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April 18, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury
Sometimes these days I get so overwhelmed with the events of my life that I go into mild panic mode. It’s not disabling by any means. I just get frazzled, overloaded. My cork wants to pop. I have the urge to pound my fist against a wall or pull out my hair. I bet a lot of people, maybe you, feel that way at times.
Another week has flown by since we met here. I remain locked down in Kingman, Arizona — Gail, me, and our little canine pal, Archie. Gail and I are fortunate: We have an income, a comfortable place to shelter (our motorhome), and wide-open space behind us with trails where we can escape and forget for awhile that the world is upside down.
Everyone I talk with is making the best of their situation. The evenings are warmer now, so Gail and I sit outside on our lawn chairs and enjoy the sweet-smelling, soothing air. Sometimes a bottle of wine mysteriously joins us. Neighbors walk by, usually with a dog or two. Some pause to talk (not the dogs, of course). On his long leash, Archie sniffs his canine visitors. It sometimes occurs to me that we humans should be thankful we do not greet each other the same way as dogs.
All of us, at least most of us, I believe, are in a state of both disbelief and even denial about what is going on in our world. None of us has ever experienced anything like what we are experiencing now — essentially, being ordered to avoid contact with our fellow human beings for an indefinite time. It’s difficult, for me at least, to truly comprehend the situation. Oh, we are accustomed to adjusting to misfortune — the aftermath of a hurricane, tornado, wildfire or earthquake. But then, after a week or a month or two, normal life returns, or at least begins to return. Most of us can vividly recall September 11, 2001, when the world changed. But a month later, for most of us, our day-to-day lives were largely back to normal. Who knows when our lives today will do that?
My mood varies from very sad to very happy. I am sad about people who have lost their jobs. I’m sad about people who are sick with the virus and the families who have lost a loved one. I’m sad and very stressed that my neighbor and close friend Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, is headed into his fourth week in intensive care on a ventilator. Everybody loves Gary and that’s because Gary loves everybody. I am so fortunate to have such an incredible person as a friend. I want him back! Now!
I am so happy about my daughter, Emily, and very proud of her. She is turning into an incredible editor right before my (virtual) eyes. I marvel at her writing skills – far better than mine at her age. Every week that passes she learns a new trick that makes this newsletter and our website more interesting. When I am feeling down, I think of her, and my mood improves. I am thankful she remains healthy, isn’t struggling with her finances, and has adjusted so well to isolation.
THERE IS MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR – our own health, our families’ and friends’ good health, and all the doctors, nurses and others who are helping us, often putting themselves in danger. A few minutes ago, a cheerful young woman named Teresa, mid-20s, delivered the groceries we ordered online last evening. She’s out in the community every day, dealing with people, along with millions of other retail employees and public servants. I salute them all. When you meet such a person, say “Thank you for your service. You are my hero.” Do you know how good that will make them feel? Do it!
One positive thing about what is happening now is I can read the news without seeing yet another photo and gossip story about Megan and Harry. Or about other “celebrities” — most here today, gone tomorrow — who seem to only have a first name these days. Right now, the people we should celebrate, and who should be celebrated, are the people fighting the battles to defeat our virus enemy. The fact that some hack actor is dating some hack actress is meaningless. Who cares?
Damn! This is a tough time! But we will get through it, and we will be wiser for it.
I thank you for continuing to read this newsletter and our website. We’re here only because you are here, and for that my staff and I are incredibly thankful.
Now, go wash your hands!
FRIDAY NIGHT UPDATE: GARY HAS DIED
I am writing this late Friday evening. I have just learned that my dear friend Gary Bunzer has died from COVID-19. Read more.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• Major RV manufacturer reopening Indiana plant.
• Texas reopens its RV parks.
• Police want your help finding two missing children, perhaps traveling in a fifth wheel trailer.
• Have you seen this woman, traveling in a Four Winds motorhome? She’s suffers from dementia. Help find her.
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV shows (or not) • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …
We need your support now more than ever
RVtravel.com is working overtime to bring you the news about how the current pandemic is affecting the lives of RVers. In the meantime, more than half of our advertisers have stopped their campaigns due to necessity. We are able to continue because of our nearly 5,000 readers who have become voluntary subscribers. Please consider making a pledge today, no matter how modest. FROM THE EDITOR: If you are being hit financially by the pandemic, please take care of yourself: don’t worry about us. But if you are doing okay, we could use your help.
Rearrange the letters, O O U S W T D N E J R, to spell just one word. Can you do it?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday News newsletter.)
Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• What size is your RV awning?
• Zoning in your brake controller for optimum trailer braking.
• Use creative exercises to tune up your life.
• Why use a brake controller?
• RV electricity: Reader asks meaning of AC power.
Update on Virginia RV park devastated by governor’s shut down order
Two weeks ago we told you about Andy Zipser and his Walnut Hills Campground & RV Park in Staunton, Virginia. Literally overnight, his business was turned upside down by the Virginia governor’s order to shut down the park to all but long-term visitors. The family-run business had to scramble to stay afloat after refunding tens of thousands of dollars of deposits and cancelling hundreds of reservations. In today’s issue, owner Andy Zipser updates us about how things are going. You’ll feel his pain, and shake your head at the bureaucratic mess the government has created for him (and others) in order to get aid that he’s entitled to. Read more.
FMCA struggles to retain members and cope with lost income
FMCA, the Family Motor Coach Association, is in the midst of a perfect storm — a decline in memberships and an estimated loss of $700,000 in potential income from the cancellation of its two international rallies in 2020. Fewer members are re-upping their memberships and new memberships are way down. Learn more.
Your views from quarantine: What’s out your window?
With Emily Woodbury
Last week I asked you to send us a photo of the current view out your window or door. In these weird (weeeeeird) times, I thought it might be nice to share each other’s views. Perhaps two of you are next door to each other and don’t even know it! I (and the rest of the RVtravel.com staff) so enjoyed looking through all the submissions. We got about 200 emails with beautiful photos attached (thank you!). Enjoy some of the photos here.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• How to keep rodents out of your RV
• Using basic courtesy when boondocking is good for all RVers
• Husband wants to keep moving; Wife wants some “downtime”
• Do you have “big wheels” on your car or tow vehicle? Why?
Are you doing your major grocery shopping online to be delivered to you?
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.
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.
Seeing more wildlife lately? There’s a reason for that…
Are people seeing more wildlife moving into neighborhoods and parks vacated by people during Colorado’s stay-at-home order? Or are people simply seeing wildlife that’s always around during hours when we are typically at work? A Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist says the human quarantine would have to continue for years to get wildlife to truly change their behaviors. Learn more.
Video: Take a spin in a toy hauler? We don’t think this is what they meant…
This toy hauler driver took “Take it out for a spin, won’t ya?” a little too literal. Maybe they forgot they were driving the RV and thought they were driving one of the “toys” in the back? Check it out.
Reader’s favorite recipe: Lisa’s Strawberry Cake
By Emily Woodbury
If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you’ve probably noticed the empty baking aisle. I mean, who doesn’t turn to a fresh-baked loaf of carbs during times of stress and unease? I’m not judging… Anyway, reader Lisa Adcox sent us this recipe and I figured I’d pass it along to you. What better time to make a strawberry cake (and this one sounds especially yummy)?
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. Chuck and Gail bought one too and love it! Learn more or order.
Full-time RVers in a bind. Here’s how you can help
“We [full-time RVers] are an entire segment of citizens who have been forgotten and overlooked. Many of us are currently being evicted from our campsites and forced to travel with nowhere safe to land. We aren’t vacationers, we want somewhere safe to hunker down and wait this out.” – Cathie Carr, RVer and President Emeritus of Escapees RV Club. Read this article from Russ and Tiña De Maris about what full-time RVers are facing, and what the Escapees RV Club, with your help, is doing about it. Please get involved.
Heading into Utah? Be prepared for the questionnaire
Utah officials want to keep the bug out of the Beehive State and so, to quell coronavirus, they’re asking folks crossing the border to fill out a health questionnaire. It all started April 9 when the state’s governor cranked out an order for it to all happen. And happen it did! Read more.
A little humor for heavy times…
There’s a lot of heavy stuff on the Internet and in the news right now. To balance that out, we’ve linked to a few funny articles we’ve recently posted. Enjoy the laughs!
• All bottled up! A hilarious story of an RVing newbie…
• Video: Hilarious dog gives quarantine advice
• The strangest road sign we’ve ever seen…
• How one RVer figured out how to never do laundry again
• Here’s the stinkin’ plan to get free food
Popular articles from last week
• Oh, the horror! Sewer tank overflows while RVer is away.
• Have a good laugh: “My Self-Isolation Quarantine Diary”.
• Products we tested – and which later failed.
• Is your RV theftproof? Here are some tips.
• RVelectricity – Free Southwire meter kit contest this week.
• UPDATED: Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, fighting COVID-19.
• Toilet paper – the softer side of the coronavirus crisis.
• Ford recalls pickup trucks, SUVs that may roll on their own.
• Building an RV park: We met the neighbors … again!
• Hilarious video: Trust no one! (This 6-second video never gets old.)
• RV Tire Safety: Things to do with your RV while not traveling.
• What happens when freedom is taken away from RVing nomads?
Now is a perfect time to get rid of that goop!
For less than $10, you can extend your water heater’s life! Have you ever seen the sediment that collects in your water heater? 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.
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 • Budget RV Travel • RV Videos • RV Coronavirus News • 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.
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.
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.
Ask the RV Shrink
Becoming an RV “trunk popper” during the pandemic
Dear RV Shrink:
We don’t have enough storage space in our RV to stock up on food and supplies during this pandemic. My husband has a boatload of medical issues and we are social distancing to the extreme. The park we’re in is not too crowded, but people must think we are anti-social. We only go out at night to walk in the dark for exercise. We still see people socializing 6 ft. apart, but those activities still make us uncomfortable. …
Sta-Bil Rust Stopper stops rust and corrosion
Of the many gremlins that attack your RV, like mold, mildew, leaks and black streaks, rust is the gremlin that will attack your hand tools, spare parts, door hinges and other vulnerable metal surfaces and moving parts over time. STA-BIL® Rust Stopper prevents rust and corrosion by protecting metal surfaces with a long-lasting barrier while lubricating parts and tools to stop squeaks and sticking. Learn more in this article.
Hot off the press! Sign up for our RV Daily Tips Newsletter!
Every Monday through Friday you get a short, informational email from us delivered straight to your inbox. Inside each issue you’ll find: quick RV tips, popular articles, reader polls, RV thoughts, helpful resources, a website of the day, RV clubs and organizations, trivia, jokes and more! If you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe, but we doubt you’ll want to. Read Friday’s issue here and then sign up here.
Ask the RV Doctor
We are very sad to report that our columnist and dear friend Gary Bunzer has died. Read more.
Surge protectors: basic vs. advanced
I’m really confused about which type of surge protector to purchase for my RV. There are lots of smaller, inexpensive ones for under $100 that look pretty nice, but I see a bunch of larger ones called EMS protectors that are supposed to keep your voltage steady. Is that all true? So what exactly do you get for your extra $200 or $300 if you choose the EMS version over the cheap ones? —Peggy Sue
RV Tire Safety
Major expansion of Sailun production facilities announced
Modern Tire Dealer, a trade publication, recently posted an announcement that Sailun Group Co. Ltd. has started major expansions at two production facilities in China. Since many RVs run Sailun brand in 16″ and 22.5″ sizes, RV tire expert Roger Marble thought this information might be of interest to our readers. Learn more.
RV Short Stop
Visit America’s treasures “virtually” during National Park Week
Each April, National Park Week is set aside for America to celebrate our national treasures. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, April 18-26, 2020, is still a time for families to dream about hiking amazing trails and camping in the shadow of majestic mountains; reading about courage in America’s history and culture; and planning ways to volunteer and help out. Read more.
An easy way to tell if your RV is level
Reader Dale Lage says: I have mounted small adhesive levels on the dash and another either on the driver’s or passenger window (or both). This allows me to easily see how level I am from the driver’s seat when pulling in. If not level, it allows me to easily determine where to put my leveling blocks. Another plus, it gives me an indication of the road grade and lets me anticipate what gear I should be in before the transmission automatically shifts.” You can find some of those levels here.
RV Fire Safety
Check rubber fuel lines monthly
Rubber fuel lines are commonly used to connect metal lines to the electronic fuel injection system, or to the carburetor in older coaches. Check all the lines and connections between the fuel tank and the engine on a monthly basis. If there is any sign of a leak, have the lines replaced and the entire system inspected by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.
Museum of the Week
Chasing Rainbows Museum
Inside the Dollywood Theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Well, we’ll have “Jolene” stuck in our heads after this! The Chasing Rainbows Museum is a museum dedicated to the beloved Dolly Parton. Start your visit by hopping on Dolly’s tour bus and having your photo taken. Then, step inside to all things Jolene…er, Dolly. You’ll find rooms filled with personal items, such as outfits, records, wigs and awards (including her Grammys!), as well as several replicas of important places in her life: a replica of the cabin in which she grew up, a replicated church, a one-room schoolhouse where Dolly went to school, and more. There are tons of video tours on YouTube (like this very detailed one), so you can virtually visit if you’d like. Otherwise, plan your visit on the official museum website here.
‘Earthquake Putty’ keeps stuff in place
Do you have items in your RV you like to keep in place — on a table, bedstand or counter? You need this. Collectors Hold Museum Putty is designed to keep items secure in earthquakes! Hey, a moving RV is a constant earthquake! To use this, pull off what you need, roll until soft, apply to the base of the object then lightly press it to the surface. Later, it comes off clean. Learn more or order.
Anyone playing cards these days? (Anyone not playing cards these days?) The United States Playing Card Company is the largest manufacturer of playing cards in the world and sells more than 100 million decks of playing cards per year, including more than 20 million decks to casinos. BTW – Did you know that there are 2,598,960 million possible poker hands in a 52-card deck? (*Psst! Take a look at these beautiful National Park playing cards!)
Bumper sticker of the week
Wag More, Bark Less —Thanks to Marty Dagneau-Bates
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
“Baby it’s COVID outside!” This hilarious married couple, Sam and Diane, have come up with a parody for “Baby, it’s cold outside.” Click here for a laugh.
“This story is of unity. This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside, and we come together as a human race. We win. Love wins, every time.” —Taraji P. Henson (at the SAG Awards, but this is appropriate anytime)
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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