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Week of October 26 – November 1, 2019
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
Who is an “RVer”?
With Chuck Woodbury
California is on fire again. Once again hundreds of thousands of homes are in peril or without power because PG&E and Southern California Edison shut it off to reduce the chance of a power line igniting a fire. PG&E went bankrupt after last November’s Camp Fire that wiped out the town of Paradise and killed at least 85 people. Trouble with a transmission power line started that catastrophic blaze.
I lived in California until about 25 years ago. I know how dry the forests there are in the summer and fall. I know how fast they burn based on four summers fighting fires for the U.S. Forest Service near Lake Tahoe. At this time of year, the fuel moisture in many trees is so low they burn like they’re dead.
Residents with RVs who live in such disaster-prone areas can evacuate their homes with their vehicles and live fairly normally until they can return, hopefully to a home untouched by flames.
I THINK A NEW CLASS OF RVer is on the way: those people who live in these areas who will figure out that having an RV should be an essential item in their survival arsenal. They can pack its refrigerator/freezer with essentials that may go bad at home without power. They’ll have a bed to sleep in, a kitchen, and a heater or air conditioner to keep comfortable. Don’t be surprised to see local RV dealers promote this idea.
As is, the industry continues to pound away with the message that RVing is akin to a wonderful experience with nature. Their commercials show pretty scenes where RVers are camped along ocean beaches and lakes — lounging outside, sipping wine and watching the sun set. Yes, that is true sometimes, but most of the time the view out the RVers’ windows is their next door neighbor’s sewer hookup.
Which makes me wonder. . .
WHO IS AN RVer?
Are people who buy RVs because they cannot afford a home or apartment RVers? Are their interests the same as a young couple with kids who buys a small travel trailer for weekend or summer camping trips at state parks?
How about a homeless person who lives on the streets who manages to one way or another acquire a junker RV and park it on a city street, moving only when the cops say so. No need for a dump station, just pull the valve when nobody’s looking and send it along the curb, then down a storm drain.
How about a worker on temporary assignments for months on end who chooses to buy a fifth wheel trailer rather than rent an apartment with each new assignment? Heck, he can bring his family along, which many do. Are they RVers?
If you pay attention to RVing news you may notice that most of the new RV parks popping up (very often dubbed resorts) are aimed at high-income people. They can afford to pay a half-million dollars (or more) to own a private lot with a personal cabana. Or they can hole up in posh RV parks for $100 a day. What do they have in common with young families who camp summer weekends in a pop-up trailer?
How about RVers who enjoy the sport of squatting for free night after night in Walmart parking lots? That’s a far cry from staying along the beach, sipping wine and watching the sun set.
I believe if you go back a few decades you would find that most people who owned RVs were RV “enthusiasts,” not just people whose homes happened to be a recreational vehicle. To me, the term “RVer” has so many meanings today it’s almost meaningless. It’s like labeling a guy with a rowboat and a guy with a 60-foot yacht both “boaters.”
RV parks these days, with exceptions, are more like trailer parks of old. Twenty years ago when I was asked by RV newbies if it was safe to stay in RV parks, I would answer, “absolutely!” I almost never heard about a serious crime in such a place. Nowadays, type “RV park” into Google News and many of the results will be for assaults, domestic disturbances, burglaries, drug dealing and even murder. Think “seedy trailer park” and you get the idea of what some of these places are like.
Type in “camping” in Google News and a third of the results will be about homeless people “camping” in big cities in tents and dilapidated motorhomes. The term “camping” has splintered into different meanings.
And, with RV park campsites in such short supply, here comes KOA with an announcement last week that it’s turning one of its existing parks into a “glamping resort” — every site a luxury tent that rents for more than $200 a night (some closer to $300). You can’t blame KOA for wanting to respond to the changing market, but where does that leave those RVers who really do use their rigs for travel (as opposed to housing)?
RVs are many things to many people. If I were homeless, an RV would be like a gift from heaven, no matter how old, ugly and beat up. If I were a temporary worker who traveled from town to town and could buy an RV to bring my family along, an RV would be just the thing.
What I am simply saying here is that the term “RVer” means a whole of different things these days, for better or worse. It’s not a big deal, just something to think about.
P.S. We welcome your guest essays. Submit them here.
NEW FACEBOOK GROUP ABOUT FREE RV CAMPING
We have created a new Facebook group, FreeCampgrounds. Share places you know or learn about great places to camp for free in your RV from others. https://www.facebook.com/groups/freecampgrounds
Editor’s Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
- Was (or is) this doll a real live person?
- I want this! Have you ever seen an RV so cute?
- Lonely Mina, Nevada. Not a ghost town … yet!
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• Major RV retailer put on bankruptcy danger list.
• Your chances of dying in a vehicle crash have gone down a bit.
• Homeless “RVers” in Northwest dumping a million pounds of wastewater into local waters.
• Fulltime RV group Escapees RV Club is getting a deeper foothold on RV education.
• Another good reason to keep your RV fully “ready” as a self-contained unit.
• Branson, Missouri, firefighters went the extra mile after an RV fire.
• Two teens die from carbon monoxide poisoning in trailer during power outage.
PLUS: Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV Shows • Latest RV recalls • Free and Bargain Camping locations. Plus a reader survey.
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Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• Free fishing across the USA.
• How long to get your RV “ready to go”?
• Improve heater floor registers.
• Be careful with your fresh water hose.
• Some basic tools to carry in your RV.
Popular articles posted in 2019
. . . in case you missed them the first round.
• Battle brewing between campers, RV parks on electric usage.
• What has happened to us that we are so angry?
• “Real ID” may complicate RVers’ lives.
• Which roadside assistance program is best?
• Stop RV refrigerator fires before they start.
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.
16 surprising ways to use toothpaste
How else do you use toothpaste other than to brush your teeth? Here are a few great ideas you sent us.
Next time: What else can you do with a lemon? Tell us how you use a lemon around your home or RV. Click here.
Cover your RV this winter?
As winter approaches, some new RV owners begin to wonder about just how to best care for their investment. With winter’s wind and rain, should you invest in an RV cover? Find out here.
This week’s ugly campground award. And the winner is. . .
Here we go again. Our reader paid more than $70 to stay here. Take a look at what he got. We love the sewer drain’s position right under the picnic table. And how about the electric pedestal? Yikes! Really? Check it out.
Reflecting on full-time RVing. Why it worked for me, why it didn’t
RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury discusses why two year’s of full-time RVing was not for him (at least that’s the way he feels now). Read more.
Do you believe an economic recession is coming within a 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.
Don’t buy an RV before joining The RV Advisor.
What we learned about you last week
Have you ever moved from your campsite because of a bad neighbor? How long do you leave your porch light on when you’re hooked up to power? Do most of your friends call you by your given name or a nickname? Will you carve a Halloween pumpkin this year? How often do you eat cereal for breakfast? How much water do you drink in a day? Do you drive or tow your RV? All this and more, right here.
Do you know your Cabela’s history?
Many RVers have taken advantage of the “RV welcome mat” extended by Cabela’s sporting goods stores. Many of the retailer’s parking lots have dump stations, some of them even for free use. And taking a hike through Cabela’s is like visiting a giant “man cave.” If you’re into the outdoors, you need to go into Cabela’s – it’s like being outside, while inside. Read more.
Hang up the heavy stuff!
RV walls aren’t exactly designed for having screws or nails driven into them. Enter acrylic mounting tape. This is a clear, double-sided tape that is sturdy enough to hang heavy objects and can easily be removed without doing damage to the walls. Get some on Amazon here.
How to avoid a dangerous encounter with a moose
Every year moose routinely cause traffic crashes and traffic fatalities in parts of the USA, but nowhere more often than on Alaska’s roads and highways. Read more.
Your fifth-wheel: Leave it hitched or not?
We got an anguished question from a reader: “My husband insists there is nothing wrong with leaving the truck hooked up to our fifth-wheel for extended periods of time. And when I say extended, I mean two weeks. … If there are reasons why you should not, what are they?” Read more.
Win this TastePURE™ RV water filter!
We love giving away stuff!
Walk around any RV park and you will likely find at least a few of these attached to the fresh water hoses of RVs. The filters protect against bacteria and they reduce bad taste, odors, chlorine and sediment in drinking water.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• National Parks may slash benefits to Senior Pass holders.
• The weirdest RV you have ever seen. And it’s for sale.
• “Abandoned” Seattle RV – Truth is stranger than fiction.
• Transporter shutdown may become Camping World headache.
• Big logs appear along Oakland curbs to keep away homeless in RVs.
• 13 surprising ways to use Windex.
• Be kind to your RV batteries this winter.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, October 18, 2019.
• Illinois lemon RV ruling may be a game-changer.
• What we learned about you last week (October 12-18).
• RV Shrink: Teamwork important during “senior moments.”
• RV Doctor: Do’s and don’ts for storing your RV.
Protect your RV “pigtail”
That 7-way connector on your travel trailer or fifth wheel is a critical component. When not plugged into your tow rig, the thing is susceptible to the onslaught of dirt, rain and even bugs. Here’s a plug cover that slips right over your precious plug and keeps out the crud. One user says, “This works perfectly to keep the plug on my RV clear. I remove it when not in use and place it in my ‘RV emergency tool kit.’ This way, it’s not knocked around when driving.” Learn more or order.
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.
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.
Did you decorate your RV for Halloween?
We want to see! Please submit a photo of your RV here, and tell us what state (and/or city) you’re in. Thanks!
Ask the RV Shrink
Campground reservation rip-off
Dear RV Shrink:
We just stopped for the night in Red Bluff, CA, at a campground run by the National Forest Service. We drove around, found a site with a tag that said “Open.” Once we were all set up, the host showed up and told us the site was already reserved and that we would have to move to a different site. I pointed out to him the “Open” tag and he said he forgot to change it. Then he went on to say we had to make a reservation and pay online; they don’t take money at an iron ranger anymore….
Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s similar lament.
(Editor: We’re sure you’ll want to weigh in, but please keep your comments civil.)
• Protect your RV’s slideout! Use this rubber seal lubricant. Learn more or order.
• Attention Big Rig RV owners! This annual road atlas will keep you away from too-narrow roads and low bridges. Learn more or order.
• Camping at Corps of Engineers Campgrounds. Many RVers consider these the very best places to stay. Learn more or order the directory.
AMAZON AFFILIATE AD
Ask the RV Doctor
Quick Q & A on using RV antifreeze
I am winterizing my Hi-Lo and am wondering about putting RV antifreeze in the fresh water tank and pumping it through the system. That is what the book says to do, but I don’t know if that is safe. Can I pull off the pump inlet hose and put it directly into the jug of antifreeze and pump it through the lines? —Dave A.
This lint-roller works like a vacuum
Used by the RVtravel.com staff!
We can’t recommend this lint-roller enough. This eco-friendly, reusable (no wasteful sticky tape!) lint-roller sucks up lint and pet hair like a vacuum. Simply roll back and forth over your clothing, on your furniture, or even on carpets or rugs. The lint and pet hair collects inside a small compartment that you empty once full. It works like a charm and it will save you money in the long run! Learn more or order here.
RV Tax Matters
By Neil Seidler, CPA, CMA
Using an RV for business and tax deductions
I use my RV for business. Can I deduct expenses related to using it for business income? Read Neil’s response.
Surge protector types
and also: Why does my portable generator not power my RV?
I have a 2019 Winnebago Minnie Winnie Plus. Is an 825 joules surge protector sufficient protection for this trailer? Many surge protectors are not UL certified. Is it necessary to have a UL certification? Thanks. —Tony Carestia
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Generator neutral bonding – Part deux. A reader asks Mike why his 2000-watt Honda generator doesn’t power his RV at all.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
RV Travel contributor Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. Mike has taken his 50+ years of experience to write this book about RV electricity that nearly anyone can understand. Covers the basics of Voltage, Amperage, Wattage and Grounding, with additional chapters on RV Hot-Skin testing, GFCI operation, portable generator hookups and troubleshooting RV electrical systems. This should be essential reading for all RVers. Learn more or order.
RV Tire Safety
RV Tire Safety: New truck with old trailer – sway (stability) issues
Roger Marble was asked by the moderator of an RV trailer forum to jump in on the topic of stability issues when towing a loaded old trailer with a loaded new truck. He thought the info might be of interest to our readers. Read more.
Building an RV Park
Exciting things are happening here!
From Machelle James: Oh, exciting things are happening here in Heber-Overgaard! First and foremost, we finally received the site plan from the engineers that we liked! It made much more sense and we changed two of the roads to two-way roads! Now it flows so much better and will be easier for our campers to navigate. We also added two corral campsites to our plan: one for 3-4 RVs and one for 6-7 RVs. Read more.
These socks don’t stink!
If you don’t believe us when we say these compression socks really work, look at the overwhelmingly positive reviews and maybe you’ll change your mind. These socks provide instant relief to your arches and heels and work to increase blood and oxygen circulation, which helps reduce lactic acid buildup and aids muscle recovery in ankle and feet. Click here to learn more.
The RV Kitchen
Carnival Bulgur Salad
Flavor meets color in this salad. Here’s a colorful side dish to go with almost anything. It’s a starch plus a cornucopia of colorful vegetable bits that bring fresh flavor to an ancient grain. Unlike most other starch courses, bulgur and instant rice are very quick to prepare and require minimal water. Get the recipe.
The Digital RVer
How do you force Google Maps to go the way you want?
Google Maps is navigating and telling you to go one way but you want to go a different way. What do you do? Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour, explains here.
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.
Why is my pet not allowed at certain RV parks?
Why is it so many RV parks don’t allow certain breeds of dogs when they know nothing of the dogs? I feel it is discriminatory against me and my pets and am not allowed into many different parks due to the breed of dog I have especially since in many states it is illegal to discriminate against pit bulls? —James Hanna
Answer by Andy Zipser, owner of Walnut Hills Campground and RV Park in Staunton, Virginia.
The short version is that it all comes down to perceived liability. I know when I fill out my annual insurance application I have to answer several questions about risk, one of them being whether we have breed restrictions on the dogs we allow. We don’t, but someone worried about his overall risk profile may decide to hedge his bets by banning aggressive breeds. My insurance agent tells me that specific breeds tend to be targeted more by homeowner’s policies than commercial policies, like ours, but there may be exceptions. And, by the way, New York State has the country’s highest claims in dog bite incidents, averaging $50,000 apiece.
Facebook Groups of Interest
• RV Traveling With Cats.Tips, Hints & More!
• Accessible Travel USA/Canada
• Travel Trailer Life
PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping and RV Crashes and Disasters.
Keep mice out of your RV
The positive reviews on this product from Earthkind make it the best bet for keeping your RV mouse-free. It’s the only plant-based rodent repellent registered for inside use by the EPA. It effectively repels rodents up to 90 days with a “woodsy” scent that’s pleasant to humans but offensive to rodents. It’s safe around kids and pets, too. 98% biodegradable. Learn more or order.
In a 1917 letter to Winston Churchill, Admiral John Fisher used the phrase “O.M.G.” (in the sense it is used today).
Bumper sticker of the week
I left on time. You go around.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Here’s a “groaner”: What currency do they use in outer space? … Starbucks.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. —Anon.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Emily, Woodbury, Russ and Tiña De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Bob Difley, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
RVtravel.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers.
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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