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April 25, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury
Our lives will be a lot different for a long time. “Normal” as we knew it will not return May 15, or anytime this summer. Maybe in a year we’ll gain some freedoms, but until a vaccine is available, how we live will be altered in ways that none of us can now imagine.
If you want to know what we are up against with the incredibly nasty virus we’re dealing with today, read the book “The Great Influenza,” the story of the 1918 Pandemic. It’s estimated that about 500 million people worldwide were infected and that between 50 and 100 million died — three to five percent of the world’s population. More than 4,500 people died in Philadelphia alone the week of Oct. 16, 1918. Local officials allowed a big parade to go on rather than cancel it, and deaths began to soar just days later.
My great-grandmother and great-uncle died in that pandemic.
Every Mayor, Congressman, Senator, Governor and the President should read this book. It’s eerie how much of what occurred then rings true today. It provided me with a far better understanding of what we’re up against and how we should deal with it. Despite the catastrophic effect self-isolation is having on the economy, there is no other way, short of a vaccine, to stop the spread of the vicious disease. COVID-19 has already taken the lives of two people I know, including our columnist and my good friend Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor. When you lose a friend or family member, the pandemic becomes all too real!
THE THOUGHT OF NOT RETURNING SOON to my previously normal life is difficult to imagine. I feel like a prisoner in my RV. I have written many times of what a charmed life I have lived. Many of us, I believe, who were born into the middle class in North America in the mid-20th century can say the same. And now, for the first time ever, our freedom has been taken from us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like that one bit. Part of me wants to scream “unfair!” But then I remember that I am far better off than countless millions of others. I have a job, I have food and I have a comfortable place to live. How can I feel even a tiny bit of self-pity? I have no right!
The RV industry is spouting PR happy talk about how everything will soon be back to normal. That’s a nice thought, but it’s a fairy tale. How can it return to normal when there’s a virus out there that can stop us in our tracks so easily, and that has already cost more than 26 million Americans their jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that about half of all small businesses in the United States have temporarily closed their doors. Most are mom-and-pop operations, where the owners have busted their behinds for years, created jobs, and in many cases struggled financially all the while to pursue their dreams. Talk about unfair!
Most of the readers of this newsletter are of an age that makes them prime targets for infection. Personally, it will be a long time before I sit in a crowded movie theater, restaurant or sports stadium. I’m not headed to any RV shows or rallies anytime soon, and I know I am not alone.
For now, we need to hunker down at home or in our RVs, catch up on reading, maybe take up a new hobby, and be thankful that we and our families are safe.
If you think what I have written here is just a bunch of negative mumbo-jumbo, then check back in two or three months. If I am right, then you may gain some confidence in my use of a crystal ball. If I am wrong, then I will deal with the massive amount of egg on my face and toss my crystal ball into a dumpster.
For you, for now, please be careful! Be safe! Wash your hands often. And if you have a few dollars to spare, donate some to your local food bank. Oh my goodness — millions of people, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs and suddenly can’t pay their rent or feed themselves or their children — please help them if you can.
We are all in this together! Fight the invisible enemy with all you’ve got! Let’s come out the other side as kinder, stronger, better people.
LET’S DREAM A LITTLE. . .
Most of us are stuck at home now or self-quarantined in our RV. We’re not traveling with our RVs except to go from one place to another to wait out the coronavirus threat. We think that means there’s a whole lot of daydreaming going on about where to go when things return to normal. So we have a question for you: What RV trip is at the top of your bucket list? Is it an adventure to Alaska via the Alaska Highway? Or maybe you’d rather get your kicks on Route 66? Are there National Parks you’ve never seen but yearn to? Read more and consider sharing your dream trip with your fellow RVing readers.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• Economic forecaster predicts RV industry will travel a “long and bumpy road” to recovery.
• Almost 231,000 bridges in the U.S. need repairs – and that’s not all!
• Person who defaced sites in Death Valley NP in January turns himself in.
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • 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.
I am an odd number. Take away a letter and I become even. What number am I?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday News newsletter.)
Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
Keep “virus-safe” at the fuel pump
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Some states are already relaxing restrictions put in place to curb coronavirus. While life may never really be the same as it was before the pandemic, one thing is clear – Americans are hankering to get back to travel. The fallout in oil prices has made for the lowest costs at the fuel pump in decades. But how can you fuel up and keep safe from COVID-19? Find out here.
Wind storm uproots trees, crushes RVs. See video (may be disturbing!)
Oh, my goodness! This truly is every RVer’s nightmare – a thunderstorm creates powerful winds blowing at 80 miles per hour. In this case, trees were ripped out by their roots, and then toppled onto RVs, trucks, cars and park buildings. Large hail damaged roofs and RVs’ siding. It happened Monday night at Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City, on Lake Martin in Tallapoosa County, Alabama. Watch the video.
Dear friends say goodbye to Gary Bunzer
By Mark Zepp
My wife, Amber, got the text message we had been fearing on April 17 at 9:50 p.m. Our dear friend had lost his month-long battle with COVID-19. Gary Bunzer was a living legend in the RV Industry. Over his decades-long career, under the byline “The RV Doctor” he wrote thousands of articles, produced numerous videos and gave countless seminars to thousands upon thousands of people on virtually anything that had to do with RVs. Continue reading.
Here’s something Gary wrote about his dad, George, a few years ago. It also gives us good insight into Gary and part of the reason why he will be missed by so many people. At the end of his tribute to his dad is a link to a song Gary wrote about him. The words could apply to Gary, as well. (He’s not the lead singer in it, but he’s playing his guitar.) A beautiful song and tribute to his dad – and to Gary, a most kind and generous man with a gentle soul.
Many places you can shop for huge savings right now…
Since most retail stores are closed, many have turned to their online stores to promote huge sales. If you are in the market for something new for yourself or your RV, now may be a good time to buy. Here are some stores having big sales right now.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• “Real ID” Act may soon complicate RVers’ lives
• Hitch Pitch: Take the pain out of RV leveling
• Tire brand confusion: Who makes which RV tires and where?
• How common is RV drivers’ road rage, and what can be done about it?
How would you describe your mental health in these troubled times?
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.
Who is responsible for educating the RV park idiots?
By Rosanne Drechsel
There are so many things to love about camping and just as many opportunities to enjoy it safely. … We have camped for fifty years, the most recent five years as full-timers. … We have watched, and sometimes helped with, setup and take down procedures – trying our best to educate and share helpful information. Unfortunately, again this morning we watched an RVer perform his take down and pack up procedures using techniques that made no common sense. Read more.
Dometic’s new compressor-run refrigerator. Is it right for you?
Need a new RV refrigerator – or just tired of your old-style absorption unit? Dometic may have what you need. The new DMC4101 model tosses out LP gas-fired technology for an electric compressor cooling system. Unlike residential units touted by the RV industry, Dometic says it’s reevaluated and come up with a technology especially designed for RVs – one based on a 12-volt variable speed compressor. Learn more.
This campground is top secret. Do you know where it is?
We know of an amazing, beautiful, free campground. The campsites are underneath three-tiered waterfalls, and they’re so private you can’t see your neighbors. There are doves that bring firewood straight to your door. The bears are so friendly they offer to cook and clean and wash the dishes. And the river is overflowing with trout – you don’t even need a fishing pole! Where is it?
Want to downsize? Sell your stuff on eBay
By Chris Guld
We sold our house in 2003 and moved into an RV. First we packed the RV with whatever we needed. When that was done, everything else had to go! … I can’t say it was easy – sometimes it was gut-wrenching – but when it was done we were free. Free to go where we wanted and do what we pleased. Get more tips on how to become “free” here.
RV crime video: A look back at the great L.A. motorhome chase
Stuck in the house? Getting a little bored? How many hands of solitaire can you play? If you need a few minutes of rollicking drama involving an RV, here’s your chance. May marks the one-year anniversary of a police chase across the freeways and surface streets of Los Angeles that saw a reportedly stolen Class A motorhome in a demolition derby-like chase scene. Read more and watch the chase here.
Tip: An easy windshield de-bugger!
Here’s a tip from one of our readers, A. Fisher: Bugs making suicide runs on your windshield? Get an 8-ounce (or so) container of Rain-X washer fluid additive and just add it to your windshield wiper fluid – works great without all that work! There’s also Rain-X Bug Remover (not concentrated) that does the job. Driving down the road and collecting bugs? Don’t wait for the next fuel stop – just use the windshield wipers!
California mountaintop beacon shines again to honor COVID-19 heroes
The historic beacon atop Mount Diablo in Mount Diablo State Park once again illuminates brightly in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Through the cooperative efforts of California State Parks and Save Mount Diablo, the beacon will continue to shine from sunset until sunrise each Sunday until the crisis is over. Read more.
Take a look inside this incredible retro RV!
We’ll bet you a brand-new Airstream that you’ve never seen anything as neat as this before! Arno van der Naald (in Belgium) posted these photos of his RV on the We love Old Campers and Motorhomes Facebook page. He writes, “Here [is]an impression of my ’71 Van Hool. It used to be a city bus in Brussels, Belgium. Built it 5 years ago.” He explains to a commenter that it does indeed run and drive. So cool! [I’m ready for a butterscotch malt, too thick to slurp through the straw! —Diane]
Semi sideswipes trailer – enough to ruin your whole day
With so many folks on lockdown, the road outside has been awful quiet. But digging back into history, we found this “sad tale of woe” from a couple who, last December, were minding their own business until they got an unexpected – and most unwelcome – visit from a semi-truck towing a stock trailer. Here’s the one-minute (cringe-worthy) video.
Your views from quarantine: What’s out your window? Part 2
With Emily Woodbury
👍 A few weeks ago I asked you to send us a photo of the current view out your window or door. As I mentioned when I posted the first batch of photos last week (you can see them by clicking here), I received about 200 photos (and you’re still sending them – thank you!). Not to mention the comments in last week’s post were so encouraging, I’ve decided to bring you round two. Plus, I just wanted to share more of your wonderful photos anyway. 🙂 See part 2 here.
Popular articles from last week
• Update on Virginia RV park devastated by governor’s shut down order.
• FMCA struggles to retain members and cope with lost income.
• Video: Take a spin in a toy hauler? We don’t think this is what they meant…
• Your views from quarantine: What’s out your window?
• Full-time RVers in a bind. Here’s how you can help.
• RV Electricity – Surge protectors: basic vs. advanced.
• RV Life in a Coronavirus World: A story of a converted school bus and wild cows.
• Have a good laugh: “My Self-Isolation Quarantine Diary”
• Hilarious! Couple sings, “Baby it’s COVID outside!”
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, April 18, 2020.
• RV Shrink: Becoming an RV “trunk popper” during the pandemic.
Let your drill clean your RV, really!
This is so neat! This 4-piece cleaning brush attachment connects right to your drill – no more scrubbing for you! Deep-clean virtually any surface with hardly any effort. The drill brushes are perfect for grout lines, corners, tiles, tubs, showers, carpets, wooden furniture, windows, shower doors, siding, linoleum, stoves, counters, fiberglass, grills, marble, and more. You can even wash your dishes if you want! Learn more or order 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.
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
RV preppers in training – all about freeze-dried food
Dear RV Shrink:
I noticed in the comments of last week’s column that a reader named Tumbleweed suggested RVers stock up on freeze-dried food. Have you ever tried the stuff? Is that a good idea? Does it taste like cardboard? I’ve never heard of it before, but have been looking into it. Just thought I would get your two cents’ worth. —Future Prepper in Peoria
You must keep road flares in the RV for emergency
You should always have road flares in your RV in case of an emergency. This pack of three bright, waterproof and shatterproof LED disks are perfect to keep tucked away. These bright lights can be seen from a mile away and can be used for traffic control, as a warning light or as a rescue beacon, and they can also be used for recreational activities such as camping and hiking. Learn more or order here.
RV Education 101
Determining your RV’s pivot point
With Mark Polk
It doesn’t matter if you are driving a motorhome or towing a trailer, every vehicle has a pivot point. The pivot point is a fixed point on the vehicle at which the vehicle rotates around when making a turn. It sounds more complicated than it is. Read more.
What’s all the noise about generators?
Are the so called RV-Ready generators any quieter than the contractor generators you’re always talking about? The salesman at the store says they are, but I’m a little leery of spending my hard-earned money on something that’s going to be too loud to use while boondocking. I’ve already added solar panels, but I might need to run a generator for an hour a day to charge my batteries if the sun doesn’t shine. …
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
How much power do I have? A reader wonders why the circuit breaker keeps tripping in the house from a trailer hooked up in backyard where wife, a health care provider, is staying to protect her family.
RV Tire Safety
Can a tire blowout be “contained”?
Every few months someone posts a question on one of the numerous RV Forums Roger Marble monitors, asking if it is possible to prevent the damage done to the RV when a tire fails and has a belt separation or comes apart from a sidewall Run Low Flex failure. Here’s a bunch of information on that topic, as well as on the use of a TPMS.
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.
Strengthen your hands, fingers and forearms
Here’s a great, easy way to build up the strength in your hands, fingers or forearms. Perfect for RVers. If you suffer from arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis or tennis elbow this is for you. It’s also great for simply building up the strength of your grip. This is a best seller and costs about $8. Learn more or order.
Building an RV Park
We’re still waiting!
By Machelle James
I have to admit, writing an article for you every two weeks is sometimes a challenge. Since everything is still frozen financially, we continue to do work that we can on our own. We have pulled out more than 20 tree roots with the help of our friends that have their RVs up here to visit when they can. Read more.
The RV Kitchen
Bake your breakfast. Assemble this dish a day ahead only if you wish. It’s creamier if soaked overnight. Then have that first cup of coffee while waiting for this hearty breakfast to come out of the oven. It’s very rich in fiber. As little as a scant cupful, topped with milk or yogurt, is a fill-up. Get the recipe. [This sounds delicious! Can’t wait to try it! —Diane]
The Digital RVer
Isn’t it time to start that travel blog you’ve been talking about?
By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour
Most RVers keep notes of some kind when they travel – maybe in a paper notebook, maybe on Facebook, maybe by sending out emails. You’ve been meaning to put them all together, maybe even make a book out of them, right? During this pandemic with orders to Stay Home, you might just have the time to do it. Find out how simple it is here.
Keep insects and bird nests out of your RV furnace
Wasps, mud daubers, birds and rodents pose a serious threat to the furnace on your RV. They can enter through the furnace vents. Their nests can interfere with air flow and cause serious damage. Camco 42141 (Model FUR 200) Flying Insect RV Furnace Screen fits Duo-therm and Suburban furnace vents. Camco offers several furnace screens so check which one will fit your vent. Learn more or order.
Back in the day…
What do you know about the history of RVing? RV history expert Al Hesselbart shares some fascinating stories:
What might be the early prognosis for campers in June, July, August and September across the nation? I had plans for a trip on the Mother Road in July from Joliet, IL, to Oatman, AZ, then north to Vegas, Tahoe, N/E Washington state, Southern Idaho, Utah, and East on I-70 to Ohio. Would you think this might come to fruition? —C.A. Ramkey
You could probably do the trip, but it would be difficult to find places to stay, and many businesses, museums, parks, etc., will likely still be closed, which I think would lead to a lot of frustration. I’d highly recommend postponing the trip for a year.
Facebook Groups of Interest
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 • Free Campgrounds • Budget RV Travel • RV Videos • RV Coronavirus News • plus Texas RV Camping and Florida RV camping.
Here’s an idea for you while you’re self-quarantining: Record your family history on your iPhone or video camera. If you want some inspiration, we recommend you get the book To Our Children’s Children. It will prompt many ideas of what to talk about. Your children and grandchildren will appreciate this when you are gone. Think about it, wouldn’t you love it if your parents could have done this for you?
The word “whiskey” comes from Ireland and Scotland. The Gaelic word usquebaugh is an adaptation of the Latin phrase aqua vitae, which translates to “water of life.” The earliest account of making whiskey is in Scotland in 1494. By the way, Scots and Canadians spell whiskey without the e; the Irish and Americans spell it with the e.
Bumper sticker of the week
Turn signals – not just for smart people. —Thanks to Jaye Jeffress!
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
This is it. The day your dogs have been waiting for. The day they realize their owners can’t leave the house and they get you 24/7. Dogs are rejoicing everywhere. Cats are contemplating suicide.
“A lie can travel half-way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” —Mark Twain (Thanks to Tom Speirs!) [Editor: And that was even before the internet!]
WHAT IS IT? (from above) A rug beater, of course. They were used from about 1880 through the 1920s for cleaning carpets and area rugs. The rugs were hauled outside, hung over a line, and pounded on with the beater until the dirt and dust were gone.
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, Richard Mallery, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, Bob Difley, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
FOREVER IN OUR MEMORIES — OUR STAFF MEMBER IN HEAVEN. Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor.
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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