Welcome to RVtravel.com, the most-read consumer website about RVing in North America with 143,000 registered subscribers. We support a free press and believe that it is essential to a democracy. At RVtravel.com, 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 subscription contributions of our readers.
April 17, 2021
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
This free edition of the RVtravel.com newsletter is posted at 8:30 a.m. (Pacific) every Saturday (that’s noon in the East). The member edition is published six hours earlier, at 2:30 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).
With Chuck Woodbury
Iam hearing a lot of chatter about change in the RV industry. Do you recall how the government sometimes reports that it’s hearing “a lot of chatter” that might indicate an upcoming terrorist event? That’s sort of what I am hearing now, but about RVing.
If you live and breathe the RV lifestyle as I do, and you write about it and publish more than 500 newsletters a year about it, you “hear things.” What I am hearing now, among other things, is about changes related to the huge influx of new RVers and how they will restrict our ability to find places to stay. I’m hearing some very interesting bits and pieces about innovative ways how those newbies (plus you and me) might be accommodated without relying on Walmart parking lots.
Trivia: Did you know that half the new Airstreams purchased last year were by first-time RVers? It’s true!
And there’s a huge amount of chatter about the production of RVs – how the industry is struggling to keep up with demand (which means that many RVers are waiting many months, even a year or more, to get the RV they really want). The unemployment rate in Elkhart County, Indiana, where 85 percent of all RVs are made, is 4 percent – about as low as it can go, and yet there are thousands of jobs that need filling to keep up with production demands. And this may not be comforting to hear, but some manufacturers are relaxing their drug testing rules. You have to wonder how scraping the bottom of the workforce barrel is a good thing for building quality products.
WE’LL TAKE SOME CREDIT
I believe that RVtravel.com can take significant credit for some of the discussion about changes that are improving the lives of RVers. For years, when nobody else was saying anything, we talked about crowding, RV quality issues and problems getting an RV serviced. I believe that our message is getting out!
I had an hour-long Zoom meeting last week with the leaders of a small committee of the RV Industry Association (RVIA) who wanted to know how its members could better understand their customers to serve them better. They wanted to pick my brain, and learn if I would help them with their efforts. Yes, of course, I said. I have never heard such concern from anyone at the RVIA before, and yet at RVtravel.com we have been talking about taking better care of RVers and RV buyers for a decade. The short-sighted bureaucrats at the RVIA don’t give a damn what RV buyers do with their RVs after they buy them. That’s a real problem for you and me! We do care! I, for one, am fed up with their lack of concern and won’t shut my mouth about it until they come to terms with reality.
A SAD DAY
One year ago today I lost one of my best friends, and you lost a good friend, too. My pal Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, died of COVID-19. Gary was always available to me to answer a question about anything to do with RV repair and maintenance. He wrote for us, and he and I made videos together. He was always available, too, to explain the rules, regulations and other technical industry lingo that I could not find on my own. He was a walking encyclopedia of such information. I would pass along what I learned from him to readers of this website and newsletter, and you were richer for it. So you lost a friend, too.
Last week, I visited the coffeehouse where Gary did his writing when he wasn’t off speaking at a rally or convention. It was his “office.” He’d arrive early in the day and stay until late afternoon at a corner table for two at a window that looked out on Fifth Avenue in Edmonds, Washington.
I stopped by often. We’d gab about everything – work, our families, “stuff” and sometimes we’d head off to lunch. It was sad being there the other day, with Gary’s table empty. I asked one of the girls at the counter if she knew that Gary had passed away. She said she did, looking sad. “I called him Gare Bear,” she told me, which made me smile. Good ol’ Gary, loved by everyone. I miss that guy so much and still have a hard time accepting that he’s gone. Damn! Wear your mask!
We’re marching toward issue 1,000 of this newsletter, 28 days away now. I will have an announcement then about my future role. There is much to talk about in the interim. I can’t believe 1,000 issues (and deadlines) have passed since I started this newsletter two decades ago. That was before I dyed my hair gray to look more distinguished!
P.S. From my Roadside Journal: The craziest dream I ever had! It happened a few nights ago. Read about it and then leave a comment and tell me if you have had a dream even half as crazy. I am still wondering, “Where did this totally bizarre dream come from?” Click to read.
We’re looking for writers!
Are you an RVer who is passionate and knowledgeable about the lifestyle? Do you love to find quirky roadside attractions, great little cafes, or unique places to stay with an RV? Do you have RVing tips others may benefit from? Have you done a DIY project in/on your RV you’d like to share? If so, let’s chat! Please send an email to us here and tell us about yourself and your writing experience. We are especially interested in someone who loves to cover breaking news (daily journalism experience required).
Did you miss issue #1 of the Full-time RVer Newsletter?
If you’re currently a full-time RVer or hope to be one day, then reading this newsletter every other week should be essential reading. It’s packed with information and advice specially addressed to full-timers. Check out this issue, and sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you like what you see.
Listen to last Sunday’s RVtravel.com podcast.
Just click below to learn more about what’s on the show (episode #2) and listen. Also available for download on Spotify, Podbean, and coming to new platforms every week. Click to listen on RVtravel.com.
Our podcast host, Scott Linden, was interviewed on the Weekly Driver Podcast about the new podcast from RVtravel.com. Listen to it here.
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• Tony reviews the 2021 Coachmen Chaparral X Edition 355FBX Fifth Wheel
• Yellowstone National Park reopened to visitors last Friday
• Canadian snowbirds returning home over border by cab to avoid quarantine
• Texas’ Big Bend National Park hit by its first wildfire of the year
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …
Are we worth more than “free” to you?
RVtravel.com, and the hundreds of newsletters about RVing we publish every year, would not be possible without the financial support of our voluntary contributors. Their 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 less than 4 cents for each issue we publish. That’s all! And when you contribute, you’ll receive a special member-only ad-free version of this newsletter forever and ever as one way for us to say thank you. Learn more or donate.
Are you concerned that we do not spend this money wisely? Here’s an explanation that we hope will help you understand.
Last week’s Tip of the Day highlights in RV Daily Tips Newsletters
Today, industry insider Tony Barthel reviews the new 2021 Surveyor Legend 240BHLE Travel Trailer. He writes, “…with the various examples of attention to detail, I think this could be a good choice for campers either looking for a bunkhouse model or a trailer that has good use of space day and night.” Read more and see how it compares to the similar Wildwood 179BHSK.
Clintoons • By Clint Norrell
MORE OF CLINT
See some of Clint’s recent cartoons. They’re wonderful!
Campground Crowding: Crowds lead RVers to alternative camping options
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 wonder if first-come, first-served campsites are open on weekdays; several RVers report they seldom make reservations and don’t run into too many problems with finding a campsite; more options to avoid crowded campgrounds; and a tip for making last-minute reservations. All that and more here.
Ways for RVers to stream free (or almost free) TV
By Gail Marsh
Who doesn’t like a cable or satellite television bill? Me! How about you? It’s aggravating to pay for 200+ channels and still find absolutely nothing you want to watch. … In this informative post, Gail lists numerous ways to get free (and legal) TV services as well as low-cost streaming services. Learn about them here.
How expensive is traveling with an RV? Here’s what you can expect
By Julie Chickery
Traveling by RV is a great way to see the country and it has many advantages. You can cook your own meals, sleep in your own bed, and use your own bathroom no matter where you are. You can save money, but it is important to note that traveling with an RV might be more expensive than you think. Many families purchasing an RV for vacations only consider the cost of the RV itself, and not the other expenses that go along with RV ownership. Learn about other expenses and watch a video, “How much do campgrounds really cost?” here.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• Video: Take a spin in a toy hauler? We don’t think this is what they meant…
• What size is your RV awning?
• Zoning in your brake controller for optimum trailer braking
• What day is best to fuel up the RV?
If someone today offered to buy your RV at an especially generous price, would you sell it?
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:
What type of RV was the first one you owned? See how nearly 2,400 other RVers responded.
Read other polls we’ve run through the years. There are more than a thousand. It’s fascinating reading.
My voice is tender, my waist is slender and I’m often invited to play. Yet wherever I go I must take my bow or else I have nothing to say. What am I?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday news newsletter. And please don’t spoil it for other readers by posting the answer in the comments.)
Do you have a brain teaser you think we should use? Send it to us here.
Learn your options for internet access on the road
SAVE 50%. For most avid RVers, internet access is essential. WiFi is available sometimes, but very often undependable. The online Mobile Internet Explained Video Course explains everything you need to know about mobile internet and which plans and devices are right for you. On top of that, a 50% off sale price ends at midnight Monday, April 19th. Looking for the best way to get online? Learn more or sign up.
Casino Camping: 3 more reader favorites worth checking out
This week our RVtravel.com readers and Facebook friends had some great advice and shared some of their favorite casinos. As states are easing restrictions, more and more casinos across the nation are opening up more of their services. Learn from our readers about WinStar World Casino and Resort, Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort, and Sky City Casino RV Park, here.
Useful RV applications of Google Earth, Part 3: Fuel stations
By Dave Helgeson
This is the third installment of a series on the many useful RV applications of Google Earth. … In this installment we will look at using Google Earth/Maps for locating fuel stations that are RV friendly and looking at ingress/egress options. Learn how here.
Scare away thieves: Paint your cat!
We recently shared with readers a news item that police in Saint Paul, Minnesota, had a free clinic to prevent catalytic converter theft. Their answer? Paint your cat! Before our feline support group has a collective heart attack, picture, please, nice policemen sliding under cars and painting – not furry friends – but catalytic converters. Continue reading.
RV demolition: The quest to renovate a water-damaged junker
By Kate Doherty
Last year, the pandemic restricted many from their planned vacation destinations. In defiance, many non-RVers chose the open road, purchasing all types of RVs in record numbers. I ran into one such guy in January. This RVing and workamping newbie purchased an older motorhome that had sustained inside floor and low wall water damage. After showing me pictures of his RV demolition project from his iPhone, I asked him how he came about this rig, knowing how water damage could easily become a nightmare. Continue reading.
Don’t miss out – it’s free! Reserve your spot for the Hit the Road RV Summit!
Thousands of RVers will get ready to hit the road and learn how to maximize their RV life and RV travels in 2021 at the 2nd annual HIT THE ROAD RV SUMMIT. This 2-day virtual event takes place over the weekend of April 24-25. Attendees can register for free to watch, listen and learn from more than 30 RV industry and RV lifestyle experts who will be sharing educational info, practical advice and their top tips for enhancing their overall RV experience to keep them RVing longer. Learn more or sign up here.
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 time today, April 17, 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.
Last week two readers claimed their Amazon gift certificates: Karl and Jennifer Z. of Belton, Missouri, and Ed D. of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
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.
Popular articles from last week
• National Parks want darkness; RV makers say, “Let there be light”
• 27 ways to use zip ties you probably haven’t thought of
• Are “bots” stealing your campsite? Answer: Yes!
• RV water filtration; and water system maintenance after a trip
• We got into an accident. Here’s what we learned that may help you
• New to RVing? Here’s what experienced RVers want newbie RVers to know
• New RV inspection facilities may help RV quality issues
• Professional photographer says this tripod is best for RVers
• Fungal jungle in your dishwasher? Sanitize it in 5 easy steps
• An easy trick that’ll make RV dumping a lot more sanitary
• Good News: Things to smile about this week, Sunday, April 11, 2021
?????? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??????
We haven’t read this yet, but it sounds very interesting. Check it out.
How would you like to win this two-serving George Foreman Grill and Panini Press?
This is one of our favorite prizes of all time. Everybody wants one of these. As you cook, the fat rolls off – ask your cardiologist about this. He or she will say, “Get it and use it!”
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (April 17, 2021) by 7 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.
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 update 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 RVtravel.com.
The most recent edition of our Full-time RVer Newsletter. Published every other Wednesday. Click here.
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 Repair and Maintenance
RV education you can trust from RV Education 101: Get instant access to RV Online Training.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
RV Gadget: Drinkmate carbonator, worth the space? Yup!
With Tony Barthel
If you drink carbonated beverages, the Drinkmate carbonator might save you space in your RV (no more bulky cardboard boxes or dozens of cans) and money. Read what Tony thinks about this gadget, and see what he carbonates (hint: mimosas just got a lot easier!). Read more.
With Mike Sokol
Check for dangerous RV hot-skin condition with new dual-range detector
I’ve had a lot of questions about feeling a shock from your RV when plugged into shore power at your home or a campground pedestal. So I’ve been writing about it and discussing how to test for it. I’ve just received a new Non-Contact Voltage Tester (NCVT) from Southwire which has both a 100- to 1,000-volt AC testing range, and a 12- to 1,000-volt range for low-voltage circuits. Continue reading and learn how to check for a potentially lethal RV hot-skin condition.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Can I get shocked from an RV that’s not plugged in?
Our RV once had hot skin when we were boondocking. We were near a light pole in a parking lot in an event field. We were not plugged into anything, nor did we even own a generator at the time. But when we touched our camper we got a mild shock. Didn’t see any exposed wires on the pole; it looked normal. But we moved to another spot and the trouble went away. —Betty
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 one air conditioner using only a small portable generator.
• Run one air conditioner on 20-amp household current.
• Run two air conditioners (with two SoftStartRVs) on a 30-amp hookup.
• Run an air conditioner or two using your onboard inverter system. Save $30! Read more.
RV Tire Safety
Like tires, windshield wiper blades need protecting
By Roger Marble
I had a windshield wiper blade fail when I pulled my RV out of storage before I headed south to the FMCA International Convention & RV Expo in Perry, GA, a few weeks ago. Why did it fail? It got old, just like tires do. Also I failed to protect the rubber blades. So, yes. This is a situation of “Do what I say, not what I do.” Find out how Roger now protects the rubber wiper blades on his RV, here.
Building an RV Park
Bank schmank; and we have septic installed!
With Machelle James
Let’s start this week off with the GOOD NEWS first! AJ and I received our Arizona State Transaction Privilege Tax License! We now have a license for retail sales and for transient lodging…. Our other good news is our construction crew had the BIG tractor with the ripper attachment come in. … We now have 41 out of 43 spaces installed for the septic lines. Read more good news and an update on the bank situation here.
RV Short Stop
Big art in “Biggest Little City” of Reno
Reno is not just for adult gaming and its close proximity to year-round outdoor adventures. “Art installations, sculptures and large-scale murals punctuate Reno’s urban landscape.” Strolling through the streets of Midtown Reno, visitors see oversized art around almost every corner. It seems the “Biggest Little City in the World” oversees more than 185 pieces of big art. Continue reading.
RV Fire Safety
Quick-disconnect fitting on your water hookup
If you have a quick-disconnect fitting on your water hookup, these hoses can be unhooked instantly to fight a fire. If a nearby coach is burning and you cannot move your coach but can safely stay close enough to keep it hosed down, you may be able to save it.
Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy
Hitch Ball Lubricant extends the life of your hitch mount!
Protect hitch balls and receivers from corrosion with this high-film strength and waterproof grease. Formulated to stay where you apply it, this lubricant reduces friction, wear, rust, water corrosion and noise. Compatible with any variety of trailer applications like receiver hitches, ball mounts, hitch balls, locks, couplers, jacks, and more. Learn more or order here.
Meg’s Homemade Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff
by Megan Flores from Chicago, IL
A simple slow cooker meal the whole family will love. The pieces of beef in this Crock-Pot Beef Stroganoff are tender and melt in your mouth. The creamy sauce is full of flavor and perfect over egg noodles. A comforting meal to add to your dinner rotation.
Oh, gosh! That sounds delicious! Get the recipe here.
Don’t have a crock pot? This one is small and perfect for an RV!
Other recipes featured in this week’s Daily Tips Newsletters:
• Chicken Pineapple Kabobs • Zucchini or Summer Squash Fritters • Cheesy Bacon Ranch Tomato Pie • Bruschetta Caprese With Balsamic Vinegar Reduction • Slow Cooker Fajitas
Museum of the Week
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
OK, even if you don’t plan on visiting this museum, at least Google the name of it and peek at the photos – it’s insane! This museum holds the record for the largest motorcycle museum in the world. It’s 144,000 square feet, five stories, and houses nearly 1,500 motorcycles. Every single one of those 1,500 motorcycles still runs, and if you’re lucky, perhaps museum founder, George H. Barber, a Birmingham “bazillionaire,” will take you for a spin around the parking lot. Learn more on the official museum website here (and seriously, go Google some photos of this place!).
Readers’ Pets of the Day
“Coco, Chocolate, Coffee, Mocha. Our 4 cockatiels are great travelers. They sing, chirp and sleep while we travel and have free ‘run’ of the RV when we’re parked. They love to watch the other birdies out the window.” —Jerome Friedman
Send us a photo of your pet with a short description. We publish one each weekday in RV Daily Tips and in our Saturday RV Travel newsletter. No blurry photos, please! Please do not submit your photo more than once. Thanks!
Wow! Prevent costly mistakes with these RVminders
Check out these RVminders and easily prevent costly mistakes! These bands wrap around your steering wheel and remind you to check things before you drive away. Never leave the steps or ladder down again. Antenna or satellite down? Slide locks in place? Doors, vents and windows closed? Compartment locks locked? Hookups disconnected? These are so easy to use they should be in every RV! Check ’em out.
Vintage Postcard of the Week
Postcards owned by Colleen and Ed Weum, Pacific Northwest Postcard Club. Read more about their 90,000 postcard collection here.
Oscar-winning rabbit Bugs Bunny made his unofficial debut in the 1938 Porky Pig cartoon “Porky’s Hare Hunt.” He got his name by accident. The director of that cartoon was Ben Hardaway, whose nickname was Bugs. The voice of Bugs Bunny and many other cartoon characters was Mel Blanc. Blanc and the father of RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury once met by accident at Big Bear Lake during Mr. and Mrs. Woodbury’s honeymoon there in 1945. Blanc was impressed by Mr. Woodbury’s war service and asked him to go fishing with him in a rowboat. “It was like fishing with Bugs Bunny,” Mr. Woodbury once said.
NEW! Word and Phrase Origins
From the book, Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson:
Chip on one’s shoulder: “In 1830 the Long Island Telegraph in Hempstead, NY, reported that ‘When two churlish boys were determined to fight, a chip would be placed on the shoulder of one, and the other demanded to knock it off at his peril.’ From this New York State custom, first recorded above, comes the expression to have a chip on one’s shoulder, ‘to be sullen or angry, looking for a fight.’ The phrase wasn’t recorded until 1934, but it is probably much older.”
Joke of the Week
Bigfoot is sometimes confused with Sasquatch… Yeti never complains!
Leave with a song from the past
Here’s an oldie but goodie in Country Music. From 1952, here’s Kitty Wells singing her #1 hit, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
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, Kate Doherty, Gail Marsh, Mike Gast, J.M. Montigel, Clint Norrell, Al Winer, Randall Brink, Julie Chickery 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 one year ago today (April 17).
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: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thanks to our partners and advertisers for helping support this website and its many newsletters. This support, while important to us and much appreciated, has no influence on editorial content.
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 2021 by RVtravel.com.