Tuesday, March 21, 2023


News for RVers #950, Sunday edition

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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.

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Sunday, May 31, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition

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Coronavirus Updates for RVers

We are no longer posting a Sunday update about the coronavirus and COVID-19. Reader interest has waned with each passing week to where we are not serving enough readers to justify our time, which can be better spent elsewhere. We will include important news related to the pandemic in this newsletter instead.

Sales of RVs are booming. Why? What does it mean?

The RV Industry Association is reporting that sales of RVs have increased 170 percent since this time last year. Coast to coast, the media is reporting that dealers are doing a booming business. RVs are more trendy than ever before. Why is this happening in our economic meltdown? Editor Chuck Woodbury has some thoughts.

Show up at this RV park wearing a mask and you’ll be considered a criminal!

At Ann Retzlaff’s Annie’s Campground in Shawano County, Wisconsin, you better not show up wearing a mask or she’ll assume you’re a bad guy up to no good! While masks may reduce the chances of transmission of the virus, they may increase the chances of the bad guys taking an advantage – at least that’s Rezlaff’s thinking. So if you plan on visiting her place anytime soon, be prepared to remove your mask when you show up. If you don’t, then stay somewhere else. Continue reading.

One of the suspects

Six months after Texas RV boondocks murder arrests – What now?

Last fall the RVing community was shocked and outraged when an RVing couple, James and Michelle Butler, were first reported missing, then discovered to be the victims of murder while boondocking on a Padre Island, Texas, beach. A month later, two “persons of interest” were located in Mexico and brought back to the U.S., where they were charged with felony theft (for the Butlers’ pickup truck), tampering with physical evidence, and felon in possession of a firearm. Find out what has occurred (or not) since then here.

Maine RV park owners sue Governor

Two Maine campgrounds have filed suit against Maine Governor Janet Mills seeking immediate injunctive relief against the governor’s ban on interstate campground guests. Bayley’s Camping Resort in Scarborough, and Little Ossipee Campground in Waterboro, are asking a U.S. District Court to order the governor to lift the ban on non-state customers. Last week the governor allowed campgrounds to reopen in Maine, but with the stipulation that any guests from out of state must undergo a 14-day quarantine. Read more in an updated report here.

Urgent recall: 1.7 million Harbor Freight jack stands

We published this information in last Sunday’s and yesterday’s newsletters, but if you didn’t see it (this is the last time we’ll publish it), here’s a detailed report regarding jack stands currently being recalled by Harbor Freight Tools. (We’ve already been thanked by a reader for running this important message.) Read more.

That was the RV week that was

May 24–30, 2020

As you might have expected, RV factory shutdowns (and the overall shutdown of American society) tended to have an impact on movement of RVs from factories to retailers in April. Here are the numbers, straight from the basement of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association: Towables saw April 2020 to April 2019 comparisons down nearly 82 percent. Fifth-wheels were hit hardest, down nearly 85 percent; travel trailers pushing 82 percent; pop-ups lost almost 77 percent. Truck campers were down a mere 50 percent. Motorhomes fell close to 85 percent, with Class A’s losing nearly 86 percent, Class C’s dropping 84 percent, and Class B van conversions down 82 percent.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Coronavirus has crimped plenty of things – like DMV office hours. In Oregon, only six motor vehicle offices are open in the entire state – and those by appointment only. Even so, government types are asking motorists not to get creative – like the one driver pulled over by a Washington County deputy sheriff. The car was bearing a license plate – hand drawn, and with the words, “DMV Closed.” Apparently needing to be out and about, the “expiration date” on the plate was 12/21. Don’t worry about making up a plate if your registration is expired, they say. Just keep the old plate on the rig and keep driving.

If you use one of the following email services, please read a warning from our tech guy, Kim Christiansen. They are Yahoo.com, frontier.com, citlink.com and aol.com. All of these companies are owned by Verizon Media and Verizon moved them to Yahoo years ago. Read what Kim says.

RV park reservation provider RoverPass reports a huge jump in park bookings that started in May. While cancellations were the order of the day in April, May saw a 428 percent month-over-month booking increase. RoverPass provides listing information for 16,000 parks across the country, and can book visitors into more than 500.

Ben Dorger via standard.net

An exploding travel trailer in Ogden, Utah, sent two RVers to a burn center Thursday, May 21. Investigators have little to go on, as the rig was completely wiped out when the blast occurred, but suspect an LP gas leak was responsible for the blow up. The couple managed to get out of the trailer and were still conscious when rescuers arrived, suffering from second and third degree burns to their legs and hands. The trailer had been parked in a dirt lot, next to a local motel.


A front-line healthcare working couple in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is drawing fire from some locals affronted by their travel trailer. Michael and Brandy Chavez brought the trailer to their home as a refuge, as he works as a paramedic, she as a nurse practitioner. Concerned they might expose their children to coronavirus, they’ve been using the trailer as a retreat. But because of the limitations of the property, the hitch hung half-way over the sidewalk, prompting complaints from some area residents. After a city inspection, the Chavezes put out pavers to widen the walkway, and city fathers say they’ll see what more they can do to help keep everybody happy – and the trailer in place.

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.

Looking for an RV park to stay at in California’s Inyo County? Until early this week, the county wouldn’t have been on your list. This eastern-edge county is near Death Valley, and local health officials had put the kibosh on RV park camping because of the coronavirus. Not surprisingly, a surge of dispersed camping took off, and health officials noted with alarm that such campers were not served with sewage facilities, fresh water, or a place to dump the trash. Now county health officials hope folks will move off public lands and into these “safer” situations.

Ben Tierney/for The Daily News via ourmidland.com

If coronavirus weren’t enough of a life-interrupter, put yourself in the shoes of those folks recently hit by flooding in Michigan. With water as deep a nine feet in some areas, those with RVs that are still intact can find a place to stay at Midland, Michigan’s fairgrounds. The campground there is offering free spots with 30-amp electrical service to people displaced by the flooding.

The country made famous by beer, bratwurst and BMWs now has a new claim to fame: social distancing hats, ala Burger King. Have to keep six feet away from a fellow German diner but don’t want to get out a tape measure? Just pick up one of these nifty “social distance crowns,” pop it on your head, and you’ll keep safely away from other diners similarly equipped. RVers beware: You MUST remove your BK crown before attempting to enter your RV!

Canada peer-to-peer rental platform RVezy.com says it’s seen a skyrocketing jump in Canadians renting RVs. The company reports reservations have increased 800 percent as camping opportunities are beginning to open up. The company points to a survey of Canadians that shows almost half of the country’s residents say they’re already planning a vacation, or at least thinking about it.

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

A few years ago, Alabama’s state government was in the midst of a financial crisis. One of the victims was Buck’s Pocket State Park. In a classic “Rob Peter to pay Paul,” the state sucked funds out of state parks and moved it to its general fund. After a three-year closure, Buck’s Pocket is back in business and will welcome back RVers on June 15. Since the closure, a $652,000 grant came along. The campground got a major spiff-up and 23 of the RV sites will offer 50-amp power, water, and WiFi. An on-site dump station will handle the back end. A new RV trail complements the park, located southeast of Huntsville.

An alternative to RV parks: Stay free at farms, wineries and other scenic and peaceful locations for free. Save 15% on membership. Learn more.

Boondockers Welcome — Stay at homes of RVers who welcome you in their driveways, yards, farmland or other space on their private property. Modest membership fee. Learn more.

Indiana state-operated campgrounds are reporting “full up” reservations. But the state isn’t “full up” with campground hosts. Both state parks and state forests have openings for hosts who will work 20-hour weeks. Check out IN.gov/DNRCampgroundHost.

SchuminWeb on wikimedia commons

Planning on RVing in New Jersey? Bring more money for tolls. Starting in September tolls will jump sharply on three major highways. Tolls on the Atlantic City Expressway will skyrocket 36 percent. The Garden State Parkway will host a toll rise of 27 percent. And the biggy, the New Jersey Turnpike, all 117 miles, will see a jump of 36 percent. The state’s transportation authority says the increased fees will go to improvements, stimulating the economy. The governor gave the new tolls a “pass” by failing to exercise his authority to veto them.

Alabama Department of Transportation

A pair of prominent Montgomery County, Alabama, business-people have been killed in a motorhome accident on the state’s Interstate 65. Last Wednesday, Leland and Stephanie Courson, owners of Carol’s Carpet stores, rolled their Class A Tiffin motorhome off the freeway a few miles south of Hope Hull. Investigators have yet to determine what caused the couple’s rig to leave the roadway and make the fatal rollover.

With COVID-19 restrictions being lifted in Washington County, Iowa, the Marr Park campground is set to reopen 10 of its 41 sites. All it lacks is a campground host. Hosts will work with staff doing cleanup work. Contact Zach Rozmus at 319-657-2400 if interested.


Emblem: Jpxrsxt on wikimedia commons

“All that glitters is not gold” proved to be true in Santa Rosa, California. A rental company manager driving in the city spotted a familiar trailer being towed by a pickup truck. What made it familiar? It belonged to his company – and had earlier been stolen. The manager called 911 and followed the truck through Santa Rosa. Police caught up as they entered Highway 101. Rather than pull over, the woman “floored it” and hit speeds of up to 80 mph, leaving a trail of debris that streamed off the trailer and the pickup. The chase might have gone on, had not a cargo dolly fallen from the pickup bed and got stuck under the trailer. The driver, Aura Palma (42), recorded as “homeless,” then got out of the truck and took aim at officers with a cordless blower. She flipped the switch and blasted police with a full load of glitter. It took a while to clean up the mess and reopen freeway lanes. Palma is up on charges related to the stolen trailer and the pursuit. No word on clogged shower drains of arresting officers.


Stolen from Mocksville, North Carolina: LaCrosse Luxury Lite, 36 foot travel trailer. Taken sometime between 4 p.m. May 21 and 9 a.m. May 22 from lot associated with Carolina Campers and RV. Know anything? Contact the Davie County Sheriff’s Department at 336-751-6238.

Remember to maintain those slide seals!
Heard a cracking or popping sound when extending your slideouts? It means your seals are sticking and/or drying out! Use a seal conditioner about every 8-12 weeks to avoid this. Once seals begin to wear and show damage, they’re no longer working at full capacity. We recommend using Thetford Premium RV Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner.

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.

General Motors’ North American assembly plants have overcome initial parts-supply challenges and will boost production next week, according to Automotive News. Three U.S. factories building mid- and full-size pickups will operate on three shifts starting June 1, the automaker said. GM has been running just one shift at the facilities and was unable to increase output this week because supply of parts from Mexico was constrained. Chevrolet and GMC dealers have been running low on inventory of GM’s redesigned Silverado and Sierra models, which are among the most lucrative in the company’s lineup.

This newsletter, and the 400 others about RVing we publish every year, would not be possible without the financial support of our voluntary subscribers, our members. Now, in the most challenging time of our lifetimes, your help is needed more than ever for us to be your #1 source of news, information and advice about RVing. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference. Learn more or donate. Help us be the best we can be. Thank you!

Reader poll

Did you watch the Space X rocket launch yesterday?


Brain Teaser

Three playing cards in a row. Can you name them with these clues? There is a two to the right of a king. A diamond will be found to the left of a spade. An ace is to the left of a heart. A heart is to the left of a spade. Now, identify all three cards.
(Answer below.)

News briefs

Thor Industries announced Friday that it will increase production at several of its manufacturing facilities. Thor companies are working closely with key suppliers to minimize any potential disruptions; however, chassis supply constraints within the European supplier base are expected to cause intermittent temporary line shut-downs or reduced output in the near-term.

Not only are RV sales up, but so are RV rentals, the latter for longer periods than in the past.

Board members of the struggling FMCA RV club are meeting this week to address severe revenue losses due to the cancellation of the club’s two major rallies in 2020, as well as mounting losses publishing its monthly magazine. Among the topics to be discussed: the future of the magazine and the continuation of the FMCAssist program as a free member benefit.

Campground chatter

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.

NEED RV PARTS? Anything you might need is here at Amazon.

Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?

If so, stories you missed:
So I’m a Peeping Tom, am I? One reader thinks so. —From Chuck Woodbury (More than 130 comments from readers as of Saturday evening.)
• VIDEO: Fight the urge to buy an RV, says lemon law attorney.
Want to RV around Canada, eh? Our readers suggest their favorite routes.
Are you anything like 19,000 RVers recently surveyed?
Brand-new RV is barely off the lot when it starts falling apart.
What works when your housey is lousy with mousies?
RV buyers: Never, ever fall for this sales gimmick!
Ask the RV Shrink: RV buying – Decisions, decisions.
RV Electricity: First-Timer’s primer on Hot-Skin Voltage.
CarGenerator update / TT-30 outlet. (Includes many questions from readers and informative answers from the company’s owner.)
Lug nut torque – Part 2: Are your lug nuts tight enough?
and much more

Read it here | Back issues

Latest fuel prices

Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of May 26, 2020:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $1.96 [Calif.: $2.77]
Change from week before: Up 8 cents; Change from year before: Down 86 cents.
Diesel: $2.39 [Calif.: $3.18]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 76 cents.

Tape it to the limit…
Rather than an adhesive, this tape fuses to itself for a waterproof seal to repair the insulation on electrical wiring. Use it as a quick fix for a leaking radiator hose, too. Learn more or order.

Sign up for our RV Daily Tips Newsletter!
Every Monday through Friday you get a short, informational email from us delivered straight to your inbox. Inside each issue you’ll find: quick RV tips, popular articles, reader polls, RV thoughts, helpful resources, a website of the day, RV clubs and organizations, trivia, jokes and more! If you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe, but we doubt you’ll want to. Read Friday’s issue here and then sign up here.

Free and bargain camping

From OvernightRVparking.com

Click here to view this week’s free and bargain camping spots.

Other resources:
Walmart Directory: Best printed directory of Walmart locations.
Guide to Free Campgrounds: Best-selling directory, year after year.

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.

RVer pets featured in this past week’s RV Daily Tips:

• Monday: Rory • Tuesday: Emma • Wednesday: Frank & Mutton • Thursday: Cooper • Friday: Hoover

Brain teaser answer:

Ace of Diamonds, King of Hearts, Two of Spades.

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 beautiful book takes you on a journey through America’s best state parks. Whether you’re looking for stunning vistas, rare wildlife, a dose of history or an enjoyable hike, state parks offer an array of experiences. Learn more or order.

Sunday funny

Life in a Pandemic World:

If you want to have a wonderful day, send $10, $50 or $100 to a local food bank. There are millions of our fellow citizens, including little kids, who are going hungry because their parents lost their jobs. You will feel so good if you contribute — helping people less fortunate than you go to bed without the pain of an empty stomach. Here’s where to donate.

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. 

This website utilizes some advertising services. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers.

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.

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.

This newsletter is copyright 2020 by RVtravel.com

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Steve F
2 years ago

California’s Inyo County has yet to open campgrounds, their website states all campgrounds closed until June 12. And I wouldn’t bet on that too.

Ted F
2 years ago

Please make mention of Year to Volunteer’s contribution to the work at Buck’s Pocket State Park. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTn3OPjIJyw
I am not a member or associate, but follow them on youtube

2 years ago

There should be a bunch of decent used RV’s in about a year from all the “panic buying” now. But I would tend to stay away from anything built in the next 6-12 months. Generally speaking the quality already stinks and is only going to get worse as greed overtakes the industry even more.

2 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Steve I agree with you .
I’d be particularly wary of buying a “slightly used” Rv for another reason.

As I mention in another note on this site. I suspect many folks buying into the lifestyle & the challenges to enjoy it fully , may not know how to change a taillight bulb let alone care, diagnose or repair properly problems inherit in these very complicated amalgams of Fiberglas/aluminum, circuity, and everything else that might have gone wrong.

There may well be as many bad deals out there a year from now as good deals.

Timothy Hardy
2 years ago

Not a complaint, just a laugh. Your story from Santa Rosa, California features the shoulder patch of the Santa Rosa County, Florida Sheriff’s Office.

On RV sales numbers going up rapidly, I might be inclined to wait to buy. If manufacturers increase production speed to keep up with demand, the resulting RVs may be poorly built and have many defects that a purchaser would have to correct or have corrected.

I enjoy your daily post! Keep up the great work!

Tom Smithbrother
2 years ago

Regarding Vehicle registration. I cannot renew on line because the required emission testing stations are closed. I still receive my notices though.

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