Friday, March 31, 2023


RV Travel Newsletter Issue 985

Welcome to, the most-read consumer website about RVing in North America with 139,000 registered subscribers. We support a free press and believe that it is essential to a democracy. At, you will learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. This newsletter, now in its 20th year of continuous publication, is increasingly made possible by the voluntary contributions of our readers.

[activecampaign form=38]

Page Contents

January 30, 2021
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition

This free edition of the 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).

Guest essay

Bear and wasp spray: Good or bad idea for self-defense?

By Tony Barthel

If you want to start a controversy in any RV social media group, bring up the topic of self-defense. You will get passionate responses from all sides about what’s best and why. Recently I had a chance to speak with several people about the use of bear and pepper sprays for self-defense, as well as firearms.

What are they?

Bear spray, pepper spray and muzzle spray are all essentially created from oleoresin capsicum, which is the “hot” in things like cayenne pepper.

Because pepper spray is a product derived from hot peppers, it is nonlethal but it certainly can disable a predator without killing them. The effects of pepper spray wear off in about half an hour and it is legal to use in all 50 states, although the specifics of its use vary by jurisdiction.

With the recent conflicts across the U.S., we’ve seen the effects of pepper spray on humans, it causes temporary blindness, nausea, burning sensations, inability to breathe temporarily and other bothersome symptoms.

Human pepper sprays come in a very wide number of forms and concentrations. They are essentially unregulated, so purchasing them from a reputable company is wise. There are gels, sprays and streams. The form factor for the sprayer itself varies tremendously.

While human pepper spray is powerful, bear spray is even more so. It is designed to give you more space between yourself and the bear, so it can spray further. While human pepper spray is about 1.33 percent capsaicin and related capsaicinoids, bear spray is 2 percent.

Bear spray for self-defense?

Are we advocating the use of bear spray? Not at all. In fact, several readers brought up the question of being charged with an assault for using bear spray on a human. Read the rest of the story.

Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter

• Boondockers’ dream come true! A device that produces potable water from air. Yes, you read that right!
• Court: It’s now okay to shoot film in national parks without permits
• General Motors’ new quest: Carbon neutrality by 2040
: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Stolen RV Report. Reader survey • and much more …

Your support is critical to us!, and the hundreds of newsletters about RVing we publish every year, would not be possible without the support of our members. Their financial support helps us avoid relying on advertising, and keeps our resource-rich work unbiased and free for all RVers to enjoy. Every contribution makes a difference. A donation of $20 a year comes out to only about 4 cents for each newsletter we publish. That’s all! And when you contribute, you receive a special member-only ad-free version of this newsletter first thing Saturday morning, seven hours before this free edition. Learn more or donate.

Last week’s Tip of the Day in RV Daily Tips Newsletters

The right voltage is critical to the life of your RV
Maintain a safe water supply onboard your RV
How to get rid of carpenter ants
20,000 RV fires occur each year. Here’s how to prevent one
An easy, quick way to fill your RV’s toilet bowl

Today’s RV review…

Today, industry insider Tony Barthel reviews the KZ Escape Hatch Travel Trailer. He writes, “Available in three sizes, the KZ Escape Hatch is basically a smaller, single-axle trailer that has a large rear 60-inch-wide by 66-inch-tall rear hatch door that flips up like the hatch of an SUV. This provides access to a cargo area in the back that can accommodate things like bicycles, kayaks and other adventure gear that many of us are taking with us.” Read more and check out that space here.

Last week’s reviews:
Venture SportTrek Touring STT343VIB Travel Trailer2021 East to West Alta 2810KIK Travel Trailer2021 Alliance Paradigm 365RD Fifth Wheel2021 Winnebago Voyage 3134RL Fifth Wheel2021 TruckHouse BCT Overlander Camper

Clintoons • By Clint Norrell

COPYRIGHT 2021 by Clint Norrell

crowded campgroundsCampground Crowding: Are sites getting smaller?

More people than ever are taking up RVing. The result is campground crowding like never before. In this weekly blog, RV Travel readers discuss their experiences. This week, readers sent some tips about finding a campsite. In a time when campsites are so hard to find, we’ll take all the tips we can get! Also, there is some hope for opening up reserved and unused campsites. Read about these topics and more here.

Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles

Winter driving: Forget snow chains, use socks! 
The back side of Mount Rushmore most never knew about
Is it a boat? An RV? Or a boat-RV? One thing, it’s weird!
RVer stuck with bad toilet. Dealers won’t do warranty work

Reader Poll

How happy are you with your present RV?

Was it a good buying decision? Or not so good? 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 had your first COVID-19 vaccination yet? 
See how nearly 3,000 RVers responded. 

Read other polls we’ve asked through the years. There are more than a thousand. It’s fascinating reading.

☀ Be cool this summer. Now use your RV air conditioner when you could never use it before. No kidding!

Is the Good Sam Club reneging on a promise to some members?

When the Good Sam Club began offering lifetime memberships, a lifetime subscription to its Highways Magazine was included. When Highways later ceased publication, lifetime members were offered subscriptions to Trailer Life or MotorHome as a replacement. But now those publications have been replaced with the new RV Magazine, and it appears Good Sam is no longer honoring the free subscription to lifetime members. Dave Helgeson asks, “Why not?” Read more.

COVID-sniffing dogs: The future of public gatherings?

Yes, you read that headline correctly. As if we didn’t need another reason to love dogs more than we already do, COVID-sniffing dogs are a thing of 2021. Are they here to save the day? Read this fascinating story.

Wow! This is so handy!
What a great idea! Hook this on your steering wheel and you’ll have an instant ergonomic desk. It’s very light, but sturdy enough to support a laptop, lunch or notepad. It mounts quickly on the steering wheel and is easily stowed in the back seat pocket. We love this! Learn more or order.

Cargo trailer RV conversions: What spurs the trend?

While the RV industry creates an ever-increasing number of unique floor plans, there is a whole community of people who just don’t find what they’re looking for on the floor of an RV showroom. There is a large community of people who have converted cargo trailers to RVs for a variety of reasons. We find out why. Get inspired here.

RVing the U.S. Civil Rights Trail: Top destinations

Expand a National Parks bucket list by traveling the United States Civil Rights Trail. This has been an unprecedented year of social and political unrest. It is a year where the lessons learned should not be forgotten and one of the best ways to not forget is to learn more. There are more than 100 sites to visit on the Civil Rights Trail in 15 states, mainly across the south. Continue reading.

These February stargazing events are out of this world!

By Gail Marsh
RVing presents so many benefits, but one of the best, for me, is stargazing. If you’re lucky enough to snag an RV spot away from campground lights or boondock on secluded BLM lands, stargazing is a snap! Shortly before dusk get settled in your favorite outdoor chair. Then look up! Continue reading.

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, Jan. 30, 2021. 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 past week three readers claimed their $25 Amazon gift card: Grant C. of Tacoma, WA, Bob & Debby O. of Box Elder, AZ, and Tina S. of Titusville, PA.

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.

PHOTO: Great business slogan. Photo taken in the ’90s in Cloverdale, California. From the Chuck Woodbury archives.

Popular articles from last week

Dump your holding tanks from inside your RV
2021 Toyota Tacoma Review: Nightshade Edition shines
• Directory of RV Reviews (too many popular posts to list individually).
Ford recalls 3 million vehicles for airbag danger
Stranded on the side of the road, should you trust a stranger’s help?
RVelectricity – Feel the heat – Staying warm in your RV
This little device rids RVs of smells – Say goodbye to odor!
Boondocking? This power system makes things easy
Nite Ize Gear Ties, essential for your RV’s toolbox
Campground Crowding: Do new RVers need some lessons in good manners?
Rust: How to prevent it from damaging your RV
Good News: Things to smile about this week, January 24, 2021

Saturday Giveaway!

How would you like to win this?

Foldable FPV WiFi Drone with Voice Control and 120° Wide-Angle 720P HD Camera.

This is a great drone for beginners, but anyone who flies it will love it. It takes great videos at 720 dpi.

How to win

We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (January 30, 2021) by 7 p.m. Pacific time. Remember, you can only enter once and after we notify you by email via that you won, you have 24 hours to respond or we’ll give the prize to someone else.

Click here to enter or see last week’s winner!


Stolen RVs — Help us recover these stolen RVs. The more eyes we have searching for them, the better chance of getting them back to their rightful owners, and maybe putting the crooks who stole them in the slammer! See the stolen RVs.

NEW: Check out all our favorite websites of the day! We compiled a list of (almost) all the websites we’ve ever posted, and we’re updating it weekly.

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

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.

RV Clubs
Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.

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.


Reader Frank Barber wrote: “I thought you would get a kick out of this trailer we recently saw in Orlando.” EDITOR’S REPLY: Thanks, Frank. Yes, we did it enjoy it!

These are essential for your RV’s toolbox!
A set of Nite Ize Gear Ties is a must-have in your RV’s toolbox! These reusable rubber twist ties have a soft, grippy rubber coating and a metal inside that allows you to bend and flex them over and over into whatever shape you need. Tony Barthel uses them in his home and RV for many things and suggests you don’t go anywhere without them. Read more.

Brain Teaser

BRAIN TEASERS! OK, folks, listen up. We’ve read your comments. We know you miss the brain teaser (which has been missing for two weeks – you’re holding us accountable!). Truth of the matter is that they’re really hard to find. Most of them are just plain dumb and way too easy to solve! We’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled for good ones (we hate letting you down!), but if you know of a good one, will you please email it to us? We’d really appreciate it, and your fellow readers will thank you!

RV App Review

NOAA Weather Radar Live: Clime

By Tony Barthel
On a recent trip, I was reminded how important it is for us RVers to know what’s going on with the weather. As I sat in my desert oasis overlooking Death Valley, another individual who clearly enjoys his time in the desert asked if we were bugging out early due to the predicted winds. Predicted winds? He said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted high winds for the area. Interesting, my phone’s weather app had no such information. Continue reading and learn why this app is a good one to have.

Keep your rubber roof clean!
Camco’s Pro-Strength Rubber Roof Cleaner and Conditioner is a one-step treatment that removes black streaks, oxidation and road film buildup on your rubber roof and helps protect it from further damage. The specially formulated blend of surfactants and conditioners deep cleans and conditions, helping extend the roof’s life. Learn more or order at a great price.


Livestream event on Lithium battery charging, and much more

Sign up on YouTube now by clicking here for Mike Sokol’s livestreaming event Tuesday, February 2, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, with Dennis Wieske from Progressive Dynamics, one of the leading manufacturers of RV battery chargers and power centers. Mike explains what they’ll discuss here. They’ll be taking live text questions from the audience.

Watering your flooded cell batteries; comparing battery types

Mike now has samples of Lithium, AGM and Lead-Acid Flooded Cell batteries in his shop for testing. Since he’s a huge fan of Lithium batteries, why is he testing old-school flooded-cell batteries? While Lithium batteries are great, there are many RV owners who either don’t want or need, or can’t afford to upgrade to the newest battery technology. Mike believes the primary reason many flooded cell batteries die an early death is a lack of water. (You should be checking your battery electrolyte level every month.) Read all about the different types of batteries and Mike’s upcoming testing and comparisons, here. Oh, and he has a cool battery watering system to try out! (“It’s like Christmas in February for me.”)

This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session

Don’t fight an RV fire!

Dear Mike,
A friend of mine recently had a fire in their RV trailer, and it burned down to the frame, taking down the outbuilding with it. They think the fire may have started at the 50- to 30-amp dogbone adapter, but nobody is sure just yet. While they did survive the flames, my friend suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns trying to put out the fire. Can’t they make these things more fireproof? What should I do if there’s a fire in my RV? —Mary B

Read Mike’s life-saving advice here.

Mike’s highly rated book RV Electrical Safety should be must-reading for all RVers. Available in paperback or Kindle editions. Learn more or order.

RV Tire Safety

Why don’t RV tires get recalled?

Roger Marble came across this question on an RV forum: “Why don’t RV tires get recalled?” It was asked by someone complaining that there were no recalls of what he considered “crappy” RV tires. Other posts in the thread went on to say that complaints to the BBB or the tire importer won’t accomplish much. Roger explains what you need to file a “usable” complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and possibly get an investigation started. Learn more.

Have a tire question? Sign up for Roger Marble’s new Facebook Group: RV tire news, information and discussion, hosted by and moderated by Roger. He’ll be happy to help you.

Building an RV Park

RVtravel readers step up to help new campground through crisis

By Machelle James
My Oh My, did we have a very successful last two weeks! Thanks to you, our readers, friends and family, we raised more than $4,700 through GoFundMe! Thank you for your generosity, support and mostly the kindest words we’ve heard so far. Your belief in us and your “Go get ‘er done” attitude was truly a blessing for us to get the fencing done. With 56 of you donating, you will be honored within our campground with your names etched in a very special location when we open! Continue reading about their exciting progress.

Firearms laws guide updated for 2021

The 2021 updated edition of the Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States has just been published. The book is always a best-seller among RVers, many of whom carry a firearm. The annual guidebook helps ensure they stay out of trouble when crossing state lines. What’s legal in one state may be a felony in another. More than 100 updates from last year. Learn more or order.

The RV Kitchen

Butternut Black Bean Burritos

A burrito for all seasons. Eat them on the go, eat them around the campfire or attack them at the table, smothered with salsa, with knife and fork. Burritos are one of those favorite meals for camping because they are easy and adaptable to different fillings for every member of the family, whether vegan or carnivore, allergic or just a picky eater. This recipe makes a hefty supply of 12 to 16. Trust me, you’ll need them all, at meals and between meals. Get the recipe.

ABC's of RVingBy RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury
Book for newbie RVers a must-have!

If you are planning to buy your first RV or are just getting started with your first rig, this book by editor Chuck Woodbury should be a must-read. The ABCs of RVing answers important questions that newbie RVers don’t even know enough to ask! Read this, and you’ll save countless hours of research and avoid making costly rookie mistakes. It’s available in both a Kindle version and printed edition.

The Digital RVer

Stream unlimited movies on your TV using your phone

Many of us have data plans on our phones that have Unlimited on-device data. What this means is that as long as you are viewing online media on your phone, you can view as many hours as you want. But, if you turn on the hotspot feature for your other devices to share that data, there are definite limits and associated charges. Can you use your phone to stream movies on your TV with no extra Wi-Fi charges? Yes! Chris Guld tells you how simple it is to do here. Cool!

Oh, we can think of plenty of times we wish we had one of these along on our trips! This product is really cool! No, wait, it’s not cool at all: It’s hot! Huh? See for yourself.

Reader Tip

Be plumbing-prepared for fire
From reader Jim Schrankel: One of my biggest fears as a full-timer is fire — not just something that could start in my rig, but also to a neighbor’s unit parked nearby. As a preventive measure, I use a water “splitter” or manifold at my site’s water spigot. One side supplies water to our rig, but the other has my extra 30-foot hose that I could use to fight a fire in my rig or a neighbor’s. This precaution, in combination with smoke detectors in our living area and one in basement storage, helps me sleep better at night. Here’s one on Amazon.

Monocular telescope connects to phone, wow!
This is one of the neatest gadgets we’ve seen in a while! This waterproof monocular telescope connects right to your phone, so you can take photos of that bird waaaaaaay over there. You can now photograph anything up to 10x closer than before. Great for birdwatching, concerts or shows, fishing, boating, or any sporting event; you’ll get the best shot and impress everyone! We already bought one! Learn more or order.

Readers’ Pet of the Day

“This is Maggie Mae. She is a Morkie. Due to the pandemic, we couldn’t go to the groomer so I had to bathe her myself. She was not happy about that.” —Shirley Martenson

Pets featured in this past week’s RV Daily Tips:
• Monday: Penny • Tuesday: Charlie • Wednesday: “The traveling beagle!” • Thursday: Elvis Piercely • Friday: Vinnie


According to the National World War II Museum, for every 1,000 Americans who served in World War II, 8.6 were killed in action, three died from other causes, and 17.7 received non-fatal combat wounds.

Joke of the Week

What is one school you do not want to drop out of?
Flight school.

Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?

Read it here | Back issues

RV Travel staff

Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editor: 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, Kate Doherty, Gail Marsh, J.M. Montigel, Clint Norrell, Randall Brink 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.

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 • Tom Hart + others who we will add later. 

REGIONAL AND LOCAL ADVERTISING: We can now run banners on 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 .

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 or this newsletter. 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 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 2021 by


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Good article on lifetime membership- Lifetime doesn’t always mean our lifetime.

Matt Johnson
2 years ago

Regarding pepper spray or bear spray, speaking from personal experience, it often takes 10 to 15 seconds to be effective. And about 5% of the time has little effect on a person. So as long as your OK with an attacker being able to continue attacking for that duration of time, if it works at all, then it’s a so so means of a non lethal deterrent.

2 years ago

I come up with tons of trivia and thoughts for the day. Will pass it along. As for the dog pic? OMG reminds me of ours. Once our groomer opened up? We got them in. The look on the dogs face is you owe me big time and you took my picture of your mistake? OMG heads will roll. Thanks for the giggles.

Steve Minor
2 years ago

Reader tip for today: I always use a splitter at the water spigot, even if I don’t have a hose on the other side. That way I can let off the pressure to the camper hose, without going inside to relieve the pressure when breaking camp. Like the tip suggested, it’s a good idea to have a hose (mine is 50 ft.} just in case of fire!

Roger V
2 years ago

Enjoyed the newsletter. Interesting though how there’s a whole article dedicated to “Don’t fight an RV Fire!” And then just a little further down, there’s a “Be plumbing-prepared for firepost encouraging us with a way to be prepare to fight an RV fire. Understand that it’s not mutually exclusive. Once you get out, that hose may well save a neighbor’s rig, or your own if theirs is on fire. Still, with propane in the mix, I don’t think I even want to be that close.

2 years ago

Just a FYI for past Good Sam members, I have a old membership card that expired in 2017 but it still works at Pilots and Flying Js at the pump to get a discount on fuel.

2 years ago

The Clintoon is not that far off. We are in the Naples Florida area and my wife spotted a gym on wheels. A pick-up-truck towing a large trailer with a sign painted on it indicating the gym will come to you. It was parked in a driveway with someone working out in it, no idea if the owner is a personal trainer or what the deal is.

2 years ago
Reply to  Joe

I’ve never understood the fascination with going to a sweaty public gym. Milage, expense, gross equipment, gross people. I had a home gym 15 years ago, but admit I didn’t use it much — I chop 30 facecord of wood a year, and that’s more than enough exercise. My buddy is constantly lamenting NY shutting down gyms, and I offer to let him chop my wood for FREE, but so far he has declined my charitable offer… :-S

Last edited 2 years ago by Wolfe
2 years ago

Good article about lifetime Good Sam members getting the shaft on magazines. We became lifetime members back early 90’s. Received the magazine for many years. And it has been many years since we received any magazine from Good Sam. Still have our cards. But no answer from Good Sam on what benefits we are suppose to be receiving now.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.