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Week of August 3–9, 2019
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury | Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
Iam camped in a grassy field in my motorhome at an RV show near Seattle. It’s a hot day by Seattle standards, about 85 degrees. A dozen RVtravel.com readers are camped nearby, and we are having a delightful time getting to know each other.
For the last two hours, the power in our RV has gone on and off due to low voltage. Our Progressive Surge Protector automatically cuts our power when it drops too low, which protects the RV’s electronics from frying. In general, voltage should be about 120 but can drop to about 105 and still not harm our RVs. But when it gets below that, the RV’s electronics can fail and die. Most vulnerable are air conditioners, residential-type refrigerators and anything else with a motor.
The last time I checked, the voltage at our power hookup was 101 volts. My surge protector was flashing an E-4 message, which meant the power was dangerously low. When that happens, the device automatically shuts off power to our RV until it is stable again. A neighbor reported that his voltage, on a separate line, had dipped to 94 volts.
MOST OF OUR NEIGHBORS have a surge protector, some external devices like mine, others built right into the RV. The power is still flowing to those without such surge protection, some with the air conditioner running. I knocked on the doors of two neighbors who I thought might be without a surge protector to warn them of the potential danger, but no answer; they were probably at the RV show. I just hoped there were no pets inside; if the low voltage were to burn up their air conditioners the indoor temperature would quickly soar to deadly temperatures. I have reported the problem to the show organizers, so hopefully they will do something.
For me, this is a huge reminder of why I bought a surge protector. There are two types, those around $100 to $150, and better ones from about $300 to $400. If you get one, opt for the top of the line: The cheaper ones offer only limited protection. The surge protector Gail and I use is a recent model of Progressive Industries’ model EMS-PT50X, which we purchased at Amazon. So far, it’s saved us at least three times from possible danger.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Looking for RV furniture? This is the place.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Why the fascination with campfires?
I’m having trouble understanding the fascination with campfires in RV parks/campgrounds, especially in ones that are tight for space. We actually left a park in mid-May due to the amount of smoke in the air. Most visitors are not cooking with the fires. It’s an aesthetic. — Melanie Howard
Many park owners assume that everyone who stays with them wants a meaningful experience with nature (when, actually, most want a meaningful experience with full hookups) and so they install fire pits at every campsite. Selling firewood at $6 a pop is a nice way to improve the bottom line, too.
Alas, it is very common that those fire pits are within 10-12 feet of a neighbor’s window. When the breeze is blowing just right, the neighbors receive a bonus for their stay: a lung-challenging experience right in the comfort of their mobile home. For some RVers, this proves an irritant, for others a health hazard. KOA is a leading culprit because its management thinks that people staying at its parks are “camping,” which is not necessarily true: They often stay for the hookups and the WiFi. We have lobbied in this newsletter for campfire-free zones at RV parks, but not many parks are listening. —Chuck
Last spring you had a story about Carefree of Colorado and its contest to win a power awning, including installation. We were the lucky winners and now have a brand-new power awning on our 1998 Itasca Suncruiser. This week Rollin on TV came and did a video shoot about us winning, which will be aired later. —Joe and Helen Hesketh
Dear Joe and Helen,
We always like to pass along news to our readers that results in a happy ending like yours. Congratulations! Enjoy that awning! —Chuck
FACEBOOK MEMBER QUESTION: Is there anyone who has a lemon RV, and is too upside down to get rid of it?
RV recalls for July
The list of latest recalls on RVs and other vehicles has been released by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The list includes models from Erwin Hymer Group, Forest River, Jayco, Keystone, Thor and others — plus (many) other vehicles commonly used by RVers. Is your RV or other vehicle on the list? Find out here.
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Driving to or in Alaska? You need the 2019 Milepost.
“Hated” RV dealer jumps in to help RVers
Industry veteran Gigi Stetler, who by her own admission is “absolutely hated” by the RV industry because she likes to “buck the system,” is looking to establish herself as an advocate for RVers struggling to navigate the purchase and repair side of the RV lifestyle. She is mainly doing it through a membership-based consumer enterprise she launched in late 2018 she calls The RV Advisor. Read more.
That was the RV week that was …
• Don’t dump your black tank illegally in WA state; you could get shot.
• RVIA explains away recent decline in new RV shipments to dealers.
• 39 new RV sites coming to Yellowstone NP – for park employees.
• Sierra Vista, AZ, clamping down on RV street parking.
• Pickup truck crashes into truck and trailer at gas pumps, causing huge fire.
and much more …
• Jayco recalls White Hawk travel trailers for braking issue.
• Heartland recalls 5,598 trailers for improper install that could cause fire.
• Keystone RV recall: Improper wiring could impact trailer braking.
Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• Save water when no sewer hookup.
• Dog paws and hot pavement – Not good!
• Eye in the sky for RV security.
• Do diesel generators need exercising like gasoline generators?
• WiFiRanger to offer AT&T data plans on RVs.
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.
The shocking truth about RV shore power problems
Few people underestimate the dangers of an incorrectly wired home electrical system, yet RV owners routinely tolerate problems that would raise red flags if they happened at home. From seeing heat-browning and melted plastic around the shore power connection to a light “zap” when touching the RV, warning signs that something is wrong should be taken seriously before someone is injured or something catastrophic happens. Here is advice from SmartPlug Systems, a Seattle-based company and a pioneer in RV shore power safety.
Wild Video: Big truck nearly loses it after RVs flip in Colorado winds
Despite a host of RV drivers who suffered the consequences of trying to drive their rigs in the high winds of Colorado, a semi-truck driver apparently decided he was just too tough to stop. This 20-second video could give you nightmares (or at least leave you scratching your head)!
Stopping full-time RVing like a “hot potato”?
A reader recently wrote the following to editor Chuck Woodbury:
I am amazed at your change of attitude about full-time RVing. I followed your past full-time adventures with interest. I was quite surprised when you dropped full-timing like a hot potato. Not to be negative toward you or your RVing practices, just an observation of a person who was actually considering it. Thank you for your contributions to RVing. —Anon.
Read Chuck’s response, especially if you’re considering RVing full-time.
Two examples of horrible RV hookups
Here are two examples of what any veteran RVer comes upon from time to time. An RVer who finds him or herself assigned to a campsite like this should demand another site or take their business elsewhere. Read more and see photos.
Investigation of radium exposure to Grand Canyon visitors ends
Late last year, the safety, health and wellness manager at Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park raised concerns when he found three buckets of uranium ore in a quiet corner of the park’s museum at the South Rim. Were visitors contaminated? Find out.
Utah RV builder accused of fleecing terminally ill customer
A Springville, Utah, RV manufacturer, Benjamin Ashley Grimes, is up on multiple charges, some of which stem from his alleged ripping-off of an Alaskan man who is terminally ill. More.
Will you spend time in your RV this month?
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
What device are you reading this newsletter on? Ladies, do you color your hair? Are you a dog or a cat person? How many pairs of shoes do you bring with you on your RV travels? Do you like to dance? All this and more, right here.
A creative way to get a free long-term RV site
Need a place to “settle in” for a little while but don’t have the cash to pay high rates at RV parks? One enterprising RVer explains his methodology for developing leads for places to stay in his RV. Learn how.
What to do when encountering a bear in the woods
You’re hiking a woodland trail on a warm, sunny day, the forest alive with the twitterings of songbirds, sunlight dappling the forest floor, when suddenly you come upon a bear. What should you do? 1) Throw rocks and sticks at it to scare it away, 2) Turn around and run, or 3) Faint from fright. Find out here.
Leave the RV behind! Camp in a cave!
Looking for an unusual camping experience, one you can talk about later for years? How about spending the night in a cave? You can do just that through September 30 at Oklahoma’s Alabaster Caverns State Park. It’s one of the largest natural gypsum caves in the world open to the public and the only gypsum show cave in the United States. The cost to camp overnight is $45. Read more.
Don’t stand under a tree during lightning! Here’s why. Oh my!
Here’s a video of an impressive (understatement!) lightning strike at Domaine Du Lac Bryson Lake Lodge, Quebec, Canada, in August 2017. Something you won’t soon forget!
Time for a job change? Here’s an RV park investment in Texas!
Want to invest in an RV park? How about the Summer Breeze RV Resort Portfolio, “Consisting of three RV parks with a total of 316 lots located in the Houston, TX MSA [metropolitan statistical area].” Imagine, you could become the proud owner of three RV parks, including 249 RV sites and 22 cabins. And the price tag? Just $17.8 million? Check it out.
Boondocking in our National Forests: It’s not just about saving money
The term “boondocking” means different things to different people. It could simply mean camping without hook-ups, which would include many campgrounds managed by the state and national parks, Forest Service, Corps of Engineers and BLM. But many RVers look beyond even the designated primitive camping areas for their own version of what a boondocking campsite should be. Learn more in this article from Bob (“BoondockBob”) Difley.
Judge chills plaintiffs in Dometic refrigerator suit
A federal court judge in Miami, Florida, has favored Dometic in a potential class action lawsuit brought by RVers who say they were sold defective RV refrigerators. Judge Robert Scola of the U.S. District Court ruled that the suit be tossed out. Read more.
Visit the ghosts of the old Wild West on the Clanton brothers’ ranch
The scene of the gunfight at the OK Corral has played to audiences in movies, television shows, books, and in the regular Tombstone, Arizona, live re-creation that attracts visitors from around the world seeking immersion in the old Wild West. But did you know you can visit the isolated Clanton brothers’ ranch? Read more.
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.
If your car or RV breaks down alongside the highway and you need to be outside, you should definitely be wearing this or something like it. You really don’t want to get run over by an 18-wheeler, do you? Enter the contest.
Congratulations to last week’s winners, James Woodward of Ocala, Florida, who won the Walmart Locator Directory, and Carole Wallace of Centralia, Missouri, who won the very nice Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• Do you really need a new refrigerator?
• Will Australian court case embolden U.S. RV industry to go after critics?
• The fast-fading Good Sam Club.
• Two inexpensive survival tools every RVer should have.
• Funny oil change instructions for men versus for women.
• That was the RV week that was, July 20–26, 2019.
• Thousand Trails: Thumbs up, thumbs down.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, July 26, 2019.
• How to deal with bugs that go “splat” on your vehicle.
• What we learned about you last week (July 20-26).
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 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.
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 July 29, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.72. [Calif.: $3.55]
Change from week before: Down 4 cents; Change from year before: Down 13 cents.
Diesel: $3.03. [Calif.: $3.94]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 19 cents.
Don’t take a break on your brakes!
Every RVer needs one of these!
Wonder what it would be like to have your brakes go out while you’re going down a long, steep grade? You might find out if you don’t stay on top of your brake fluid levels! Buy yourself a brake-fluid tester for less than $10 to check your levels. Simply dip the tester into your rig’s brake fluid, and you’ll be able to see where you stand. Learn more or order.
What can LA and other cities do to help the homeless?
This week’s topic on safety and security is taking a turn to visit urban Los Angeles, to take a closer look at the RV “camping” issue on the streets of LA. For many, their RVs (and autos) offer a level of protection that is obviously far better than sleeping on a park bench or sidewalk. The number of homeless people living on LA streets in vehicles exceeds the population of many small towns of America. Let’s get a clear picture of the issue in the following Los Angeles Times article, then pitch in with your comments, ideas and even offer up some solutions. Read more.
Don’t scream, just fix the screen!
This roll of screen repair tape is just what you need to fix those torn or ripped screens in your home or RV. Don’t waste money on a new screen! Cut as much tape as you need, stick it over the torn patch and you’re good to go. Learn more or order here.
Ask the RV Shrink
Wife has created a “solar monster”
Dear RV Shrink:
I have created a monster. My husband and I bought a nice used motorhome to do some traveling. It came with a generator, but I wanted a solar panel. My husband thought they were too expensive and called them “toys.” Finally, tiring of hearing me yak about them, he ordered a 123-watt panel. I was a happy camper until he bought the second one, then a third. Then we needed inverters, special batteries, fancier control panel, the list goes on. …
Have you ever been talking to a fellow camper or reading in an RV forum and come across lingo or abbreviations that meant nothing to you? Sam Suva explores the shorthand of full-time RVing. How many do you know? What did he miss in his list? Read more.
Ask the RV Doctor
Dealer says water in RV from retracting slideout is normal
Dear RV Doctor:
I’m a single woman and have a Fleetwood Bounder. When it rains and I bring the slideout in and I un-level the motorhome, water from on the top of the slideout comes pouring into the rig. My RV dealer says this is normal. It’s quite a bit of water and others I know do not have this issue. Shouldn’t there be a seal to stop the water from coming in? —Linda
That’s connected to … what?
The Klein ET310 transmitter/receiver figures out what electrical outlet is connected to which circuit breaker. Plug the transmitter end into the outlet in question, then scan the circuit breaker panel with the receiver “wand” and voila – you know which breaker is powering that outlet without resorting to flipping random breakers on and off. The transmitter also doubles as a 3-light outlet tester letting you know if there’s a Hot/Neutral polarity reversal, open ground, etc., and it also checks GFCI operation. Learn more or order.
RV Electrical Safety: Part 5
Amperage; Understanding and preventing RV electrical damage
We did a survey in 2010 at RVtravel.com, where 21% of RV owners who responded reported they have been shocked by their vehicle. What follows is #5 in a 12-part series about basic electricity for RV users and how to protect yourself and your family from shocks and possible electrocution. Also, Mike’s 3-hour Advanced RVelectricity™ Workshop is coming to the Hershey RV Show on Sept. 14, 2019. Learn more about amperage and Mike’s Workshop.
If you missed the important survey question – Have you ever experienced a burned shore power plug? – in Mike’s RVelectricity™ Newsletter Issue 21, please participate by clicking here. Mike wants more input on this hot topic.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Sign up for Mike’s RV Electricity group on Facebook.
Be like Mike: Don’t forget the fuse!
Mike says: Your RV has both 120-volt AC electrical systems (like your house), plus 12-volt DC battery systems (like your car). If the power goes out, it could be a circuit breaker (like in your house) or a blown fuse (like in your car). Always carry spare fuses that fit your RV’s battery system. Confirm the exact type and size of fuses your RV needs, then get a set of replacements. Here’s one pack, but be sure to check what your RV actually uses before ordering it.
RV Tire Safety
What’s a good tire pressure monitor system for a Class A?
Roger Marble had that question asked on an RV forum he monitors. He shares his (very thorough) answer here.
Storming Area 51? Let’s not
You can take a joke too far, as a young man from Bakersfield, CA, found out recently. He didn’t realize that just the mention of “Area 51” fires up a lot of people. So many people took his joke about storming Area 51 seriously that some of them – maybe as many as 2 million – are actually thinking they could pull it off. Are you one of them? Read more or let Len Wilcox read it to you.
Ah, the reality…
Well, this is the most realistic and hilarious mug we’ve seen in a while… We think everyone in our RV Horror Stories Facebook group needs this. What do you think? Order one here and make someone laugh.
Suzi’s Mobile Meals
Here is a recipe that is an easy spin on a delicious meal. No need to bake this one. Get the recipe.
A must-have for RV chefs
This is the perfect gift for RVers! Make your RV kitchen a little bit “cuter” with this adorable retro trailer-shaped cutting board made by Camco. It’s perfect for chopping fruits, veggies, breads and cheeses, but it also makes a great, unique serving tray. Order one here.
Free and bargain camping
Unnamed Gravel Lot, Gabarus, NS
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed, no permission required. The lot is very large, level, quiet and unlit. A few fire rings. No amenities nearby. RVer advises that you can purchase lobster or crab by the pound on the wharf if you see a boat come in. NOTE: Locals advise that this lot can flood during storms, either due to rainfall or wind & tide. If you plan to park here, keep an eye on weather forecasts. Click here for more details.
Twin Arrows Casino Resort, Flagstaff, AZ
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed and permission is not required. Go to the far east part of the lot on the east side of the casino; it’s much more level here, quieter and well-lit. No known maximum stay limit. Elevation 6000 ft. makes for cool summer nights. Many restaurants 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.
It’s about time you cleaned those headlights
When was the last time you gave those headlights a good scrub? It’s been a while, huh? Get yourself this 4-piece headlight restorer kit from Turtle Wax and have your headlights looking as good as new in less than 5 minutes. It can be used on all lenses, plexiglass and plastic surfaces, and will restore all dull, yellowed headlights. Learn more or order here.
Museum of the Week
Big Island Bees Museum & Tour
Captain Cook, Big Island, Hawaii
RVers need a relaxing beach getaway too, right? Head over to Hawaii’s Big Island and get a taste of the sweet life … literally. With flowers year-round, Hawaii is an exhausting place for bees. At the Big Island Bees Museum, more than 125 million bees produce 600,000 pounds of honey each year. Buzz on in and you’ll find a museum dedicated to bees and the art of beekeeping, see sculptures made from beeswax, watch videos of the entire honey-making process, and get a full tour of a real hive. There’s even a tasting room and a gift shop where you can buy unique local honeys. (We’ll take several jars of the macadamia nut honey, please!) Visit the museum website here.
Upcoming RV Shows
• Enumclaw RV Show (near Seattle). Going on this weekend
• Midwest RV Super Show, Aug. 8-11, Elkhart, IN
• Hampton Roads RV Super Sale, Aug. 16-18, Hampton, VA
• America’s Largest RV Show, Sept. 12-15, Hershey, PA
What’s on sale? Check out Amazon’s daily deals page to see the hundreds of items on sale.
Camping World and Good Sam Club CEO Marcus Lemonis ran for Congress in 1996. He appeared as a Democrat on the Florida ballot as Marc Anthony Lemonis, but lost to two-term Republican incumbent Bruno Barreiro, 42.44 percent to 57.56 percent. —SOURCE: Wikipedia
Silly Tourist Questions
From Fred Cwynar
We’re up from Florida traveling the Canadian Maritimes and were stopped last week and asked about our two mini Goldendoodles: “Do they need passports?”
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’d rather be working. Said no sane person ever.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
The police officer sees a car weaving back and forth down the highway, and takes off after it. He pulls up alongside and sees the driver is a woman, knitting as she drives. He can’t believe it, and yells at her. “Pull over! Pull over!” And she yells back, “No, it’s a scarf!”
“A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.” —Charles Schwab
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 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 .
RVtravel.com is the ‘RVers’ Voice of Reason’
About the RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for three decades. In the ’90s he published the quirky travel newspaper Out West, and was an “on the road” writer for the New York Times Syndicate. His book, “The Best from Out West” is available at Amazon.com. Woodbury’s RVing adventures have been profiled on ABC News, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, and in People Magazine, USA Today and in hundreds of newspapers. He is the host of the Better Business Bureau DVD “Buying a Recreational Vehicle,” the definitive guide to purchasing an RV the right way.
Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com or this newsletter.
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This newsletter is copyright 2019 by RVtravel.com.