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March 7, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury
esterday, my daughter Emily informed me, was National Employee Appreciation Day. For the last three years, she has been not only my daughter but my employee. She’s in training to be the captain of Good Ship RV Travel when my brain turns to mush or when I have said all I want to say (that could be pretty soon).
And so, in honor of yesterday’s special day, I thought I would tell you a little about the people who make this newsletter and website possible — an exceptional team of talented people.
There’s Emily, of course, who at the tender age of 28, is our youngest employee. But she is far from new to RVing. She took her first RV trip at about 3 months and has been on the road, off and on, ever since. I have lost count of the number of RV road trips she and I have taken through the years. She can talk the RV talk very well, and she is one heck of a writer — way ahead of me at her age.
AS WE ALL DO, Emily wears many hats. But the one where she shines is as a writer and editor. Every one of our almost 365 newsletters a year has her stamp all over it. Background: Emily went to college in New York City, and then stayed there for a few years. And then one day my phone rang and she asked, “Dad, can I work with you?” I was reluctant at first — mixing business and pleasure is always a risk — but so far, working alongside her has been a delight and every father’s dream (at least most). I love teaching her and watching her mature in her work and as a young woman.
Diane McGovern is behind the scenes in every issue, and she truly does wear a lot of hats. She proofs everything, and checks each issue before it goes live for mistakes. She moderates readers’ comments (almost 4,000 a month) religiously. The rest of us watch them, but Diane is right on top of each one that arrives. She responds to those when necessary to set the record straight. She keeps after contributing writers to get their submissions in on time, then edits them as necessary. Honestly, it’s hard for me to begin to tell you everything she does, because she does everything.
I can sum up and say that without Diane, we would be in a heap of trouble. I am incredibly thankful for the 7 years she has watched eagle-eyed over our operation. (She says her title, Managing Editor, means she tries to manage the editor, me – and adds that’s the toughest part of her job.)
And what we would we do without our ace senior editors and reporters Russ and Tiña De Maris? They’re amazing. They will tackle any story they’re assigned and always thoroughly. Russ and Tiña do most of the work on our Sunday news edition. They’ve been a part of RVtravel.com for at least 15 years.
Jessica Sarvis is the newest member of our staff. She wears several hats — marketing, circulation, advertising and managing our social media. She is always on the lookout for new and better ways to do things so we can be more efficient.
And, yes, Gail Meyring, my love and traveling partner, is an important member of our team. She watches over financial affairs, helps readers with subscription issues, and sometimes cooks my dinner (not an official business duty). Our bookkeeper, Trish Claflin, is the official keeper of the books, and we’re lucky to have her.
Kim Christiansen is our technical guru. He keeps the bad guys — hackers and other evil cyber people — away, and monitors our fast-growing website 24/7 to keep it from crashing. It’s a huge job. Thank goodness for Kim!
Our writers are the best of the best — Mike Sokol on RV electricity, Roger Marble on RV tire safety, and Gary Bunzer (the RV Doctor), who answers readers’ questions about technical issues. And thanks to our other contributors — Greg Illes, Janet Groene, Machelle James, Chris Guld, Julianne Crane, Bob Difley, and the RV Shrink, who remains anonymous to keep the Paparazzi away.
Through the years, we have established an excellent routine that enables us to publish nearly 400 issues a year — one, sometimes two, every day. That’s a lot of work, but our talented crew takes it in stride. And I, for one, hugely appreciate them.
OUR HOME IS AT CORONAVIRUS GROUND ZERO
For an update of my travels, click here. Last issue I wrote about returning home to repair a roof leak. Well, Gail and I changed our minds. For one thing, our home near Seattle is only a few miles from the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States. We’re not scared, but, heck, we’re comfy in our motorhome in Arizona — and the weather is a lot more pleasant here than back home in the soggy Northwest.
Part Five: The dysfunctional RV Industry and You
How Fifth Wheel Trailers Have Ruined RVing
That headline above is what I have titled the fifth installment of my series. The headline is accurate, but unless you read the article you will not understand what I mean. Links to early installments are included here, too.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• FMCA decides whether it’s go or no go on its upcoming national rally.
• Amazon prices may increase soon due to coronavirus.
• Another RV fire caused by refrigerator.
• Alleged hit-and-run victim threatens RV driver when found not guilty of charges.
• Disabled couple lose everything when trailer rear-ended by semi-truck; can’t afford to retrieve truck from impound yard.
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV shows • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …
Please help our voice grow louder to represent your RVing interests
As you can imagine when reading this issue, putting it together along with another almost 400 newsletters each year takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Advertising helps pay some of our bills, but the generous contributions of our voluntary subscribers allow us to bring you far more important and unbiased information. If you value what we do, please join these readers by pledging your support.
Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• Towing in the dirt – Be careful of your “fog”.
• Do not buy any RV without a thorough inspection.
• Buying a new RV? The lowest price isn’t always the best buy.
• Get your rig “toad” out of trouble.
• Not boondocking? Here’s a way to save some money.
Good Sam tells Pilot/Flying J to end big diesel discounts to RVers
In last Sunday’s issue we sang the praises of the TSD RV Fuel Program, whereby members receive substantial discounts on diesel fuel purchases when fueling up at network truck stops. What we didn’t anticipate was the uproar from the Good Sam Club after our story appeared. Good Sam demanded the TSD discount be disallowed at Pilot/Flying J locations because it conflicted with its own exclusive program. Sadly for RVers, it comes up way short in saving them money. Read more.
Readers reveal their favorite RV mods or add-ons, Part 3
About a month ago we asked you about some of your favorite things you’ve done to modify your RV. We got dozens of emails and comments, so now we’re back with Part 3. Read about these great ideas here. Then please share what have you added or done that is far and away the best tweak to your RV.
Dogs show off their cute little RV doggie houses
By Emily Woodbury
According to a recent study by ThisIsMadeUp Inc., 52 percent of human RVers are over the age of 60 and 32 percent are under the age of 65. Additionally, 4 percent of those RVers are dogs, 2 percent are cats, and 2 percent have feathers (birds). The substantial number of RVing pets is surprising: In previous years RV sales to pets had declined. With an increase in sales, we wanted to know how our non-human counterparts feel about their homes on wheels. We interviewed some pets of the BARK (Best Adopted RVing K9s) Organization. Here’s what they had to say.
A sundial has the fewest moving parts of any timepiece. Which timepiece has the most moving parts?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday News newsletter.)
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• Battle brewing between campers, RV parks on electricity usage (Almost 200 comments!)
• Marcus Lemonis explains sometimes slow service at Camping World
• Video: Why loading a trailer improperly can lead to danger
• Hubby worried wife’s “navigation” in RV will get them stuck
• What’s old is new again: Shepherd wagons
Given coronavirus concerns, have you cut back on participating in activities involving crowds?
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.
Readers tell us (What we learned about you last week)
We analyze what we learned about you and fellow RVers from our reader polls and your comments.
• Do you or your partner use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea? (Important warning about cleaning your machines.)
• Did you buy your current RV from Camping World? (This one sparked many comments!)
• How often do you have a wood campfire?
These are the most-sold RV-related products online. Click here to see what other RVers are buying.
A rewarding way to RV: Volunteer along the way
By Tim Slack
Growing up – and as grown-ups – my wife and I relished the outdoors: the mountains in California or Colorado, deserts in the Southwest, grasslands in the middle American states. Wherever we lived, we loved getting outside, whether day-hiking, backpacking for days or traveling with a small RV. As we planned our retirement, we wanted to continue to roam this country while giving back as an expression of our joy and appreciation of our public lands. Read more about this rewarding lifestyle.
RV Horror Story: RVer not happy with his motorhome
Some readers of RVtravel.com wonder why we complain so often about the poor quality of RVs being manufactured today. They say their RV works fine, so no problem. But not everyone’s RV works fine. Here’s just one example as posted on our RV Horror Stories group at Facebook. Read it here.
Funny camping photos and memes of the week
Last week we posted the first edition of our new feature, funny camping photos and memes of the week, which we’re finding mostly on the Camping Memes & Jokes Facebook page. Here’s another week of laughs in photos.
We recently asked you: Do you have a favorite campground or RV park? We published the results here, creating a guide for you of your fellow RVers’ favorite spots. We update this weekly, so please continue to tell us your favorite campground or RV park by commenting on this post.
New parks added this week in: Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and one in Canada.
Popular articles from last week
• This diesel fuel savings program is (was) for real.
• The dysfunctional RV industry and you. Part 3.
• Our first blow from the coronavirus.
• The dysfunctional RV industry and you. Part 4.
• A four-story tall RV…literally.
• Photo: Sad scene after motorhome gets run off the road.
• Funny camping memes and photos of the week.
• Warning! Don’t park in a wash!
• The dysfunctional RV industry and you. Parts 1 & 2.
• RV Shrink: RVer is having (2-legged and 4-legged) pack rat problems.
• RVelectricity: Is there anybody out there? Part 1.
• RV Doctor: RV spring shakedown primer.
• RV Tire Safety: Yes, you do need “bolt-in” metal valve stems with your TPMS.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, February 29, 2020.
WiFi endoscope lets you peep where your eyes won’t go
Ever wondered what the inside of your black water tank looked like? Is that “tank blaster” really doing the job? You can’t just eyeball the inside of the tank – or can you? With a flexible endoscope, you can run a tiny camera down for a “look around,” and get an eyeful of information on your tablet or phone. It’s pretty handy to have in the RV so check it out here.
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 • Free Campgrounds • NEW Budget RV Travel • NEWER RV Videos plus Texas RV Camping and Florida 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.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
Ask the RV Shrink
RV cabin fever – First-time snowbirds are bored out of their gourds
Dear RV Shrink:
The RV lifestyle is not at all as I pictured it in my mind. We are not full-timers, but we are spending the winter months in Arizona for the first time. We are parked out on beautiful BLM land just north of Organ Pipe National Monument. The weather is wonderful, the landscape is peaceful, the sunsets are gorgeous. So why are we bored out of our gourd? … What do other RVers do to keep themselves busy, happy and planted in one spot all winter? —Stir Crazy in Cactus Country
Say goodbye to goop!
Have you ever seen the sediment that collects in your water heater? You probably don’t want to. Camco’s water tank rinser is an easy-to-use gadget that is a must-have for any RVer. The tank rinser will get out all the yucky sediment that’s been sitting at the bottom of your water heater and, most importantly, will extend the life of it too. Read the many positive reviews, and get one for yourself here.
Ask the RV Doctor
What is loud thumping noise from RV propane regulator?
Our goal in buying a new travel trailer was/is to enjoy the outdoors, but we are experiencing a thumping sound anytime an appliance is utilized which runs solely off propane. I can adjust the tank selection valve slightly and it goes away, only to have it come back on when I adjust it back. … Read the rest of the question and Gary’s response.
Guide to RV surge protectors
From Mike Sokol: I’m going to encourage you to read this excellent article from TechnoRV on the various types of RV surge protection devices that are available and how they work. While I didn’t write this, I’ve spoken with one of the authors, Eric Johnson, many times about how they operate, what they protect, and selecting the proper surge protector for your RV. … [T]his is a well-written piece that’s applicable to just about any brand surge protector you’re considering for your RV. Read it here.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Is there anybody out there? Part 3. Mike needs your help to receive sponsorship support and keep his invaluable articles coming. Please complete these two quick polls to help guide his future articles.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
Be like Mike! Use this 3-light and digital voltage tester!
Mike Sokol says: “I found this nifty tester online and have been using it in a variety of voltage checking situations. It performs all of the 3-light tests for outlet polarity, open ground, open neutral, etc., as well as being a 3-digit digital voltage indicator. In addition, it performs a standard 5 mA GFCI safety test – which you should be performing on all of your GFCI outlets once a month (or at least once a camping season).” Read more about it here.
RV Tire Safety
Is it against federal regulations to change tires on an RV?
From Roger Marble: I have been following a series of posts on RV forums where people ask about changing tires (size, type, load range or cold inflation setting). Occasionally I run across some people … who make pronouncements on the “legality” of making any change in tires that I do not agree with. Other times I see a question like this one: “My research (curiosity vs. need) is that LT and ST tires are not sold in the same sizes, so changing RIMS would be required?” Read Roger’s response regarding all of the above.
STATE-BY-STATE FACEBOOK GROUPS
We have joined with Alan Warren of the RV Show USA in helping moderate dozens of Facebook groups, each devoted to travel in a specific state. If you participate in Facebook, you may want to join one or more of these groups. We use these groups as a source of news (which we pass along to you) and we gain hundreds of new subscribers a month from participating in these groups. You’ll find a directory here.
RV Short Stop
Celebrate Women’s History Month during March
During March, Women’s History Month, hundreds of events, exhibitions and road trips are highlighting women’s contributions to the making of the United States. What follows are just a few suggestions of where to begin your discovery of women’s amazing achievements. Read more.
For peace of mind, use a backflow preventer
Backflow happens when a fresh water system gets “cross-connected” with a source of bad water or other contaminants. You don’t want that! Prevent this from happening by using a backflow preventer. Here’s an affordable one. Use it and rest easier. (You can read more about backflow prevention here.)
RV Fire Safety
Check your brakes for drag and tires for “softness”
A dragging brake can create enough friction to ignite a tire or brake fluid. Some of the worst fires are those caused when one tire of a dual or tandem pair goes flat, scuffs and ignites long before the driver feels any change in handling. At each stop, give tires at least an eyeball check. When tires are cool, tap your duals with a club and listen for a difference in sound from one tire to the next. You can often tell if one is going soft.
Where are all the black RVers?
This past leap year weekend a nice black couple and their young daughter camped beside us in their diesel pusher. It brought to mind my question of many years ago, “Where are all the black RVers?”
As a Canadian, I wasn’t sure how to respectfully ask the question, but I did. “Gerome”, I’ll call him, said he didn’t know why I had not encountered them. He did not know why there were so few. Perhaps they are more in Texas and Louisiana. I refuted that as I have RVed through 48 states and 10 provinces, almost never encountering black RVers. …
Museum of the Week
Mill City Museum
At first glance, a museum about the history of flour may not seem all that interesting, but place a museum inside one of the world’s largest and most technologically-advanced flour mills (run by General Mills) and it may become more interesting than you thought. The history of flour, the mill, and the Minneapolis waterfront is told through colorful exhibits and interesting stories. Take an elevator ride up the Flour Tower and enjoy the rooftop deck while learning the history of the architecture and surrounding scenes. Click here to visit the official museum website.
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.
Confirmed by fact-checker Snopes.com, if drivers adhere to the 45 mph speed limit on a stretch of Route 66 in New Mexico, the road’s rumble strips will play a rendition of “America the Beautiful.” The musical highway was created by the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) and National Geographic in 2014. The singing stretch of road is located just outside of the town of Tijeras in New Mexico. Here is a link to the article on Snopes.com, which includes videos and a scientific explanation of this musical highway in Smithsonian magazine.
Bumper sticker of the week
I’m not old. I’m chronologically gifted. —Thanks to Doug Warnecke.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
A couple went out for dinner in a fine restaurant. After being seated the husband noticed a woman a few tables over, sitting alone and drinking but not eating. There were several empty cocktail glasses in front of her and she could barely sit up. The husband kept glancing over and finally his wife asked, “Do you know her?” The husband replied, “Yes. That’s my ex-wife. When we divorced 7 years ago, I heard she took to drinking and hasn’t been sober a day since.” The wife replied, “My goodness. You would think the woman couldn’t go on celebrating that long.” —Thanks to Mike Sherman.
“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.” —Henry Anatole Grunwald
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: Russ and Tiña De Maris, Emily Woodbury. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Bob Difley, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Greg Illes, 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.
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. Learn more here.
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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