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August 22, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury
Anyone who has traveled with an RV for a decade or more will tell you about how one or more of their favorite places to stay is now fully booked these days, making a reservation necessary months, even a year ahead.
I have just returned home from a 10-day camping trip in a beautiful county park near my Seattle home. But in order to stay those ten days, I had to leave one weekend because the park was booked. I then returned, but to a campsite I didn’t like that much. I reserved the spaces two months ago, and even then available sites were scarce.
As I approach my 20th year of publishing this newsletter (and a decade of RV travel before as a roving reporter), I remember fondly the days when I never made a reservation. There was never a need, whether for a beautiful spot in a public campground or a full-hookup RV park.
I remember a newspaper reporter asking me years ago about my biggest decision each day. I told him it was whether to turn left or right after leaving the campground. It didn’t matter. I had no reservations. Wherever I ended up, I’d find a public campground or RV park with an available space. Many public campgrounds were still free or $5 or less a night.
Alas, our country has grown by 100 million people since I began RVing, from about 230 million to 330 million. The ranks of RVers have grown as well.
And now, with the explosion of RV sales — with many RV dealers’ inventories being wiped clean by frenzied consumers — campground crowding is worse than ever. Hardly a week passes that I do not hear from one or more long-time RVers who are hanging up their wheels — “It’s just too hard,” they say — too much of a hassle finding a place to stay. And good ol’ Walmart is not their idea of a meaningful experience with nature. “Hey, Honey, quick, look at the deer over there! Oops, sorry. It’s only a shopping cart!”
Building a new RV park costs $15,000 to $25,000 per full-hookup site plus land (hence why so many are alongside railroad tracks). That’s a huge investment for a business that may take years to turn a profit. No wonder there are few new parks. And, have you noticed that many new ones these days are “resorts?” KOA just opened its first “Glamping” park where guests rent a luxury tent for $300 to $400 a night. Want to stay with your RV? Sorry.
I believe the RV Industry Association and RV Dealers Association should do something more than push RV sales. They should do everything in their collective power to promote the creation of new campgrounds. As it is, they do virtually nothing. They are incredibly short-sighted — nothing new there. It’s a shame.
DID YOU SEE MY STORY LAST SUNDAY about the RV park where you can buy a site for a mere $400,000? Oh, you get a bungalow in the deal. But, come on, that kind of a park is not helping most of us who don’t have that kind of money to buy a small plot of earth, plus a half million dollars or more for a luxury motorcoach.
WHAT DOES THIS CROWDING MEAN?
A lot — a whole lot. Our freedom to go where we want when we want as still promoted by the RV industry is no longer true. Alas, those of us who have been around the RV scene will simply need to adapt, as most of us will. What else can we do? We love our RVs, and if we play the game smart enough, an RV life can still be better than living in one place and mowing our lawn once a week.
For me, though, I’ll use this newsletter and our website with its ever-growing reach to educate would-be buyers that crowding is a fact of life these days, and they need to understand that the freedom they dream about may be just that, a dream. If battling to secure a campsite is okay with them, then they can make the best of it and probably have a good time.
My staff and I are all ears about solutions to crowding. At the very least, with our big audience we can get people talking. We’ve advocated for the creation of low-cost campgrounds across America. But then the pandemic hit, and that idea, sadly, got sidelined, at least for now.
There are plenty of out-of-the-way public, primitive campgrounds that always have room. But they may be five miles down a dirt road, in an area without cell service, where, heaven forbid, a 21st Century Camper can’t post to Facebook twenty times a day. “Look at me standing by a pine tree!” “Look at me sitting in my lawn chair!” And there are millions of acres of wide open public land in the West, where you can boondock for months on end with a properly outfitted RV (lots of solar, etc.).
I loved the news item in last Sunday’s newsletter about how actor Jerry O’Connell went camping with this family in Yosemite. “Don’t ever go on an RV trip with your family,” he advised. “It’s non-stop fighting. I haven’t showered in a week. And how about ‘all the comforts of home?’ We tried to cook something last night but it didn’t really work out… so we ended up ordering a pizza… I’m in the only spot in all of Yosemite with, like, an ounce of WiFi.”
Do you feel his pain? Do you care?
AN INTERVIEW WITH YOURS TRULY
I was interviewed last week by Jason Epperson on the popular podcast RV Miles that he produces from the road with his wife Abby. We talked about the state of RVing today and what it means to RVers. My interview begins at the 13 minute mark. But don’t miss the segment about what Verizon has done to make life easier for RVers.
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• How an RV park blew its online rankings by picking a fight with the wrong campers.
• In the news: Did you know the temperature hit 130 degrees last week at a popular national park? We’ll tell you where.
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Stolen RVs (keep an eye out) • a reader survey • and much more …
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Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• RVers: Slow down and enjoy life.
• Another easy way to check propane tank levels.
• Keep RV ventilated, even when stored.
• Select your towed vehicle for all-around fun and utility.
• When boondocking, do you have a backup plan if something fails in the RV?
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
Clint has noticed that RV parks are starting to look like trailer parks of yesteryear.
As RVers are we “getting away from it all” or is the lifestyle “getting away from us”?
By Barry Zander
It’s crazy! If you haven’t been made aware of the sudden under-supply of campsites as RV sales skyrocket, it will become more apparent when you try to make a reservation. We picked out our preferred campground last week, Doheny State Beach in California, looking for a date in mid-September. We secured it for November. Had we waited two more days, that campground was full, and the next openings for more than a day or two is/was the week of February 11. The next campground was just as unavailable, and the next … Read more.
RVers and experts weigh in: What are the best days to travel?
By Nanci Dixon
A friend recently asked me which days we prefer to travel on. He said that they like to travel on Wednesdays because they avoid folks going out of town for the weekend and avoid those returning from the weekend or a long trip. That got me to thinking, “What days do RVers like to travel?” I found that travel days are a popular area of discussion among RVers. … Do you agree with Nanci’s findings? Let us know in the comments.
Boondocking in a coronavirus world. Part 5: Here’s a big variety of things to see and do
By Dave Helgeson
Due to the pandemic, more RVs are on the road this summer as families across the country have discovered RVing as a safer way to travel. While there are more RVs on the road, there are also fewer places to safely visit and activities to enjoy due to virus-related closures and social distancing requirements. … If you’re boondocking, here are several suggestions for things to see and do where you are at extremely low risk of contracting the virus. Read more.
Tips for Wi-Fi and cell data on the road
By Nanci Dixon
As many of us know, when we cut the cable to our internet and TV source, whether a weekend warrior or full-time RVer, our data life changes. Some of us realize how dependent we have been on technology – how hooked into our phones, tablets, computers we’ve been – and say, “Yeah, we are free!” For the rest of us, it can be like cutting off an appendage. Connectivity has become an integral part of our daily lives. Read how to improve your connectivity while RVing.
Wacky RVs of the Week
Here’s this week’s installment of some of the weirdest, wackiest, oddball RVs ever made. Get ready to laugh.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• The new American RVer – not a pretty sight
• Hard to believe an RV park hookup could be so stupid!
• The wordiest parking lot sign in America
• RV Tire Safety: Is a pickup tire better than a trailer tire?
The number 8,549,176,320 is a unique number. What is so special about it?
(Shhh. Don’t give it away. Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday News newsletter.)
How often do you camp where your nearest RVer neighbor is at least a mile away?
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 newsletters:
What kind of cell phone do you have? See how more than 2,200 other RVers responded here (and see how many don’t own a cell phone at all!).
Letter from 10-year-old RVer will touch your heart
You’ll fall in love with Poppy after reading this thoughtful letter she wrote to the new owners of the RV she had traveled in with her parents. We wish we could meet this wonderful girl. Read her letter.
Knowing this hidden key trick could save you a road service call
By Barry Zander
I just read a blog about someone who locked her key in the motorhome. What to do? When she reached in to unlock the door it set off the alarm that she didn’t know she had, and she still doesn’t know how to turn it off. Read Barry’s “secret sauce” here.
Storytelling: A pleasant RV spot, a mysterious gray van, and a whole lotta cops…
By Barry Zander
With red and blue lights a-flashing, into the campground came some of Yavapai County, Arizona’s, finest. They formed a circle, a la Wagon Train’s nighttime configuration, preventing anyone from escaping. Ah, the excitement of camping! You don’t want to miss this.
New blog: Crowded campgrounds
RV Travel readers chime in with their stories, and we try to make sense of how to deal with the huge new influx of RVers competing for a mostly unchanging number of places to stay. Read the first installment of this weekly blog.
Have you been to America’s “folksy-est” place?
By Barry Zander
Music, a cavern, more music, mountains, down-home culture and lots more music. Today we’re in Mountain View, Arkansas, in the heart of the scenic Ozark Mountains. While so many places have lots of reasons to be on “My Favorite Place List,” Mountain View is special. Find out why here.
Deer fly bites driving you nuts? Try this easy trick!
By Nanci Dixon
Deer flies … an RVer’s enemy! Deer flies can be unbelievably irritating at times. So bad you just really, really want to stay inside your RV and never get out. They bite! Hard! The “Bucket of Death” can help. Read how.
What’s dark, damp and beautiful? Go spelunking to find out
By Barry Zander
Shields, bacon, soda straws, drapery. Those are just some of the terms you learn when you descend into the depths beneath our world to go spelunking. While traveling throughout North America, we have been lured into the depths of the Earth by billboards that inform RVers that a cave or cavern lies just 120 miles down the road. Continue reading then plan your next spelunking adventure.
Airstream Touring Coaches – What you need to know – Part Two
This is Part Two of a four-part series entitled, What You Need To Know About Airstream Touring Coaches. In this series, Andy Pargh, The Gadget Guru, interviews Justin Humphreys, the Vice President of Sales of Airstream, Inc., and various topics are discussed regarding Airstream’s Sprinter Touring Coach Business as well as the specific models in the lineup. Note: This is not a commercial and no payments were provided Andy for the production of this video. Watch Part Two here.
Popular articles from last week
• Will moth balls repel mice from your RV? Here’s the verdict.
• Are you kidding? $400,000 for an RV site? Yup!
• RV dealers are running out of RVs. Service centers are jammed.
• Horrific blast wipes RV from face of the earth.
• The masked bandit that robbed our campsite and got away!
• Oregon state parks “temporarily” yank nonresidents’ welcome mat.
• 2020 Ford Expedition review: Big, bad***, expensive.
• Oh, an unimaginable horror! Be careful not to do this.
• Canada tightens travel restrictions from Lower 48 to Alaska.
• “We’re (finally!) towing a dinghy and loving it!”
• This innovative spring system improves your RV handling.
• Building an RV park: Surprise visitors, perc tests and off-roading, Oh My!
• How to make Google Maps more accurate.
• Nikola taking orders for Badger pickup; adds garbage truck to its electric truck fleet.
SWELL CONTEST OF THE DAY
How would you like to win this NOAA Weather Alert Radio? Well, this might be your lucky day! In last Monday’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter we published a secret phrase. Simply email the phrase to us at RVcontests@gmail.com . We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (August 22, 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 the terrific drone was Steve Tolbert, of Xenia, Illinois. The previous week’s winner of the cute Retro Travel Trailer Party Lights was Robert Beede of Summerville, South Carolina.
Our NEWEST Facebook Groups: • Casino Camping • Electric bikes for RVing • Crowded Campgrounds Discussion • RVers Who Just Bought Their First RV • RVing over 60 • RVing During the Pandemic • RV Tires with Roger Marble • Coronavirus News for RVers • 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
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.
Now, use your air conditioner in low-power situations never before possible!
At RVtravel.com we don’t see too many products that we go nuts over, but the SoftStartRV is a game changer. Here’s what it can do:
• Run two air conditioners on a 30-amp hookup (with two SoftStarts).
• Run one air conditioner using only a small portable generator.
• Run one air conditioner on 20-amp household current.
• Run an air conditioner or two using your onboard inverter system. Read more.
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.
You can’t call yourself a fan of RVtravel.com if you’re not signed up for our RV Daily Tips newsletter! The Daily Tips newsletter has it all: quick tips, popular articles, polls, a website of the day, clubs and useful organizations, trivia, a pet of the day, a joke, and so much more! Check out Friday’s issue, then sign up here.
The most popular roadside assistance program
More than 1.5 million successful roadside rescues. There are many choices available to RVers, but the Good Sam Club program remains the most popular year after year. Learn more.
Can I get shocked from a GFCI?
I felt a tingle from my RV when it was plugged into a 20-amp GFCI outlet at my friend’s cottage. He opened up the outlet box and we found there wasn’t a ground wire connected to it. This is a pretty old building that he says didn’t have grounded outlets to begin with, but an electrician replaced some of them with GFCI outlets. Is this safe or legal? Doesn’t a GFCI outlet need a ground to work? And why did I get shocked? Is the GFCI shocking me, or what? —Karl
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Why does my 30-amp plug overheat?
I’ve had my 30-amp plug burn up a few times in the last couple of seasons. Is it something I’m doing wrong, or something the campground is doing wrong? —Burt
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
More on tire cold inflation vs. “set pressure”
Roger Marble got this question from a reader of an RV Forum: “Thank you for all of your informed comments regarding proper tire care. I need one clarification. I have always considered the cold psi on the side of my 22.5 RV tires to be the minimum to carry the maximum rated load, but have assumed that psi was also the maximum COLD psi the tire should see. From your recent post, am I to understand that unless the tire states that it is the maximum cold pressure, I can exceed it by 5-10 psi? Thank you for your time. Doug” Read Roger’s explanation.
Turn your wall outlet into an extension cord
Wow, we wish we’d known about this sooner! How neat is this? This outlet cover plugs right into an outlet and doubles as an extension cord. If you’ve got a hard-to-reach outlet in your home or RV, this will help you out greatly. Learn more or order one (or two or three) here.
RV Short Stop
To view very colorful history, visit Las Vegas’ outdoor “Neon Boneyard”
The Neon Museum has assembled a singularly unique outdoor collection of amazing signs that together illustrate Las Vegas’ neon history. Since 1996, several hundred vintage neon signs have been gathered in this one electrifying display. These signs are amazing!
RV Fire Safety
Keep the fire extinguisher’s powder loose or it may not work
Invert and shake your dry powder or dry chemical extinguisher monthly to loosen the powder. The jarring of the coach while you travel down the road does not keep the powder loose; in fact, it packs the powder, which may make your extinguisher useless in fighting a fire. Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy
Keep those nasty mosquitos away!
What if we told you we had a solution for all those mosquito bites and bee stings? We do! This LED lantern (and flashlight) lures mosquitoes and other flying bugs and zaps them as soon as they fly up and touch it, providing a 16×16-foot mosquito-free zone. Neat, huh? Never swat away a bug again! It’s waterproof, non-toxic, and harmless to humans. Learn more or order.
Museum of the Week
The New Bedford Whaling Museum
New Bedford, MA
Thanks to the riches of whale oil, New Bedford was once the wealthiest place in America. The town obviously owes a lot to these gentle giants, so why not have a museum dedicated to them? The museum focuses on the art, culture, history and science of the whaling industry, and how it shaped this corner of our world. There are more than 750,000 items inside the museum, including logbooks from whaling ships, whale skeletons, art, model whaling ships and so much more. Visit the museum website to plan your visit.
Readers’ Pet of the Day
Keep Fido and Fifi cool! Check out this cooling water bowl that will keep their water cold for up to 15 hours.
A new survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that almost 41% of respondents in the U.S. are struggling with mental health issues due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the measures to contain it.
Bumper sticker of the week
“Honk if you like honking.”
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to editor(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Some camping tips from lovetheoutdoors.com:
• When using a public campground, a tuba placed on your picnic table will keep the campsites on either side vacant.
• The guitar of the noisy teenager at the next campsite makes excellent kindling.
• It’s entirely possible to spend your whole vacation on a winding mountain road behind a large motorhome.
• Bear bells provide an element of safety for hikers in grizzly country. The tricky part is getting them on the bears.
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, Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, Nanci Dixon, Barry and Monique Zander, Mark Gorrie, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Social media director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
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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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