Welcome to RVtravel.com, the newsletter for intelligent, open-minded RVers. If you comment on an article, do it with respect for others. If not, you will be denied posting privileges. Please tell your friends about us!
Learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. This newsletter, now in its 20th year of continuous publication, is made possible in large part by the voluntary subscription contributions from our readers.
If you shop at Amazon, please visit through our affiliate site (we get a little commission that way – and you don’t pay any extra). Thank you!
Many people will go hungry this Thanksgiving, including many children. If you are financially able, please donate $20, $50 or $100 to a local food bank. This year it’s especially important to help, with millions of normally hard-working people out of work because of the pandemic. You will feel so good if you contribute — knowing you helped people who are struggling now go to bed on one of America’s most cherished holidays without the pain of an empty stomach. Here’s where to donate.
November 21, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
This free edition of the RVtravel.com newsletter is posted at 9 a.m. (Pacific) every Saturday (that’s noon in the East). The member edition is published seven hours earlier, at 2 a.m. (Pacific). Readers who make even a one-time financial contribution to this website and newsletter automatically receive a permanent subscription to the member edition, ready for reading first thing with their morning coffee (or other beverage).
A heartwarming tale of a Thanksgiving past
By Mike Sokol
hanksgiving, of course, is about great food and family time. And I certainly have been blessed with a score of memorable Thanksgivings in my own home. After all, holidays become even more special when you can share them with your own children. However, one Thanksgiving always comes to mind amid the hustle and bustle of cooking turkey and ham for the 20 guests that typically share that meal with us. It was a rather humble Thanksgiving meal I ate alone at a Gulf gas station when I was 18 years old. Yes, it was my first Thanksgiving spent away from my family, but it wasn’t all bad. In fact, I learned a lot about the spirit of holiday giving and what it means to include others in your celebration.
Now, I wasn’t eating alone because I was homeless or broke or anything tragic. No, it was because I was working at Keefer’s Gulf station during my school breaks. I did a few tune-ups and changed tires, but mostly pumped gas. Those were the days of manual pumps and gas station attendants who would pump your gas for you and check your tire pressures. Since I was the young guy in the shop I drew the day shift on Thanksgiving so the other employees could eat at home with their families. What a bummer – sitting alone in a gas station pumping gas for everyone else who was driving to their own Thanksgiving dinners. I was in a pretty bad mood and missing my own family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Early afternoon I got a call from the station owner, Big Frank, asking me if I was hungry. Seems that he and his family were putting the finishing touches on their own meal, and he was loading up a basket to deliver to me, his lone employee working on Thanksgiving Day. He made the 10-mile drive from his house to the gas station, delivering a huge meal of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie. If memory serves, he even included a mason jar of gravy. Covered in foil and insulated by towels in a picnic basket, he had made the drive in record time – delivering it all piping hot. And just as quick as a wink, he was back in his truck heading for home where his family was waiting for his return.
I didn’t know what to say
Instantly my rather crappy day turned into quite an excellent feast. My bad mood lifted, and I thought that Frank was acting like more than just a boss – he treated me like family. I found out later that he did this for all his employees. Whoever was stuck at the gas station on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day always got a fantastic family meal delivered by him. Now, there was nothing forcing him to do this, and certainly we all still grumbled about working on a holiday. But Frank knew that giving up time with your family is a hard thing to do. And by taking 30 minutes out of his own family time, he could spread a little cheer to his employees.
SOMETIMES THE GREATEST GIFT of all you can give around the holidays is the gift of your own time. My wife and I now try to help other family members not with just the easy buying of a gift card or placing an Amazon order. We supplement our monetary presents with the gift of time. It may mean standing in line for a grandparent to help them get the best price on a flat-screen television, followed up by installing it and training them on its use. It also means volunteering along with our own kids to help with a pancake breakfast for the Lions Club.
All of these things remind us that sometimes the most important present you can give to others is the gift of your time. So don’t just phone it in – spend some time with your family, both real and extended. Thanks for the turkey, Frank… and for helping to teach me that sometimes the smallest gifts mean the most of all.
Copyright Mike Sokol – former pump jockey
ALSO FROM MIKE THIS THANKSGIVING: Let’s have a Bento Box Thanksgiving this year.
We welcome your essays in this space
Please consider stepping upon this wonderful stage, with its big, magnificent audience. We are not looking for “how-to” articles as in “how to dump your holding tanks,” or “how to repair a roof leak.” We are not looking for travel stories. We are looking more for “think pieces.”
In 500-750 words, write about the RV life — where it is, where it might be going, challenges. Relate a personal experience that says something about who we are as RVers and what it means to you, and perhaps others. Read more and learn how to submit an essay.
We are also looking for other writers — to report news or write feature articles. Good pay with unlimited potential. Must have professional writing experience. If interested, write to us at editor (at) RVtravel.com. No beginners. Must know RVing inside-out.
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 our next installment of Meet our Readers.
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 our 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 $15 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 seven hours earlier than the free edition. Learn more or donate.
Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
RV Advice Facebook Group: This group from RVtravel.com is where to exchange information, ask questions, etc., about RVing. Our editors monitor it. A valuable resource.
Peek inside luxury RV storage facilities! Ya got $366,120 to spend?
By Nanci Dixon: As we recently reported, there is no room at storage facilities around the USA for RVs – they’re full! What about storing your RV at a luxury storage facility? Would you pay a mere $366,120 to store your RV? (One of these facilities will even go grocery shopping for you!) Believe it or not, some RVers are doing just that! Check out these luxurious options here.
Exclusive content in our members’ edition
Become a member to receive the advertising-free edition with premium content beginning with next issue.
• RV Tire Safety by Roger Marble: “The tire failed because it is defective.” Maybe not…
• Chuck Woodbury’s Roadside Journal (musings from the editor): Be glad you are not a tarantula! There’s one big reason if you are brave enough to stomach it.
• Why we need more readers: There are a lot of RVers, mostly newbies, making dumb mistakes and we need to educate more of them to keep them out of trouble!
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
Today’s RV review…
Today, industry insider Tony Barthel reviews the new 2021 Holiday Rambler Admiral 29M Motorhome. Tony writes, “…This is a line of motorhomes that have found a lot of owners thanks to a combination of features and price.” Learn more.
Last week’s reviews
2021 Oliver Legacy Elite II Travel Trailer • 2021 Rockwood Mini Lite 2514s Travel Trailer • 2021 Imagine XLS 24MPR Toy Hauler • 2021 Starcraft Autumn Ridge 182RB Travel Trailer • 2020 Roofnest Sparrow
For previous RV reviews, click here.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
Really? Does your RV’s bathroom sink drain into the sewer tank?
Most RVers assume the sinks in their RV drain exclusively into a gray holding tank. The toilet, most RVers believe, drains exclusively into the black (sewer) tank. But is that always true? In this eight-minute interview by RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury with RV waste systems authority Doug Swarts of Drainmaster.com, you’ll learn that sometimes the bathroom sink does, in fact, drain into the black tank. Read more and watch the video, then please answer a quick poll here.
Toilet paper is out of stock again, but these gifts sure are “Charmin'”!
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, ICUs are filling to capacity and the death toll is sadly increasing. Some states are enforcing stricter mandates on masks, schools, and the number of people in stores, and are setting curfews on restaurants and bars. Fearful of another lockdown, and a repeat of last March, people are stocking up on toilet paper, cleaning supplies and disinfectant wipes… again. Continue reading, and check out the cute and very timely gifts.
Video: Don’t let moose lick your RV!
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
If the RV lifestyle weren’t hard enough already: dumping tanks, watching out for low bridges, terrifyingly steep downgrades. Now add the admonition from the Canadian government: Don’t let the moose lick your RV. OK, so technically they say “your car,” but we don’t think moose are too discerning. What’s up with a moose lick? Find out here.
Will you spend Thanksgiving with friends or family this year?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. CLICK HERE.
The most popular poll in this past week’s RV Daily Tips newsletters:
Have you visited Yellowstone National Park in the last 10 years? See how nearly 3,300 other RVers responded.
Is this your RV?
If it’s yours and you can prove it to us (send a photo for comparison), tell us here by 9 p.m. Pacific Standard time today, Nov. 21, 2020. If it’s yours you’ll win a $25 Amazon gift certificate.
If this isn’t your RV, send us a photo of your RV (if you haven’t already) for a chance to win in future issues.
THIS WEEK, THREE READERS RESPONDED and each claimed a $25 Amazon gift certificate. They were Rick D. of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Stan H. of Littleton, Colorado and James J. of Salina, Kansas.
We’ll have another photo in tomorrow’s newsletter (sign up to receive an email alert so you don’t miss the issue or those that follow). Some of these photos are submitted by readers while others were taken by our editors and writers on their travels around the USA.
Retired or retiring soon and thinking about full-timing? This book is for you!
A Practical Guide to Full-Time RV Living: Motorhome & RV Retirement Startup by Jack and Shirley Freeman is a wonderful guide to how to get started full-timing after retirement, and how to live an affordable life on the road. They’ve done a wonderful job answering any questions you may have about this next chapter in your life. Check it out here.
Campground Crowding: “RVs are built to be self-sustaining”
More people than ever are taking up RVing. The result is campground crowding like never before. In this week’s issue, readers report on camping during the week and avoiding most crowds; some say boondocking more helps so they’re getting solar to be able to avoid the necessity of an electrical hookup; and some long-time RVers are, sadly, hanging up the keys. Read more, then please add your thoughts in the short questionnaire at the bottom.
Holy smokes! Is this is what they mean by “crowded campgrounds”?
Each week we report on the issue of crowded campgrounds (and boy, is it an issue!). Is this the future of campgrounds? Can you imagine pulling up to your campsite for the night, only to find out you have to climb up three ladders to settle in? And imagine trying to level! Check this out!
Video: 1954 RV rally. Some things change, others stay the same
In this newsreel from 1954, take a trip back in time and across the Atlantic to see how British “caravaners” gathered for what looks a lot like an RV rally of today — in glorious black and white, of course. Read more and watch the video.
Miss your sewing machine? This one was practically made for an RV!
By Nanci Dixon
When we became full-time RVers we got rid of a five-bedroom house and 40 years’ worth of stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. I liked to sew and had two sewing machines, one a 1940s Necchi boat anchor in a cabinet and a smaller portable Brother machine. I could not envision hauling even the portable one around, so, sadly, out they went. Read about what Nanci found that takes care of her sewing needs but only weighs about 5.5 pounds!
Go back to school! Attend the RVers Online University!
Thinking about going full-time? Roadmap to Full-Time RVing will teach you everything you need to know about living in your RV! All from the comforts of your home, er, RV! This course covers nine chapters and 72 lessons. It’s fun, easy-to-follow and, of course, informative. Learn more.
Do you work remotely from your RV?
Some RV manufacturers are refocusing their designs to cater to customers looking for mobile office space. The rise in remote work prompted by the pandemic has led many people to take up a “work from anywhere” lifestyle. Do you work from your RV? Have you modified your workspace? Please tell us about it, and we’ll share your story and photos with readers. Submit your story and photo(s) here.
Popular articles from last week
• Looking for a place to store your RV? Good luck!
• Campground Crowding: “A loss of community” among RVers.
• Surprise! Santa Cruz will debut as first Hyundai pickup truck.
• Directory of RV Reviews (too many popular posts to list individually).
• Toyota leads pickup truck status with best five-year depreciation.
• How to use your RV toilet even in winter.
• The Day It Rained Whale Blubber.
• Save your RV slideouts from damage with this amazing tool!
• RVelectricity – It may be time for SmartPlug upgrades.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, November 14, 2020.
• Every RVer should have one of these portable air compressors.
• Caution! Snakes, scorpions and spiders lurk near campgrounds – beware!
🙂 Saturday Giveaway! 🙂
The Prize: Happy Camper Wine Glasses
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (November 21, 2020) by 7:00 p.m. Pacific time. Remember, you can only enter once and after we notify you by email via RVcontests@gmail.com that you won, you have 24 hours to respond or we’ll give the prize to someone else.
This contest has ended. Check back next Saturday for another giveaway!
Camping with the Corps of Engineers
Many RVers consider Corps of Engineers campgrounds to be the best in the country. This guide is just for RVers – boat-in and tent-only sites are not included. Of all the public lands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has some of the best parks and campgrounds available. In fact, it’s the largest federal provider of outdoor recreation in the nation. Learn more or order.
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.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
Lippert’s Jack-It® Double Bike Carrier System
A lot of us want to bring bicycles with us on our RV travels but the trouble is … where do you put them? I’ve seen a lot of folks mount them to the back bumper of a trailer but almost every trailer I’ve seen also has a warning label from the manufacturer that says not to mount anything to the bumper. Here’s a solution.
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.
Cheap trick for finding a short circuit
My RV bathroom overhead lights continually blow their 3-amp fuse. I removed the lights so that both wires are not connected to anything (to eliminate the light fixture as the culprit), but it still blows the fuse as soon as I turn on the switch. The little glowing light in the fuse only tells me it’s blown, but not what’s causing it to blow. Read the rest of the question and learn the cheap trick to find a short circuit that Mike invented when he was just 17 years old(!) here.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session
Charging batteries with a tender
I’ve stored our 5th wheel indoors this winter and for insurance purposes I had to remove my two 6-volt Trojan batteries. I’d like to put them on a battery tender for the winter season. The Trojans are rated for 225AH and my charger is a NOCO Genius 2. Before charging my test showed 5.7 volts of charge on each battery. I’ve had the first battery hooked up and charging for 3 days now and the tender shows it took 1 1/2 days to reach 25% and 3 days to reach 50%. Am I doing something wrong? … —Terry Smith
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
Building an RV Park
What happens when you hit a rock shelf digging for a septic tank!
By Machelle James
As we watched the Cat® tractors rumble past us, roaring to their next dig, we could hardly contain our excitement. It’s actually happening! Our first real dig to start the process of turning our property into our campground! The ground was shaking as these land beasts made their way to the back of the property. They had to dig a 40- by 30-foot hole for our alternative septic tank. … Our ground wasn’t that hard for the first 10 feet or so. Then, all of a sudden, CRACK… They hit a rock shelf. Continue reading for what happened next, and for a very proud “Mom and Dad moment.”
The cutest ornament we’ve ever seen…
This adorable little camp stove is the perfect addition to your, or a family or friend’s, Christmas tree this year. Makes the perfect gift for an RVer, camper, hiker, fisher…well, anyone! Learn more or order here (and see some other equally cute RV-related ornaments here).
The RV Kitchen
Cassoulet with Dumplings
Something to stew about. One big pot is all you need for this hearty hobo meal. Make it over the campfire, camp stove or on the range in the RV. All it takes to feed a crowd is to add more of each ingredient. Get the recipe.
The Digital RVer
See a gadget you want to buy? Just take a photo, then order it
By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour
One of the favorite sessions at many RV rallies is the show-and-tell. Fellow RVers bring out their favorite gadgets to share. At a recent rally we attended someone showed a combination bug zapper and lantern. It was so small and practical, and the RVer doing the show-and-tell told us how useful it is. People wanted to know more about it and where they could get it. Chris Guld shows you how to find products by using Google Photos in a 45-second video here.
Now $30 off!
Save even more on a SoftStartRV!
Check out this special holiday savings offer on the incredible new device that allows you to run your RV’s air conditioner in low-power (or alternative power) situations when you could never run it before. SAVE NOW! Learn more.
Thank you for your Veterans Day tribute, and the story by Ernie Pyle. It brought back a memory that I would like to share with you.
During the war, my dad was an officer in the Air Force stationed at Kirkland Air Field in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We lived about a block away from Ernie Pyle. I was about nine at the time. One afternoon, the neighborhood was alive with excitement because Ernie Pyle was home and had invited the kids to his home for a visit. I grabbed a book we had by Mr. Pyle, and ran to his house. I’m not sure if the book was “Here is Your War” or “Brave Men”. Anyway, he signed it and it became one of my brother’s treasures when he came home from the war. The thing I remember about the visit with Mr. Pyle was the German weapons he showed us. I’ll never forget the wooden bullet used by the Germans, and Mr. Pyle’s description. It was not used because it was less expensive to make, it was used because it caused such a painful and deadly injury. I could not understand how people could be so cruel. But at that time I hadn’t heard about the Nazi atrocities. Thank you for your article and all your fine newsletters. — Dick Kuhwarth
I am so envious you got to meet Ernie Pyle. If I could go back in time he would be near the top of my list of people to visit. He was an amazing man, beloved by everyone. Oh, we need him back today. If you have not read his book Home Country, about his travels around the USA in the 1930s, you should read it. It’s right up there with Travels With Charley in my all-time favorite “road” books. I urge other readers to read it as well. It’s in many used bookstores and available on Amazon as well (limited quantity).
Readers’ Pet of the Day
These beautiful kitties were sent by reader Traci Johnson (but we don’t know their names!).
Pets featured in this past week’s RV Daily Tips:
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, as a rescue beacon, and they can also be used for recreational activities such as camping and hiking. Learn more or order here.
Brain Teaser Optical Illusion
You deserve a rainbow today!
Stare at the black dot for 20 seconds – don’t blink!
Immediately after, look outside at the sky or at a light wall near you.
In what year did Pop Tarts debut? Was it 1951, 1958 or 1964? Answer below.
Joke of the Week
A little girl complained to her father, “Daddy, I wish I had a little sister!” Trying to be funny, her father joked, “But, honey, you already have a sister.” Confused, the toddler asked, “I do?” “Sure,” her dad said, smiling. “You don’t see her because every time you come in the front door, she scoots out the back door.” The confused toddler thought for a moment and then beamed, “You mean just like my other daddy?!”
Leave with a song from the past
We recently brought you a tune from the past about a flying saucer that had landed in Washington, DC. Due to popular demand, we now present part two of this classic recording (Not!).
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Trivia answer: It was 1964. Pop Tarts were developed from research on making a moist dog food patty.
RV Travel staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Tony Barthel. Contributors: Mike Sokol, Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, James Raia, Barry and Monique Zander, J.M. Montigel, Clint Norrell, and Andrew Robinson. Social media and special projects director: Jessica Sarvis. Moderators: Gary Gilmore, Linda Brady. 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.
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.
RVtravel.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers.
Need help? Contact us.
Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.
This newsletter is copyright 2020 by RVtravel.com.