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Sunday, February 2, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
Forget tire chains! Use socks!
With winter having a definite firm grip, you may have decided maybe, just maybe, it’s best to “stay in the barn.” If the thought of getting stuck at the dreaded “Chains Required” sign has put you off, here’s another alternative: Forget tire chains, go to tire socks. What are they? And are they even legal? Find out here.
New developments in slayings of Texas Boondockers
A grand jury in Kleberg County, Texas, has handed down new indictments against the suspects in the murder of RVers James and Michelle Butler. The Butlers were found last October, buried in a shallow grave on Padre Island, their RV and tow vehicle vanished. Read more.
New Thor subsidiary to build RVs the European way
With so much talk about too many defective RVs rolling out of American RV factories, is it good news that America’s largest RV manufacturer, Thor Industries, is about to launch a new subsidiary to build RVs by European standards? Here’s some information.
Comprehensive list of RV-related recalls for January
The list of latest recalls on RVs and other vehicles of interest to RVers has been released by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The list includes models from Airstream, Forest River, Winnebago and others – plus many other vehicles and some tires commonly used by RVers. Is your RV or other vehicle on the list? Find out here.
And recalls issued in the past week . . .
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed:
• RVers fight insurance company over damaged RV and get $85,000.
• RV Shrink: Size matters – Clarify RVing goals before choosing RV.
• RV Electricity: Hot-Skin/Contact-Voltage questions from the Boston RV Expo.
• Building an RV park: Chainsaws, anyone?
• The ER is busy after the Super Bowl, but it’s not why you think.
• Tire warranty – How do engineers “read” tire conditions?
• RV Doctor: Where’s the VIN on a fifth wheel?
• RV Electricity JAM Session: Battery bank accounts – deposits and withdrawals.
… and much more
That was the RV week that was
January 26 – February 1, 2020
End-of-the-year figures are in from the RV manufacturers and, as expected, the industry has taken a bit of a hit in terms of wholesale shipments. Comparing 2019 to 2018, here’s the fallout: Overall, all RV shipments were down 16.9 percent. Among towables, which as a group were down 16.5 percent, travel trailers took the worst beating, down 16.9 percent, while fifth-wheels were down 15.7 percent. Truck campers also sagged, down 13.9 percent. In a comparative “rose smell,” pop-ups were down only 8.6 percent. Moving to motorized, the entire segment lost 19.6 percent, led by a whopping fall-off in Class B movement, down 28.1 percent, followed closely by Class A units, down 25.4 percent. Class C motorhomes did a little better, losing only 13.9 percent in a year-to-year comparison. The total number of RVs moved from manufacturers to retail outlets amounted to 378,554, compared to 2018 shipments of 455,309. Source: rvia.org
An RVer lost both his motorhome and his towed pickup truck when a fire broke out while motoring down Oklahoma’s Interstate 40. The Sallisaw Fire Department took the call on Saturday, January 25, responding to the fire on the westbound side near milepost 308. The motorhome owner said he spotted the Ford F-150 afire and pulled over – but by that time the rig was too hot to uncouple from the motorhome, and both vehicles were destroyed. It is suspected the fire originated in the truck’s transmission.
We previously reported on the brouhaha in Lincoln, Nebraska, involving a family who, after losing their lease of city-owned land where they built a campground many years ago, attempted to get a permit to construct a new campground nearby. Opposition to the new 245-site Camp A Way has been strong. Facing the fight head-on, Dave Queen and his family offered to reduce the number of sites down to 150, but opponents wanted more – a maximum four-month stay limit, 24-7 campground personnel on site, year-round, and more simply caused the Queen family to “hollar ’nuff’.” The family says it’s all too much, and have withdrawn their permit request. With the city closing out its lease soon, at this point it appears the family business will be gone with the wind.
The plight of RV park residents in Woodland, Washington, is still hanging in the wind. As of press time, the possibility of residents of Lewis River RV Park having their power shut down in an ownership dispute was still very real. Jerry Reeves says he owns the land on which the park stands, but that the park’s true owner is his dead ex-wife’s attorney, John Berman. Berman says the whole shebang belongs to Reeves, who should open an account with the local electrical utility. The power has been close to being cut twice in January, but each time, a last-minute deal with Reeves and with help of community donations has kept the juice flowing. The 75 residents of the park have now formed a homeowners’ association, and say they’ll sue Reeves if the power is cut. Reeves, in turn, says he’s going to demand new deposits from existing residents, many of whom are low-income.
It’s said that the motto of North Palm Beach, Florida, is, “The Best Place to Live Under the Sun.” That may be true – provided you don’t own an RV and live there. RVing couple John and Eileen Frerking were out of town with their RV last fall and had no idea the village had changed its ordinances regarding on-property RV storage – until a code enforcement officer turned up at their door. The Frerkings had spent considerable money putting down a parking pad and investing in a fence to screen – properly, they thought – their travel trailer. But now the couple faces up to $250 in daily fines until they invest more to meet the village’s new codes. They’re headed to court to ask for more time – they figure it’ll take at least two months to find a contractor, get bids, permits, and materials to get the project running. The city says there’s actually been a “screening” ordinance on the books since 1972, but was admittedly rarely enforced. The new ordinance is said to make it easier for RVers to meet the requirements, but tell that to John and Eileen.
For nearly 200 Dometic Corporation workers in LaGrange, Indiana, there’s not much joy to be spread. The company has announced it will shutter its awning manufacturing plant there. While an unspecified number of employees will be offered jobs at other Dometic plants, the balance “will be severed,” says Dometic Americas President Scott Nelson in an interview with rvbusiness.com. Nelson was quick to point out the plant closure isn’t a “knee-jerk” reaction to the falloff in RV sales, but rather an “intentional, long-term manufacturing strategy.” To add emphasis to the thought, Nelson says the work presently done in Indiana will be transferred to an existing Dometic plant in Mexico. Ironically, a tagline on Dometic’s awning sales website says, “WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED,” but many employees may wonder about that as a March 31 shutdown date looms on the horizon.
Stick no more!
An RVtravel.com reader recommended this white graphite powder as the perfect fix for sticky windows. Frames can contract in cooler weather, making things tight. He said his fix is lubricating the window tracks with a simple “puff” of white graphite powder. Why the white? “It doesn’t make a mess like the black stuff!” he explained.
Imagine sliding into your tow vehicle, fastening your seatbelt – and doffing a crash helmet. That’s the vision running under the screaming headline, “New York’s Governor Cuomo considers helmet mandates for car drivers,” published by treehugger.com. Well, hang on. Before you fire up your Twitter account and register your discontent, here’s the rest of the story. According to treehugger.com, “Recently Gersh Kuntzman of Streetsblog New York asked Governor Andrew Cuomo ‘if he might consider helmet mandates for car drivers, given that vast numbers of car drivers who in fatal crashes die as a result of head trauma, as opposed to bicyclists, who are often killed in ways that would render a helmet useless.'” The cautious governor reportedly responded, “’I’m thinking,’ the governor said after a long pause. ‘I don’t know enough. I’d like to see the data.'” It was enough to make treehugger take off like a shot, positing that millions of motorists are victims of traumatic brain injuries each year in accidents, and that safety helmets could easily reduce the toll. Their vision is seeing Cuomo “Take on the big, entrenched, auto industry.” Don’t look for a run on bike helmets in New York State anytime soon.
An RV park developer has been repeatedly whacked by the law after he attempted to put up a park in Chester, West Virginia, in violation of rulings by a local court. Morris Robert Reed, the man behind Sunset Development, may have met his legal match in the most recent moves by Chester’s government. Back in 2002, the city passed an ordinance that disallowed any “trailer parks” be built in the city’s domain. But in 2018, Reed started to develop his RV park on a 1.8-acre parcel. Evidently the city didn’t take steps to stop Reed, and shortly thereafter a local judge ordered the city to enforce its own ordinances. Reed appealed to a circuit court, and in November 2019, the court ruled against him. Local reports indicate that didn’t stop Reed – he continued to work on the park regardless of the court’s decision against him. The city then issued a “stop work order,” which finally put a halt to construction. In December, Reed requested a building permit for the project, and last week the city council voted unanimously to turn down the request.
Hold onto your hats – and your wallets – the Forest Service wants to up your fees in New Mexico. Fees at more than 200 campgrounds and day-use sites in New Mexico’s national forests could be jetting upward, as the Service says maintenance backlogs are growing and more visitors are calling for more services. Putting a sweet spin on the matter, the Service is considering offering up a new “Enchantment Pass” that would give “free access” to all day-use areas. Not sure how enchanted users will be – there’s a $40 fee for the annual pass. Also in the works: Formerly free campgrounds could see fees charged, and those already charging fees could see increases. One of them is Jemez Falls Campground in the Santa Fe National Forest. Jemez offers drinking water, trash service, paved roads and vault toilets for $10 a night. The Service anticipates a modest doubling of that fee to $20 per night. In Carson National Forest, the Echo Amphitheatre charges a day-use fee of $2, but users should expect a new fee of a mere $5.
Oregon’s plans to build 10 campgrounds on state park lands in Lincoln County, Oregon, have been shot down by the county’s commissioners. The state wanted to put the development into Seal Rock State Park along with some recently acquired lands nearby. However, the county denied the state’s application for a necessary rezone, indicating it didn’t see a “public need” for the changes needed to construct the campgrounds.
A steering tire blow-out is being held responsible for the deaths of two passengers in a motorhome along Florida’s Interstate 95 in Flagler County. Last Sunday, Ricardo Mosquera (51) of Orlando was piloting a motorhome headed to St. Johns County for a camping trip. Mosquera’s wife, Yvette (49), was riding shotgun, and in the back of the motorhome were two relatives, John Mosquera (55) and Beatriz Mosquera (56). Near milepost 291 the motorhome’s right front tire blew out. The out-of-control motorhome first hit a traffic sign, then hit two trees causing it to break apart. Both the passengers in the rear of the rig were killed outright. The driver was seriously injured, his wife to a lesser degree.
A Canadian motorhome seller is likely in a bit of a snit over how a British Columbia civil tribunal decided his case in a windshield damage claim. Michael Bull’s motorhome windshield was damaged in September 2018, while it was insured through the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC). In October 2018 he filed a claim but had trouble finding an outfit with a suitable windshield, and when he did, it took even more time as the glass had to be shipped in. Fast forward to spring 2019: Still no windshield in place, and Bull sells the rig. He takes the buyer, the rig, and $200 in cash (his deductible) to the windshield replace outfit thinking all was well. He kept his insurance in place, but sure enough, ICBC said it wouldn’t cover the replacement for the new owner. Bull sued for the price of the glass, $2,200. The deciding tribunal said, no dice, the law says once you sell the vehicle, you – and the vehicle in question – are no longer covered, regardless of when the damage occurred.
Who rents RVs? Most RV renters (63%) are 21 to 35 years old. The majority (74%) are employed. Many (59%) have 3 or more people in their households – raising kids. Of RV renters, 75% think they’ll buy an RV in the next two years, which encourages RV dealers to rent out RVs and build relationships with potential customers. Interestingly, a huge 78% say when they rent an RV, they’d rather rent from a dealer because, “they trust that their experience, service, and reputation will help ensure a good rental experience.” Source: Survey conducted by rvtrader.com.
Is there a buffalo chip war breaking out in Sturgis? Mead County, South Dakota, officials are pushing two new ordinances that could impact the influx of visitors to the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. One of the ordinances could effectively double the cost of a permit to operate a temporary campground, the other will jump the cost of a vendor license from $650 to $700. Officials say the additional money is needed to properly pay for costs incurred by the county. At the same time, government officials say they want more vendors to come to Sturgis, holding out a carrot by offering those vendors who open a second booth a discounted rate on the second permit. Rod Woodruff, operator of the famed Buffalo Chip Campground, says he’s seen a decline in attendance at the rally and is afraid the new fees will do nothing to stop the trend.
RV parking in city-operated campgrounds in Spanish Fork, Utah, is seeing a price hike. In 2017 the city raised rates from $15 to $20; now the city has repeated the performance, making the nightly cost $25.
We’ve heard plenty about plans to take drivers out of semi-trucks and replace them with artificial intelligence. But if you drive in North Dakota, you’re likely to sooner see a “crash truck” without a driver. Attenuator trucks, big trucks with an impact-absorbing cushion, are typically deployed behind highway maintenance equipment, a street-sweeper for example, to protect the driver of the lead equipment from rear-end collisions. But what happens to the driver of the attenuator truck if the truck does its job and gets clobbered? North Dakota’s Department of Transportation wants to take the driver out of the attenuator, and has received a major federal grant to put an autonomous crash truck to work. When in use, the rig would communicate with a lead vehicle; when transporting between jobs it would be driven by a human driver.
DID YOU KNOW? A tent is the primary camping accommodation of 59 percent of Americans. —Statista.com
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
Sometimes when you’re driving down a street and you glance out your window you see something that makes you laugh. In this often angry world, that’s a good thing. (Are you laughing right now? We hope so.) Now back to the news. . .
After no small amount of contention, the Montrose, Colorado, Elks Lodge has received permission to expand its RV park. The local planning commission had granted permission on December 11, but just five days later, opposers appealed the decision. The city council took up the matter, heard all parties out, and said the club could proceed with increasing their park up to 28 full-hookup sites. The club will be required to have a privacy fence around three sides of the property and, if sold in the future, new owners would be required to reapply for an RV park permit. The club wants to get started on the project this spring, and have it up and running by Memorial Day.
The key to getting a woman out of a stolen motorhome? The key. No redundancy here. Police in Calvin Township, Michigan, got a report of a “suspicious” vehicle. Turned out to be a brand-new RV, stuck in the middle of a field. Police approached and determined that a determined woman inside wasn’t about to come out – or communicate. The rig was evidently stolen from a Forest River manufacturer’s lot in Elkhart, Indiana, about a half-hour’s drive away. It took four hours, but keys were fetched, police opened the door, and arrested the reluctant would-be RVer.
Booze, Brits and eBay are a bad combination, according to the new Top Ten List of Oddest Purchases Made While Drunk. The list, developed by Mirror Online, notes that purchases made by Brits between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. during December weekends is a high-point for the online outfit: $10,345,000 worth. Topping the list of PUIs (purchases under influence) included a motorhome for nearly $39,000. Also on the list, an ice cream vending van at $4,500. eBay observed, “Instead of ending up with an entire ice cream van when you were simply craving a Mr Whippy, eBay always recommends waiting until a sensible hour to make large shopping decisions, to avoid any unwanted tolls at the till.”
Stolen RV Report
Have you seen any of these RVs? They were stolen recently in various parts of the United States. Authorities would like your help in locating them, so keep your eyes open. Here’s the latest rundown of stolen RVs.
Microwave cover collapses, perfect for RV!
How many times have you exploded something in the microwave only to have your significant other complain about your messy habits? Figured it is time for you to get yourself a collapsible microwave cover? Read about the one we recommend for RVers here.
Would you pay $17 for a bundle of firewood?
Does that seem like way too much to you? It does to us, but that’s what some Texas State Parks are charging their campers. What about you? Would you pay $17 for a bundle of firewood? Take our poll.
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STAY OUT OF TROUBLE
Firearms laws guide updated for 2020
The 2020 updated edition of the Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States has just been published. The book is always a best-seller among RVers, many of whom carry a firearm when they travel. The annual guidebook helps ensure they stay out of trouble when crossing state lines, where the laws may be different. Learn more in this article.
A bill that provides qualified immunity for Ohio campground owners has been approved by the Ohio House of Representatives. House Bill 355 is designed to protect campground owners from frivolous lawsuits for damages resulting from risks inherent to camping. The bill requires owners place signage at the entrance of the campgrounds for campers to be aware of the risks of camping. “Many of the things commonly associated with camping carry risks for the participant: fishing, campfires, hiking, walking the grounds, etc.,” said Chip Hanawalt, president of the Ohio Campground Owners Association. “An owner cannot eliminate those risks and should not be held liable if an injury occurs.”
Travelcamp, an RV dealership in Jacksonville, Florida, has formed a relationship with the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL football team. The relationship kicked off on January 6, 2020, by providing rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II a motorhome for a cross-country trip from Jacksonville to Los Angeles. The relationship between Travelcamp and the Jaguars will consist of a host of RV-related activities to help introduce the RV lifestyle to Jaguar fans including RVs displayed at the stadium, social media marketing and other activities.
A Mississippi man who faked his own death in 2018 to avoid child rape charges was arrested on the same day he was added to the U.S. Marshals’ most-wanted list, authorities said. Jacob Blair Scott, a decorated U.S. veteran, was taken into custody around midnight Wednesday at an RV park in Antlers, Oklahoma, where he had been staying. Scott, who was sought for faking his own death in 2018 to avoid charges that he raped and impregnated his 14-year-old stepdaughter, was captured after a tipster called authorities to report that a man fitting his description was staying at the RV park.
As China and the rest of the world try to contain the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, otherwise known as the coronavirus, the RV industry is bracing for a potential disruption of its supply business. This new coronavirus strain has infected more than 14,000 people on four continents and killed more than 300. It was first detected Dec. 31 in Wuhan, China. With people unable to report for work, the RV industry is bracing for the looming impact on its supply chain. (How concerned are RVtravel.com readers of catching this new virus? Check out the results of yesterday’s reader poll.)
This month Kelley Blue Book announced the 2020 model-year brand, category and top 10 winners of the annual Best Resale Value Awards, recognizing vehicles for their projected retained value through the initial five-year ownership period. In the truck category, the winners were: Midsize pickup truck, Toyota Tacoma. Full-size pickup truck, Toyota Tundra. Full-sized heavy duty pickup truck, Chevrolet Silverado HD. Depreciation is often the greatest expense incurred by drivers during the first five years of vehicle ownership. An average 2020 model-year vehicle will only retain about 37% of its original value after a five-year ownership period, meaning that a $35,000 new vehicle today will only be worth somewhere close to $12,950 after five years. In comparison, all vehicles in Kelley Blue Book’s Top 10 for Best Resale Value are projected to retain more than 50% of their MSRP. This year’s top model, the 2020 Toyota Tacoma, is expected to be worth 61% of its MSRP after five years.
The Berkeley, California, City Council is considering a proposal to open six parking lots on city-owned land to accommodate 25 RVs during non-business hours. The plan would only cover a fraction of Berkeley RV dwellers, as a survey back in December 2018 found there were 193 RV campers and oversized vehicles parked on public streets in the city (likely more today), including 100 in West Berkeley. Those eligible could park in the six proposed city lots for up to three months but would have to leave during business hours.
Camping World Holdings bit off more than it could chew by buying Gander Mountain out of bankruptcy in 2017. The undertaking was too big and the stores are gradually being sold off. CEO Marcus Lemonis is executing a turnaround plan to shed all Gander Mountain assets and refocus on Camping World’s original business of RV sales and service. Lemonis sees financial health returning through selling more used RVs than brand-new ones. Third-quarter results showed new vehicle units sold decreased by 4.7% year over year, while used vehicles sold increased by 14.6%. —MOTLEY FOOL
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.
DID YOU KNOW? A fueled lantern is the camping item most frequently replaced in the United States. —Statista.com
Tape it to the limit…
Rather than an adhesive, this type of tape fuses to itself. It makes a totally waterproof seal that can be used to repair the insulation on electrical wiring in the field. It has all kinds of other emergency uses advertised, such as a quick fix for a leaking radiator hose, so it certainly deserves a place in your RV toolbox since it’s a multi-tasking piece of equipment that could save your bacon. Learn more or order.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of January 27, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.51 [Calif.: $3.39]
Change from week before: Down 3 cents; Change from year before: Up 25 cents.
Diesel: $3.01 [Calif.: $3.86]
Change from week before: Down 3 cents; Change from year before: Up 5 cents.
Upcoming RV shows
Calgary RV Expo & Sale, Jan. 30 – Feb. 2, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Fort Wayne RV & Camping Show, Jan. 30 – Feb. 2, Fort Wayne, IN
Detroit RV & Camping Show, Feb. 5-9, Novi, MI
Colorado Springs RV & Outdoor Show, Feb. 6-8, Colorado Springs, CO
Edmonton RV Expo & Sale, Feb. 6-9, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Erie RV, Camping & Powersports Spectacular, Feb. 6-9, Erie, PA
Jacksonville RV Mega Show, Feb. 6-9, Jacksonville, FL
Minneapolis / St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show, Feb. 6-9, Minneapolis, MN
Salem Spring RV Show, Feb. 6-9, Salem, OR
Seattle RV Show, Feb. 6-9, Seattle, WA. Visit website – See list of free seminars – Free parking when you purchase tickets online.
Georgia RV & Camper Show, Feb. 7-9, Atlanta, GA
Midessa Boat, RV, Sport & Gun Show, Feb. 7-9, Odessa, TX
Ottawa RV Expo & Sale, Feb. 7-9, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Topeka RV & Sport Show, Feb. 7-9, Topeka, KS
Richmond Camping RV Expo, Feb. 7-9, Richmond, VA
Houston RV Show, Feb. 12-16, Houston, TX
Austin RV Expo, Feb. 13-16, Austin, TX
Chicago RV & Camping Show, Feb. 13-16, Rosemont, IL
Oklahoma City RV Super Show, Feb. 13-16, Oklahoma City, OK
Atlantic City RV & Camping Show, Feb. 14-16, Atlantic City, NJ
Maryland RV Show, Feb. 14-16, 21-23, Timonium, MD
Springfield RV, Camping and Outdoor Show, Feb. 14-17, West Springfield, MA
For peace of mind, use a backflow preventer
Backflow happens when a fresh water system gets “cross-connected” with a source of bad water or other contaminants. You don’t want that! Prevent this from happening by using a backflow preventer. Here’s an affordable one. Use it and rest easier. (You can read more about backflow prevention here.)
Free and bargain camping
Click here to view this week’s free and bargain camping spots.
Overnight RV Parking, with more than 14,000 locations listed, is the largest and best resource for locating free and inexpensive places to spend a night in an RV. For membership information and a demo of the site, click here. A modest membership fee required, but try the free demo. Watch a video about OvernightRVparking.com.
We’ve picked out the best RVing books for you and here they are! You’ll want to have a copy of these in your RV at all times.
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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