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Week of May 18–24, 2019
Be prepared for lightning-caused or other RV fires
By Mike Sokol
The headlines read, “Lightning strike causes fire, consumes three RVs in mobile park.” And nothing strikes fear in the hearts of RV owners quite like a fire does. Let’s face it, RVs are essentially a tinderbox full of flammable material typically encased in a thin metal shell. So once a fire starts it can take hold in seconds and your entire RV can be gone in mere minutes.
But first, let’s examine what happened in this case. Apparently there was a storm with a bolt of lightning that hit the chimney of a residence at 1 a.m. and started a fire in the house. Of course, the local fire department sent all their units to this location, which meant they weren’t immediately available for what happened next. Just 54 minutes later another bolt of lightning hit a trailer at the nearby RV Parks & Storage in Waxahachie.
What happened next was the combination of a domino effect of RVs being parked close to each other along with the local fire department being occupied with the original house fire from the lightning strike. According to park manager Daniel Escobar, the first RV hit by lightning didn’t stand a chance. “It blew up,” he stated. “When it hit, we heard it. And I live over there at the office. It lit up the whole sky.”
Read more about what happened in the case above, plus information about a new fire suppression system for RVs that puts out fires in seconds.
P.S. If you will be near Hagerstown, MD, on June 8 you might want to consider taking one or both of Mike Sokol’s classes on RV electricity. The details are here.
From editor Chuck Woodbury
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That was the RV week that was
• Canadian RV sales nosedive
• Strong winds topple motorhome in Florida
• RV goes up flames as RVer uses it to jump-start car
• RV industry president calls it quits
. . . and much more.
• Jayco recalls some trailers: Fresh water tanks could fall off.
Developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA
Janet Groene reports each week on developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA and Canada. There’s a lot of good information here that you can use to plan your travels. Read the current installment of “Campground Chatter” here.
Lightweight trailer is made with chicken feathers
A new teardrop-type trailer is being developed that uses a composite material made with chicken feathers. The American-made Earth Traveler’s weight is less than 300 pounds, meaning the little RV can be pulled by just about anything with an engine. It will sleep four. Read more.
Arkansas Attorney General urges caution when buying an RV
High-pressure tactics from unscrupulous salespeople will result in many Arkansans paying for more than they bargain for when they purchase an RV this summer, according to a news release from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Read more.
Is it okay to play Taps at an RV park?
An RVer named Darrin has posted in at least two Facebook groups about his patriotic playing of Taps each evening in an RV park. He uses his outside speakers to amplify the bugle call while he lowers the large American flag he flies over his RV. He asked the question, “Is that rude or is that acceptable to most?” What do you think?
Did you sleep in your RV last night? If so, where?
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.
RVer wants buying advice. Isn’t it obvious this RV is bad news?
We came across this posting on the Facebook group Full Time RV Living. Why, we wondered, would someone even ask whether it was wise to buy this RV? And the RV dealer just passes off the damage as “common in most 5th wheels due to weakness and pressure/weight from the slide.” Of the nearly 500 comments on the post, about 95% said, “Don’t buy.” What do you think? Read more.
Did you buy an extended warranty from Camping World?
There’s rumbling that Camping World is in financial trouble and could go bankrupt. Maybe, maybe not. Alan Warren, the host of the RV Show USA radio program, will explain in his next show what will happen to your extended warranty from CW if the company did go belly up. It will be worthless. But if you act right away, you can get hundreds, even thousands of dollars of your prepaid money back. Learn more here.
Dramatic geology and history abound at Red Rock Canyon State Park
The 50-site campground at Red Rock Canyon State Park is tucked into the base of colorful desert cliffs where Kawaiisu Indians hunted small game. The park’s prominent buttes, steep cliffs and colorful rock formations served as signposts for Native Americans for thousands of years. Twenty-mule-team wagons stopped for water, and it’s been the location of several movies. Read more.
Replace your RV skylight
Need to replace your RV skylight? “Why would I ever need to do that?” you ask. You could be like somebody near and dear to our hearts, who, after carefully inching around the roof checking out roof sealant, accidentally rolled over on his skylight. The resulting noise from the stressed out skylight dome sounded akin to the breakup of polar ice. Read how to replace a skylight in this post from Russ and Tiña De Maris. (Hopefully you’ll never need this info, but it’s good to know … just in case.)
How to build a flying ornithopter – A what?!
It’s a flying machine that flaps its wings to create lift and achieve flight. Rich “The Wanderman” (who owns/flies a real helicopter) found one recently. He says it’s the perfect rainy day RV time killer. Read more.
Video: Unhappy campers vent on TV about Camping World
ABC TV-8 in Richmond, Virginia, profiled some local RVers last week who are fed up with Camping World due to bad customer service, long service delays and poor quality workmanship. Watch the video.
Get a free magazine about operating an RV park
Each month, Woodall’s Campground Management publishes a printed and downloadable PDF magazine with news, advice and information about developments in the RV park industry. The May edition was just posted. It focuses on pet park products plus an in-depth look at trends in pet products designed specifically for RV parks. Read how to get a free copy.
Poem of the Week
We received this poem from Nina Soltwedel, her second contribution. Read her poem here.
Do you have a poem to submit inspired by your RVing? Submit it here.
Win this Mini Spy Camera
Put this tiny spy camera in the corner of your home, RV, office or outside door. Detects movement and starts recording. If trouble arrives while you’re away, you’ll know who it was. Even records at night. Enter the contest.
Congratulations to last week’s winner, Sandra Filkins of Goodland, Kansas, who won a very cool stereo turntable.
The correct answer: Setting type for a newspaper.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• RV salesman spills the beans on Camping World’s sales tactics.
• Letter to editor: Unfriendly RV towns.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, May 10, 2019.
• RV Electricity – Can I plug my 50-amp RV into a 240-volt generator?
• RV pests: How to keep them out of your RV.
• Finding the stuff you’ve “stored” in your RV.
• Buy your own RV park, only $100,000 per site!
• What we learned about you last week (May 4-10).
• How not to clean a plastic RV toilet.
• Inverter shopping? Here’s a handy primer on inverters.
Mini finger hot pads great for RV
Ouch, don’t burn yourself! These clever silicone pot holders are just right to grab a heated dish out of the microwave or a hot pan handle off the stove or out of the oven. And being small, they’re easy to store. Grab a set of these “pinch grips” on Amazon for about $8.
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.
Is your Heartland RV a lemon? If so, you’ll want to join the Facebook group Heartland RV UnHappy Owners.
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 13, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.87. [Calif.: $3.97]
Change from week before: Down 3 cents; Change from year before: Down 1 cent.
Diesel: $3.16. [Calif.: $4.14]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 8 cents.
RV Fire Safety Tip
Check fire extinguishers’ gauges monthly
During your monthly inspection, check the fire extinguisher gauge to determine if there is pressure in the extinguisher. If the gauge indicates empty or needs charging, replace or recharge the extinguisher immediately. To test non-gauged extinguishers, push the plunger indicator (usually green or black) down. If it does not come back up, the extinguisher has no pressure to expel its contents. If you need help testing your fire extinguishers, check with your local fire department.
Need a reminder of how important this is? Check out some videos of motorhomes on fire.
Improve performance of your diesel engine
Diesel Kleen + Cetane Boost is a highly rated, technologically advanced, diesel engine performance improver that cleans injectors, boosts cetane and lubricates fuel injection components. The maximum horsepower formula restores lost power, smooths rough-running engines and improves fuel economy up to 8 percent. Learn more or order.
RV Quick Tips
Easy way to keep a flashlight handy for an emergency
By Greg Illes
Everyone needs a flashlight at some time or another. Sometimes it’s almost an emergency. That’s why we all have one ready and handy — right? But lying in the back of the junk drawer is not the kind of ready/handy status we’d like. When things go “bump” in the night we need a flashlight NOW and no questions asked.
TV: Turn down the picture – not the sound
When boondocking, I turn down the brightness of my TVs. Most LED and LCD TVs have a power-saving setting which essentially darkens the picture. You can get the same power-saving results by turning down the brightness on any TV, then turn the contrast up slightly to improve the picture. This will work for tube-type TVs as well. —From Joe Brignolo
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com
Do you have “police” in your blood?
Here’s a brief history of professional police forces, and a commentary on the decline of citizens protecting each other or stepping up to the plate if they witness a crime. When you were a kid, did your parents allow you to play in the neighborhood without worry, or even go trick-or-treating without them? Whatever happened to those good ol’ days? Read more.
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.
Ask the RV Shrink
Wife critiques every campsite, driving hubby nuts
Dear RV Shrink:
My wife and I love the RV lifestyle. We hope to visit every National Park in the country and all the other interesting points along the way. Although we stay in many wonderful state and national park campgrounds, my wife has developed an annoying hobby of critiquing each site we occupy. She can always find fault with a site no matter how perfect I think it might be…. Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.
Getting on the road – initial costs
Full-time RVing sounds like an expensive undertaking, and there are bills that full-timing incurs that one would not normally pay for in a sticks-and-bricks home. This week Sam Suva discusses some of those initial costs. Read more.
Ask the RV Doctor
Older RV oven acting up – Can it be retrofitted?
The Suburban oven in our older RV is acting up. The pilot lights normally and when turning the control to a cooking temperature the flame goes large and the signal to light the burner seems to be received and the main burner comes on. So far so good – it appears to be working. The problem is the oven only heats to a certain point (not even 300 degrees, according to a thermometer) and the main burner goes out, acting as if it reached the temperature the control was set at…. Read the rest of the question and Gary’s response.
Get rid of those decal “ghosts!”
If you use a coin to remove old decals from your RV, you may have an unwelcome guest when the job’s done: Decal “ghosts” – shadowy after-images imprinted in the Filon siding. The solution? A heavy-duty oxidation remover! Pour the remover onto a rough sponge and scrub the Filon in circles. The yellow oxidation will come right up and your RV will look good as new! The remover will also remove stains, scratches and water spots. Learn more or order here.
How much generator do I need?
Dear Mike (and the RV Electricity Group),
I hope this is not off topic. A question about generators. The on-board generator in my Class A is not working right now. I wanted to buy a portable generator until I can figure out what is wrong with the one that is in there. The on-board is a 5,000-watt Kohler. The rig has a 50-amp system. I know that Mike and others recommend inverter generators because they are quieter.… Read the rest of the question and Mike’s response.
Sign up for Mike’s new RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
Do your tow vehicle and trailer match?
Here is great advice from Roger Marble, and other experts, on matching the right size truck with a travel trailer. Very important to read, and heed, this information and not necessarily what the RV salesman or even what the door jamb stickers say. Learn more.
Building an RV Park
We sold our house!
The past two weeks have been a blur of emotions. We had families come in and love our home, but no offers were made. Then one couple came in and were there for 20 minutes and left. We thought there was no way they were interested and then BOOM, they made an offer. We accepted their offer and celebrated with our Realtors! We close on the house June 7th. It’s about to get real here! [Not to mention a new baby in the family!] Read more.
Are there diamonds in California?
California is famous for its gold in the Sierra Nevada, just as Nevada is renowned for its silver bonanza and Montana for the richest copper mine in the world. Rich deposits have been pulled from the earth throughout the West, as well as lots of precious stones. But there is one rock that is conspicuously absent: diamonds. But wait a minute … here’s a report of some found in the early 1900s in California. Read the story, or listen to Len Wilcox tell it here.
Find what’s coming up 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.
The RV Kitchen
Quick Casbah Chowder
A “souper” idea from the pantry shelf. Busy day? First night out? Miles from home and all tuckered out? Hook up, heat up and eat in a jiffy when you have the ingredients for this hot, fragrant and filling soup on hand in your RV pantry. Get the recipe.
The RoVing Naturalist
Cedars or junipers? What’s in a name?
How some plants get their common names, Dennis Prichard (and some of us) will never know. For example, all the days he was growing up in Oklahoma he had heard those shrubby evergreens called cedars. You might be able to relate to how he felt when in college he finally learned that there are no true cedars growing wild in the United States. (What?!) Learn more.
RV Short Stop
Traveling through the Midwest this summer? Have children or grandchildren aboard? The Thumb Octagon Barn is just the place for a stopover, and it is free. This “is easily the most unusual barn anywhere in the region. It is the largest timber frame octagon barn in the country at 102 feet across and 70 feet high … When construction began in 1924, it was known as an air castle because the entire vast interior is open and the roof seems to be suspended above.” Learn more.
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.
Facebook Groups of Interest
Keep road flares in the RV for emergency
You should always have road flares in your RV in case of an emergency. This pack of three bright, waterproof and shatterproof LED disks are perfect to keep tucked away. These bright lights can be seen from a mile away and can be used for traffic control, as a warning light, as a rescue beacon, and they can also be used for recreational activities such as camping and hiking. Learn more or order here.
Free and bargain camping
Rupert Hughes Roadside Park, Lancaster, MO
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. The roadside park is a gravel loop that is off and separated from the highway, with entrances at both ends. The lot slopes downhill, so leveling may not be possible, especially for long RVs. The lot is unlit but believed to be safe. Only very light traffic noise at night. Picnic tables, trash receptacles, and historical marker on site. Click here for more details.
Boise Stage Stop (Truck Stop), Boise, ID
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Permission is not required. Park at far end of the gravel lot. Level, lit and appears safe, with usual truck-stop noise. Popular local restaurant on site. Click here for more details.
Overnight RV Parking, with more than 14,000 locations listed, is the largest and best resource for locating free and inexpensive places to spend a night in an RV. For membership information and a demo of the site, click here. A modest membership fee required, but try the free demo. Watch a video about OvernightRVparking.com.
Upcoming RV Shows
• 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
Afraid of water damage in your RV? You need this!
This essential water damage tool helps home and RV owners measure moisture content in wood, concrete drywall, and subflooring. Use the pin sensors to find the moisture content in your home. The easy-to-read LCD display will help you know if you need to dry the existing materials or replace with brand new ones and can be used as a water leak detector after flood damage. You’ll want to buy this here.
Airman and future pharmacist Benjamin Green created a sun-protection lotion he called “Red Vet Pet” (for red veterinary petrolatum) for the U.S. military in the Pacific tropics during World War II. His first version was a sticky, petroleum-based goop that was red in color. Coppertone improved and commercialized the product in the early 1950s.
Silly Tourist Questions
From Bill Kaupe
We were biking around Shark Valley in the Everglades dodging alligators and watching birds when the tourist tram came by. The guide said over the PA, “All of the animals you will see here are real.” We about fell off our bikes laughing. Maybe it is because people are coming from Disney World?
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
We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
My daughter asked me what “inexplicable” means. I said, “It’s hard to explain.”
“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.” —Isaac Asimov
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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