Return to RV Travel Issue 844.
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March shipments of new RVs were up more than 8 percent in comparison to March 2017. More than 45,000 towable rigs rolled out of factories, up 9 percent. Motorhomes were ahead as well, with better than 6,000 rigs going down to dealers, marking a 5 percent uptick. Source: Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.
Visit a national park last year? Your money helped support nearby communities, says the U.S. Department of Interior. More than 330 million visitors hit the parks last year, pumping more than $18 billion into local communities – in extension, benefiting the country’s economy by almost $36 billion, up almost a billion more than 2016. Gateway communities benefited first by spending on lodging, followed by food and beverages, then by motor fuel, and finally by 10 percent of the visitor money spent on trinkets.
There may soon be more space for RVs in California’s San Joaquin County. The existing French Camp RV Resort on Highway 99 near Delicato Family Vineyards could grow nearly half-again as much with the addition of 106 new RV sites, taking the place of a now-closed golf course on the property. As of press time the local planning commission was set to consider the plan.
An editorial in a recent edition of the Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff, Ariz.) takes the stand that camping on public lands near Flagstaff, Ariz., should simply be shut down during the fire season. “We’ve suggested designating the forests around Flagstaff off-limits to camping from the start,” reads the editorial. “No campers, no illegal fires – there are usually enough beds in local shelters and churches to house all the transients who need one.” Snuffing out wildfires is one thing – but “all the transients” who enjoy access to public forest lands include plenty of cautious recreational vehicle users.
Is there an electric Class A motorhome in your future? Winnebago is mum, but consider this: The RV company has just partnered with Motiv Power Systems to produce commercial vehicle platforms based on Winnie’s Class A chassis. The vision sees bookmobiles and bloodmobiles silently slinking through the streets, parking where needed, and plugging in to charge their e-vehicle battery banks. No details on distance that can be traveled or recharge time, and the RV firm is holding its lips firmly closed about the future of an electric RV.
Trying to keep the excitement stirred up and the money flowing in, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association is rolling out a brand-new event dubbed RVX: The RV Experience. A platform to show off the newest rigs and RV products, the inaugural show will premier in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 12-14, 2019.
Season opener for Arizona’s North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park will be Tuesday, May 15. Gate fees will jump to $25 on June 1.
Could human-caused wildfires be a big problem this summer? They could, if anecdotes from New Mexico’s Lincoln National Forest tell the tale accurately. Rangers say they found 18 unattended campfires on Easter weekend alone, some down to hot charcoals, while others were fully in flame. Fire danger in the forest is already “very high,” and fires left behind by uncaring or otherwise deadheaded campers frighten officials.
More RV overnight spots are coming to San Diego. Port commissioners approved a plan for Costa Vista RV Resort on the Chula Vista waterfront. Developer/operator Sun Communities says the new resort will have 255 sites, 139 for RVs and 116 park models pre-positioned and ready for use. The $39 million project will include pools, Jacuzzi, restaurant and other amenities.
Each year the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association touts its big “RV Industry Power Breakfast” – big-name speakers are more the focus than the meal. This year’s gala event sold out as more than 900 eager followers snapped up tickets to hear the headlining speaker, Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior. There may have been some major disappointment, as the Secretary pulled out of the Power Breakfast and sent in an underling, citing “scheduling conflicts.” Were tickets refundable?
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In a turnaround from the usual reports we make on gate fees at National Park Service-overseen lands, a bit of unusual news from Wyoming. Effective May 25, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area will no longer collect entrance fees. The Service reports an analysis revealed that it costs more money to collect gate fees than the actual fees taken in, despite the flow of 250,000 visitors per year.
There may soon be luxury RV parking at South Carolina’s Hilton Head National Golf Course. The company has submitted plans to county officials for a 350-site RV park on 96 acres adjacent to the golf course.
Winter camping at Georgia’s Lake Lanier will be far more scarce come November 30. The Army Corps of Engineers says it will shutter Sawnee and Bolding Mill campgrounds on that date, and not reopen them until March 1. The Corps blames the move on poor winter camper turnout and maintenance costs, and says the closure will give dump stations “time to settle” from summertime use.
The future reopening of Look Rock Campground in the Tennessee portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a matter of debate. Closed since 2012 due to budget constraints, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recently announced that the campground will be reopening, thanks to a recently passed federal spending bill. Said Zinke, “We’ve talked to our controllers, made a commitment today to go forward on this. So we’re going to focus our resources and align our resources to do this.” The Secretary promised the media the campground would reopen “Soon.” Asked about the timing, the Park’s Deputy Superintendent Clay Jordan put a slightly different shade on it. “I think it would be premature to assign a timeline right now,” Jordan said, stating they would “figure out how to get the work done as quickly and as efficiently as possible.” Source: www.thedailytimes.com.
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Anxious RV owners at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, Calif., were on the trot Friday, April 27. Fire broke out in the camping area, and a huge column of black smoke rose over the festival grounds. RVers with rigs parked in the campground ran back to check out their RVs; sadly three units were wiped out and a fourth damaged. The fire turned out to be in the staff RV parking area, and was out in less than nine minutes.
Camping in Keene, New Hampshire’s Wheelock Park Campground is going away. City officials say deferred maintenance and the poor condition of pine trees that shade the campground call for closure. The only exception seen is the possibility of opening the campground for occasional use, say for organizations that want to have various tournaments.
In early March four young Spanish tourists were killed in a traffic crash on U.S. Highway 1 near Islamorada, Fla. Their car was stopped to make a left turn and was rear-ended by another vehicle. The resulting impact pushed the tourists’ car into oncoming traffic, where it was hit by a motorhome and ended up smashed into a tree. Local sheriff Rick Ramsay pleaded with the state’s transportation officials to drop the speed on the stretch from 55 to 45 mph, citing dangerous conditions and a bad history of incidents. Now Florida’s Department of Transportation says they’ll compromise with the sheriff, and will post a limit of 50 mph on the two-mile stretch, and slightly extend a no-passing zone there as well.
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, officials say they’re not renewing the lease for the Robert Service Campground, but instead say the city will operate the popular campground that lies on the route to Alaska. The city plans to remodel the bathrooms and office area, and in the future plans a new “event facility.” Here’s the snag: While the previous concessionaire allowed smaller RVs in the park, under the city’s management, tents-only is the order of the day.
TV personalities Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar (family of 19 children fame) are not a big hit with all in Fayetteville, Ark. The famous couple now has proposed constructing an upscale RV resort on some land they own, tucked up against the Ozark Mountains. Some of the locals are aghast at the proposal, and hoping it will get stopped in its tracks. Apparently the park has already been granted permits, but the local planning agency has yet to give its go-ahead.
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When you ask most RVers if there was one book that inspired them to take up RVing, it’s John Steinbeck’s classic road tale, “Travels with Charley.” The famous author set off in the early 1960s in a home-built camper with his poodle, Charley, to “find America.” And what he found makes for a delightful read. Get this for yourself or as a gift. Learn more or order.
Paramedics responding to a call of a man’s body found in an RV in Ector County, Texas, had to call for reinforcements in bee veils. On entering the RV, they found not only the man’s body but a large number of upset bees, and had to beat a retreat. An apiarist was called in, mitigated the bee problem, and medics were finally able to remove the man’s body. Friends of the deceased reported that bees had “been living in a storage tank underneath the trailer for 15 years.” No cause of death has yet been released.
Fees “will probably” be going up on vehicle registrations for Arizona’s citizens. On April 25, Governor Ducey signed a law that directs that a “highway safety fee” be collected to support the highway patrol, which currently draws its revenue from the state general fund. The law doesn’t specify which vehicles pay the tax, nor how much it is, but does note that the whole matter is “subject to legislative appropriation” – meaning, if lawmakers don’t give the troopers enough money from the general fund, drivers will make up the difference. State officials are mum as to particulars, saying it’s all a matter of “calculus,” but imply likely all rolling stock on the highways will get hit. Evidently state number crunchers will need to figure out how much money the patrol needs, then figure out how to divvy the costs up. They expect it will all become clear when registration renewal bills roll out, likely this fall.
UPDATE: Houk was captured Thursday afternoon inside a rail car in Barstow, Calif. As of Wednesday, California police were still searching for the driver of a motorhome who took his two children on a long police chase that went from Hollywood to Bakersfield. Stephen Houk (46), a registered sex offender, got into a fight with his wife then grabbed his two kids, a 3-year-old and an 11-month-old, and headed out in a Class A motorhome. Thought to be armed, up to 15 highway patrol units chased Houk but didn’t get too close. Up Interstate 5, out and about on Highway 99, and into an orchard. Houk somehow managed to elude police on foot, but left the children, both safe, behind.
A spectacular RV crash in Utah’s Virgin River Gorge last weekend has left troopers shocked. A patrolman had pulled over a vehicle on the right shoulder of the interstate, and a 71-year-old man towing a travel trailer with his pickup moved into the left lane to clear the traffic stop. Unfortunately, another vehicle was in his blind spot, and he clipped it, over-corrected, then blasted back across the highway and off the road. The trailer parted from the pickup, and both rolled multiple times. “The truck was literally destroyed, and the travel trailer was ripped into 50 pieces,” reported the on-scene trooper. “There wasn’t even one solid piece left.” Running to the scene, the trooper said he was certain he was dealing with a fatality incident. Asking people on-scene where the pickup driver was, a man piped up that he was the pilot. Reports the trooper, “I was shocked that he was out of his truck and talking to me. The seat belt saved this guy; saved all three of them, most definitely,” he said referring to the RVer and the occupants of the vehicle he clipped. Source: stgeorgeutah.com.
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Chuck, in this edition, you mentioned you are looking for ways to make this newsletter better. Something I would like to see is a weekly section on traveling with firearms. We would like to carry our hand guns with us in the RV for protection, but there seems to be a great disparity of laws/rules between states. And that has made us reluctant to bring them along, even though we have a safe to put them in. For instance, what can you legally transport across state lines; do you have to notify a state in advance before traveling with a firearm; are you subject to search at the entrance to a state; etc.
Dave, thanks for the suggestion, but guns is one subject you’ll have to look elsewhere to discuss. In this newsletter and our websites we try not to write about guns, religion or politics. If we do, the comments get too rabid, and there is too much of that sort of verbal lunacy going on in the world, and we don’t need to add to it.
Here is a link (on Amazon.com) to the book “2018 Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States,” which should answer most of your questions. I believe it is updated annually so should have current information. I hope this helps. —Diane at RVtravel.com
Lincoln National Forest’s 18 abandoned campfires on Easter weekend……
This is why I am so disturbed by the government’s efforts to get people to camp and enjoy national and state parks, as well as any promoting boondocking amongst rvers. People that don’t appreciate the outdoors enough to explore them without encouragement, often don’t appreciate the care that needs to be taken to preserve them and can result in ruining it for everyone for many years to come. Let them stay home and watch their sports, sitcoms, and video games.
I think the item about more RV spaces coming to San Diego may be misleading. It mentions the new RV park Chula Vista having 255 spaces, but only 139 will be RVs, with the rest park models. It’s my understanding that the new park will replace the current Chula Vista RV Resort, which has 237 spaces, all for RVs. So there will actually be a net loss of spaces.
On a recent trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Pangutich, Utah, a distance of 417 miles, My wife and I counted 51 “Cruse America”, rental RV’s on the road. I am hoping that most are just temporary travelers and not considering purchasing an RV. This is alarming to me considering the already overcrowded RV Parks and space availability. To add to problems we RV owners face today, we are now confronted with the rental travelers. We have just begin the summer season with school being out and the vacationers.
Michael: You were on the major “flyway” for tourists hitting the “Grand Staircase” of national parks. Yep, they’ll be setting up shop, both in the parks, and in commercial RV parks in the gateway communities. And yep, it’ll only get heavier as the summer wears on.
Your news on French Camp RV Park was good news to hear. I stayed there in 2016. It was very nice RV park, Good Sam discounts, & had space on only a one week in advance reservation. Good location for visiting friends, family, & wineries in the area. I hope that all the new spaces aren’t going to full time residents, as it is an affordable place in the area to live. In 2016 it had plenty of room for permanent, weekly, & like me few night stays. Hopely city & county will agree & let them add the sites.
In our travels we have noted that Flagstaff, AZ was among the most RV unfriendly places we visited. (Once!). They haven’t been bothered by us transient in a long time. Love southern AZ.