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Week of June 8–14, 2019
With Chuck Woodbury | Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
This is the 900th edition of this newsletter. It began in September 2001, a couple of weeks after the Twin Tower terrorist attacks, when the world changed. I changed, too, and so did RVing. For me and other RVers, the change did not happen overnight, but over time. If you were RVing then, you know.
Eighteen years later, I am now 90 percent of the way to the 1,000th edition of this newsletter. That issue will officially end my day-to-day involvement with both the newsletter and the RVtravel.com website. That will be the spring of 2021. I hope by then my work here for the previous 21 years will have had a positive impact on your life and others.
I recently acquired the domain aarvo.org, which I propose could be used for an organization called “The American Association of RV Owners.” I believe it could have huge potential to help RVers. And, yes, Canadians would be most welcome. There is no current association devoted exclusively to protect and promote the specific interests of RVers. I don’t have the time or resources to create such a nonprofit association, but I will try my hardest to round up enough investors and visionary RVers to make it happen. Please contact me if you are interested, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Greg Gerber, the only member of the RV industry media who has spoken honestly about the state of RVing, will shut down his RVdailyReport.com website June 21. The industry ran him out of business by pressuring his advertisers to pull their support. I wrote about Greg last week in this space.
Believe me, RVtravel is also a target. But unlike Greg, we are not 100 percent dependent on advertising. We have 4,300 members who believe in our efforts enough to lend financial support. The support of these volunteer subscribers is enough to keep us going even if every one our advertisers were to abandon us.
MY FUTURE AT RVTRAVEL.COM
My essays in this space are mostly over. I’m tired of being critical of the industry week after week — in this opening essay, that is. In its place we’ll run helpful articles by our editors and freelancers about using and traveling with their RVs. For example, next week Russ De Maris will discuss the pros and cons of residential refrigerators.
I will continue to write my essays, but primarily in the member edition of this newsletter. My limited time and energy will be directed to our members. RVtravel.com is no different than a quality print magazine — we need circulation revenue to do our job.
We’re not talking about charity, we’re talking about support. If you really want to help, set up a monthly donation — make it a few dollars a month — the price of one Big Mac for four jam-packed issues (or 26 issues a month if you read our other online publications). If we’re not worth it to you, then the free, abbreviated edition will still be available, although some features will soon move to the member edition only.
Seeing Greg fold his business makes me angry — that a really good guy can be silenced for being honest. It showed me what can happen when a publisher supported primarily by advertising must play to stay in business. Rather than write more here, I’ll explain further if you want to know more about how I feel.
I will not roll over. Oh, the RV Industry Association, which I mention often, is not a monster. It’s made up of decent people. But the problem for you and me is their mission as an organization is about serving the best interests of those who pay their salaries — RV manufacturers and other big companies in the industry. We RVers are of little importance until we quit buying their products.
The RV industry’s loyalty to its members compared to us (RVers) is akin to those of the fox and the chickens in the henhouse: one can only prevail at the expense of the other. You cannot serve two masters.
I urge you to read Greg Gerber’s incredible series — “The RV Industry Death Spiral,” in which he says pretty much everything I have been saying here, and then some. It was this series he published in 2016 that scared the RV industry so much it vowed to silence him.
In his farewell to his readers, Greg wrote:
“One of the big players in the industry once asked me if I had ever considered how my coverage of hot-button issues would impact my ability to bring in advertising to sustain my business. I did, and yet I made a conscious decision to do what was right and not turn a blind eye to the plight of people who saved their entire lives to buy an RV only to be left making payments on a piece of equipment that could not be used, nor could it be fixed in a timely manner. A large swath of the RV industry is okay with that scenario. I’m not.”
Download a PDF of the Death Spiral Series here to read at your convenience. And in the meantime, listen to the 25-minute podcast below (it takes very little bandwidth) of Alan Warren’s interview with Greg last Wednesday on his syndicated radio program, The RV Show USA. Greg explains how he lost his battle with the RV industry by speaking his mind about the interests of RVers, not just manufacturers and others in the industry.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
• Airstream recalls trailers, spare tire could fall off!
• Coachmen motorhomes recalled for undersized wiring.
• Recall roundup for May. See if your RV needs fixing.
Are we worthy of your support?
The staff of RVtravel.com works hard to bring you an honest, unbiased, valuable newsletter every Saturday. Readers help make it possible by becoming members with their “voluntary subscriptions.” Many set up an automatic monthly contribution. 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 when you make a pledge, you’ll receive our special ad-free member edition of this newsletter with bonus content. Learn more or donate.
That was the RV Week That Was
• One million full-time RVers today? So says the RVIA.
• Airstream revives two classic trailers.
• Camping World performance ranking downgraded.
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.
What happens when you tear off the black tank valve? Yuck!
Here’s an excerpt from Liz Wilcox’s book “Tales From the Black Tank: A Collection of Hilariously Crappy RV Stories.” You won’t believe what happened to her early one morning on the way to a video shoot. Have you had an experience this bad? Read more and leave your stinky stories in the comments below the post
My visit to Quartzsite: What a weird, wonderful, quirky place
By editor Chuck Woodbury. “I am camped about four miles north of Quartzsite, Arizona, on government land where camping is free. A few dozen other RVs are scattered about, but none within a stone’s throw. For months now, I have been dreaming of Quartzsite. Those of you who know this place must think that I’m off my rocker, for Quartzsite is hardly a top tourist destination.” (archive story) Read more.
RVtravel.com forces the RVIA to change its tune
On May 20, we told you about the RV Industry’s new annual video for members highlighting its accomplishments for 2018. Among them was defeating lemon laws in two states that would have protected RVers. After our report, RV lemon law attorney Steve Lehto recorded a YouTube video that echoed our feelings that fighting against RVs this way and then bragging about it in a public forum was wrong. Well, guess what happened next? Find out.
Do you have a generator with you when you travel with your RV?
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.
Would you drive 10 miles out of your way to save $15 on a campsite for one night? How many people owned your present RV before you purchased it? Do you try and limit your use of single-use plastic? How often do you go to a chiropractor? Considering your age, how would you describe your health? All this and more, right here.
Keep the weather out – with putty tape
If you’re an RV do-it-yourselfer, chances are good you’ve already encountered “putty tape.” This sticky material is a regular performer between windows and walls, roof vents and roofs, and plenty of other places where a gasket-like substance is needed to help seal out moisture. Russ and Tiña De Maris explain the different types and how to use them here.
Ex-KOA manager arrested for pulling gun on picnickers
This is an update from a story last week: The KOA campground manager in Starkville, Mississippi, who was fired after a cell phone video showed her holding a handgun while ordering a couple to leave because they did not have a reservation has been arrested. Read more. (Then read ex-cop Mike Sherman’s views on this subject below, in RVer Safety.)
How to visit New York City in an RV
If you’re thinking about visiting New York City while you’re RVing, Rich “The Wanderman” recommends where to stay with your RV and some things to do. He has some great ideas about places to eat, including where Meg Ryan had that, shall we say, over-the-top sandwich in “When Harry Met Sally.” Read more.
OPINION: Is Camping World going bankrupt?
Here’s one couple’s take on the Internet buzz that Camping World may soon be headed into bankruptcy. If you bought an extended warranty with Camping World and the company does, indeed, go belly up, you’ll learn here about how to get at least part of your money back. If you don’t act soon, and the company does go bankrupt, the extended warranty will be worthless. Watch the video.
Win this very cool grill
We love giving away stuff!
Now this is one very cool and terrific prize. It can cook up to six burgers at a time, as you can see in the photo. And the fat will just run off the grill, which will keep your heart and cardiovascular system (and doctor) very happy!
Congratulations to last week’s winner, Richard Lange of Lilburn, Georgia, who won an emergency weather radio.
Last week’s quiz answers:
1: Answer: Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which has more than twice the visitors of Grand Canyon, the second most visited park.
2: Answer: Arizona. The park is mostly located in California, but spills into Nevada.
3: Answer: It has turned from turquoise to dull green because of trash — coins, bottles and other debris, which has obstructed hot water circulation from the pool’s vents.
4: Answer: Rocky Mountain National Park, in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Win a $1,500 party pack
Includes DISH Tailgater Bundle with DVR, 16′ Inflatable Projector Screen, Video Projector, Logitech Z313 Speaker System, Wally & Projector Stand and cords. Enjoy The Entertainment with a Yeti Tundra 45, 4 DISH Outdoors Koozies, Patio Lights/Bistro Lights, Silicone Wine Glasses, DISH Outdoors Blankets and 4 Inflatable Lounger Chairs.
Win a $2,000 RV makeover
Our friends at RecPro are holding a contest on their YouTube channel now through July 4th with a grand prize of a $2,000 RV makeover. It’s easy to enter, and we suspect the odds will be excellent.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• Don’t make these mistakes at National Parks.
• How to minimize “thermal checking” damage to your RV’s fiberglass.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, May 31, 2019.
• Expect the unexpected when traveling.
• RVer Safety: What if you protect yourself but are then arrested?
• Escapees RV Club releases RVer census results.
• Lemon law attorney issues warning to the RV industry.
• That was the RV week that was, May 25–31, 2019.
• What we learned about you last week (May 25-31).
• RV and RV-related recalls for May 2019.
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.
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.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of June 3, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.81. [Calif.: $3.83]
Change from week before: Down 2 cents; Change from year before: Down 13 cents.
Diesel: $3.14. [Calif.: $4.11]
Change from week before: Down 2 cents; Change from year before: Down 15 cents.
RV Quick Tips
Truck stop fueling tips
If your RV runs on diesel, you may wonder about filling up at the truck islands. Some RVers feel a bit intimidated by the big rigs and professional drivers. Don’t be afraid, but do be courteous and things should go well for you.
First, remember for the truck driver, time is money. When you roll into the fuel island, be prepared to “get ‘er done” as quickly as possible. If you have a helper, send him or her inside with the credit card to pay. If you don’t, go in yourself and leave your card at the fuel desk. You’ll find many pumps don’t take credit cards, or if they do they’re usually limited to fleet cards.
If you have tank ports on both sides of your rig, don’t be afraid to use the satellite pump and the main pump at the same time. If your fuel port is on the side opposite the main pump, you’ll need to take the filler nozzle out of the cradle, set it on the ground, and flip the lever up to operate the satellite pump. Be careful when filling, the pumps on the big rig side pump MUCH FASTER than the consumer-style.
Clean your windshield? Sure, just do it while you’re fueling. Once the tank is full, stop window washing, pull WELL ahead of the pump island so the next guy in line can get in and start pumping. THEN finish paying, and complete your windshield ministrations.
If you need to make a purchase, or hit the restroom, move your rig to the parking area FIRST. —Russ and Tiña De Maris
Another way to hang a trash bag
If you’re into “cheapness is greatness,” you probably already re-purpose used plastic shopping bags to take out the trash. Here’s another take on the old trick: Use a couple of well-placed Command Hooks inside a cabinet door to hang the receiving bag. Yes, it’s a good idea to ensure the bag isn’t “holey” before hanging it up, or you’ll be saying “Holy Smokes!” when it drips on the shelf! From roomadness.com.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com
Some thoughts on KOA manager pulling gun on couple, plus update
Ex-cop Mike Sherman was in shock when he read the story last week on RVtravel.com about the KOA manager pulling a gun on unregistered campers. Here are some of his thoughts on the disturbing story, as well as an update. Read more.
The coolest Duck Tape Ever!
This makes every other roll of Duck Tape totally boring! This is so unbelievably wonderful — the tape is adorned with images of retro travel trailers! So quit using plain ol’ boring Duck Tape. A roll of this will cost you less than 6 bucks! Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Shrink
We are rather new at RVing. I know many people stay overnight in Walmart parking lots but it makes my husband nervous to spend a night in Walmart or any parking area. It’s not crime or security issues with him, it’s runaway shopping carts. Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.
To drink or not to drink alcohol
What do campers love to do? We love camping, gathering around the campfire or on the deck, enjoying tall tales and sharing good times. While there we usually have refreshments, including alcohol. But what if you’re work camping, even if you’re off-duty at the time? Here are some tips to consider before you imbibe.
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.
Ask the RV Doctor
With all of the flooding lately, I’m thinking of buying a previously flooded travel trailer off a salvage site. The unit was in a freshwater flood with water sitting in there for about 15 days before it was cleaned up. Water was up over the fuse panel but the batteries were not hooked up and it wasn’t plugged in at the time of flooding. If the fuse panel was dried out, it would be okay to connect, correct? —Patrick L.
Never struggle with opening jars again!
This jar-gripper is a favorite tool for many cooks and kitchen-dwellers. Never struggle to open a jar again! Simply place the gripper around the lid of the jar, lock into place and twist. Your jar will open with ease, and your hands won’t hurt afterward. This handy little gadget works on smooth and grooved lids and will adjust to fit just about every jar out there. It’s great for those of us with weak hands. Learn more or order here.
Last fall I had an electrical short in the transfer switch of my motorhome which burned several wires and melted the box and the fan motor in the converter. I was told that because the wiring in the transfer switch gets hot and cools, the lugs can loosen, and therefore the lugs should be checked for tightness once a year. Is this something that RV owners are doing? —Fred Tremose
Sign up for Mike’s new RV Electricity group on Facebook.
Be like Mike, use silicone!
Mike says: Never use any kind of petroleum-based products on rubber or plastic components in your RV, such as your trailer connector. That includes products such as Vaseline, WD40 or any other type of spray lubricating oil. Doing so will eventually break down the plastic and/or rubber components causing them to swell up and eventually disintegrate. The proper treatment is anything silicone-based. We use a lot of Heavy Duty Silicone in our shop for general connector cleaning and lubrication. It’s also useful on rubberized door sweeps and such. You can get some of your own here.
RV Tire Safety
Why not just inflate tires to the certification label level?
Have you ever wondered about what inflation to use in your RV’s tires: tire sidewall, sticker, owner’s manual, the inflation used by a neighbor? Roger Marble explains what to use and why, and also just what the sticker inflation is. Learn more.
California has a reputation for attracting some very interesting characters. There’s been another one on the loose making a name for himself out on the Mojave Desert. He built a steam-powered rocket and shot himself up into the sky, about 1800 feet, hitting 350 miles an hour and falling back to earth, all to somehow prove that the earth is flat. Did he accomplish his goal? Read more.
Don’t blow out your plumbing!
Sooner or later, usually “sooner,” every RVer comes upon an RV park water hookup with pressure so high it could blow out the plumbing. None of us want that because it causes a lot of damage and is expensive to fix. The simple solution is to be sure when you hook up use a water pressure regulator, like this one that features a lead-free design to prevent lead contamination. Learn more or order.
The RV Kitchen
Shortcut Sweet Pork “Sloppy Joe”
Sweet ‘n juicy pork sliders. Ideal for burger buns or sliders, juicy fillings are a favorite for RV meals indoors and out. Make a stack of them for the campground potluck or tailgate party. With a pickle and a plate of chips they are a no-fork meal. This recipe is a change from the usual ground beef. Get the recipe.
It’s time to clean your CPAP machine!
One of our past surveys told us that 53% of you (or your partner) use a CPAP machine. Wow! When was the last time your machine was cleaned thoroughly? They get very dirty! This highly rated cleaning kit will get out all those yucky germs and bacteria. The extendable brush will expand to 7 feet, but folds up into a small plastic bag so as to not take up too much room in your RV. If you use a CPAP, you’ll want to order this here.
How to easily see elevation gain along your route
The Geeks on Tour learned the hard way, years ago, about elevation gain and burned brakes. But now it’s super simple on Google Maps to learn about the elevation changes on a selected route. Learn how here so you don’t make the same mistake.
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.
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.
Facebook Groups of Interest
• FREE CAMPING LIFE!
• Travelin’ Singles RV & Camping Dating Edition
• Solar Powered RV’s & Boondocking
PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: RV Horror Stories, RV Advice, RV Electricity & RV Parks with Storm Shelters
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.
Free and bargain camping
Flying J Travel Plaza # 0681, Hope, B.C.
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed but please get permission from the manager. RVs should park in spaces on the far west edge of the property. The spots are not marked. Small RVs may be allowed in auto parking spaces. Level, well-lit and appears safe. Showers, public laundry and WiFi are available. Click here for details.
Hoosier National Forest, Blackwell Horsecamp, Bloomington, IN
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. USFS Equestrian Camp welcomes RVs of any type. Dispersed camping is on the grass. No hookups, no potable water and no dump station on site. Vault toilets are available. No reservations (first-come, first-served) but there is room for up to 100 RVs. 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.
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.
Museum of the Week
Santa Claus House
North Pole, Alaska
While this isn’t quite a museum, we’re featuring it anyway because it might as well be one. Take a trip 125 miles south of the Arctic Circle and find yourself standing underneath the world’s largest Santa (nearly 50 feet tall) in front of his festive North Pole home. Inside the Santa Claus House, it’s Christmas year-round. You’ll find the world’s best Christmas-themed gift shop (of course) containing everything from ornaments to apparel to unique toys (note that everything says “Made at the North Pole”). You can buy cookies and milk from “The Sweet Shop” and take a photo with the old man, Santa, himself. You can pet the reindeer and you’ll also have an opportunity to mail a postcard outside which will have a genuine North Pole postmark. This place is pretty…jolly. So start planning your visit here and read more about it here.
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. 1-4. RVtravel.com Meetup runs concurrently.
• America’s Largest RV Show, Sept. 12-15, Hershey, PA
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 this tape on light switches and slideout 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.
In 1979, the Kansas City Royals (baseball) tried to draft both John Elway and Dan Marino. Both chose to attend college instead: Elway to Stanford University and Marino to the University of Pittsburgh. And the rest is (football) history.
From Dennis Prichard (retired park ranger)
A person in Mammoth Cave asked, “Has this cave always been underground?”
Do you have a silly tourist question you’ve overheard at a National Park or other well-known tourist location? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Bumper sticker of the week
I may be old but I got to see all the cool bands.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
A ghost walks into a bar and orders a whiskey. The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve spirits here.”
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” —Winston Churchill
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, 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.