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July 11, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury
o you remember the song, “I Was Country, When Country Wasn’t Cool,” by Barbara Mandrell? Well, I could say pretty much the same thing, as in “I was RVing, when RVing wasn’t cool.”
Well, times have changed, and dramatically in the last few months, when the popularity of RVing has skyrocketed. It seems everywhere you look, in newspapers, magazines, TV and on social media, you find glowing reports of travel by RV. It’s “the thing” right now.
That uncool industry where I have worked for decades (where RVs in the past often sported “Grandpa’s and Grandma’s Playhouse” bumper stickers) is now very trendy. The pandemic has fueled many people’s desire to buy an RV and travel with it; RVing is the safest way to go. International travel, cruises and hotel stays are no longer an option for many.
Sales at RV dealerships across the country have boomed in the last couple of months, especially with first-time buyers.
DEALERS RUNNING OUT OF RVs
I attended a phone conference last Tuesday with about two dozen RV industry folks — mostly dealers, manufacturers and campground executives. What I learned was that nobody knows what’s coming next. The big topic of discussion was that with RV factories shut down or returning to limited production, dealer inventories are fading fast. One northern California dealer reported he normally had 150 RVs on his lot this time of year. This past Tuesday he had 10. A friend told me that a dealer friend of his would normally have 500 units to sell, but now has 180.
One dealer reported he and his staff were repeatedly explaining to eager buyers that some of the RVs they liked on the lot were not for sale, but were there for service.
TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, today’s first-time buyers are not providing trade-ins, which further depletes inventory. Some dealers are so desperate for RVs they’re buying them at auction at higher prices than before, which will likely mean higher prices back on the lot.
Qualifying for an RV loan is suddenly more challenging. One dealer said a credit score of 700 was mostly good enough for a loan a year ago, but now it’s more like 740, but even that’s not a sure thing. “I often have to turn to sub-prime lenders,” she explained. “Six months ago the customer would have got a better rate.” She said that more customers than normal are paying cash, which other dealers said, too.
As far as producing more RVs for dealers, who knows how that will be affected by what’s happening in Elkhart, Indiana, where 85% of all American RVs are made, and where COVID-19 cases are spiking? Will factories fully reopen or just manage limited production? Already masks are required. I wonder what it will be like building RVs in the mostly un-air-conditioned factories this summer, where conditions in Indiana can be brutal on hot and humid days. Wearing a mask in those conditions can’t be comfortable. How could that not impede worker performance?
So, much is going on. My staff and I will keep observing, and let you know what we find.
P.S. We debuted our new Beginner’s Guide to RVing Newsletter last Tuesday, and it will continue every Monday through Friday (read yesterday’s issue). If you’re just getting started RVing, you should read this. Sign up for a reminder email for each new issue.*
*We are now producing more than 650 newsletters a year, all about RVing! If you would like to support our efforts with a voluntary subscription, it would be most appreciated.
ALSO: Big contest starting July 25. Win a SoftStartRV air conditioner management device (value about $250) and other great prizes. Details, including a list of prizes, will be announced in this coming week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter (sign up).
HELP WANTED: We still have room for another paid writer to join our freelance staff, part-time — or full-time if you love to write and “get” what we’re doing. You must have experience writing on deadline for a newspaper, trade journal or news website. If not, please do not apply. If you are interested, email Chuck Woodbury at chuck (at) RVtravel.com
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• Walmart to debut Drive-In Movie Theaters in its store parking lots!
• RV sales are hot now – and they’re mostly to first-time RVers
• Toyota reigns as most reliable, best buy among used trucks
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV shows • Stolen RV report • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …
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Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• Stay safe on your RV roof.
• How to carry extra propane safely.
• RV Education 101: RV tire safety tip – Use a TPMS.
• How sewer backflow can get into your fresh water system.
• How to keep your RV’s fresh water tank fresh.
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
Even with an RV, there’s no escape from the outside world
By Andy Zipser
Midway through our eighth season as campground owners, I still get surprised by the many ways in which our little microcosm absorbs larger social issues and conflicts. From most campers’ perspectives, a campground is an opportunity to get away from the larger world and the numbing routine of everyday life — yet in making that escape, many campers haul all that baggage along with them. The result is that what should be an oasis from a fractious world instead ends up reflecting it. Continue reading.
Help keep “Mom-and-Pop” businesses alive
By Silvana Clark
The coronavirus has altered the way Americans are spending their summer. Many people seem resigned to have a “staycation” rather than fly on a long-awaited trip to Hawaii or Europe. Those of us lucky to own RVs have the freedom to travel while still practicing social distancing. So how about considering supporting local businesses whenever we travel? Here are some great, and fun, ideas.
Disney to reopen Florida parks. Good idea or bad?
Walt Disney World theme parks will open beginning today, July 11, for the Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15. … Here’s a look at some of the changes guests can expect. Also, please answer the included poll and let us know if you think opening is good idea right now.
Boondocking in a coronavirus world. Part 3: Freedom and civility
By Dave Helgeson
Last week we celebrated Independence Day and the freedom we enjoy in the United States. One of the freedoms we enjoy as RVers is the ability to go where we want, when we want. Another is the freedom to form and share our own opinions along with making our own decisions. However, with freedom comes responsibility, civility and understanding. Read more.
Disaster at the Dump Station
This man attempts to dump his rental motorhome’s black water tank (sewer tank) in this one-minute video. One big mistake was opening the valve quickly, instantly overwhelming the hose. Warning: This is disgusting, but if you’ve got the stomach, it just might make you laugh (perhaps a little nervously).
Workamping? There are more ways to make money from it than you think…
By Terri Nighswonger
Levi and Natalie Henley, of Henley’s Happy Trails, are experienced work campers who put pen to paper this spring to tell others about their workamping experiences. The book, “Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It,” gives some background on the couple, who have been full-time RVing since 2014, and lays out the time commitment, duties and pay of a number of popular job types. Read about workamping and this informative book here.
Do you have a blog you’d like RVtravel.com to host?
If we accept you, you’ll earn money from the first day you post. Tip: No blogs about “we went here and did this.” Good writing important. Submit your blog idea.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
A special offer allows you to get a free Popsicle if you exchange two Popsicle sticks for one Popsicle. Peter has 20 sticks. How many times can Peter get a free Popsicle?
(Shhh. Don’t give it away. Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday News newsletter.)
Time to cool off!
This compact, battery-powered, highly rated (the highest rated one on Amazon!), low-noise fan is just what you need to stay cool in your RV this summer. The rechargeable battery charges quick with a USB and will keep you cool for up to six hours at a time. Clip it to your table, bedside, driver or passenger seat or by your chair outside to stay cool. Learn more or order.
Do you believe voting by mail is a good thing?
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.
The most popular poll in this past week’s RV Daily Tips newsletter:
How good a student were you in high school? As promised, those who responded received an A. See the results from more than 2,100 readers, and read some interesting comments here.
What you need to know BEFORE buying a motorhome – Part Two
By Andy Pargh, The Gadget Guru
This is Part Two of a video series where I speak with Steve Zeigler, the Director of Bus Shell Sales of Prevost, and Gil Johnson, a well-known Prevost Motorhome Inspector. While the content in this video is slanted towards Prevost motorhomes, the information will be useful to anyone shopping for a variety of motorhome brands. Watch the video.
Are you managing your RV tanks? Part 1
By Jim Twamley
I’d like to address an important issue – tank management. Most RV’s have several tanks: fresh water, gray water, black water, hot water, propane and (for motorhomes) fuel tanks. Let’s deal with each one separately. Part 1 deals with the fresh water tank and the black water tank. Read it here.
Which state has the worst drivers? This new report ranks them all
For the fourth year in a row, Smart Asset has produced a report showing the states with the worst drivers. (Did the East Coast just pop into your head? Yes, for us too. But you may be surprised…) Learn more.
Fire-chasing weird RV conversion!
Most kids run to the sound of a fire engine siren, and those kids grown up probably do the same thing. There’s just something that compels some folks to chase after fire apparatus. Maybe that’s why those noisemakers are called “sirens.” Anyhow, grownups need hobbies, and maybe collecting fire trucks is one. Check out this fire engine RV.
No! No! No! This fifth wheel towing setup can’t be real! Or can it?
When you see this photo you’ll say, no way can that work safely, much less can it be legal! But the fact is, it is real and it was photographed at an Alberta gas station. Check it out. If you own a fifth wheel, please leave a comment with your thoughts. Does this really work, and safely?
Fireproof bag keeps valuables safe!
This silicone-coated fire-resistant bag will save your money, documents, jewelry, passport and other valuables from a fire. Its two layers of supreme fire retardant fiberglass material make it resist fire and heat up to 1000 ℉. It’s waterproof, too, so when the hoses arrive, your valuables won’t be harmed. Learn more or order.
Stay safe on your RV roof
The first rule of anything you do with an RV roof, even if to just check it out on a ladder, is to know your limitations and your comfort zone. … When you think you do need to get on the roof, here are a few safety precautions that are worth your time to follow.
Reader from South Africa shows off cute VW motorhome
RVtravel.com readers span the globe. Here’s an email and photo we received from reader Danie Fourie from South Africa. Read Danie’s note and see this cute RV here.
RVing: The joy of the unexpected
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
We find that a good part of the joy of RVing is running into the unexpected. Round the next corner, who knows, maybe you’ll happen onto a herd of antelope. There’s always that vintage gas station that looks like a coffee pot. But half the fun is seeing the reactions folks have to these strange turnings. So what did Russ and Tiña’s Southern friend have to say about this Northwest anomaly? Find out here.
YOU DO NOT (repeat: DO NOT) want to drive on this road
What’s the scariest road you’ve ever driven down? There are many of them across the U.S., but the road in this photo might just have them all beat… Check it out.
Never a dull moment for game wardens
What comes to mind when you think of game wardens? Fellows that ask to see your hunting or fishing license? A fellow who sits in his truck at the edge of the fishing hole, nodding off? In some places, maybe. But Texas game wardens evidently live an active and frequently challenging life. Witness a few tidbits from the lives of Lone Star State wildlife officials. Continue reading.
Forget buying a portable generator!
Use your car or RV engine to generate clean 110 power with a CarGenerator. It’s cheaper, more reliable, and so light even a child can lift it. Use to power your RV accessories, and recharge batteries for continued use of CPAP machines, etc. Perfect supplement to solar on cloudy days. At home, use for backup power when the power grid goes down. Learn more.
Popular articles from last week
• Recall: Some Forest River trailers have wrong weight information.
• What’s better for you: Class C motorhome or Class B van conversion?
• How to keep your RV’s fresh water tank fresh.
• Slide-outs for your galley make storage a snap.
• Full-time RVing: Learning how to “just roll with it.”
• RVelectricity: SoftStartRV update – Yes, it really works, and here’s proof…
• It’s checkout time, your RV has a problem, won’t move. What to do?
• This RV wouldn’t budge in a tornado!
• Use your RV air conditioner in low-power situations.
• Building an RV park: We met with the Board of Supervisors – Good news!
• How sewer backflow can get into your fresh water system.
SWELL CONTEST OF THE DAY
This could be your lucky day! The prize for this week will be a brand-new Travel Journal. Easily plan and record your routes, mileage, visited roadside attractions and more all in one place. To win find the secret phrase we published in one of this past week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletters. Simply email the phrase to us at RVcontests@gmail.com . We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (July 11, 2020) by 11 a.m. Pacific time. Remember, you can only enter once and after we notify you by email that you won, you have 24 hours to respond or we’ll give the prize to someone else.
LAST WEEK’S WINNER of their choice of these directories of free campgrounds, West edition or Heartland edition was: Selene Montgomery of Mears, Michigan. The previous week’s winner of the George Foreman 2-Serving Grill was Wayne Caldwell of Belen, New Mexico.
Our NEWEST Facebook Groups: RV Parks where you can fish without a license • RVing Fulltime • RVing with Dogs • Towing Behind a Motorhome • RVing with a Disability • RV Travel Tips • Trucks for RV Towing
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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.
Directory of RV parks with storm shelters
In case you’re on the road with your RV and the weather report is showing a tornado headed your way, have this list handy.
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.
BOONDOCKING THIS SUMMER? Run your RV air conditioner with a small portable generator. Learn more.
Ask the RV Shrink
Reader asks, “Are all absorption fridges inefficient?”
Dear RV Shrink:
We bought a new trailer and the refrigerator is not staying cold enough. We have had it in the shop where fans have been added, outside shades have been installed, and airflow inspected. Do all absorption refrigerators work inefficiently? …
RV Education 101
RV gray water tank maintenance tip
We always talk about black water holding tank maintenance, but seldom mention the gray water holding tank. The gray water tank requires some simple maintenance to keep it clean and odor free. Read more.
Let your drill clean your RV, really!
This 4-piece cleaning brush attachment connects right to your drill. Deep-clean virtually any surface. Perfect for grout lines, corners, tiles, tubs, showers, carpets, wooden furniture, windows, shower doors, siding, linoleum, stoves, counters, fiberglass, grills, marble, and more. Learn more or order here.
Hughes Autoformer – A cure for low campground voltage?
Not a week goes by without me receiving at least a few emails and questions about the Hughes Autoformer. This is advertised as a cure for low campground voltage, and its users are adamant about how great it works, and everyone else at the campground is shutting down while their own air conditioner is still working, etc.
Note that in the 2020 National Electrical Code any voltage boosting transformers have been made a violation of NFPA 1192, allowing campgrounds to force you to disconnect or leave. Continue reading.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Chiller? Cooler vs. refrigerator comparison. A reader wonders why their food wasn’t kept cold in a plug-in cooler.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
What valve stem to use with a TPMS – Part 2
As a follow-up to last week’s post of why Roger Marble recommends people NOT use rubber valve stems with their external TPMS sensors, he shows some of the “guts” of valve stems. He explains the attention to detail tire engineers go to when designing tires and when trying to understand the “why” for a tire to lose air. Learn more.
Roof vent not doing its job? Here’s a solution…
If you smell your toilet when driving your motorhome down the road, it’s because the odor is being drawn into the RV and not outside via the roof vent. The solution is to get an inexpensive 360 Siphon Roof Vent. It works for all RVs even when the RV is not moving, like in a campground. Keep the stink away.
RV Short Stop
Trees of Mystery – Popular outdoor destination in the Redwoods
Since the mid-’40s, the Trees of Mystery in northern California has been a favorite stopover for many travelers driving along U.S. Highway 101. This attraction sits in the center of Redwood National and State Parks. The outdoor location of the Trees of Mystery lends itself to a good family destination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.
RV Fire Safety
How many fire extinguishers for your RV?
While the National Fire Protection Association does not require that you carry more than one fire extinguisher, don’t take chances. One fire extinguisher is simply not enough. Fire and Life Safety instructor Mac McCoy recommends having at least two extinguishers inside of your coach — one near the door and one in the bedroom — and an additional one in an unlocked outside compartment or in your towed vehicle. Make sure that everyone traveling with you is trained to use the extinguishers.
Add a bathtub to your RV’s shower, it’s easy! Check this out.
My partner and I have just returned home to Arizona after an 8-day trip. Our first observation was how few people anywhere were wearing any masks including none of the owners/employees at RV parks we visited. That was very surprising, and frankly disappointing. Our other observation was the number “new” RVs that pulled in every evening, with temporary tags, fresh off the dealer lot. As Chuck has discussed many times, “Where will they all stay?” Read more.
Museum of the Week
Skeletons: Museum of Osteology
Oklahoma City, OK
Ever wonder how tiny a hummingbird’s skeleton is? Well, you’ll find out at this fascinating museum. The Museum of Osteology displays almost 400 skulls and skeletons from all around the world. Want to see the rarest skeleton? Check out the Sumatran rhinoceros… Wow! Check out the official museum website here and plan your visit. You won’t want to miss this one!
Readers’ Pet of the Day
(Many) Tips for RVing with pets
By Terri Nighswonger
If you are full-time in your RV, I’m sure you know more than a handful of neighbors that own pets. You might hear Fido barking or see Fluffy checking out the world outside her window. Whatever the species, there are many pets out there traveling with their owners. Continue reading.
If your dog or cat gets hot in the summer, why not buy them a cooling bed? There are tons of options available on Amazon, and Fido and Fifi will thank you!
Sometimes visitors at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, break the rules, and the law, by taking rocks home as souvenirs. But then, according to rangers, they often mail the stolen rocks back to the park, along with a note of apology.
Bumper sticker of the week
I am a nobody, nobody is perfect, therefore I am perfect.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Q: Why did the girl take toilet paper to the party?
A: Because she was a party pooper.
The best part of any RV trip is when you turn your ignition key and roll out of your driveway.
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, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, Bob Difley, Terri Nighswonger, Silvana Clark, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Social media director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
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