Welcome back to North America’s best source for news and information for RVers. And welcome to your post-Christmas sugar cookie hangover. What’s on your New Year’s Resolutions list? More camping? Less camping? A new RV? A full-timer lifestyle? Leave us your thoughts on the coming New Year in the comments below. As always, we at RVtravel.com appreciate your help through voluntary contributions to keep this newsletter coming your way, and be sure to check out all of our other RV-related newsletters.
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Sunday, December 26, 2021
Non-Members (advertising-supported) edition
Thor works to dominate EV RVing
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
While the possibility of smaller electric-powered motorhomes moves closer to reality, travel trailers are a different story. But industry gorilla Thor is making a move to dominate EV RVing in the towable market. How so? They’ve just signed an agreement with a German manufacturer to develop an electric drive system for towables. Continue reading.
Campground Crowding: RVers wanted to leave campsite early, give site to another. Office staff said “no,” and ‘We have dozens of lawyers'”
RV sales have skyrocketed and 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. For example, Judith R. wrote in to tell us about her experience trying to give away her site when she needed to leave early. Read the very reasonable suggestions she gave the office staff, and their seemingly unreasonable response when they pooh-poohed both ideas and told her they are a “big corporation” and have “dozens of lawyers” who know what they’re doing. That and lots more from our readers here.
You say “RV campground,” I say “summer camp” – Does it make a difference?
By Andy Zipser
What’s the difference between a summer camp and an RV campground? None at all, according to Northgate Resort Ventures, which wants to transform a 170-acre summer sleep-away camp in the Berkshires into a 317-site RV resort. That’s why the Michigan-based operator of 19 other resorts around the country, most of which are Jellystone franchises, told the western Massachusetts town of Hinsdale that it didn’t need a special permit – that its proposal simply “continues the land’s use for camping.” Continue reading.
Did you have a white Christmas? Answer here.
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In today’s review, industry insider Tony Barthel looks at the homebuilt Vespa foamie trailer. Tony writes, “Have you ever heard of a ‘foamie’? I hadn’t, but it’s a term I was introduced to by Thomas Burick who built one and tows it with, of all things, a 1962 Vespa scooter. A foamie is a trailer made of foam and often coated with ‘poor man’s fiberglass.’ That was another term I had never heard of. But the result is a small, 170-pound teardrop-style trailer that Burick tows around with his Vespa. Yes, I’m talking the Italian motorbike Vespa.” You’ve got to see this!
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December 19–25, 2021
RV manufacturers set another record for November. The RVs just continue to roll out of the big doors at manufacturing plants across the U.S. The RV Industry Association announced last week that manufacturers had produced 49,135 RV units in November, yet another new record for that month. November factory shipments increased 15.6% compared to 42,513 RVs shipped from factories in November 2020 (that was also the previous record production for any month of November). Year to date through November, the industry has produced 559,743 RVs, the most ever built in a single year. And there is still one month of 2021 to go. It’s almost a given that manufacturers will surpass the 600,000-unit mark this year, and they’ve already said they expect to far exceed that number in 2022. RVIA President Craig Kirby said demand continues to be high. “Interest in RVing remains high even in what has traditionally been the ‘offseason,’” Kirby said. Towable RVs, led by travel trailers, ended the month up 14% over last November with 43,881 wholesale shipments. Motorhomes finished up 30.4% compared with the same month last year with 5,254 units.
Good news for your RV cabinet doors. The Robert Weed Corporation, a leading provider of wood products, moldings and laminated items for the RV industry, has implemented a new 3D vision system for identifying defects in their products. The new system earned the company a $120,000 Manufacturing Readiness Grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
Grilling on the hitch. If you like to keep your outdoor grill handy, the folks at HitchFire have a new RV kit that allows you to hook up a Forge 15 Grill or Ultimate Grill Station to your on-board propane supply. There’s even an easy way to switch between the on-board propane and a standard propane tank without reinstalling anything. The kit is available at HitchFire for $179.99.
Grand Design gets the credit for Winnebago’s success. Winnebago Industries is giving its Grand Design brand much of the credit for the company’s recent growth. “The catalyst continues to be our Grand Design RV brand,” Winnebago Industries President and CEO Mike Happe told investors on the company’s first fiscal quarter earnings call, “which consistently delivers record results and outstanding support for our dealers and end consumers. Newmar-branded diesel motorhome share and Winnebago brand towables growth also contributed nicely.” Happe said Winnebago’s RV retail market share grew to 13.3% with a record 19.8% gross margin, despite the challenges of a stunted supply chain and increasing costs.
A new level of service. One luxury RV maker is raising the bar on individualized customer service. DRV Luxury Suites, a manufacturer of luxury fifth wheels and toy haulers, has launched a new app called MyDRV. The app contains information for RV owners that is specific to their own RV. Owners enter their RV’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and they will be provided with individualized information to help monitor their warranty, sales and parts orders, and maintenance tips. Optional push notifications alert buyers to parts shipments, warranty claims processing and local rallies in their area. “When you buy a DRV, you are buying a home,” said DRV Marketing Director Lesley Melvin. “You want quality, comfort, safety and above all you want service. And this is just one more way we can provide the best service to our customers.”
E-bike fanatics could get a gift in the New Year. If you’re a fan of e-bikes, there might be an unexpected silver lining in the U.S. House-passed Build Back Better Act. The bill as passed by the House would give a credit of 30% for up to $3,000 on the purchase of a new e-bike. The proposal excludes any credits for bikes costing more than $4,000. This would be the first help for e-bike enthusiasts. Four-wheeled electric vehicles, on the other hand, have received more than $10 billion in subsidies. The controversial bill might come up in the U.S. Senate for a vote soon. If you think e-bikes are a new concept, take a look at the actual 126-year history of the electric bicycle here.
NC county wins right to restrict campground expansion. The North Carolina Supreme Court has upheld a request by the County of Currituck, North Carolina, to restrict campground expansions. The owners of the Outer Banks West/ Currituck Sound KOA had requested approval for expansion of the campground that would have added campsites, a swimming pool, and other new facilities not currently permitted by Currituck County’s regulations. County officials said the campground will be limited to 234 RV sites and some tenting spaces. The KOA will not be allowed to add a swimming pool or other facilities.
New RV park in Indiana under consideration. A Chesterton, Indiana, couple that is proposing to build an RV park on 50 acres along U.S. 20 in Porter, Indiana, has asked for more time to present their detailed proposal. A preliminary hearing on the plan has been delayed for up to 90 days by the Porter Plan Commission. The first phase of the project would include 83 RV parking pads. A second phase could add 71 more spots.
Canadian RV park expansion isn’t going well. A planned expansion at the Half Moon Lake Campground and RV Resort in Strathcona County, Alberta, isn’t going over well with local residents. The expansion plan would increase the 139-acre RV park from 235 sites to 631 sites, 32 glamping sites and 10 cabins. Local residents are worried about what the expansion would do to their property values, the increased noise, and traffic. The property is owned by Sunchaser RV Resorts.
Getting rid of grandpa’s RV. Police in Reedsport, Oregon, are looking for a person who dumped a motorhome on public property and drove away. The Chevy motorhome was towed to the site by a white Ford pickup truck and left behind. The RV is registered to a deceased man from Florence, Oregon. Police said dumping vehicles on public property is a crime punishable with fines of more than $4,000.
A little poker on the road. E-vehicle giant Tesla is in hot water for allowing car drivers to play several games while actively driving their vehicles. The Tesla feature is called “Passenger Play” and was designed to allow Tesla passengers, not drivers, to play games on the car’s giant screen while the car is moving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says not only will drivers be distracted by passengers playing games, but there is also nothing to prevent the drivers themselves from playing. That adds a new level of driver distraction that the NHTSA says is unacceptable. The feature is available on about 580,000 Tesla vehicles sold since 2017. Tesla was already in trouble for its Autopilot feature, which has caused 11 crashes.
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How will full-timers get test kits? The Biden administration announced last week that it would be purchasing 500 million at-home COVID-19 test kits and making them available through the mail for free to Americans. The tests will likely become available in January and be ordered on a yet-to-be-launched website. What isn’t clear yet is how full-time RVers will be able to quickly receive those free test kits, since they will be mailed directly to home addresses. If you’re one of the thousands of full-timers out there, it might be time to firm up your mail forwarding plans.
If you have yearned to stay in an Airstream trailer in the magnificent Mojave Desert, here you go. Rent this 2016 beauty through Airbnb for $239 a night. It overlooks the Joshua Tree area in Southern California. It’s solar powered, but there’s pretty much every creature comfort. If you’re interested, you can learn more here. A dirt road runs right behind it, so bring your broom and feather duster.
SC RV park developer loses septic permit. Folks opposed to a new RV park in northern Spartanburg County had a victory last week when the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Board voted to rescind a septic permit that had been issued in June. The park developer, Blue Sky Associates, needs the permit in order to open a planned 39-acre T. Tree Farms RV Park. On Tuesday, developer Bill McDaniel of Blue Sky Associates wouldn’t say whether his group would submit a new permit application with calculations for a larger septic system. “We were surprised,” McDaniel said of the ruling. “We’ll just have to see what DHEC said and what we need to do to make a decision. We’ll look into it.”
BLM seeking input on dispersed camping. The Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Field Office in Colorado is accepting public comments through Jan. 31 on dispersed camping and travel management planning on BLM public lands in Chaffee County. “Recreation use, especially dispersed camping, has increased dramatically in recent years,” Royal Gorge Field Office Manager Keith Berger said in a press release. Additional information is available and public input will be accepted through the project’s ePlanning website here. Direct additional questions to Kalem Lenard, assistant field manager, at 719-433-8486 or email@example.com.
Louisiana park damaged by storm may be back in 2022. A southwest Louisiana RV park that was closed after Hurricane Laura in 2020 could be reopened by spring, but there won’t be as much shade available. About four-fifths of the trees at the Sam Houston Jones State Park either were toppled or damaged beyond recovery by the storm. The park is located near Moss Bluff, Louisiana.
Burger chain set for big expansion. If you are a fan of the eastern North Carolina-based Hwy 55 burger restaurants, you soon may not have to drive back to the Carolinas for a taste. The company plans to open 18 more freestanding units in additional states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Hwy 55 already has 130 locations, mostly in shopping malls. Their new expansion strategy will move their restaurants to a free-standing store model.
“Gender Reveal” parties have recently become popular. The idea is for participants to guess the sex of a baby-to-be, and raise money in the process. A recent party at Colorado’s Castlewood Canyon State Park ended badly when those who celebrated left behind a huge mess including confetti that took hours to clean up. A similar party a few weeks before ended similarly. Such celebrations have started fires and injured guests. Animals may eat the debris, which can result in illness and even their death.
The U.S. Census Bureau says the country’s population growth dropped to its lowest rate in the nation’s history between July 2020 and July 2021. The population grew by only 0.1%, or an additional 392,665 people. That’s the first time the population has grown by less than 1 million people since 1937.
Scottsdale, AZ, hiker found dead in Grand Canyon NP. Hiker Ralph Stoll, 57, of Scottsdale, Arizona, has died after hiking in the Grand Canyon. Officials began looking for Stoll Tuesday after he failed to return from a hike in the Boucher Trail area of Grand Canyon National Park. Teams discovered the body about 200 feet below the trail.
Innovative fellow in Britain has created the ultimate green RV. Andy Saunders created his pedal-powered RV from spare parts from a camper van and a golf cart. It has a water heater, sink, cabinets, a small table, and a bed (presumably for short adults or kids).
Lemonis bullish on Camping World. Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis is thinking positive about the future of his company. He purchased an additional $99,957.55 in Camping World stock on Dec. 17. The 2,695 shares were purchased for $37.09 per share. Nasdaq.com listed Camping World as a stock to watch, since it seems to be trading at “surprising low valuations” and could be a holiday bargain buy according to the Nasdaq website.
It isn’t just here, folks. The motorhome industry in Australia is prepping for its biggest year ever in 2022 (sound familiar?). Tourism Australia is reporting that 14% of Australians chose campervans and motorhomes as their first choice of accommodations in 2021, and that percentage is predicted to grow in 2022.
Thor buying back shares. Thor Industries’ board has authorized the repurchasing of up to $250 million in Thor common shares through December 21, 2024. As a part of Thor’s long-term capital allocation strategy, the company stated that it will continue to make share buybacks, focusing mainly on the reduction of debt related to acquisitions. “Our strong earnings growth positions us to drive value back to our shareholders,” said Thor Industries CEO Bob Martin. “Given our current stock price, this buyback program offers the best vehicle to accomplish that objective. We believe there is a material misalignment between our value and our stock price. Given our favorable outlook on the industry and in our business, there is no better investment opportunity for THOR than its own shares at the current market price.”
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Quartzsite’s own yacht club; and presumably huge jump in QZ statistics
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Welcome to our regular – albeit seasonal – update on the news from the RVing Capital of the World. If you’re a QZ regular, or just thinking about “dropping in to check it out,” we’ll give you ditties and dollops of what’s happening in and around Quartzsite.
Quartzsite, Arizona, could hardly be described as “highbrow.” With the exception of winter visitors from Canada, the uniform of the day is most likely sneakers and blue jeans. For those who punctuate sentences with “eh,” the winter temps generally bring out the shorts. But say what you may, Quartzsite does have its own yacht club.
Continue reading about the yacht club, La Paz County’s only credit union shutting its doors, and the presumably dramatic increase in COVID statistics in QZ.
????? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??????
This is crazy! How the heck can a throw blanket make you hungry? When our editor and publisher see this they start salivating! How do people think of things like this?
We’ve also heard …
Ocala National Forest reopens campgrounds. The Ocala National Forest in Florida has reopened nearly all of its campgrounds. Only the Big Bass Campground will remain closed. Campgrounds with a reservation system will reopen on January 1, 2022. Hosts will be located at all of the campgrounds to provide assistance.
What’s it like to work for Amazon CamperForce? If you’ve ever wondered what it was really like to be a part of Amazon’s CamperForce holiday work force for full-timers, take a look at this recent CNBC story on the topic here.
Abilene RV park changes hands. The Ridgeview RV Resort in Abilene, Texas, has been sold to an undisclosed buyer. The park is a newly constructed park that just opened on January 1, 2021.
Nissan getting into Class B market. Nissan just unveiled two new camping van concept vehicles that will be officially presented at January’s Tokyo Auto Salon Show. The Nissan Mountain Base and MyRoom models are based on the NV350 Caravan minivan that isn’t sold (yet) in the U.S.
According to statistics from Recreation.gov, there were approximately 130,000 RV reservations made in 2020 on public lands, including national parks and forests. That’s three times the number from 2008. Texas led the nation in 2020 bookings followed by California, Arizona, North Carolina and Colorado. A lucky 4,747 RVers were able to snag a campsite reservation in Yosemite with an average stay of 2.1 nights.
Daytona RV park up for sale. If you’ve got a spare $10 million you aren’t using, you could buy the 110-site Daytona RV Park and Warehouses in South Daytona, Florida. The park is about 5 miles from the iconic Daytona Speedway.
Law enforcement officials in Santa Barbara County, Calif., are warning residents to be vigilant over what they say are rising thefts of catalytic converters. The most targeted vehicles include Honda Accords, Toyota Priuses and Ford F-250 and F-350 trucks.
Development planned near Santee State Park. There are plans to develop a 23-acre property near Santee State Park in South Carolina that will include an RV resort, retail stores and single-family homes. The proposed Santee Village Center includes about 15 acres for the RV park with a potential of 150 RV spaces. The development would be between Columbia and Charleston.
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS STOLEN RV?
Did someone rip off your ride? Let us post information on your stolen RV. Email Russ (at) rvtravel.com.
See many more recently stolen RVs. Let’s help find these for their owners and maybe even put the crooks in the slammer. Click here.
Prevent crumbs or trash from falling through the seat cracks!
This is one brilliant product! The Drop Stop, the car seat gap filler, prevents anything from falling in front of, in between or behind your car or RV’s seats. It simply attaches to the seat belt catch and sits comfortably between your seat and the middle console. I think all of us here at RVtravel.com are going to go buy this 2-pack right now. How could we not?! Learn more or order.
RV recalls posted since our last newsletter
• Ford F-150 trucks recalled: Tailgate may open unexpectedly
• Ford F-150 trucks recalled for possible driveshaft fracture
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of December 20, 2021:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $3.30 [Calif.: $4.50]
Change from week before: Down 2 cents; Change from year before: Up $1.07.
Diesel: $3.63 [Calif.: $4.77]
Change from week before: Down 2 cents; Change from year before: Up $1.01.
Can you find Santa’s solid red hat in the image below? Click to enlarge.
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.
Upcoming RV shows
• Tarrant County RV Show, January 6-9, Fort Worth, TX
• Greensboro RV Show, January 7-9, Greensboro, NC
• Gulf Coast RV Show, January 7-9, Mobile, AL
• Knoxville RV Super Show, January 7-9, Sevierville, TN
• NCRVDA Greensboro RV Show, January 7-9, Greensboro, NC
• South Carolina RV & Camping Show, January 7-9, Greenville, SC
• Ohio RV and Boat Show, January 7-16, Columbus, OH
• Indy RV Expo, January 8-16, Indianapolis, IN
• Quartzsite RV Show, January 22-30, Quartzsite, AZ
• Seattle RV Show, February 17-20, Seattle, WA
Recipe of the Day
We love a tuna melt and this healthier version of the sandwich is delicious. It cuts back on the fat, but you don’t lose any of the taste. The bit of mayo makes it creamy and we like the crunchiness of the added celery. We were curious about microwaving the sandwich. With the bread being toasted and the quick time in the microwave, it didn’t get rubbery. Just melted the cheese a bit. This is quick, easy to prepare, and quite tasty.
Now that’s what we’d call a perfect lunch! Get the recipe.
Brain teaser answer:
The Perfect Scam Podcast
Every Sunday we present a podcast from AARP about scams and how crooks are stealing your money, often via telemarketing. Their efforts are often most successful with people 65 years and older who fall victim to the scammers’ sophisticated techniques. Here is this week’s episode.
What is a New Year’s resolution?
Something that goes in one year and out the other!
Today in History
Do you have a blog or personal website about RVing? We might like to publicize it for you on RVtravel.com. No cost to you. Instead you could earn excellent money. More info.
Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Tony Barthel, Mike Gast. Contributors: Mike Sokol, Gail Marsh, Roger Marble, Dave Solberg, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, Scott Linden, James Raia, Kate Doherty, J.R. Montigel, Clint Norrell, Randall Brink, Chris Epting and Karel Carnohan, DVM. Special projects director: Jessica Sarvis. Moderators: Gary Gilmore, Linda Brady, Mark Gorrie. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. Special Reports: Bradford Geer. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com or this newsletter.
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