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Week of July 20–26, 2019
With Chuck Woodbury
We posted this nearly two years ago, but are doing so again because more than 30,000 new readers have joined us since then. We hope this will give them a better idea of what we at RVtravel.com are all about. I have updated a few statistics when necessary.
What you are reading here is not a blog. We call it a newsletter, but it’s also a magazine, the efforts of many writers. A blog reflects the voice of one person or a couple. Many readers of this newsletter have blogs. In them, they tell where they’ve been and what they’ve done. Most often they do it for themselves and for friends and family.
RVtravel.com is the voice of many contributing writers including countless comments each issue from readers. We were already publishing this website when the first “blogs” debuted. Twelve of us work on the actual staff, some part-time, a few full-time. In addition, we have an IT person who keeps our website running smoothly and a bookkeeper who helps us stay solvent.
This issue, number 906, began two weeks ago, when our managing editor Diane McGovern posted the shell of what would eventually become what you are now reading. The shell has space for my essay (or a guest’s), ads and our other features. Throughout the week, various writers and editors post their articles. Russ and Tiña De Maris gather up most of the news, although we all pitch in. By about midday Friday, the gaps are filled and everything is in place. With a little help from me, Diane then polishes things up, trimming wordiness, and fixing grammar and typos.
An email goes out to almost 80,000 of you in the wee hours of Saturday morning. The first surge of readers begins just moments later on the East Coast. Between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m, about two readers check in each second. Other readers check in from around the world.
I wake up early Saturday morning and say a little prayer that all is well — that our server didn’t go down overnight or that I didn’t make a major goof (when I do, a few dozen emails will await).
BEFORE THE INTERNET CAME ALONG, I spent my working life editing and publishing periodicals printed on paper. Today, I try my best to abide by the rules and ethics I learned along the way, beginning in my college journalism classes. It’s always tempting to cross the line – for example, to accept money to write glowing product reviews, which is epidemic on the Web. We receive such requests every day, and we always say no. It’s tempting, too, when someone offers us thousands of dollars to email their advertising message through our 80,000-strong (and growing) mailing list. I told readers when I started this newsletter 18 years ago that I would not do that and I have stuck to that promise. Our coffers would be $100,000 richer if we accepted those offers.
As you read through this issue, pay attention to the names of the writers and their credentials. They are all experts. We know from letters that our columnists’ advice has not only helped readers enjoy their RV travels more, but do so safely. Our columns on RV electricity by Mike Sokol have saved lives. We know because readers have told us.
RVtravel.com is not just a hobby. It’s a serious business. We will continue to address difficult issues that other RV media are afraid to touch. This country, for example, needs more campgrounds and RV parks to accommodate the nearly half-million new RVs sold each year. And we need better ones: There are too many dumpy ones as is. We need better quality control by RV makers, and we need more RV lemon laws, which the RV Industry Association fights whenever they’re proposed (the last thing a manufacturer wants is to allow a customer to return an RV that’s so badly made that it can’t be fixed). And buyers of new RVs must be better educated before plopping down six figures on an RV only to discover it’s not right for them or riddled with defects.
The RV lifestyle is wonderful. But there are problems in Paradise, and my staff and I will continue to influence positive change. The more readers we have, the louder our voice. And that is why we periodically ask you to please tell your friends, club members, Facebook friends and any other RVers or wannabees you know to sign up for this weekly publication and to enter a voluntary subscription if you believe we deserve it.
JOIN US NEAR SEATTLE
Second reminder: Gail and I will be camping on the beautiful fairgrounds in Enumclaw, Washington (near Seattle and Mt. Rainier), during the upcoming Enumclaw RV Show on August 1-3. If you would like to camp with us, contact the show. Each campsite comes with show admission for two for each day. Ask to be located in the RVtravel.com area, which has 30-amp hookups (most others are 20 amp). Those sites may already be sold out, so act fast to grab what may be left. Mike Sokol will teach three classes on RV Electricity, one per day. See his topics and the schedule here.
Our other newsletter: If you are not already a subscriber to our daily (Monday-Thursday) RV Daily Tips Newsletter, please consider signing up. It’s good!
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
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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. And when you make a pledge, you’ll receive our ad-free edition of this newsletter.
Would you buy a private aircraft built by an RV manufacturer?
Editor Chuck Woodbury fondly recalls flying with his father in his Piper airplane. “When we climbed into the cockpit, we both knew we were about to take off in a very well-built piece of machinery,” he wrote. He recently wondered if a major RV maker were to buy Piper, Cessna or Beechcraft, if he’d fly in one of its planes. Here is what he concluded.
That was the RV week that was …
• Retail sales of towable RVs are streaming downhill.
• California could ban a number of RV holding tank chemicals.
• Six more Pilot/Flying J travel centers coming to West Texas.
• Check out a full-scale Lego VW hippie van.
• California Campfire Permit required outside a campground or picnic area.
• Thanks to Outdoorsy and others, “Noah the Brave” has transportation to Boston.
and much more …
• Roadtreks recalled: Some seats may not meet crash standards.
Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips
• Shocking statistics about RV tire pressure.
• Buying a used RV makes sense.
• Don’t swat at a wasp nest – or at least be prepared if you do.
• A simple reminder which just may save your RV roof.
Turning back the clock
In the January 2002 issue of this RV Travel Newsletter, we listed that week’s lowest gas price in America. It was in Smyrna, Georgia. How much was a gallon of unleaded gas: 85 cents a gallon, $1.07 a gallon or $1.29 a gallon? Answer below.
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.
Quartzsite loses color with death of local celebrity
If the desert is monochromatic, Quartzsite breaks the mold. A tiny town by most standards, but most decidedly colorful. A big share of that color was courtesy of Paul Winer, the (in)famous “Naked Bookseller.” For decades Paul has attracted attention – of bookstore customers, area citizens and, of course, the local police. But Quartzsite shifted toward monochrome, as on May 7, “Sweet Pie” Paul Winer died after 75 Technicolor years. Read more.
A warning about the summer fire season
The summer fire season is upon us, and it’s important to be hyper aware of how we deal with fire as we’re out and about. That’s no more important than in California, where just eight months ago the Camp Fire consumed the Northern California town of Paradise and was pronounced the deadliest wildfire in state history. The state is facing the potential in the coming months for more death and destruction. Read more.
RVing The Parks | Top tips for National Parks with RV hookup campsites
By Rene Agredano
During our 20s and early 30s, we carried a pack into the woods. But after one taste of the RV life, we were hooked. Sleeping on the ground became a thing of the past once my husband and I discovered the joys of camping in spectacular settings with the option to enjoy water, electric and sewer utilities. If you’ve ever considered doing the same, here’s what you need to know about plugging into America’s national parks with RV hookup campsites.
Are you better off financially today than you were 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.
What we learned about you last week
If you could turn back time, would you want to go through high school again? Have you ever served on a jury in a civil or criminal case? Which two natural disasters are you most afraid of? Pick one: vanilla or chocolate ice cream? Is driving to or from Alaska in your RV on your bucket list? All this and more, right here.
Can your “other half” handle the rig?
Though becoming more balanced among couples, more men still drive their RVs than women. If you are the female half of a couple, imagine if you were out in the boonies and the driver were to become ill. You would have to learn how to drive the rig quickly – and at a most difficult time while under extreme stress. Don’t wait for that moment to happen. Read more.
Coleman lanterns inspired by founder’s poor eyesight
A classic piece of equipment for generations of campers, hunters, anglers, farmers, soldiers and others who needed a convenient and reliable source of portable outdoor lighting, the Coleman lantern has gone through many changes over the years. W.C. Coleman first encountered the lamp that would change the course of his life in a drugstore window in 1899. Plagued with poor vision, Coleman was stopped in his tracks by the brilliant white light. Read this fascinating history of Coleman lanterns and let us know if you remember camping as a kid with one. (Hand raised.)
Getting your rig safely to the bottom of that long grade
Getting the RV down a steep grade safely is an art, one that all of us need to perfect. If you’ve hit the bottom of a long, steep grade and seen an RV beside the road, smoke pouring out from the wheels, you may have muttered something about the “Grace of God.” So just how do you make the grade on the downhill side? Russ and Tiña De Maris explain.
Are you a member of Thousand Trails?
Thousand Trails was, until recently, a membership chain of RV parks. A membership was required. Today, most RVers who stay are, in fact, members, but others can stay on occasion for a nightly fee. Joining can cost from hundreds of dollars to thousands. If you’re a member, what do you think? Is a membership worth it? Vote and leave a comment.
RV salesman confesses tricks he uses to make a sale
We found this article on the RVT.com website (an RV classified ad service), and we just had to tell you about it. An RV salesman writes about how he sizes up a customer to see if they’re a “tire kicker” or a “serious buyer.” If the latter, he explains how he goes in “for the kill.” Share this article with anyone you know who is planning to buy an RV.
Win the book “RV Electrical Safety”
We love giving away stuff!
This paperback book should be essential reading for every RVer. Too many RVers blow out their RV’s electronics by mistake and, sadly, occasionally some die from being electrocuted by just touching an RV with a “hot skin” condition. Every RVer needs this book. Maybe you can win it! Enter the contest.
Congratulations to last week’s winner, Domingo Pardo of Silver Trails, New Mexico, who won an EP Portable Air Compressor.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• What your RV says about you.
• That was the RV week that was, July 6–12, 2019.
• RVer Safety: Look up when you park.
• Headed to Canada? An easy way to convert kilometers to miles.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, July 12, 2019.
• RV Short Stop: Visit Raquel Welch’s bra.
• How to fix stripped threads on RV water heater anode.
• RV Electricity: Better 30-amp power connectors.
• A proposal for a national RV owners association.
• Avoid pulling a flat-tired toad – or you’ll be sorry.
Our Facebook and RVillage Groups: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping. You might also like Big Rig RV and RV Tips. And please join our group on RVillage (like Facebook except just for RVers).
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.
Best Club for RVers: Escapees. Click here to learn more or join. Endorsed by RVtravel.com.
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.
The RV Death Spiral
Read the eight-part series of editorials by Greg Gerber that the RV industry never wanted written. Download the PDF.
Keep informed on the progress of our proposed North American Association of RV Owners, NAARVO.org. Learn about it by clicking here (and be sure to sign up for updates on our progress).
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.
If you shop at Amazon, would you please use one of these links to do your shopping? We get a tiny commission on what you buy, but they add up at the end of the month to help us fund this website and newsletter. U.S Buyers • Canadian shoppers
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of July 15, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.78. [Calif.: $3.61]
Change from week before: Up 4 cents; Change from year before: Down 9 cents.
Diesel: $3.05. [Calif.: $3.95]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 19 cents.
You might consider self-protection if wilderness camping
We have read news accounts of strangers shooting at campers walking on a trail. This story takes a unique turn. Imagine pulling into your remote campsite. You tell your wife to take the dog to the bathroom while you better position your vehicle to maximize the comfort of your rural, isolated campsite in the wilderness. Five minutes later your wife and dog have vanished. Read more.
Make your shades look like new again!
Are the pleated shades in your RV showing their age? Here’s some good news — they can be restrung! This inexpensive kit from United Shade fixes up to five 36″x36″ shades. The kit includes easy-to-follow illustrated instructions, and your shades will look brand-new. Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Shrink
Wife’s rock collection overloading RV
Dear RV Shrink:
My wife has rocks in the head. No, I am not being derogatory. I mean she has rocks everywhere, including those I found in the bathroom this morning under the sink. We are headed to Quartzsite soon and I see more rocks in my future. Then we go to all the rock and gem shows in Arizona. After that we go to Rockhound State Park in New Mexico. After that we go to the Stillwell Ranch outside of Big Bend. I will truly be a rock star by then. …
The Business of Work Camping
Technology – Part 1
What helped Sam and Suzi Suva in their early RV lifestyle? What technology did they receive help from? They’re hoping this two-part series on what they used and have found helpful on their journey will make yours less “interesting,” as Sam put it. Read more.
Ask the RV Doctor
What’s the best way to change two flat tires on trailer?
I have two flat tires on my travel trailer, one on each side. How do I change tires on it? How do I jack the trailer up to change the tire? Or is there a better way? —Willie B.
Add an outdoor water faucet to your RV!
This lead-free outdoor faucet is really handy. If you don’t have one, here’s a super inexpensive way to add one. No tools required and it installs in a minute (just screw it on). Brass T included with the plastic faucet, just as it’s shown in the product photo. Learn more or order here.
RV Electrical Safety: Part 4 – Hot-Skin Voltage
Mike says this is one of the most important articles he’s ever written, and possibly ever will write. In the original version in 2010 he introduced the concept to the RV industry of using a Non-Contact Voltage Tester to detect a dangerous hot-skin/contact-voltage. Since then he’s received hundreds of emails detailing how readers found these hot-skin conditions on their RVs, saving their family from an electric shock and possible death by electrocution. Please read this article carefully as it could save your life.
JUST IN: Mike will present a free 1-hour RV Electricity seminar Thursday, July 25, from 9-10 a.m. at the WBCCI (Airstream) International Rally in Doswell, VA. Subjects covered will be hot-skin/stray-voltage and meter usage, as well as Surge/EMS protectors including the new Bluetooth Surge Guard EMS. More info here.
Sign up for Mike’s new RV Electricity group on Facebook.
Protect yourself and others from sharp edges of RV slideouts!
Cut your head just once on the corner of a sharp RV slideout and you’ll race out to buy a set of these so it never happens again! Camco’s Slide-Out Corner Guards offer a simple solution to the danger posed by sharp corners on RV slideouts. Simply place them on each exterior corner of the slide to provide a cushion zone. They’re made of advanced UV-stabilized resin for long life. Easy to install, no tools required. Learn more or order.
RV Tire Safety
Lug nut torque – a critical safety item
RV tire expert Roger Marble explains the correct way to torque the lug nuts so you don’t lose a wheel off your RV. Several useful videos included, as well as more technical information for those who want to know more. Important info to know.
Western Views: Who were “The Bad Men from Bodie”?
In the shadow of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, north of Mono Lake between Lee Vining, California, and Hawthorne, Nevada, is the ghost town of Bodie, California. Once the home of 10,000 miners, gamblers and ruffians, Bodie today is a silent wood and brick monument to the American West. Read about Bodie and its “Bad Men,” or let Len Wilcox read it to you.
Easily check the tire pressure on your inner dual tires!
Do you have trouble reading the tire pressure on your RV’s inner duals? This dual head tire pressure gauge with an extension steel shaft will reach where a standard gauge won’t. Be sure you know the pressure of all your tires, or risk a potentially dangerous blowout. No batteries required. Learn more or order at a discount.
The RV Kitchen
Suzi’s Mobile Meals – Juicy pork steaks with Spanish rice
This week Suzi invites you to make juicy pork steaks, fried zucchini, Spanish rice and green beans. Yum! Read more.
Clean your microwave with no hassle!
Is it hard to scrub off all that crusty gunk in your microwave? Admit it, when was the last time you cleaned it? Angry Mama, the miracle microwave cleaner, is here to do the dirty job for you! Add water and vinegar (maybe some lemon too) to this feisty lady and watch her steam away the mess. Within minutes your microwave will be sparkling! Click the image to watch video. Be right back, we’re buying one here!
Every RVer needs a “Bragging Map”
The stick-on maps for the RV are nice, but only people IRL (In Real Life) will see it. If you make a digital map, you can show it to everyone. You won’t believe how easy it is to make your Visited States Map. Learn how.
Fire Extinguishing Aerosol, Two-pack
The First Alert Tundra Fire Extinguishing Aerosol Spray is easier to use and discharges 4 times longer than traditional fire extinguishers. With an aerosol nozzle and portable size, it’s suited for the kitchen, car, garage, boat or RV. The formula wipes away with a damp cloth & is biodegradable. Learn more or order
Free and bargain camping
Randolph E. Collier Rest Area, Yreka, CA
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. State of CA allows parking in rest areas for a maximum of 8 hours in any 24-hour period. Restrooms and pet area on site. No dump station. Large lot and relatively quiet. Accommodates big rigs easily, can be noisy if trucks are also overnighting here. Very scenic, with many picnic shelters and trash barrels. Potable water available at one or more threaded taps. Click here for more details.
Flying J Travel Plaza #789, London, ON
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Park in one of 22 marked double pull-thru spaces. Do not park in truck or restaurant parking unless directed. Fairly level, with a slight slope. Well-lit, but there is significant noise from truck stop. Dump station on site and propane available. No rinse water available for 2019 summer season. Denny’s and Cinnabon on-site and food available in store. 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.
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.
Museum of the Week
The Newseum is a seven-level, 250,000-square-foot museum that features fifteen theaters and fifteen galleries (in other words, be prepared to spend some time here). We can’t write about all the amazing things in this museum in this short space, but we know you’ll love the interactive newsroom, the largest collection of pieces of the Berlin Wall (outside of Berlin, of course) and all the amazing historical artifacts (many of which come from the FBI – neat!). Pssst! If you want a great, quiet view of the White House – you’ll get it from the public roof of the museum. You can read a great article about the museum here, or visit the official website here.
TODAY’S SPECIAL DEALS ON RV PARTS & ACCESSORIES ON AMAZON. Click here to view.
Upcoming RV Shows
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.
The first four-engine airplane was built by Igor Sikorsky, best known as the inventor of the helicopter. He built his four-engine Le Grand in 1913 in his native Russia. It had an enclosed cabin, washroom and upholstered chairs. In building it, he disproved the widely held belief among aircraft experts that a large, multi-engined craft would be too unwieldy to fly.
POP QUIZ ANSWER (from above): It was 85 cents
Silly Tourist Questions
From Jerilyn Lessley
My mom ran the Old Faithful Gift Shop for many years. Her favorite question was from a woman who asked, “Where do you put the animals at night?” She wasn’t sure they would find their way home.
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
This is the back of my RV.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Remember when plastic surgery was a taboo subject?
Now you mention Botox and nobody raises an eyebrow.
“Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all,
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall; …”
—John Dickinson (a Founding Father of the United States, known as the “Penman of the Revolution”. The quote is from the sixth verse of The Liberty Song, which Dickinson wrote in 1768. It offers the earliest known publication of the phrase that parallels the motto “United we stand, divided we fall.”)
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, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, 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.