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Week of May 25–31, 2019
With Chuck Woodbury
Iwould like to invite you to write for us. Gain fame and maybe even fortune someday (relatively speaking). If you have a story that needs to bust out of you and onto the pages of this website, then this is your most fortunate opportunity. Just click here to find a submission form. We typically do not pay for these initial submissions, and are selective in those we publish. But when we spot talent, we will take notice and invite the writer to submit more, most often with pay. So write something that is so good we can’t pass it up!
Did you hear about the tornado that ripped through Jefferson City, Missouri, late Wednesday night? It was almost a mile wide and was on the ground for nearly 20 miles, ripping off roofs and toppling homes and businesses. According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, there were more than 120 tornado reports from Monday to Thursday.
What would you do if you were camping in the expected path of such a storm? Would you just hang tight in your RV and say your prayers? Or would you seek proper shelter?
It’s a helpless feeling when you have nowhere to hide (as I wrote about two weeks ago). And that’s why we will soon debut a directory of RV parks with storm shelters. We’re collecting locations now from readers of our new Facebook group RV Parks with Storm Shelters. We’ll launch our directory (along with others we have been compiling) with information we receive there and from other sources. If you are a member of Facebook, please sign up for the group or post a notice about it on your own page.
Finally, if you will be traveling to Europe this summer and have not yet made your airline reservations, consider flying Icelandair, which allows you to stop over in Iceland for no extra charge. Stay a day or a week. As long-time readers may recall, I did that six years ago (in September), circling the island in a rented campervan.
It was one of the best RVing experiences of my life. Iceland is a gorgeous country, right up there with New Zealand (but a whole lot closer to the USA). There are countless campgrounds, and the citizens are nuts about RVing. About 98 percent of the island’s 828-mile Ring Road is paved (and good gravel otherwise) and nearly all the friendly Icelanders speak English. So it’s an easy place to visit (and considered the safest country in the world). Oh, when you’re there, try the country’s national delicacy, kæstur hákarl, better known as rotten shark.
In honor of Memorial Day, my staff and I would like to acknowledge the brave servicemen and women who died serving our country. They gave their lives to something bigger than themselves — to protect the freedoms of you, me and all Americans — then, now and forever. I urge you to visit a cemetery this weekend and seek out the white crosses or Stars of David, the little flags, or the headstone inscriptions of veterans — each one a precious, national treasure. Stand by the graves for a minute, speak their names, and say thank you.
ELECTRICITY SEMINAR COMING SOON
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.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Another Camping World horror story
Maybe we should title this “Saved by the Seatbelt.” A 60-something couple dodges a bullet by bailing out at the last minute on an RV purchase from Camping World. The company told the would-be buyers that the motorhome had undergone a water pressure test, which would have revealed any potential water leaks. Yeah, right! Read what the buyers discovered that proved that claim bogus. Click here.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Support Honest Journalism
The staff of RVtravel.com works hard to bring you an honest, unbiased, valuable newsletter every Saturday. Readers help make it possible with their “voluntary subscriptions.” Even a pledge of $5, $10 or $20 a year is appreciated — that’s for more than 50 weekly issues! Many readers set up an ongoing subscription, most $5 to $10 month. Your contributions make it possible for us to write about important matters, not just fluff to please advertisers and RV industry big shots. Use a credit card, PayPal or mail a check.
The future of RVing is not necessarily pretty
Twenty years ago RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury saw something coming in RVing, not just bigger and better RVs. No. What he envisioned (among other things) was an ever-increasing number of old, beat-up RVs. He knew the day would come when some of those RVs would be hauled to junkyards or purchased as shelters for next to nothing by our poorest citizens. That day has come.
That was the RV week that was …
• Cause of fire at Forest River plant ruled “undetermined.”
• Michigan residents could get head start reserving campsites.
• Silicon Valley town bans RV street parking.
• Murder suspects nabbed in parked motorhome.
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.
Easily clean stubborn bugs off your RV
The Microfiber Mesh Bug and Tar Sponge has millions of tiny fibers embedded in the microfiber cloth that grabs and holds the dust and dirt. It is so effective it even cleans without chemicals, saving both time and money. The secret of this sponge lies in its unique, double-layer microfiber mesh. Older nylon bug sponges can harm your clear coat, but this one is completely paint safe. Learn more or order.
RV Industry boasts about defeating RV lemon laws
The RV Industry Association released a video this week listing its accomplishments in 2018, which included victories in defeating RV lemon laws in two states. What does that mean? It means any RV buyer who ends up with a defect-ridden RV in those cases that can’t be fixed is stuck with it. So who is looking out for you? Find out here.
Who do you want a personal video from? Marcus or Stormy?
Camping World and Good Sam Club CEO Marcus Lemonis will send you a personal video if you send him money. But maybe you’d prefer a personal video from Stormy Daniels, the President’s ex-favorite adult film star? She charges half as much. So who will it be, Marcus or Stormy? Read more
Never use water to put out a cooking oil or grease fire
This video is just over a minute long, but please watch it. If you should ever experience a cooking oil or grease fire in your kitchen, whether at home or in your RV, do not try to put it out with water. After watching this video, you’ll see why. The results can be devastating! Watch the video.
RV renovation tips to get you started
Man, are some RVs ugly! You know the ones we’re talking about. You walk in and you walk right out. Or you click on the RV Trader post and you quickly hit the X button. But lucky for us ugly-RV owners, we now have the big ole World Wide Web to help us transform an old RV into a new space. Here are some great tips from RVer Liz Wilcox to consider before you get started.
Will you travel in your RV more or less in the next year than the last year?
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.
We’re back! Did you sleep in your RV last night? If so, where? How easy is it to change the bedding in your RV? How often do you use the public pool at an RV park? Pick a location for your dream vacation home: the beach, the mountains, the city or a farm. On average, how much time do you spend outdoors every day? All this and more, right here.
How to seal cabinets to the floor to prevent water damage
Most RV cabinets are not sealed to the floor when they leave the factory, so during daily use water can seep beneath and cause water damage. Food can also work under the cabinets and rot, attracting rodents. Chris Dougherty demonstrates how to use silicone to form a tight seal between RV cabinets and the floor, keeping out water and food. Watch the video.
Get your money back on your Camping World extended warranty
(In case you missed this last week.) If you bought an RV from Camping World, there’s an excellent chance you financed it for 15 or 20 years, bundled into the RV loan itself. Camping World may have low prices, but the company will seldom let get you get away without selling you a host of add-ons including extended warranties, where it makes a ton of money. Did you know that right now you may be able to get a lot of what you paid refunded to you? Read this and watch the video to learn how.
What’s your RV’s “suit size”?
The American marketing machine churns out the mantra “Bigger is better.” Is that the case for the RV lifestyle? To quote Gershwin, “It ain’t necessarily so.” One motorhome owner put it nicely when he said, “A size 52 suit is not the best purchase for a person who wears a size 44, even if they both cost the same. Larger does not necessarily mean better when buying a suit or a motorhome.” So what’s your “size”? This will help you decide.
See wild ride of a stolen motorhome via live TV
Here’s a short highlight of a long police chase recorded from the air of a stolen motorhome speeding dangerously in California’s San Fernando Valley. The chase continues even after the RV slams into a tree and wipes out a good part of the front end. Watch video highlights.
State park campgrounds – full to the seams
A few days ago Russ and Tiña De Maris received an electronic newsletter from Washington State Parks. The writers eagerly pointed to the coming of summer, and how the Evergreen State was a great place to camp. Included was a list of parks that still had available reservations for camping units this summer – 16 out of 71 – meaning, less than a quarter of Washington State Parks have spots you can reserve. Read more about the current conditions in state park campgrounds around the country.
Cutting grease and oil while cleaning your RV…or you!
As Rich “The Wanderman” has said many times, he hates cleaning. Of course, everything he likes doing usually ends in a cleanup. But what does he rely on to clean up just about everything around the RV – including himself after a greasy job? Find out here.
Win this lightweight vacuum
We love giving away stuff!
Wow! Will this come in handy in your RV! Use it like a regular vacuum or hand-held for getting in tight places. Either way it’s perfect for your RV, and super lightweight, a mere 4 pounds! And, just think, it can be yours if you win the contest. To learn more or to enter the contest, click here.
Congratulations to last week’s winner, Leo Sharpe of Dallas, Texas, who won an incredibly cool spy camera. The correct answer: a sausage stuffer.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• Be prepared for lightning-caused or other RV fires.
• That was the RV week that was, May 11-17, 2019.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, May 17, 2019.
• Is it okay to play Taps in the evening at an RV park?
• RVer wants buying advice. Isn’t it obvious this RV is bad news?
• Video: Unhappy campers vent on TV about Camping World.
• RV Electricity: How much generator do I need?
• Did you buy an extended warranty from Camping World?
• Wife critiques every campsite, driving hubby nuts.
• Building an RV park from scratch: We sold our house!
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. Also: Where to get legal help if you buy a lemon RV.
Best Club for RVers: Escapees. Click here to learn more or join. Endorsed by RVtravel.com.
Common RV-related terms: If you’re an RVer newbie, you should know the meaning of these words.
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 20, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.85. [Calif.: $3.93]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 7 cents.
Diesel: $3.16. [Calif.: $4.15]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 11 cents.
This tool is seven tools in one!
This multifunctional tool is seven in one! The heavy-duty pen tool features a handy tablet or smartphone stylus, a sturdy screwdriver, a bubble level, a universal inch/cm ruler and a handy Phillips screwdriver flathead bit, and it’s only the size of a pen! Perfect for any weekend project, and it even makes a great gift. Learn more or order.
RV Quick Tips
How to “reserve” your newly occupied campsite
Everyone’s been there, perhaps many times. You found a good campsite, but you need to leave for a while. Whether it’s getting some groceries, going sightseeing, or just driving that annoying half-mile back to the entrance to register, you have to leave that (great or last) site vacant. Other campers are trooping by, eager for a vacant site. So how do you save “your” site?
If you only need to register, your traveling partner can stay behind. But if you’re both going out for an hour or the day, some other method is needed. Typically, a camp chair or a cooler will suffice to “mark your territory,” but these aren’t always noticed or heeded. I recall a time when we pulled into a site and got all situated, and the “real” occupant pointed out to us his “marker” – a camouflage jacket draped over the far picnic bench, virtually out of sight of where we were. Poor technique, but we didn’t argue.
A really useful item to use for reserving your site is the collapsible traffic cone. These are sold in various auto and RV stores (and, of course, Amazon), for use as safety/emergency markers (a very good item to have on hand in a roadside breakdown). They come in sizes from around a foot high, to more than two feet high, and they collapse into a 2-inch-thick square which packs away very nicely.
The cones are high-visibility orange, plus they have reflective bands which are easily seen at night (very useful when you arrive back at camp late and have trouble finding your own site). They also have that “mystique” of officialdom, and tend to garner a bit more notice and respect than the odd piece of camp equipment.
They have weighted bases, so they won’t blow away in a stiff breeze (unlike camp chairs). And at around $20, if some rude traveler does make off with them, it’s not a major economic event. Put one or two of these in the entrance to your campsite, and you will have to pick them up before you re-occupy the site. Using this technique, you’ll never leave them behind. —Greg Illes
Nasty sewer hose storage
Your sewer hose is a useful, necessary item. It is, however, germy. The best approach is to consider it a source of ill health or disease and take necessary precautions. Store it in a closable plastic container, and save your utility bumper for something else. —From 100 RV Tips and Tricks (Mack’s RV Handbook).
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com
Do you have “police” in your blood? – Part 2
Last Saturday we discussed the changing attitude in America concerning folks helping other folks and how it seems to now be the norm to look away. Getting involved might get you hurt! Here are two recent examples of people getting involved – one with a bad outcome and one with a good outcome. What would you do in similar circumstances – anything? Read more.
Glow in the dark tape is brilliant for help at night
One of our readers recommended glow in the dark tape to stick on things to see at night. We love this idea! Use glow-in-the-dark tape on light switches and slide out switches, so they’re easy to see in the dark. The tape also works great to help find your door and lock at night, as well as your RV steps. Learn more or order here.
Ask the RV Shrink
My wife and I retired two years ago and began traveling in a new RV. It was something we had dreamed of for years. We both love history and hiking. This lifestyle is perfect for discovering and enjoying both interests. The only confusion we have is our relationship has changed. We seem to argue more now than we ever did during our 40 years of marriage….
Our first tiny home – where our work camping began
“Sherman, set the way back machine to …” 1993. In that year, Sam Suva and his wife bought a small shed. “We didn’t know it at the time, but we were ‘tiny home living.'” He puts this experience under “work camping” because they worked with his relatives in exchange for a place to stay. And that’s what started their long history of work camping and living in an RV. Read more.
Endorsed by Roger Marble of RVtireSafety.com!
An excellent tire pressure gauge
The Accutire MS-4021B digital tire pressure gauge has an easy-to-read LCD display that provides pressure readings from 5-150 PSI. It’s ergonomically designed with an angled head and a rubber-coated easy-grip handle. If you forget to turn off the gauge, don’t worry, it will automatically shut off. The included lithium battery never needs to be recharged or replaced. And all this for about $12! Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Doctor
Can my 1986 Yellowstone travel trailer have a positive grounded electrical system? When I wire it as a negative ground, I keep blowing 40-amp fuses. Also, would I be better off to use a standard battery charger than the converter? —Hank H.
RV Propane/LP Gas Alarm may save your life
This Safe T Alert Propane/LP Gas Alarm is designed specifically for your RV. It features advanced technology with an “Alarm Mute” button that silences the alarm when the RV is ventilated and a rapid recovery sensor that resets when silenced or reactivates if dangerous levels of propane remain. An easy 12-volt installation means there will be no missing or dead batteries to replace. Learn more or order.
I’m looking at purchasing a surge protector for my RV and there seems to be a big difference in price. Many of them are in the $75 to $100 range, while others cost more than $300 or so. Does the extra money buy you more protection, or is that a bunch of advertising malarkey? —Steve S.
Sign up for Mike’s new RV Electricity group on Facebook.
Want to be like Mike?
Here’s a tip from him about staying organized: “After one more frustrating dive to the bottom of my ‘battery drawer’ looking for a few AAAs to power my latest gadget, I’ve decided to get organized. This holder should keep you stocked with enough batteries for an entire camping season, and even includes a nice tester to find the dead ones. Also, you all know not to just throw used (or new) 9-volt batteries in a drawer where they can make contact with metal objects and catch on fire, right? Here’s what I’m ordering to keep it all under control.”
RV Tire Safety
Is a “plug” or “liquid sealant” an acceptable tire repair?
RV tire expert Roger Marble explains some pros and cons of different types of tire repair, as well as the necessary first step before performing any repair. Also, you may not be aware of some reasons not to use a “plug” to repair a tire. Very important information.
Farming has a long history in the West
The mysterious cliff dwellings in the American Southwest are fascinating places. They are historical registers that teach us just a little of ancient times, and of people who were farming here long before Columbus. Some of these dwellings are very remote. A few, however, are much easier to visit. Read more or listen to Len Wilcox tell the story here.
The largest, tiniest blanket for all your outdoor needs
Pack your beach bags and park picnics, it’s summer! OK, well, almost. What’s one thing we always need for a relaxing day outdoors? A blanket! This tiny, super lightweight travel blanket is great for RVers, campers, hikers, concert-goers and travelers. When folded up in its drawstring pouch, it fits in the palm of your hand. When unfolded, it’s a waterproof 55″x70″ two-person blanket. Be right back, we’re buying it here!
The RV Kitchen
Apple-licious Pork Steaks
Juicy pork steaks for the plate or bun. It’s the apple butter than makes the difference in this easy fry pan meal. Make it over a crackling campfire or on the RV range. Complete the meal with buttered rolls and a tossed salad. The boneless pork steaks also make a whale of a hot sandwich when served in a big Kaiser bun, then spoon the saucy, spicy apples over hot rice. Get the recipe.
Your travel photos could be better
So many people snap pictures and just accept them as they are, when they could be so much better with just a few clicks. It’s called photo editing and every smartphone can do it. Learn how easy it is make your photos “pop” here.
A DEET-free mosquito and tick repellent … that works!
Well, it’s that time again (unfortunately.) If you’re one of those people that mosquitoes love (we all know at least one person like this), this product is for you. A very impressive number of five-star reviews. This awesome DEET-free insect repellent works for mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects. Keep this one handy, folks. As RVers, there’s a good chance you’ll probably need this. Learn more or order here.
Facebook Groups of Interest
Free and bargain camping
McDonald’s, Trinidad, CO
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed but please ask permission from the manager on duty. Park in one of eight spaces. The “No Overnight Parking” sign here does not apply to RVs with permission. The lot is well-lit, with a gentle slope downhill from N to S. Click here for details.
Trucker’s Inn Truck Stop, Faribault, MN
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed but permission from staff on duty is required. Park in the auto area; do not park in back with trucks without specific permission to do so. Level, well-lit, and appears safe. There is a 24-hour restaurant on site. 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.
Heavy duty grill mats master the BBQ!
Been looking for perfect grill mats? Here you go! These mats are the ideal thickness, still allowing that chicken to get those beautiful grill marks, but thick enough to provide durability and heat resistance. Never worry about cleaning your grill again and never worry about veggies falling through those dang cracks. Hassle-free grilling every time. Works with any type of grill or BBQ. Learn more or order here.
Museum of the Week
The Museum of the Weird
Enter through the gift shop (which is worth a visit in itself for some excellent souvenirs) and wander back through a skinny hallway lined with three-headed cows, shrunken heads and other bizarre oddities. Next, you’ll find yourself being seated for a “freak show” where actors will put on a show that certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ll get to peek at the legendary “Minnesota Iceman,” many realistic wax figures, and a few movie props. Learn more and get weird here.
• 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
It’s tornado season: Be prepared!
For about $20, you can rest assured that any time severe weather threatens, you’ll be notified, even if cell service is down, the Internet is down or power fails. The RVtravel.com staff travels with this small, handheld, battery-powered NOAA weather radio. If severe weather is on the way, the radio sounds an alert, followed by detailed information about the storm to let you know to seek shelter or move away. Get one for yourself and one for someone you care about who travels a lot. Learn more or order.
You may not feel or hear them, but earthquakes are taking place all over the world at this very minute – about 500,000 per year. About 100,000 of these can be felt. Most of the temblors register only 1-2 on the Richter Scale. On average every year, the United States Geological Survey reports 18 major earthquakes worldwide measuring between 7.0 and 7.9, and one extremely large earthquake, 8.0 or larger.
Silly Tourist Questions
From Dennis Prichard (retired park ranger)
After seeing signs all over the West, the Eastern tourist asked, “What kind of uniform does a cattle guard wear?” (FYI – Also known as a “cattle grid,” or other names, a cattle guard is a type of grate in a roadway where it crosses a fence line, without impeding wheeled vehicles, used to provide a barrier to contain animals, as they are reluctant to walk on the grate.)
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
I’m retired. Every day is a weekend!
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
I just saw a man slumped over a lawn mower crying his eyes out. He said he’ll be fine, he’s just going through a rough patch.
From Tom Hart
Life is like a doughnut – either you are in the dough or in the hole.
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.
Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.
This newsletter is copyright 2019 by RVtravel.com.