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Week of December 7–13, 2019
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury
his is the way I remember RVing 25 years ago — “going where you want, when you want.” Gail and I are traveling U.S. 101 along the Oregon coast, staying in its magnificent state parks.
I am writing to you from Fort Stevens State Park, just south of Astoria. It’s famous for the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale, a four-masted barque sailing ship that ran ashore on the beach here on Oct. 25, 1906. Now, 113 years later, all that’s visible is its rusting bow and the remains of three masts.
It’s late Wednesday afternoon. The campground loop where we’re staying has 27 full-hookup campsites, but only four are occupied. It is so incredibly refreshing to not be packed into a space a few yards from a neighbor’s, which was the case so often when we traveled full-time in 2016 and 2017 and stayed mostly in RV parks because the popular public parks were reserved months ahead.
It was that trip that opened my eyes to the shortage of RV parks, especially pleasant, tidy ones. Many (if not most) today are no more than “trailer” parks with seasonal, even permanent residents working temporary jobs, or full-timers, many of whom live there because they can’t afford a traditional home. If you prefer to travel spontaneously, as I do — wanting to go where you want, when you want — you end up stuck in these places in the tourist season out of necessity or else in a Walmart parking lot. The good places are filled or ridiculously expensive. You can’t just “drop in.”
We originally planned to stay here only four nights. There is so much to see along this magnificent coast that sitting in one place for days on end can feel wrong. “Gotta go. Can’t waste time. Much to see.”
If this were summer, we would have no option to extend our stay: The site would be booked by someone else the day we departed. We’d need to move to our next reserved location.
But that’s in prime time, not now. Gail and I decided last night to stay another three nights, to relax — to slow down. All we had to do was pay for a few more nights — no worry about vacating to make room for the next camper. We know that every state park south of here will have ample space for us — no need to make reservations. What freedom!
There’s something magical about the Oregon coast in winter. The fog, the rain, the moody Pacific, and the crisp, cool air. When it’s raining too hard, you just settle into your warm mobile beach house with a book and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Or you put on your rain gear for a long walk on the beach.
IN OUR CASE, the weather has been beautiful most days — sunny, in the low 50s. And it’s so peaceful. We do not have a neighbor 20 feet away, smoking, watching his big screen outdoor TV. There is nobody in sight with outdoor lights that drown out the otherwise glorious, star-studded night skies. And, blessedly, it’s so nice to not be squeezed so tightly together that our neighbor’s sewer drain is two feet from our picnic table. Yes. . . it happens!
Yesterday, Gail and I walked at least two miles along the beach and never saw another person. It was just us, the crashing surf, the cute little snowy plover seabirds and our furry buddy, Archie, who ran free, as dogs can do here.
There’s an RV park about three miles down the road where the sites are packed together, with barely enough space to extend an awning. I’ll take a wild guess and say the residents are there for months on end, maybe even year-round. That’s not my thing, but to each their own. I’m just glad I don’t need to stay there. Been there, done that.
I’m in heaven where I am. But then I’m an introvert who yearns for quiet to recharge. I don’t pretend I’m “camping” with my 32-foot, creature-comfort-packed motorhome. I savor this solitude over being forced to stay in a commercial RV park like a human-sardine.
HEAR MY 20-MINUTE INTERVIEW on the RV Advisor podcast recorded two weeks ago.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: Here’s a story Mother Earth News wrote about me in 1990, when I was publishing my “on-the-road newspaper” Out West.
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My Roadside Journal
(My personal blog about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
- The town that drowned.
- Fake! Fake! The congressman and the sex offender.
- PLUS: If you are having a bad day, look at this.
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• An in-depth look at the new Tesla truck. Is it right for RVers?
• Ford recalls 86,296 model F-250, F-350 and F-450 trucks
• The 7 worst travel trailer brands
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV shows • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …
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Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• One experienced RVer’s advice on new vs. used motorhomes.
• Slideout marks on floor or carpet?
• Full-timers and health insurance.
• Google your way to RV repairs.
• Insurance advice for motorhomers with toads.
Why you can’t ever find a space at some RV parks
Most RV parks earn their money one camper at a time. But what happens when a stranger shows up at the park counter and says to the owner “rent me your entire park for a year and I will pay you far more than you could ever earn otherwise?” Well, that happens, and a “No vacancy” sign goes up without coming down. More.
For New RVers: Video explains RV electrical system basics
This five-minute video explains the basics of how an RV’s 12-volt and 120-volt systems work. It covers converters, inverters, batteries and more. This is good information for anyone, and especially if you’re a new RVer. Watch it here.
Need an RV mattress? This MIGHT be your pick to “sleep on it”
One of the finest things we can think of when evening falls is knowing there’s a comfortable bed just a few feet away. Ah, sleep! But sometimes RV manufacturers make it a bit difficult to get there by creating “bed spaces” in oddball sizes. Trying to find a mattress to fit can be close to impossible. Enter Brooklyn Bedding, which “custom crafts” mattresses to fit a variety of sizes, sleep needs and price points. Learn more.
This RV can store enough water to last years!
(Warning: That headline was written tongue-in-cheek.) Henry Schwagly sent us this photo and we got a good laugh out of it. He wrote, “Be sure to pack extra water when dry camping!” Too funny!
How much do you pay a month to store your RV when you’re not using it?
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.
RANDOM SURVEY FROM THE PAST: “Do you believe that Bigfoot (Sasquatch) exists?” Of the more than 3,000 readers who responded, how many of them would you guess believe the creature does exist or probably exists? Was it 24 percent or 39 percent? Find out here in issue 1185 of our RV Daily Tips Newsletter.
What we learned about you last week
Which social media platforms do you participate in each week? Will you have a Christmas tree this holiday season? For couples: Does one of you drive or tow your RV the most? Will you winterize this winter? What birth order are you in your family? How long have you had to wait for help while stranded on the side of the road (because of a mechanical problem)? When replacing a headlight, do you routinely replace the other at the same time? All this and more, right here.
What do you think?
This might be the perfect tow vehicle for the fifth wheel owner who wants the most powerful tow vehicle on the market. Yes, it’s for real. And it’s powerful — cranking out 3,974 horsepower. It was seven years in the making with $7 million spent in actual hard costs. It’s an impressive 44-feet long. When you’re not driving it, enjoy one of its 7 movie screens. But don’t get too excited about buying it — it sold recently for $12 million!
Not all antifreeze is created equal
If your rig is sitting in cold country and you haven’t already done so, it’s high time to get it winterized. Keeping your RV water lines from freezing (and breaking) is serious stuff. One question that pops up when discussing winterizing is this: Is there a difference in the types of RV antifreeze? Here are some thoughts.
Wacky RV includes a chicken coop
There is no end to the variety of recreational vehicles on the road. Take this one, for example. Not only is the paint job unique, but check out what’s on the roof. Yup, an honest-to-goodness chicken coop complete with hens. What’s for breakfast? Eggs, of course! Check it out!
Are these the longest RVs in America?
Here are two examples from the files of RVtravel.com of two very long RVs — we’re talking the tow vehicle and the RV itself. Even though these are really, really long, we think there are longer ones out there in RV Land. Maybe yours? If so, send us a pic. Learn more.
Popular articles from last week
• At Wally World, some RVers are slobs.
• Video: Take a test ride in Tesla’s new Cybertruck.
• How to avoid damaging slideouts when leveling an RV.
• Winnebago recall: Motorhome electrical issue could lead to fire.
• New RVer asks: Should I carry water in my tank when traveling?
• RV Doctor: OK to use hydraulic levelers when RV is stored?
• RVelectricity: What cost, electricity (in a campground)?
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, November 30, 2019.
• RV Tire Safety: Weighing an RV – 4-corner or CAT scale?
• RVelectricity – GFCI clarification.
• RV Shrink: Wife concerned about husband’s “fanatical” DIY attempts.
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 your brake fluid is moisture-contaminated. Water in brake fluid boils and can wipe out your braking ability! Buy yourself a brake-fluid tester for less than $10 that warns you if there’s too much water in your fluid. Simply dip the tester into your rig’s brake fluid and you’ll be able to see where you stand. Learn more or order.
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. 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.
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.
Afraid of water damage in your RV? You need this!
This essential water damage tool helps home and RV owners measure moisture content in wood, concrete drywall and subflooring. Use the pin sensors to find the moisture content in your home. The easy-to-read LCD display will help you know if you need to dry the existing materials or replace with brand-new ones, and can be used as a water leak detector after flood damage. You’ll want to buy this here.
Ask the RV Shrink
If the RV’s broke, switch it
Dear RV Shrink:
Recently we had a problem on the road with our water overflowing when we were hooked up to water. It would not stop flowing out the manual fill port on our rig. My husband said, “It’s time to sell.” He thinks fixing a problem on our RV requires buying a new one. He is never happy. We had a Class C and he wanted a 5th wheel. Now we have a 5th wheel and he wants a Class A. …
Ask the RV Doctor
RV’s water pump not pumping
I’m having my RV winterized for storage. The dealer called to tell me that the pump doesn’t work. It is located underneath the fresh water holding tank. They unhooked it from the tank to pump antifreeze into the pipes and it wouldn’t work. Is it a suction pump? Does it have to be connected to the holding tank to work? —Walter
GREAT HOLIDAY GIFT
Monocular telescope connects to phone, wow!
This is one of the neatest gadgets we’ve seen in a while! This waterproof monocular telescope connects right to your phone, so you can take photos of that bird waaaaaaay over there. You can now photograph anything up to 10x closer than before. Great for birdwatching, concerts or any sporting event. We already bought one! Learn more or order.
What cost, electricity? Part deux
Mike’s feature article in last Sunday’s RVelectricity newsletter was about gathering information on just how much electricity costs a campground to provide it for “free/included” versus metered. He’s trying to get to the bottom of why there’s a large percentage of poorly maintained electrical pedestals at campgrounds across the U.S. and Canada, many with too-low voltage and non-existent grounds. Read more here.
In case you missed Mike’s most recent RVelectricity newsletter, here it is. Tons of important and interesting info and even some nostalgia.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Battery charging for a residential refrigerator. A reader asks Mike why his truck’s alternator won’t keep the house batteries charged (and his fridge running) in his 5th wheel trailer while he’s towing.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
“The tire was defective.” Are you sure?
Roger says that simply claiming a tire is “defective” is the go-to excuse used by many that have no working knowledge of, or don’t want to spend the time investigating, “why” tires develop various conditions. Here he explains the real reason why some tires failure.
Building an RV Park
Why I am thankful
Machelle updates you on the (slow) progress on building their RV campground from scratch. Also, she was feeling sentimental after Thanksgiving and shares a personal peek into her and AJ’s family life (including finding out her own super-straight-laced father is a “rebel”!). Read more.
The cutest ornament we’ve ever seen…
This adorable little camp stove is the perfect addition to your, or a family or friend’s, Christmas tree this year. Makes the perfect gift for an RVer, camper, hiker, fisher…well, anyone! Learn more or order here (and see some other equally cute RV-related ornaments here).
The RV Kitchen
Pronto Breakfast Burritos
Hearty breakfast in a jiffy. These eat-from-the hand breakfast treats will give your crew something different. Just wrap each piece in a napkin or paper towel and hand them around. The scent of frying sausage will reel them in and this hearty breakfast will keep the family filled and energized for a chilly day ahead. Get the recipe.
The Digital RVer
Every travel blog needs a travel map
A travel blog without a map is like cake without icing! It’s good, but not as good as it should be. And, sometimes don’t you want just the icing?! A travel map can give your readers everything they want to know. Then, if they want more, they can click on a marker and follow the links to your blog posts! Read how here.
Alert, alert! Space-saving amazing gadget!
Perfect stocking stuffer!
As RVers, we know the importance of space, especially in the kitchen. This brilliant gadget is both a knife and cutting board in one, so you can save some of that prized cabinet or drawer space. Cut, chop and slice food in seconds, and let it fall right into the pan or bowl. It doesn’t get any easier than this. Click the image to watch a quick video and order one for yourself here.
I haven’t seen any articles regarding air conditioner covers coming off while traveling down the highway. Is this somewhat common? What kind of preventive maintenance should I do? —Gary Olson
I don’t think we have ever written about that, nor can I recall anyone reporting that their cover came off. If anyone has had this happen to them, please let us know at email@example.com .
Facebook Groups of Interest
• Missing RVers, Pets, and Stolen RVs
• Over age 50 RVer’s and Nice
• WINTER RVing – Let’s Stay Warm Together!
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 NEW Free Campgrounds
Get rid of those decal “ghosts!”
If you use a coin to remove old decals from your RV, you may have an unwelcome guest when the job’s done: decal “ghosts” – shadowy after-images imprinted in the Filon siding. The solution? A heavy-duty oxidation remover! Pour the remover onto a rough sponge and scrub the Filon in circles. The yellow oxidation will come right up and your RV will look good as new! The remover will also remove stains, scratches and water spots. Learn more or order here.
The tin canister, or can, was invented by Londoner Peter Durand in 1810, the year after French confectioner Nicolas Appert introduced the canning method of sealing food tightly inside a glass jar and then heating it. Unfortunately for Durand, the modern can opener was not invented for another 46 years. Before the invention of the can opener, people used a chisel and hammer to open cans.
Bumper sticker of the week
Librarian – the original search engine.
(Do you remember when you could phone the library for information, the librarian would put your call on hold, go look up the info in a book, and come back on the line and provide the requested information? Wow! How times have changed!)
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Tesco is a big supermarket chain in the U.K. Within hours of the news that Tesco’s “all beef hamburgers” contained 30% horse meat (in 2013), these quips hit the Internet (part 1 of 4):
• I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse. I guess Tesco just listened!
• Anyone want a burger from Tesco? Yay or neigh?
• Not entirely sure how Tesco is going to get over this hurdle.
• Had some burgers from Tesco for supper last night. I still have a bit between my teeth.
—Thanks to George Bliss for sending these in!
“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” —Yogi Berra
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. Advertising director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
Honorary Correspondents: Loyal readers who regularly email us leads about news stories and other information and resources that aid our own news-gathering efforts.
• Mike Sherman • George Bliss • Tom and Lois Speirs • Alan Warren • Steve Barnes + others who we will add later.
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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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