. Season: Early May thru late Aug. Open Mon. – Fri. evenings, closed Sat. – Sun. Click here for more details.
Bennington Welcome Center, Bennington, VT
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed and permission is not required. RVs that will fit in a single auto space may park in the auto area; longer rigs should park in one of 12 marked truck spaces. Level, well-lit and appears safe, with moderate highway noise. Welcome Center open 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily. 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.
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 here.
Museum of the Week
Asbury Park, NJ
A visit to the famous Jersey Shore and Asbury Park is worth a visit in itself, but what can’t be made better with pinball? The boardwalk is packed full of amusements, similar to Coney Island in Brooklyn. The Silverball Museum is home to more than 600 classic pinball and arcade games that you can spend an afternoon playing. (C’mon, teach the grandkids the classics!) All games are free with purchase to the museum. The Silverball Museum has another location in Delray Beach, Florida, too, if you find yourself down south. Visit the museum website here and beat that high score!
Upcoming RV Shows
• Tampa Bay Summer RV Show, June 6-9, Tampa, FL
• Green Country RV Show, July 19-21, Tulsa, OK
• Enumclaw RV Show (near Seattle), Aug. 1-3
Say goodbye to goop!
Have you ever seen the sediment that collects in your water heater? You probably don’t want to. Camco’s water tank rinser is an easy-to-use gadget that is a must-have for any RVer. The tank rinser will get out all the yucky sediment that’s been sitting at the bottom of your water heater and, most importantly, will extend the life of it too. Read the many positive reviews, and get one for yourself here.
The Centennial Light is the world’s longest-lasting light bulb, burning since 1901, and almost never switched off. It is at 4550 East Avenue, Livermore, California, and maintained by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. Due to its longevity, the bulb has been noted by The Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and General Electric. From Wikipedia.
Silly Tourist Questions
From Leo Suarez
As you enter the Coachella Valley Preserve near Palm Springs there are permanent signs warning about rattlesnakes. Recently there was another handwritten sign put up by the rangers stating, “Caution, rattlesnakes are active today,” to which a lady asked, “Oh, what time is the rattlesnake show?”
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
Photographer on board. Vehicle makes frequent stops.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
From Tom Harts
Church Ladies With Computers. These sentences (with bloopers) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:
• The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
• The sermon this morning: Jesus Walks on the Water. The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus.
• A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
The secret to living well and longer is: Eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure. —Tibetan Proverb
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 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.