Here’s the latest news about RVing and more from the editors of RVtravel.com. This newsletter, along with each of our daily online publications, is funded in part by the voluntary subscription contributions of our readers. Thanks to all of you; you know who you are.
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
New pickup truck said to tow an amazing 300,000 pounds! Can it be true?
Tesla watchers have been breathlessly hunting for clues about the company’s long-anticipated electric “Cybertruck.” Little is known about the truck now, but Elon Musk once described it as a massive 6-seater with an option for anywhere between 400 and 500 miles of range, packing a monstrous 300,000-pound towing capacity. The anticipation may soon be over. Read more.
Lightning strikes RV roof. Big damage. Insurance balks!
A 2015 Heartland Silverado camper was struck by lightning resulting in a hole in the roof causing water damage since July without the owner’s knowledge. He discovered the damage last month. Progressive said, “We will pay to fix the roof, but the subsequent damage is not covered.” That wasn’t good enough. Read the outcome.
Really? Government considers allowing Amazon to make deliveries to National Park campsites
The Trump administration is considering proposals to privatize national park campgrounds, black out senior discounts during peak season periods, and further commercialize the parks with expanded WiFi service and food trucks and allowing Amazon to make deliveries to campers. More.
Admission to many public lands free tomorrow
Get outside this Veterans Day — for free! Tomorrow, November 11, all National Parks, National Forests and other federal lands will waive their entrance fees for the last time in 2019. Learn more.
Busted for “work camping!”
You’ve heard the term “Work camping,” right? In RVing terms it means traveling with your RV and making money along the way. Well, here’s the story of a couple who took the idea of “making money” literally. Richard Allen Kennedy II, 45, and Vickey Lanea Feeler, 51, were arrested and charged this week in Taylor County, Texas, for making money the wrong way — printing it instead of earning it! The cops got tipped off by an employee at Bill’s Burger who had spotted Feeler trying to pay with a fake bill. Police later found many $1, $5 and $20 bills in their RV, as well as the printer they used to make them! Now don’t get any ideas. . .
More on the RVers murdered in Texas:
• Breaking News: Suspect in Padre Island RVers murders arrested (includes video) (Nov. 6)
• He’s arrested in Texas RVer murders – but where is he? (Nov. 6)
• Wednesday Update: New photos released in Texas RVers murder (Nov. 6)
• Fund established to help family of murdered RVers (Nov. 5)
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed:
• Editor’s essay: How times have changed in how we communicate on the road.
• Is RVtravel.com all about bashing Camping World?
• Should ST tires by outlawed?
• How infrared temp guns work.
Camco’s insulated skylight cover keeps the heat in your RV from escaping this winter. More.
That was the week that was
November 3–9, 2019
If you were thinking you might head to New York next July for the FMCA’s 102nd International Convention and RV Expo, change your thinking. The FMCA says it will NOT stage the convention at the New York State Fairgrounds after all. Apparently negotiations between FMCA and the center have gone up in smoke, and FMCA officials have decided they’ll go somewhere else. Where that is has yet to be decided.
The California Highway Patrol says a passenger in a car on a Sacramento, California, freeway had a close encounter with a big truck’s load loss. The unidentified passenger was in the front seat of a Chevrolet Impala following a big rig when a long metal bar fell off the rig, bounced off the pavement, and impaled the Impala. The bar came through the engine compartment, into the passenger area, spearing the passenger in the right leg. The injured passenger was taken to a hospital after paramedics responded; the truck never stopped.
Veterans Day, November 11, will see the National Park Service throw the gates open free to all comers – the last “free day” of 2019. Special tours and programs centering on veterans will also take place: Tours of a Nike missile site in Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the chance to chat with Cold War veterans in Gateway National Recreation Area. There will be a highway dedication and sign unveiling ceremony in Three Rivers for Colonel Charles Young of the U.S. Army’s Buffalo Soldiers. Colonel Young was the first superintendent of Sequoia National Park. Or attend the screening and discussion of a documentary featuring nurses who served in the Vietnam War era at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The National Park Service has announced its 2020 entrance fee-free days. On each of these significant days of celebration or commemoration, all national parks will waive entrance fees: Monday, January 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Saturday, April 18 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day. Tuesday, August 25 – National Park Service Birthday. Saturday, September 26 – National Public Lands Day. Wednesday, November 11 – Veterans Day.
In a note on ongoing “progress,” city officials in Lincoln, Nebraska, say they’re contemplating shutting down an RV campground in favor of more “suitable” property use. Since 1962 the city has owned the 16-acre property now occupied by Camp A Way near Interstate 80. With the campground’s lease renewal coming up in 2025, the city says it wants to see proposals for “significant architecture” on the site. But Camp A Way’s owners don’t want RVers to despair – they’re looking at building an even bigger park nearby on a 45-acre site.
Camping World CEO, Marcus Lemonis, appears to be making good on his promise to “sell, repurpose, relocate or close between 27 and 37 location across the country.” The ax is at the foot of the tree in Traverse City, Michigan. The local Gander RV & Outdoors is presently throwing a “Store is Closing” sale, issuing coupons for 40% off on most stock, which expire November 10. No word if the closure will turn into a “repurposing” or if Camping World as parent company will sell off its Traverse offspring. While the word “RV” appears in the store name, that location doesn’t sell recreational vehicles.
We earlier reported that Surrey, British Columbia‘s city council had been considering a proposal that would ban people from “occupying” RVs on city streets by night. Get caught in an RV between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and face a ticket or watch your rig be towed. The proposal would have set restrictions on RVs parked in daylight hours “adjacent to businesses, public parks, schools, churches or residences.” After the council sent the matter back to staff for a rework, the new idea would simply limit “large vehicle” parking to no more than 24 hours, and “prohibit them from being used as a dwelling unit or place to sleep while parked.” This new, vague proposal would still allow for people to be parked on city roads for a limited amount of time, while ensuring the city “can effectively deal with complaints.” In 2019, 27 “complaints” were lodged regarding RVs – and six of those involved the same rig.
It was a hot time at an RV tailgating spot in Jacksonville, Florida. The famed Florida vs. Georgia rivalry never takes long to fill up tailgating lots before the game, and Saturday (November 2) was no exception. But the heat that took the news had nothing to do with team rivalry; rather, it appears somebody got careless with a gas can near a generator which took off in huge flames at 2:00 in the morning. Firefighters quickly knocked the flames down.
Keep stinky odors out of your RV (relied on by the RV Travel staff). Click.
Firefighters in Franklin County, Washington, got called out to a fire – but they didn’t get the information from their dispatcher. Instead, somebody walked into the fire station to report that an RV was on fire about a half-mile from the station. Someone had already made a phone call to report the fire, but the dispatcher couldn’t understand the caller’s language and was trying to get a translator to help. Back on the fire scene, it turned out somebody had tipped over an outdoor cooking appliance which ignited brush. A frozen water hose proved useless in knocking down the flames before they spread to a motorhome.
Campsite #3 at North Carolina’s Jones Lake State Park was rarely lonely. It was the only site in the campground that offered an electrical hookup and, as such, was occupied about 95% of the time. Park officials say no more – that since a major renovation is complete at the park near Elizabethtown, more sites have electrical hookups, there are disabled-access sites, and there’s a brand-new bathhouse.
If you are a wheelchair-bound RVer, or travel with one, you know how difficult it can be to see some of the sights. Imagine trying to take your normal chair out onto sand dunes. The folks at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore have a solution. The Lakeshore clings to Lake Michigan‘s northeast shore, and is well-known for its huge dunes. Making the dunes more accessible is now a reality, as the Lakeshore offers free-use beach wheelchairs. With huge balloon tires, these access rigs will make a beach trip far easier. You’ll find an adult and a child chair at the Cannery at Glen Haven, and another adult chair can be found at the Maritime Museum. Both locations have beach-access ramps, but a helper will be needed to provide propulsion for use. Check in with a volunteer at either location, and be ready to show a park pass.
Boondocking and expecting UPS packages? With no fixed address, it’s hard to get your deliveries. But shipping giant UPS is so concerned that holiday deliveries will be big this year, they’re offering rewards for package recipients to use a “UPS Access Point” for deliveries. Such points include places like UPS stores and some local businesses including places like flower shops and dry cleaners. Running through January 12, those who pick up a given number of packages at their preferred Access Point can earn Target eGift cards. Get three packages, get a $5 card; five will get you $10. You’ll need to sign up for the deal in advance. Here’s more information. You don’t need to boondock to take advantage of this deal – just be willing to get your packages at the location of your choice.
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 any sporting event. We already bought one! Learn more or order.
A civic-minded landowner in Oakland, California, has taken on a big job to help homeless RV dwellers. The landowner has a four-acre parcel in West Oakland that presently is overrun with at least 139 junked or dumped vehicles and is adjacent to a homeless encampment, and is itself also home to other destitute people. Now the owner says he or she will lease the property to the city for use as a safe parking area for homeless RVers – at no charge. The city agreed, but the property owner has to first clear the land of dead vehicles and debris, and the land be left ready for grading and installation of utilities. City officials have been working with current “residents” – helping them to find other places to park until the facility can be completed and reopened.
Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park is considering allowing a cellular communications tower and associated rights-of-way to three utility companies. Possible locations for the tower include the Bryce Amphitheater area of the park or at Science Hill near Inspiration Point. An Environmental Assessment is now available for public viewing and commentary. For more information click here. Comments on the project may be mailed to: Superintendent Bryce Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 640201 Bryce, Utah 84764.
A California man, Ronnie Wayne Lee (51), has been sentenced by an Iowa judge to 15 years in prison after stealing and shooting up a motorhome in a what might be described as an RV-jacking incident last August. Lee was a passenger in a motorhome on an Iowa road when he pulled a gun and demanded the RVer give him his money and his cell phone. Evidently not in the mood to surrender his possessions, the RVer changed his mind after Lee blasted off a few shots in the moving RV. Lee took the man’s phone and nearly $200, then kicked him out of the rig and drove away. Police eventually located the abandoned motorhome, and later caught up with Lee and another passenger who was present at the time of the motorhome robbery.
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Michigan State Parks are already working on filling slots for campground hosts for the 2020 season, running April through October. A 30-hour-per-week work commitment is required. Hosts will need to be at least 18, and have their own rig. Expect to work a five-day week, which includes weekends and holidays. Visit here for more information.
An indictment has been handed down in the case of a man gunned down in front of his two daughters while camping at California’s Malibu Creek State Park. Anthony Rauda, 43, a transient survivalist, is charged with killing Tristan Beaudette, who was tent camping with his daughters, ages 2 and 4, at the time. Rauda is also under indictment for 10 counts of attempted murder, Beaudette’s daughters being two of the intended victims. He was arrested in October after a series of murder attempts and house break-ins in the Malibu area. Beaudette’s wife and daughters had earlier filed a wrongful death suit against Los Angeles County, claiming the family was not warned of shootings that had taken place earlier in the area where Beaudette was killed. Meanwhile, an LA County sheriff’s deputy has also filed suit in a related matter, charging that he suffered workplace retaliation from supervisors when he attempted to warn the public about shootings in the Malibu Creek State Park area, these occurring before Beaudette’s death.
Trailer hitches galore. Click here.
Although locals may snarl about the influx of Snowbirds, there’s something to be thankful for – at least in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. A survey shows about 100,000 “Winter Texans” migrate into South Texas every year. These snowbirding temporary residents pump $700 million dollars into the economy during their stay.
In a move that has pitted the opinions of the oil industry against environmental concerns groups, the Bureau of land Management says oilfield fracking doesn’t pose any undue harm in a large area of California. The report covers 1.2 million acres of land in California, mostly in Kern County. It opens up the opportunity for the agency to reopen bidding by oil companies for oil rights in these areas. Fracking is the practice of injecting water, sand and small concentrations of sometimes toxic chemicals into underground areas to free up oil deposits.
Uber’s self-driving car software engineers have drawn a major black eye, and cost a pedestrian her life in so doing. The “accident,” if it could legitimately be labeled as such, occurred in March 2018 in Tempe, Arizona, where Elaine Herzberg was hit and killed by an Uber self-driving test car on a dark road. Uber had equipped the vehicle with a safety driver to override the automaton’s control; but, instead, the driver had her head buried in a video on a handheld device, failing to see Ms. Herzberg until it was too late. Nevertheless, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has issued a report that says Uber’s software simply wasn’t designed to recognize people outside of crosswalks as a safety hazard. Car radar spotted Herzberg nearly six seconds prior to impact – before she entered the car’s line of travel – noting her as a “vehicle,” then changing her status several times, but never predicting she would come into the car’s path. Jason Levine, with the Center for Auto Safety advocacy group, commented to media: “These are life and death consequences, not video game reset buttons for software developers.” Levine added, “I think they were playing fast and loose with people’s lives, and Elaine Herzberg has paid the price.”
A pint-sized pooch named Teddy is getting a hero’s accolades for helping to save many lives in Williams, Oregon. Teddy’s owner says he’s a quiet little dog, and when he started barking furiously on Wednesday night, she took notice – and spotted orange flames shooting out of a nearby RV. Firefighters found the rig fully involved, flames shooting 30 feet into the air and endangering nearby wildlands. It took a few hours and a lot of water, but firemen got the flames out, saving several homes and, likely, lives. The local fire chief says firefighters have a reward for Teddy at the firehouse – a special bone.
Has water ever dripped into your RV’s living space during a bad rainstorm?
“Winter Texans” appear to be getting an early start this year, says the Texas Association of Campground Owners. “Some” of the outfit’s member parks are reporting higher-than-normal records of Snowbirds arriving far earlier than normal for this stage of the seasonal influx. Witness the words of Ruth Dearinger, who manages VIP La Feria RV Park in La Feria: “We are busier now than we’ve ever been at this time of year. People are coming earlier.”
A volunteer fire department in Teller County, Colorado, has been dealt a dirty hand by a crook in a motorhome. In the dark of a recent night, a man in an older Class A motorhome rolled into the Four Mile Fire Protection District parking lot and siphoned about 60 gallons of gas out of the station’s fuel tank. What made the matter worse, the crook left the hose lying on the ground. The damage he caused allowed 300 gallons more fuel to leak out, contaminating the ground, and creating a $25,000 cleanup and repair bill. The costs will top out the department’s insurance, and the agency is worried they’ll be hit with higher premiums. Tips led to finding the abandoned motorhome – but no driver.
Is it a case of “No good deed goes unpunished”? When flooding in parts of Iowa last spring ran residents out of their homes, Iowa State Park officials told them to put up for free at Waubonsie State Park in Fremont County, Iowa. Some evacuees were grateful, but had to stay for months – which cut into available sites that would otherwise be used by paying customers. State park officials say, so far, Uncle Sam’s Federal Emergency Management Agency has moved not a finger to cut a check to help cover the costs of caring for the evacuees. Locals, and grateful recipients who took shelter in the park, have been sending letters to their Congressional representatives, hoping that might help. Time will tell.
Shortly after uttering the cry “Today is the day! We’ve been living in hell, but we’ll be happy in heaven,” a man set fire to an occupied RV in Whatcom County, Washington,north of Seattle. Spencer Morrison Langei (29) is now booked on suspicion of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree arson, brandishing a weapon and resisting arrest. Langei allegedly lit a fire under the trailer he’d been living in with his girlfriend while she was in the shower. As she got out of the shower into the smoke-filled rig, she says she saw Langei trying to light a pile of stuff on the floor of the rig with a flare gun. She was able to kill the blaze with a towel and escaped injuries. Responding firefighters encountered a belligerent Langei who obstructed their work, and eventually pulled a knife on them. They wrestled the knife away from him and helped police restrain the whacked-out arsonist.
RV recalls posted since our last newsletter
Keystone recalls trailers; propane supply hose may melt
Keystone is recalling certain 2020 Dutchmen Atlas 3382BH trailers. The trailers may have a non-metallic propane supply hose installed inside the burner box of the cooktop, instead of a copper supply hose. More.
Airstream recalls motorhomes, breaker terminal may be wired incorrectly
Airstream is recalling certain 2019-2020 Atlas motorhomes. The SH1 Breaker Terminal may be wired incorrectly, causing some of the 12V circuits to have insufficient overcurrent protection. Learn more.
Space heater uses only 200 watts!
It’s hard to believe that an electric space heater could use a mere 200 watts — the same as a couple of light bulbs — a fraction of other space heaters. And this one really works! It’s meant to heat a nearby person, not a room (although it will keep the chill away in a small bathroom). Put it on your desk or at your feet. Perfect for the RVer who’s “always cold.” For about $20, this is a winner. Learn more or order.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of November 4, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.61. [Calif.: $3.95]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 15 cents.
Diesel: $3.06. [Calif.: $4.01]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 28 cents.
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Upcoming RV Shows
Tampa Bay Fall RV Show, now through Nov. 10, Tampa, FL
West Palm Beach Fall RV Show, Nov. 14-17, West Palm Beach, FL
Great American RV Show – Conyers, Nov. 15-17, Conyers, GA
Fall Clean Sweep RV Show, Dec. 6-8, Ft. Myers, FL
Winterize your RV with this kit
Make winterizing easy with Camco’s Pump Converter Winterizing Kit. This kit is a permanent installation that allows you to bypass your fresh water supply line and use your RV’s water pump to fill the fresh water lines with antifreeze. Every piece is made of high-quality material. The kit includes all parts necessary to bypass the fresh water supply line. Some tools needed for installation. Learn more or order.
Free and bargain camping
Click here to view this week’s free and bargain camping spots.
• Walmarts that do not allow overnight RV stays.
• Walmart Directory: Best printed directory of Walmart locations
• Guide to Free Campgrounds: Best-selling directory, year after year.
The best gifts for RVers!
Check out the first part of our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide right here.
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Emily Woodbury. Senior editors: Diane McGovern, Russ and Tiña De Maris.
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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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