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Sunday, May 24, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
Coronavirus Updates for RVers
Here’s the latest news and information about the coronavirus and how it’s affecting the RV community. We feature this in every Sunday’s edition of the RVtravel.com Newsletter.
••• READ TODAY’S CORONAVIRUS NEWS •••
Will campgrounds this summer be more crowded than ever?
Whether we like it or not, coronavirus is focusing a spotlight on the RV lifestyle. Widely read magazines are publishing stories about how RVs may just be the “dream machines” to carry the American public on safe journeys across the country. It’s no news to us. After all, RVers appreciate sleeping in their own beds, and showering in their own bathrooms. Instead of bumping elbows with strangers in the motel “dining room,” they’re perfectly happy to sit in their pajamas (or less) while breaking their fast – in their own traveling dining room. But this week, more attention has been focused on RVers, and we just have to wonder if that will mean even more RVs on the road than ever. Continue reading.
That was the RV week that was
May 17–23, 2020
Planning on rolling out of the country headed north in the old motorhome? Push those plans off – for at least another month. The U.S. and Canada have agreed to extend the border closure to “non-essential traffic” until June 21. The shut-down of traffic south into Mexico was set to expire May 19, but it, too, saw a 30-day extension put in place this week. Alaskan snowbirds returning to Alaska may be considered “essential” travel. If you’re returning to Alaska, it is recommended you call ahead to the Canada Border Security Agency at 1-204-983-3500.
Summer RV trip on the books? You may not be alone, according to the Wall Street Journal. The magazine took the pulse of RV rental firms across the U.S. and the word is almost universal: Reservations for rental RVs are high as many Americans say they don’t want to fly, they don’t want to sleep in a hotel bed, but they do want to travel. Outdoorsy, an internet rental service which allows RV owners to rent their rigs out, reports that while there was a wave of cancellations early-on in the pandemic, since then bookings have shot up 450 percent. RVShare, which connects RV renters and owners, reported a 650 percent increase in rental traffic since early April. And while rental giant, Cruise America, reports many of its reservations made by European visitors have been cancelled, domestic customers are more than filling the gap.
RV builder Tiffin has suffered a setback in the coronavirus war. Of about 100 employees tested for the virus in five plants in Alabama, 11 tested positive for COVID-19. Six of those tested were asymptomatic, and one of them has a spouse working in an area nursing home. Tiffin shut down operations between April 13 to May 6 to equip its plants with personal protective equipment and to develop a safety plan. The company employs about 1,100 workers, and says those with underlying health conditions are still on furlough. More tests are planned.
Are the crowds faithful at Old Faithful? Depends on your perspective. Monday marked the opening of Yellowstone National Park after it was closed in March due to COVID-19. Thousands turned up to watch Old Faithful erupt – but few wore protective masks, and social-distancing was reportedly social-disorderliness. Rangers were forced to disperse large crowds.
In what sounds like a lowbrow comedy, a travel trailer was put in danger when a fellow accidentally set his nearby SUV afire. Patrick Bryant, of Jasper, Texas, is the proud owner of a Lincoln Navigator – well, proud enough to sell it as salvage. But first, there was the matter of a tank full of gasoline. Bryant crawled underneath and opened up the fuel line to drain it into buckets. Sorry Patrick, it’s best to first put out your cigarette. Firefighters arrived and joined in the fun, trying to put out the flames with water with no success. A mixture of water and foam wouldn’t cut it either: Without cutting off the flow of gasoline from the tank, the flames just kept blasting. Finally a firefighter did it the old fashioned way: One blast with a fire extinguisher and the flames vanished. There was little face-saving on this call, but at least the trailer was safe.
Death Valley, California, is not only home to a unique national park, but also to the famed Amargosa Opera House in nearby Death Valley Junction. Originally built as part of a company town by Pacific Coast Borax Company in 1925, it spent its most recent “incarnation” in the hands of Marta Beckett, an actress and artist who kept right on working until the final show in 2012. Since her death, scores of people have patronized the opera house and restaurant – until COVID-19 took the stage and shut down operations. With the shutdown, employees were laid off en masse, as health restrictions closed things up. Now the non-profit group that runs the opera house is seeking help through a GoFundMe campaign to help with non-ending expenses that are sucking their reserve funds dry. Their goal is $48,000 in donations; as of Saturday they’d reached $22,000. More information here.
You probably wouldn’t want to be the owners of a travel trailer who were making their way up California’s Interstate 5 near Santa Nella on Saturday the 16th. Apparently unaware they had a flat tire, the rig continued north up the freeway, leaving a trail of sparks which started several brush fires. One of the fires got into the local power utility system, causing an outage for more than 1,200 customers. The fires forced the shutdown of a section of the interstate. Adding insult to injury, by the time the owner’s trailer had shot sparks for several miles, the rig itself caught fire and was totally destroyed.
Folks paying the steep California gas tax increase (taking it from 12 cents to 41.7 cents) may find some relief in knowing where some of their dollars are going. California has approved a $17.4 billion infusion of funds into 900 roadway improvement projects. Using a “fix-it-first” philosophy, most of the funds will go into pavement repairs and bridge work – including prescriptions for potholes. The funds will be doled out over four years.
With national parks reopening it didn’t take long to happen. On Wednesday, a woman visiting Yellowstone National Park got a little too close to a bison. The bison knocked her to the ground, but how badly injured she was isn’t known as she refused transport for medical care. The park had been open for just parts of three days when the incident took place.
Good Samaritans in New River, Arizona, had their hands full when they heard someone cry out for help on May 16. When Doug Sarrett saw smoke coming from a fifth-wheel, he didn’t figure it amounted to much, but then he heard cries for help coming from inside the rig. Other neighbors ran to the scene. They found the entry door locked and it took a bit of doing to get it open. Once open, they found the interior full of smoke, the floor and ceiling afire. “I couldn’t get to her and I went back outside and I tried two more times, and my daughter-in-law tried and we could still hear her crying,” Sarrett told local media. Finally, a third man was able to access the bedroom and pulled a woman near to the door, where all three were able to pull her outside. Meanwhile, the burning ceiling was raining down inside. Rescue personnel arrived and helicoptered the victim, a woman in her sixties, to a burn center. She had been living in the rig while caring for someone living in a home on the property. No cause for the fire has been determined.
Do we dare use the word “viral” in connection with an RV park? The Wildwood RV Village Park in Wildwood, Florida, is showing nearly viral-like growth. The existing 300-site park just received approval to tack on another 289 sites – but wait – the park is already in the midst of a 210-site expansion. A little math says Wildwood is growing like a wild weed, headed out to a grand total of 799 sites.
Crescent City, California, lawmakers got a sharp rebuke from two local realtors and a commercial property owner for thinking about relaxing regulations regarding RV parking on private property. City councilors had taken issue with an existing ordinance that says if someone wants to park an RV on a residential lot, full hookups would be required after 90 days. The three commercially interested parties told the council in no uncertain terms that they were risking “blight” if they loosened restrictions. The council routed the idea back to city staff for them to take more public comment.
Think there’ll soon be a “self-driving” RV? If a survey of Americans regarding their views of self-driving cars is any indicator – don’t hold your breath. A coalition of autonomous vehicle developers, PAVE, commissioned a survey of 1,200 adults, and 48 percent said they’d “never get in a taxi or ride-share vehicle that was being driven autonomously.” A fifth said that self-driving vehicles “would never be safe.”
Run two air conditioners on 30 amps – Wow!
When the temperature really gets sizzling and your 50-amp rig is stuck with a 30-amp hookup, you’re out of luck if you want to run two air conditioners. That is, unless you have a state-of-the-art SoftStartRV. It’s inexpensive, simple to install, and works just as promised. Don’t miss watching the short video by RV electricity expert Mike Sokol. Learn more or order at a special discount.
Statistics that may bear on your lifestyle: A recent survey completed for the U.S. Travel Association shows that 68 percent of respondents feel safer traveling in a personal vehicle – compared to 18 percent who say they feel safe flying domestically. Those same folks said that parks topped the list of places they’d feel comfortable visiting. Watch out for crowds!
Indiana may be the state that produces the most RVs in the country – but it produces a lot of other moving homes: turtles! It’s nesting season in the Hoosier state, and wildlife officials are imploring locals and visitors alike not to mess with the turtles. “Wild turtles do not make good pets,” says a news release from the state’s natural resources department. “They live a long time (some species are able to outlive their owners), can be messy, and have special husbandry needs.” If you meet up with a turtle crossing the road, want to help, and can safely do so, here’s how: Pick it up, move it out of the roadway, but move it in the same direction it was already heading. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t touch a snapping turtle, as it will bite — and hard!).
RV park rates at the city-owned Claybanks RV Park in Merritt, British Columbia, have gone up – substantially. The town council says rates haven’t been adjusted for some years, and says the park needs to stay competitive. Non-utility sites are now $28 – up a whopping 40 percent. Full hookup sites are $35 per night, and for a pull-through, you’ll pay $39. Officials are quick to point out that in some cases their rates may be less than comparable parks in the region. Sweetening the deal – for the municipality – the city has extended these higher “high season rates” from May through September, where earlier only July and August were considered “high season.”
Attention shade tree mechanics: Harbor Freight is recalling nearly two MILLION jack stands that it has sold over the years. The stands in question bear the company’s SKU codes 56371, 61196 and 61197. The numbers are on a label on the top part of the stand on three-ton units, or a yellow sticker on the base on six-ton units. Seems that tooling in the manufacturing plants got a little worn out, and at times, the pawl that bites into the notched height adjuster can possibly slip if the unit is bumped or disturbed. If you bump it while under the truck it’s supporting, life could get a bit difficult. The company says it is voluntarily recalling all of these, and those who bring these suspect stands in will be rewarded with a company gift card for the shelf-price of the stands.
Had a long week with too much stress? Here’s a little video you might find “a-moosing.” Utah State troopers encountered a little moose family mix-up in Summit County last Monday. Mother Moose apparently had recently delivered twins, but as the troopers report, there was some confusion in traffic and the trio got separated. Watch the wobbly moose calf.
Gregory Price had just fired up the engine in his pickup on May 15, and was ready to back out of the driveway when a “pop!” noise caught his attention. The noise had come from a travel trailer that, years before, had served as a refuge residence when his house had caught fire. Now the trailer was on fire, and happily Price was still home to call the local Vineland, New Jersey, fire department. Crews were able to protect Price’s workshop and home, but couldn’t save the 23’ Prowler. It wasn’t a major loss – Price was just waiting for the landfill to reopen so he could dump the old rig. But the mystery is this: Why would an old travel trailer, which hadn’t been hooked up to electricity in over a decade, suddenly catch on fire? One could only suppose it had heard of what the near future held…
Let your drill clean your RV, really!
This 4-piece cleaning brush attachment connects right to your drill – no more scrubbing for you! Deep-clean virtually any surface with hardly any effort. The drill brushes are perfect for grout lines, corners, tiles, tubs, showers, carpets, wooden furniture, windows, shower doors, siding, linoleum, stoves, counters, fiberglass, grills, marble, and more. You can even wash your dishes if you want! Learn more or order here.
RV Crime News
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the driver of a pickup towing a fifth wheel in York, Nebraska, wouldn’t give consent to a search of his rig. Police say they made a traffic violation stop on Interstate 80, and felt a little suspicious when talking to the two occupants of the truck. Canine officer Loki suggested something smelled suspicious at the rear of the RV, and after a warrant was obtained, 705 pounds of marijuana was found in the fiver. The two occupants are now facing charges of trafficking narcotics.
A motorhome driver, who was apparently attempting to intervene in a domestic violence incident on a California freeway, was shot at for his trouble. Last Wednesday traffic on the westbound lanes of California’s Interstate 10 in Cabazon slowed to a crawl. Stuck in the traffic was a 33-year-old woman, driving a Volkswagen Rabbit. Something apparently set off her passenger, Charlie Pasillas (36), of Yuma, Arizona. Pasillas reportedly hit the woman in the face – and was spotted doing so by a motorhome driver. He moved up next to the car and engaged in window-to-window verbal altercation with Pasillas, who witnesses say pulled a gun and blasted a round at the RV. Later, a responding CHP trooper also saw Pasillas assault the woman and arrested him. He’s charged with suspicion of domestic violence, shooting at a moving vehicle, discharging a gun with gross negligence, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of a controlled substance. Police would like to speak with the motorhome driver – and any other witnesses to the May 20 incident. Contact the San Gorgonio CHP office at 951-769-2000.
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS STOLEN RV?
This popup was stolen in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 12. An older couple, just retired, bought the Fleetwood trailer on May 11 and parked it in a fenced area. Two hours later, it was gone. It bears Missouri tags 64D 8PK, and an air conditioner on top. Family is offering a $1,000 reward for recovery. Got info? Call 816-634-7835.
Get rid of those decal “ghosts”!
If you use a coin to remove old decals from your RV, you may have an unwelcome guest when the job’s done: Decal “ghosts” – shadowy after-images imprinted in the Filon siding. The solution? A heavy-duty oxidation remover! Pour the remover onto a rough sponge and scrub the Filon in circles. The yellow oxidation will come right up and your RV will look good as new! The remover will also remove stains, scratches and water spots. Learn more or order here.
Pickup truck news
According to our recent survey, about 80 percent of RVtravel.com readers own at least one pickup truck. Recognizing that, we’ll provide the latest news highlights about the vehicles here each week.
Chevy Spark gets honors among 2020 cheap cars
Six years ago, a small number of new car buyers in the United States could still find one vehicle with a sticker price of less than $10,000 – a 2014 Chevrolet Spark. With the average price of a new vehicle now steadily advancing toward $40,000, only about a dozen new cars are available for less than half that amount. … Towing small cars with RVs provides convenience and varies according to manufacturer guidelines. … Here’s a list of the country’s top-10 cheapest 2020 cars.
It can’t tow an RV, but this 40,000-pound stone truck rocks
Chris Miller began carving nearly 45 years ago. A sculptor who lives in Maples Corner, a hamlet outside Calais, Vermont, Miller works in granite, wood and marble, and his creations are featured in private collections and sculpture galleries. It all gets its share of acclaim, including one of his most unique creations – a stone truck. Read more.
Easily repair a tear in your RV’s awning
Left on their own, small vinyl RV awning tears can get bigger. Fixing a small tear in an area, barring a person’s physical limitations, is easy. You may already have what you need for a fix. It’s called “RV GOOP” and is made by the same outfit that developed “GOOP” for shoe repairs. Read more about it here.
Are you spending this Memorial Day weekend in your RV? Respond here.
Every day the number of lily pads in a pond doubles. If the pond is completely full by the 30th day, on what day was it half full?
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.
Roof vent not doing its job? Here’s a solution…
If you smell your toilet when driving your motorhome down the road, it’s because the odor is being drawn into the RV and not outside via the roof vent. The solution is to get an inexpensive 360 Siphon Roof Vent. It works for all RVs even when the RV is not moving, like in a campground. Keep the stink away.
RV recalls posted since our last newsletter
• Heartland recalls some 2020 trailers: Spare tire could fall off.
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed:
• Cover story from Chuck Woodbury: Would the “experts” who read RVtravel.com please go away.
• RVelectricity: More on how SoftStartRV works.
• Memorial Day weekend travelers get bonuses.
• If you can’t answer these questions, you shouldn’t be towing.
• Can’t hold your water? Bladder tanks tote it to your RV.
• RV Shrink: “Bean counter” wonders how much the RV lifestyle costs.
• RV Tire Safety: Lug nut torque – Part 1: Why is it important?
• Reader Poll: Do you believe a vaccine for the coronavirus will be available to you in 2020?
• Building an RV Park: WE WERE APPROVED!
… and much more
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of May 18, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $1.88 [Calif.: $2.67]
Change from week before: Up 3 cents; Change from year before: Down 97 cents.
Diesel: $2.39 [Calif.: $3.17]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 78 cents.
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!
Be like electrical expert Mike! Use this 3-light and digital voltage tester!
Mike Sokol says: “I found this nifty tester online and have been using it in a variety of voltage checking situations. It performs all of the 3-light tests for outlet polarity, open ground, open neutral, etc., as well as being a 3-digit digital voltage indicator. In addition, it performs a standard 5 mA GFCI safety test – which you should be performing on all of your GFCI outlets once a month (or at least once a camping season).” Read more about it 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.
New book a must-have for state park campers!
This newly published book, “50 States: 500 State Parks,” is a must-have for all state park campers and explorers. The book is a beautiful visual journey through America’s best state parks. Whether you’re looking for stunning vistas, rare wildlife, a dose of history, or an enjoyable hike, the state parks offer an array of experiences. Learn more or order.
Brain teaser answer:
The pond is half full on the day before it’s full; therefore it is half full on the 29th.
Many RVers will identify with these “laws of nature”:
“OLD” is when your sweetie says, “Let’s go upstairs and make love,” and you answer, “Honey, I can’t do both!”
“OLD” is when going bra-less pulls all the wrinkles out of your face.
“OLD” is when “Getting a little action” means “I don’t need to take any fiber today.”
“OLD” is when “all nighter” means not getting up to go potty!
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Emily Woodbury, 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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