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 17, 2019
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
Airstreams recalled: “Don’t tow your trailers!”
Airstream is recalling nearly 2,000 trailers because of a welding error that could result in an RV’s ball coupler not providing enough clamping force, which could cause the trailer and tow vehicle to separate. Until owners can have their RVs inspected, Airstream says, “Don’t tow them!” Read the rest of the story.
Update on Padre Island boondocker murders
More charges, jail moves, and a gag order were new developments in a case related to the deaths of two RVers in Texas. James and Michelle Butler were killed sometime in October on Padre Island, their bodies left in a shallow grave, and their truck and trailer stolen. While no one has been charged with their murders, two people have been charged with the theft of their pickup, and both appeared in the news during this last week. Read more.
Breaking News: Controversial “parks” committee shut down
When the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee, the brainchild of former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, recently brought forward a series of recommendations on “modernizing” National Park campgrounds, it caused quite a stir. Perhaps the expression “In with a bang, out with a whimper” could be raised now. The committee, as of November 1, is no more. What’s your reaction? Please comment below the article. Learn more.
New car debuts with windshield made of air!
We seriously doubt you have ever seen anything like this car. It has no front window (not to mention no side windows or roof). How can that be possible? Find out, and learn why you probably won’t be rushing out to buy it (hint: it’s not cheap!).
Couple could face jail time for living in RV in their driveway
A Mississippi couple whose home was partially gutted in a fire is facing fines, court costs and possible jail time for temporarily living in an RV while they dealt with their insurance company. Read more.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, some stories you missed: Guest essay: Is full-time RVing a full-time vacation? • The second most important step in buying an RV • Editor’s Roadside Journal: The citizens of Quartzsite will kill me for this
That was the week that was
November 10–16, 2019
Interest in renting an RV is up 650 percent since 2013. Millennials are first on the list of potential renters, but half of them don’t want to drive one – they just want to have it delivered to the spot of their choice so they can move in. And where would would-be RV rental users go? A top destination is Ginnie Springs, Florida, northwest of Gainesville. Known for its seven natural springs and a five-star RV park, you may want to reroute your trip to avoid crowds. Source: rvshare.com.
The rise to domination in the RV industry continues as Winnebago Industries Inc. has now officially taken over Newmar Corporation. The deal, which was announced in September and is now finalized, is worth $270 million.
Cold? Turn on your propane heater. Need a smoke? Light up that cigarette. While you’re at it, you may want to have 911 on your speed dial. That’s the lesson from the Port Townsend, Washington, man who blasted the back end out of his motorhome on November 7. The unnamed man had apparently brought a 20-pound LP cylinder inside his rig and hooked it up to a small space heater. Lighting up his smoke was all that was required to locate a previously unknown gas leak. The man was taken to a local hospital with burned hands. Please remember – it’s not safe to bring LP cylinders into your rig, and regular checks for tight-fitting gas connections are a great idea.
Help police find this man. Michael Brown is wanted for the murder of his mother’s boyfriend. The 22-year-old Marine deserter had returned to Virginia after fleeing Clarendon County, South Carolina, early Wednesday morning, where he had been staying since Oct. 24 in an RV at Elliott’s Landing Campground along Lake Marion in South Carolina. Authorities say Brown (6-feet tall, 145 pounds) has been known to live in the woods and frequent National Parks and National Forests. At the RV park he stood out by always wearing a three-piece suit. Anyone who may come into contact with him should use caution. See a wanted poster for more information.
KOA is developing what it calls Paw Pen campsites, which will offer a small pet area next to a camper’s RV. Also, the chain of RV campgrounds recently announced that it plans to add another 20 new-build parks by the end of 2020.
Winnebago continues to make strides with electric vehicles. Now the company has delivered an all-electric mobile surgical instrument lab (eMSIL) to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Health Center. The new rig will ferry back and forth between campuses to pick up, repair, clean and disinfect surgical instruments. The 33′ rig has a range of 85 to 125 driving miles per charge. With a bit of advance in battery technology, will we soon see a ‘Lectric Motorhome by Winnie?
Looking in the rear-view mirror and all you can see is the grill of a Peterbilt? Tailgating truckers are a part of RV road life, but now add these interesting statistics. Last September, authorities in the U.S. and Canada declared a Brake Safety Week, where big rigs were pulled over for brake inspection. Of the 34,320 rigs inspected, 4,626 were pulled off the road for having critical brake violations – a whopping 13 percent plus!
Rate increases for South Dakota’s state parks: Come January 1, 2020, annual passes will cost $36 and a daily pass will cost $8. Prime campsites hit $26, preferred campsites $23, and modern campsites $20. A new statewide $15 fee kicks in for all non-electric, tent-only campsites.
The fight over whether RVers and other traveling satellite TV users will continue to have local broadcasts wherever they go continues on Capitol Hill. As we have reported, the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR) must be renewed or such signals will end. Two Senate committees oversee the act, and the chairs of the two committees, both Republicans, are diametrically opposed in their views. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, wants to see the act renewed, allowing the broadcasts to go on. Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants the signals shut down after a year. With the Act “Sunsetting” on December 31, there’s not much time left to work out the disagreement. Pundits suggest a renewal of the Act for a month or two may be put into play to allow the combatants to regroup.
The Spokane Valley (Wash.) Parks Department no longer takes reservations for picnic shelters at its Sullivan Park. Previous renters reported they had bad experiences or uncomfortable interactions with people who appeared to be homeless. Parks Director Mike Stone said the department had to close down the restrooms in another park earlier this year after people lit warming fires in them.
Here is yet another example of what is happening all over the United States. People, most of them struggling to get by, are “camping” in beat up RVs on city streets and in some cases dumping sewage right on the pavement. Many of these people would be homeless if not for old RVs that they can buy for practically nothing or rent from “RV ranchers” for $50 a week. Watch the video from KIRO-TV.
… And here, from New York City, is a similar tale from Pix 11 News … where low income citizens are parking in recreational vehicles with penalties under the Gowanus Expressway. One man lives in an old Southwind motorhome that he paid $500 for after he could no longer afford to pay his rent.
A proposed RV park for the community of Seeley Lake, Montana, has become such a contentious issue that officials called in the police. Last Monday the issue was aired at a community council, and media reports “a larger crowd than usual” filled the hearing room in part because “law enforcement was present, ready to step in if debate got heated.” No reports of thrown punches but, says kpax.com, “The conversation definitely had its fair share of tense moments.” The eye of the proverbial hurricane is a proposed 14-acre RV park which would site 71 rigs off Montana Highway 83. Locals contend highway traffic will sour and property values tumble.
Canadian RV dealers are watching towable sales drop like a rock. January through September sales overall sank more than 14 percent, fifth-wheels were down 19 percent, pop-ups collapsed nearly 17 percent, and travel trailers fell behind by 13 percent. Park models bucked the trend, upping their sales by 2 percent. Source: Statistical Surveys Inc.
Under pressure from the community, Lacey, Washington, city councilors have backed away from a plan that would have seen “homeless” RVers moved to an unfinished road, an encampment equipped with portable toilets and hand-washing facilities. In October about 100 people argued against the proposal. Now the city says it will issue permits to those who want to park overnight at the city hall – provided they meet a plethora of requirements, including an agreement to work with social services agencies. At this point, only one person has applied for a permit.
By U.S. standards, Noodles the cat’s travels may be short, but in Europe, he’s a globe-trotter. Noodles’ family, Alex and Robert Crosland of the UK, both in their seventies, have taken Noodles with them in their Class B motorhome over 50,000 miles in the last seven years. Noodles has his own passport and keeps up with his “jabs,” or vaccinations, while traveling internationally throughout the E.U. to places like Spain, France, and three other countries. He was reportedly a bit grumpy when the rest of the family took off to Russia for a Baltic cruise and he had to be left home.
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, may soon be the home of a new giant-sized Lazydays RV store. The local planning commission will consider the company request to build near Interstate 24 and the New Salem Highway – near a planned Costco store. The RV company says it will employ 60 to 80 once in operation.
A man from Rough and Ready, California, is proving himself to be up to the name of his hometown. Rob Totoonchie set up his tent on a remote spot in Mendocino, California, on October 26. During the night a strong wind came up – taking down a massive tree limb, crushing Totoonchie in his tent. Too windy for a helicopter rescue, Rob was taken out in stages: first by truck, then by two different fire trucks, two different ambulances, into a local hospital and, finally, into a chopper to an advanced support hospital. In all, a very rough three-hour transport for a man with a smashed pelvis, ruptured liver, collapsed lung, and 11 broken ribs. Totoonchie is expected to recover from his injuries – in about two years. Scary! Have you or your RV ever been hit by a falling object when out on a trip?
November 14 marked the opening of Stovepipe Wells and Texas Springs campgrounds in Death Valley National Park, California. All of the park’s campgrounds are now open for the season, with a total of 785 front-country sites. All are on first-come, first-served basis except Furnace Creek, which requires reservations.
Jumping on the early Christmas shopping bandwagon, New York State wants you to buy from them to fill stockings. The state’s park managers have you covered with this suggestion: “For that one hard-to-buy-for outdoor enthusiast on your list, give the gift of New York State’s unmatched natural beauty with a gift card to visit any of our world-class recreational destinations.” Camping Gift Cards will continue to be a physical card, mailed to the recipient, and electronic gift certificates will be emailed to the purchaser for printing and/or emailing to the recipient. More info: DEC’s website and go to the Camping link under the Outdoor Recreation section, or call DEC’s Bureau of Recreation at 518-457-2500.
Changes in the Mark Twain National Forest call for new camp hosts. The Forest Service says it will retake management of the Council Bluff and Red Bluff recreation areas in Missouri, and camp hosts will be needed for both locations. Campground hosts typically bring their own RV to stay in for their host term, and they assist with on-site customer service and some campground maintenance. The Forest Service provides hosts with a daily allowance to cover costs of food or personal supplies. Persons interested in becoming a campground host can contact the Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District at (573) 438-5427 for more information.
Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 states. Essential reference.
California Camping: Moon Handbook guide profiles 1,400 campgrounds. Updated 2019.
Best-selling printed directory of free and inexpensive campgrounds. Click.
Best RVing books as recommended by our editors: Click here.
True or false? Facebook has made the world a better place.
Recent reader poll: What percent of RVtravel.com male readers served in the military service? 27 percent, 42 percent or 58 percent? Learn the answer in last Monday’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter.
Surrey, British Columbia, just keeps popping up in the news. For the last couple of weeks we’ve reported on proposed city laws that would make sleeping in an RV overnight verboten. Now hundreds of tenants at the local Peace Arch RV Park will be looking for new homes. It all started when 16 of the park’s residents got an attorney to look into rising rates at the park, and ended up filing a complaint with a local government agency. This led to the discovery that the park was not properly zoned for long-term occupancy, and the city then put the park on notice that nobody could live at the park for more than 182 days in a year. Now residents who’ve overstayed the limit have been given until next May to move out on their own, or see their RVs towed.
Lippert Components and one of its employees has been hit by a court order in a trade secrets theft lawsuit. Vincent Smith had worked for a Lippert competitor, ASA Electronics, working to develop a control system dubbed iN-Command. The suit claims Lippert lured Smith away from ASA – bringing with him huge amounts of electronic data that constituted ASA’s secrets. ASA filed suit against Smith and Lippert back in 2018 and the case is working its way through the courts. Meanwhile, a judge in the case has issued a preliminary injunction that prohibits Smith from working for Lippert “in any way related to control systems” related to the RV industry. It further blocks Lippert from using any of the electronic data Smith allegedly pilfered from ASA. Lippert disputes the claims.
Quartzsite, Arizona, may just get a little busier – thanks to Tesla. The town is home to an eight-stall V2 charging station for the battery-powered vehicles, located behind the Carl’s Junior burger joint. Now a sign indicates Tesla plans on beefing up their system by building a 28-stall Supercharger V3 station. The difference, aside from the number of cars that can charge at any given time? The V3 charging station pumps up a low-battery Tesla about twice as fast as a V2 station – claiming 1,000 miles worth of driving in just an hour. In Quartzsite, that means you should just have enough time to get your burger and eat it before it’s time to motor down the road.
The survivor of a traffic accident who was tossed from a pickup towing a travel trailer has finally been found – after 19 days missing. Veronica and Jim Rigsby were headed home from a camping trip on October 13, when their trailer was clobbered by a pickup that ran a stop sign on Ohio Route 73 in Butler County, Ohio. Traveling with the Rigsbys were their three Chihuahuas, one named Lilly. While Lilly’s two canine companions were tossed onto the dashboard, Lilly ended up outside of the rig and, frightened, took off running. For more than two weeks volunteers combed the area, making occasional sightings – one, where someone came within two feet of the dog. Finally, workers at a welding shop spotted Lilly crawling into a warehouse, and by calling Veronica and putting her on the speakerphone, were able to coax the dog into care. She appears to have suffered a broken hip, and lost five of her original 12 pounds, but is expected to pull through.
A recent story out of Abilene, Texas, puts a new – and dark – spin on the Three Bears. A grand jury has indicted two people on forgery charges after they tried to pass bogus money at a local eatery. Richard Allen Kennedy II (45) and Vickey Lanea Feeler (51) were found living in an RV near Bill’s Burgers after police were called when Feeler tried to pass a counterfeit bill for a purchase. Turns out, the couple were hanging out in an RV on a used car lot, printing bogus bills in the RV that they didn’t own. Here’s hoping their beds in the local lockup are “just right.”
The steam-powered rocket man is at it again. Mike Hughes, whose homebrew rocket ship launches off the back of a motorhome, says he’ll shoot himself over the top of Amboy, California, on Saturday, meaning if he makes the launch, by now (Sunday) it’ll be a part of history. A believer that the earth is flat, “Mad Mike” has invested $20,000 in his rocket, which is fueled by the steam from boiling 70 gallons of water. He hopes to reach 1,800 feet altitude and blast along at 500 mph. Back in 2014 he blasted himself along a nearly 1,400-foot path – and spent three days recovering from the effects of g-forces.
What if they sold the bonds, but they never built? That’s the story in Oklahoma, where $9 million in bonds were sold to build a new headquarters for the state’s Department of Tourism and Recreation. In the end, it was decided a new building wasn’t needed. So what to do with the $9 million? The lieutenant governor wants the money put into parks for improvements like more RV sites and cabins. To make it work, it’ll take legislation to approve the change – and to meet legal requirements, it’ll need to be done in the next session.
Southeast New Mexico has seen a welcome influx of oil field workers. With an oil rush on the Permian Basin, the workers bring a surge of cash into the local economy. Now locals are complaining they’re bringing something else: sewage. In Eddy County, “man camps” filled with RVs for oil field workers, and 140 camps in all are pumping more than oil – raw sewage is being discharged into the ground and, in some cases, polluting ground water. County officials say 20 percent of these camps are working toward getting the situation under control – but that leaves 80 percent non-compliant. When a local news organization visited some of the camps to get comments, they were told to leave – now.
Developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA
Janet Groene reports each week on developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA and Canada. There’s a lot of good information here that you can use to plan your travels. Read the current installment of “Campground Chatter” here.
Protect yourself from intruders, bears and more!
The BASU eAlarm lets you explore, sleep, and adventure with confidence! This tiny device emits a 130-decibel alarm which scares away intruders, burglars, and wild animals, and will call for help if you find yourself stranded. Used by the RV Travel staff, you can count on this alarm to keep you safe. Click here to order.
RV recalls posted since our last newsletter
Urgent: Airstream trailers may separate from tow vehicle
Airstream is recalling many 2019-2020 Sport, Nest, Flying Cloud, International Serenity, International Signature, Classic, Globetrotter and Tommy Bahama trailers and 2020 Basecamp, Bambi and Caravel trailers. Due to improper welding, the Demco ball coupler installed on the travel trailers may not provide enough clamping force on the tow ball, potentially causing the coupler to separate from the tow ball. More.
Forest River recalls motorhomes, stabilizer bracket may break
Forest River is recalling certain 2017 Dynamax DX3 and Force motorhomes. The front axle stabilizer bracket may not properly mount to the axle, and may break as a result. Learn more.
Thor recalls some 2019-2020 motorhomes for seatbelt issue
Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Chateau 22B, 22E, 23U, 24F, 25V, and 28A, Daybreak 22GO, Four Winds 22B, 22E, 24F, 26B and 28A, Freedom Elite 22HE and 2020 Quantum GR22, and SE22 motorhomes. The seatbelt-unfastened warning light will not illuminate for approximately five seconds after the ignition is moved to the “on” or “start” position. Learn more.
Forest River recalls some Surveyor trailers over wrong fuse
Forest River is recalling certain 2020 Surveyor trailers, model SVT33KFKDS. A fuse of the incorrect amperage was installed for the 12V refrigerator, potentially allowing the wiring to overheat. Learn more.
Forest River recalls trailers; cooktop LP gas line may melt and cause fire
Forest River is recalling certain 2020 EVO, Salem and Wildwood travel trailers. The trailer cooktops were installed with a rubber liquid propane (LP) gas line instead of a copper one. Learn more.
Other RV recalls. Click here.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of November 11, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.62. [Calif.: $3.92]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 7 cents.
Diesel: $3.07. [Calif.: $4.01]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 3 cents.
The cutest ornament we’ve ever seen…
This adorable little camp stove is the perfect addition to your, or a family or friend’s, Christmas tree this year. Makes the perfect gift for an RVer, camper, hiker, fisher…well, anyone! Learn more or order here (and see some other equally cute RV-related ornaments here).
Sign up for an email reminder for our weekday RV Daily Tips Newsletter, published every Monday through Friday. You won’t want to miss it!
Upcoming RV Shows
West Palm Beach Fall RV Show, Nov. 14-17, West Palm Beach, FL
Glendale RV Show, Nov. 14-24 (Closed Mon., Nov. 18), Glendale, AZ
Great American RV Show – Conyers, Nov. 15-17, Conyers, GA
Fall Clean Sweep RV Show, Dec. 6-8, Ft. Myers, FL
Collapsible containers perfect for RV kitchen
If you don’t have collapsible food containers for your RV yet, you’re missing out. This set of four is BPA free and microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe. Never worry about taking up room again, these fold practically flat! These containers come with air-tight lids which keep food longer, and keep food safer. Order for a great price here.
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.
Easily clean those stubborn bugs off your RV
The Microfiber Mesh Bug and Tar Sponge has millions of tiny fibers embedded in the microfiber cloth that grabs and holds the dust and dirt. It is so effective it even cleans without chemicals, saving both time and money. The secret of this sponge lies in its unique, double-layer microfiber mesh. Older nylon bug sponges can harm your clear coat, but this one is completely paint safe. Learn more or order.
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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