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October 10, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury
ave you seen the photos of the giant cruise ships being ripped apart to be sold as scrap? If not, just look below at these ships being disassembled in a port in Turkey. These are not old ships being put out to pasture after a full life. No, they’re ships that would likely be sailing today if people could, or were willing to book passage again.
Carnival announced recently it will be unloading 18 of its ships this year – about 12% of its fleet. While some cruise lines will likely start sailing again, you can bet the number of passengers will be a fraction of years past. Meanwhile, air traffic is so bad that industry experts are just waiting around for some of the biggest airlines to go belly up. Right now, the world airline fleet numbers 25,900 aircraft, of which 29% were still parked as of last month. Boeing projected this past week that it will deliver 11 percent fewer jets in the next decade compared to pre-pandemic forecasts.
Amtrak PR people have contacted me repeatedly lately with special deals including two-for-one packages on roomettes.
My Edmonds, Washington, neighbor Rick Steves, who leads tours to Europe, has cancelled every tour for the remainder of 2020 and is unsure if he can even resume in 2021.
Meanwhile, RVs are selling faster than manufacturers can build them and there is no end in sight. Is it any wonder? RVing is the safest, most enjoyable way to travel these days. How could we have ever envisioned such a monumental jump in its popularity even a few years ago?
A friend of mine in the advertising business told me last week that one of his clients who normally had a few hundred RVs on its sales lot has 12 today. It’s the same across the country.
I asked another friend who promotes several RV shows if any would be coming back in 2021. He doesn’t know. But he said one show in his area was prepared to open again, but won’t because dealers don’t have any inventory to bring there. “Why would they spend tens of thousands of dollars to attend an RV show when they can sell everything they can get already?”
The traffic at RVtravel.com has doubled since last December from one million page views a month to more than two million, and should easily hit three million before next summer. Our readers are reporting hordes of new, inexperienced RVers in their campgrounds – in rental RVs or in brand-new rigs still with temporary licenses.
RV parks are being built but not nearly fast enough. Many are “resorts” that cater to luxury travelers. “Glamping” (luxury camping – an RV is seldom needed) is hot. KOA recently converted an RV park in Maine to luxury tents-only that rent for a few hundred dollars a night. In its advertisements, KOA sometimes doesn’t even show RVs – just cabins and luxury lodges. Many, if not most, of those structures were once RV sites.
In the last year, Google searches for “RV park” have doubled. If you think RV parks were crowded this past summer, just wait until next year. It will be a madhouse.
The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) just advised RVers who plan to visit the Lone Star State to make reservations soon. “Campgrounds and RV resorts are seeing more first-time RVers this year because of the pandemic, and many of these folks are planning to continue their travels well into fall and winter because they have realized how easy it is to work remotely from their RV,” said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of TACO. “This is creating more demand for RV sites than we typically see at this time of year.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
So what does this mean for you and me? It means if you want to stay in your “first choice” parks, start making reservations now – as in “right now!” If you’re willing to take what’s available when you pass through, you might find a decent park but, hey, there’s always a Walmart parking lot.
WHAT TO DO
Solutions are out there including the creation of many, new, inexpensive, no-frills RV stopover “parks” to help with overnight stays. I am trying to free up time to promote this idea again, but it’s a big task and so far nobody in the industry with both vision and money is seriously considering the idea. Just imagine if Cabela’s was to provide a dozen reservable, automated overnight RV spaces in its store parking lots, each with an 50-amp hookup? Ditto Target stores, etc. No, it’s not “camping,” but there is definitely a need among RVers “on the move” (see a great example of how this can work).
And we need more alternatives to traditional campgrounds and RV parks like innovative programs from Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome, both of which offer unlimited potential to expand the number of quality places to stay.
Still, expect to see a huge influx of new RVers in the months and years ahead. Crowding ruins a lot of things and, indeed, that’s what’s happening in our RV world. So, yeah … that’s not good news for you and me. Yet, with careful planning, the idea of a fun RV trip is still very much possible, just a bit more challenging than in the good ol’ days when an RV was “Grandma’s and Grandpa’s Playhouse” and uncool to anyone younger than 50.
Tomorrow’s cover story
With RVs selling far faster than manufacturers can make them, and faster than dealers can keep them in stock, we wondered what the future looks like for our favorite pastime. Will all of today’s buyers stick with RVing after the pandemic passes? What will happen to the resale values of our RVs? And more…
Coming later this month
The third edition of my book “The ABCs of RVing” will be available within two weeks on Amazon.com in both printed and Kindle editions. This will be the best book available for people who are just getting started RVing. It addresses the most basic questions new RVers ask, or in some cases don’t even know enough to ask. With record numbers of people buying RVs, this book, I believe, will be a great way to speed up their learning curve.
NEW: DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE COFFEE MUG? SHOW US!
Everyone has a favorite coffee mug, don’t they? Many people collect them on their travels and have cupboards overflowing with mugs. Do you have a favorite? If so, please send us a photo and a description (How long have you had it? Where did you get it? What makes it so special?). Click here.
MEET YOUR FELLOW READERS
In our search to know our readers better, we’ve asked that they tell us about themselves. We know that thousands of them have followed us for a decade or more. We’ve met a few hundred of them through the years, which has been very nice. But who else, we wonder, reads what we write week after week? So, please, tell us about yourself! Here’s this week’s installment of Meet our Readers.
*Note: There’s a great song in here by one of our readers that you’ll want to listen to!
We support you. Please help support us!
RVtravel.com, and the 650 newsletters about RVing we publish every year, would not be possible without the financial support of our members, those 3 percent of all readers who voluntarily subscribe. Now, in the most challenging time of our lives, your support is needed more than ever for us to be your #1 source of honest, unbiased news, information and advice about RVing. Every contribution makes a difference. A donation of only $12 a year comes out to less than 2 cents for each issue we publish! And when you become a member, you receive a special member-only ad-free version of this newsletter. Learn more or donate.
Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
• Keep this bug out of your RV to help prevent food poisoning.
• Lane-savvy driving – the safe way to travel.
• Prepping your RV for storage.
• Can your “other half” handle the rig? They should know how.
• Dumping RV tanks: Where do you go when you gotta go?
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
SoftStartRV – Run an air conditioner with a small generator
By Dave Helgeson
Earlier this year I installed a SoftStartRV™ on my RV’s roof air conditioner. Impressively, the SoftStartRV allows me to run an air conditioner with a small generator. … I also promised a follow-up report after I had the opportunity to field test the unit over the summer under varying conditions. Here’s my report. (Hint: For me it’s been a game changer.)
Top 10 complaints RV park managers have about campers
By Nanci Dixon
In last week’s issue, I told you about the top 5 complaints campers voice at the RV park office. This week I thought it would only be fair to write about the top ten complaints RV parks have about campers. Now you’re in the hot seat! The office staff were a vocal group, hence 10 complaints this time instead of 5! Are you guilty of any of these?
Casino camping not necessarily a bargain anymore
In this week’s column about camping at casinos, we have a couple of comments and corrections to what we wrote last time. And there have been a number of you writing in saying that the cost of staying at Casino RV parks has gone up, or is rather pricey to begin with. There are several more casino recommendations, and there’s a question from a reader for those of you who have stayed at casinos for more than one night. Read more.
Great source of information: the RV Advice Group on Facebook. Moderated by the editors of RVtravel.com
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• How lazy are RVers about picking up spare change?
• 22 tips for choosing the best campsite
• Co-op discombobulation: To invest or not to invest in an RV lot
• Your navigation system should tell you more than just “Turn right here”
What do the following words have in common?
Assess, Banana, Dresser, Grammar, Potato, Revive, Uneven and Voodoo
(Shhh. Don’t give it away. Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday News newsletter.)
Have you already voted?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. CLICK HERE.
The most popular poll in this past week’s RV Daily Tips newsletters:
When you “camp” at Walmart, do you ask the store for permission? See how nearly 4,200 (wow!) other RVers answered.
Pay attention to passing motorists’ warnings of trouble
On the road, most of us have experienced looking out our window to see a car passing by with someone waving frantically, and pointing toward our vehicle or behind it. Most of the time these are good Samaritans who have spotted something wrong with our vehicle or the one we’re towing. This message and the ensuing responses were posted at our RV Advice Group on Facebook and we believe are worth passing along. Continue reading.
Easy almost-Homemade Chicken Wild Rice Soup
By Nanci Dixon
We love soups, particularly as the weather starts to cool in the fall. I have been making a lot of soups in my Instant Pot™ lately but today decided to cook on the stove, making a chicken and wild rice soup. I used a packaged mix as a starter, so I kind of cheated, but I added additional ingredients so it’s almost homemade! … It was easy, quick and delicious. Get the recipe here.
What’s a Super Bugger? A VW camper conversion, of course!
The Super Bugger was the result of a wacky idea of an entrepreneurial company in Costa Mesa, California. In the mid-1970s, the outfit converted a 1970 VW Beetle into a hybrid camper it called the Super Bugger. It cost $6,000. The rage for the strange little machine conversion didn’t last long, and not many of the hybrids in decent shape remain. But there’s one for sale on eBay. Check this out.
The roadside American Armory Museum has Jelly Belly roots
RV travelers on Interstate 80 in Fairfield, California, can visit the American Armory Museum. It’s just off the freeway near the halfway point between Sacramento and San Francisco, and it’s where vintage tanks, uniforms, weapons, flags from several countries, and all things military reign. The indoor-outdoor homage to military transportation and artifacts also has an unusual connection to the Jelly Belly Candy Company. Read more.
Crowded campgrounds. RVers would rather quit than fight!
In this installment of our weekly column Crowded Campgrounds, RVers vent their frustrations at how much difficulty they’re having finding a find a place to stay. “If this is the new norm I doubt I will enjoy traveling for much longer,” one wrote. “Thor, Winnebago, and the rest – keep on cranking them [RVs] out and know you are about to hit a wall – a very big one,” another wrote. Read more.
Popular articles from last week
• Big changes coming to Walmart stores. Will RVers be affected?
• My two favorite black tank dumpin’ gadgets.
• Here are the top 5 complaints to the RV park office.
• Video: RV smashes into vehicle-killer underpass.
• New Ford F-150 EV: Bigger, faster truck – far less cost.
• Forest River recalls trailers: Cooktop flame may invert, fire danger.
• The trashing of our public lands. Case in point.
• Casino RV camping, October 3, 2020.
• Campground crowding. Discussion for October 3, 2020.
• Hundreds of thousands of Ford pickups recalled.
• RVelectricity: Hughes Autoformer testing – Part 1.
• Is your RV packing on the pounds? Try these 10 steps to shed some rig weight.
SWELL CONTEST OF THE DAY
How would you like to win this Happy Camper Coffee Mug (maybe to add to your collection)? Well, this might be your lucky day! In one of this past week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletters 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 (October 10, 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 Rand McNally 2021 Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas was Charlie Parsons of Jonesboro, Arkansas. The previous week’s winner of the Digital Moisture Meter was Neil Culver of Garland, Texas.
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.
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.
Two of the best black tank dumpin’ gadgets
Tony Barthel writes: “Dealing with the black tank is one of the least enjoyable parts of the RV lifestyle. When a product comes along that makes the process even a little bit friendlier, I’m in. As such, two Camco products have really made my black tank dealings less miserable and have taken some of the frustration out of parts of this process.” Read more about these two helpful products here.
Video: What was American life like in 1957?
This fascinating seven-minute video shows what life was like in America 63 years ago, at least in white, suburban America. To many middle-class Americans then it was the best of times, filled with promise. Many readers of this newsletter were young back then and may watch this with fondness. It’s also a reminder how things have changed, for better or worse, depending on one’s circumstances. Watch the video.
Need a step up?
Car or truck roof too hard to reach? Designed to fit over almost any tire, the TireStep allows you to reach three important areas of your truck or SUV: the engine compartment, the roof, and the bed. For fifth wheel owners, the TireStep may be the helper you’ve been wanting for a long time and just didn’t know it. Reaching over the truck bed using the TireStep is not a problem while hitching or unhitching your rig. Learn more here.
A new blog: RV Warranties
I flooded my fifth wheel with poop! Am I covered by my warranty?
I was flushing the black tank on my RV and got called away. Unfortunately I left the flush on and it flooded my brand-new fifth wheel. Now the dealer is telling me this isn’t covered by the warranty and I think the entire rig is ruined as it smells terrible. Who should I call? —Sincerely, Someone in a crappy situation
Read Tony’s response.
Hughes Autoformer testing – Part 2
My Hughes Autoformer testing is continuing. Here are more details on how much additional current an air conditioner draws (or not) as the voltage goes below 100 volts. This has particular relevance for campgrounds and their pedestals. For you casual observers this information may not sink in right away. But for any readers who have an electrical background this is going to read like a mystery novel. Read more.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session
Dogbone adapter confusion cleared up – Part 2
In my last JAM Session I posted a simple question about how dogbone adapters are named. I ran a survey because I often get a lot of confusing questions about these most basic of adapters in my various Facebook groups and RV forums that I watch. While there are lots of electrical questions to consider, the most basic one is what do we call an adapter that connects an RV with a 50-amp plug to a pedestal with a 30-amp outlet? Read more.
Read Part 4 of Mike’s series on Boondocking Power Requirements, sponsored by CarGenerator™, here. NOTE: CarGenerator will keep your household essentials running for up to 70 hours when your power is out due to any blackout – natural or otherwise.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RVelectricity group on Facebook.
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 $9. Learn more or order.
RV Tire Safety
How to avoid potential valve stem problems
By Roger Marble
Sometimes my wife accuses me of being too negative because I seem to always come up with something negative about almost any topic. I guess it’s in my DNA to never be satisfied and always want things to be better, easier, safer or more durable. The simple act of checking tire air pressure is an example. Read more.
Be like Mike: Don’t forget the fuse!
Mike Sokol says: Your RV has both 120-volt AC electrical systems (like your house), plus 12-volt DC battery systems (like your car). If the power goes out, it could be a circuit breaker (like in your house) or a blown fuse (like in your car). Always carry spare fuses that fit your RV’s battery system. Confirm the exact type and size of fuses your RV needs, then get a set of replacements. Here’s one pack, but be sure to check what your RV actually uses before ordering it.
Building an RV Park
We have RV storage progress, and more!
Pepsi to the rescue! Can you guess folks’ favorite beverages and food items to buy from a small store? Interesting! Also, AJ and Machelle had to take out a huge life insurance policy with the bank as beneficiary, even before they get their loan. And what’s up with a secret pond, Witch-a-Paloosa, and the Wild Women Saloon? Get all those answers and more here. Oh … and Happy 25th Anniversary, Machelle and AJ!
The RV Kitchen
Toasted Barley Risotto
Richly risotto. This versatile, easy, one-pot wonder is a vegetarian main dish when made with vegetable broth and maybe some meaty, cooked beans. It can also be a starch side dish with meat from the grill, or make it a one-dish main by stirring in diced, cooked meat or seafood. Get the recipe with several variations here.
The Digital RVer
Use a little solar battery to charge your phone
You may be boondocking in the desert, or maybe you live in an area prone to hurricanes and power outages. In either case, your cellphone is an important piece of safety equipment and it needs to stay charged. The key is to use a little solar battery to charge your phone. This is so cool! 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.)
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“Max in ‘Movie Star’ mode!” —Patricia L. Ferrara
And speaking of dogs…
What do you think caused this destruction? Well, you probably figured it was a dog. There’s more to the story, which you can read here.
Have you ever been to the Iowa State Fair? If you love quirky competitions, you’ll want to attend. Since 1886 the fair has run quite a few unique competitions such as cow-chip and rubber-chicken throwing contests, a husband-calling contest, and even a beard-growing contest.
Joke of the Week
Q. What is the difference between a nasty bus stop and a lobster with a big bosom?
A. One is a crusty bus station and the other is a busty crustacean.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
RV Travel staff
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, J.M. Montigel, Tony Barthel, Clint Norrell, and Andrew Robinson. Social media and special projects 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, who was taken from us by the coronavirus.
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 • 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. For information, contact Chuck Woodbury at chuck (at) RVtravel.com.
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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