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Sunday, March 21, 2021
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
The ten safest and ten most dangerous states for drivers
There’s good news for drivers — auto accidents deaths are down, especially those of children. But the bad news is that some states are far more dangerous to drive in, statistically, than others. Here are the ten best and worst states for drivers. Hint: The worst is in the South. And the safest state — that might be a surprise (it was to us). Read more.
Seat foam shortage slowing production of RVs
A historic winter storm that brought heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures to the U.S. Gulf Coast region in late February is now making its impact felt among American RV manufacturers, as production begins to slow due to a shortage of foam used for seat cushions. Read more.
Attention diesel truck owners: EZ Lynk being sued. EPA says no more “rolling coal” and modifying emission controls!
By Tony Barthel
Owners of diesel pickup trucks sometimes modify them with a system that either offers better performance, improved fuel economy or some other benefit. One of the companies that make the tools to effect these modifications is EZ Lynk, based in the Cayman Islands. EZ Lynk is being sued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA claims EZ Lynk is violating “the Clean Air Act by refusing to provide EPA with information about the manufacture, sale, and use of EZ Lynk’s defeat device.” Continue reading.
Good Sam Club sues Gigi Stetler and RV Advisor
Good Sam Enterprises, LLC, an indirect subsidiary of Camping World Holdings, Inc., has filed a lawsuit against RV Advisor, LLC, and Gigi Stetler for trademark infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices. Learn more.
Trailer safety chains save the day (and lives!)
We’ve repeatedly harped on the importance of having, inspecting, and safely using trailer safety chains. If something were to uncouple your tow vehicle from your trailer, safety chains can prevent the trailer from going its own way with disastrous results. But a couple in Idaho inadvertently learned that safety chains can act in reverse. For them, safety chains saved the day, keeping them from almost certain death. Read more.
Forest River factory goes up in flames!
The last thing any RV manufacturer needs right now as it deals with huge consumer demand for its RVs is for one of its factories to burn down. It happened last week to a Forest River plant in Goshen, Indiana. And the cause … what a shame. It could have been so easily avoided.
RV values are doing something almost unheard of!
The demand for RVs is so high these days that the vehicles are doing something virtually unheard of: They are increasing in value. Every financial advisor in the USA, Canada, or anywhere in the world will tell you that RVs decrease in value, not increase. So what the heck is going on? Been thinking of selling your rig? Maybe now’s the time. Read more.
In today’s review, industry insider Tony Barthel looks at the new 2021 Vanleigh Vilano 377FL Fifth Wheel. Tony compares this floor plan to two others. Which is his favorite? This one. Read his review to find out why.
TAXA Mantis Convertible Travel Trailer
Last week’s reviews:
Mountain View Adventure Vehicles • MeerKat Ultra Light Travel Trailer • Off Grid Trailers Expedition 2.0 • American Dream 39RK Diesel Pusher • Overland Explorer Vehicles CAMP-X Truck Camper
Read all other RV reviews by clicking here.
That was the RV week that was
March 14–20, 2021
What shape are RV manufacturers in? The huge interest in RVing by folks new to the lifestyle is buoying industry types. At a the Springfield RV Mega Show in Missouri last weekend, show promoters say nearly a third of the units brought to the show were snapped up on opening day. But on the other hand, show promoter Michael Roads struck a cautionary note: “There’s thousands of RVs sitting in their [manufacturers’] lots that are brand new and ready to go, but they don’t have roof air vents and other RV goods that are imported,” said Roads. “It has the RV manufacturing industry in a bind because they cannot finish production to distribute them.”
RVers at Texas’ Palo Duro Canyon Adventure Park got more of an “adventure” than they bargained for. On Saturday (March 13) an EF2 tornado ripped through the park, leaving a trail of wiped out rigs. It’s not clear how many RVs were damaged, but park owners say there were 30 guest rigs on site when the twister blasted through. Half the park is operational, while the other half is filled with tornado carnage. One family reported coming out of the park’s storm shelter to find what was left of their rig – mixed together with the remains of three other RVs. Earlier this week, guests were salvaging what they could of their possessions.
Business has been slow at Arizona’s Page-Lake Powell Campground. Real slow. Like 78% down slow. The 145-site campground is another victim of COVID-19, but may get some relief. Nearby Highway 64 has been closed for seemingly forever, but the National Park Service may reopen the route and restore business to the usually popular campground. SR 64 runs from Grand Canyon National Park to Cameron, and runs across the Navajo Nation. Hundreds of tribal members have been killed by the pandemic, and the Park Service has kept the highway closed to help protect tribal members. Since health conditions have improved, the Service is considering a reopening of the highway on May 23.
Taxes on motor vehicle fuel aren’t keeping up with the needs of road construction and maintenance. Jacking fuel taxes generally brings a negative response from drivers. What’s to be done? Some have kicked around charging drivers by the miles driven. Equip each rig on the road with a reporting system and bill by the mile. The American Transportation Research Institute recently studied the idea and came up with some interesting findings. To equip just privately owned vehicles would cost $13.6 billion dollars. And not everyone would play fair. The study suggests that people scamming the system or not paying up could cost nearly $8 billion a year in tax revenue. Everyone admits the answers are few and far between – and perhaps harder than anyone expected.
Firefighters in Grand Forks, B.C., had their hands full when fire broke out in a motorhome on March 13. A man who called the motorhome his only home noticed the fire around 7:00 a.m. and got out without injuries. When first responders arrived the flames were toasting a nearby utility pole and electrical wires. Utility workers were able to quickly de-energize the wires, allowing firefighters to battle the flames, but the motorhome was a total loss. The cause? Investigators say they think an electric space heater the man was using to heat the rig created the issue. They also note he had propane cylinders inside the rig. These fortunately vented, rather than exploding.
Folks who love camping on Oregon’s Detroit Lake had plenty of reason for sorrow: The 2020 Lionshead wildfire damaged the campground and has shut down camping while repairs are made. Now another blow: The expected “Big One,” a major earthquake long overdue for the region, could buckle the nearby dam’s spillway gates, endangering hundreds of thousands of downriver residents, including those who live in the state’s capitol city, Salem. The Army Corps of Engineers says it will begin to lower the lake’s level by five feet in April to try and reduce some of the risk. There is a 37% chance of a major quake in the region in the next 50 years.
Fire at an RV park is a terrifying thought – especially with how some parks shoe-horn rigs in so close. Firefighters in Orland, Indiana, were called out last Sunday afternoon to tend to a blaze at Walden Woods Campground. Before the day was over, sixteen RVs and nine outbuildings were wiped out. Making things even dicier were a large number of older trees, hollowed out with age. These not only caught fire, but threatened to drop “widow-makers” (dead limbs) on responders. Fire managers ended up calling in a tree service company to help out.
If you know something about the killing of an endangered Mexican gray wolf, killed near Eagar, Arizona, it could be worth $37,000. The wolf was found on Saffel Canyon Road in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest February 19. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says a vehicle was driving slowly past or stopped on that road near the Saffel Canyon Trailhead, and the service wants to know more about it. A combined reward of $37,000 is set to go to the person who provides the needed clues to track down whoever is responsible for the death of the wolf. Have information? Call 1-844-FWS-TIPS (397-8477) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on the bombing of an RV in Portland, Oregon, that we reported on last weekend. Jake Swingle, 24, has now been charged with arson, manufacturing a destructive device, possession of a destructive device, and unlawful use of a weapon. Swingle’s choice of explosive turned out to be a pipe bomb, which he allegedly placed at the rear of the motorhome. The force of the explosion destroyed the rig, and blasted its rear bumper in half. Apparently Swingle knew the owner of the coach, and the two had been on the outs.
New Mexico is moving to a more “normal” basis as far as tourism is concerned. Chaco Culture National Historic Park will reopen on April 1, and its Gallo Campground will be seeing overnight guests. The campground will be limited to 50% of capacity, and none of the park’s visitor centers will be open. Officials figure they’ll see a rush of campers, envisioning “full” at 50% sites through the high season.
Steal an RV and “high tech” can end up sending a squadron of police to your home. Boone County, Kentucky, law enforcers got a tip that there was stolen loot on the property of one Adam Hardin. But how could they be sure? LEOs flew a drone over Hardin’s farm and spotted a stolen fifth wheel. Armed with a search warrant, a contingent of cops cruised onto the Hardin place. On seeing those blue lights, Hardin “boogied” and hasn’t been found. Police recovered the fiver, a smaller trailer, and a stolen pickup – sans engine.
Tailgating Tigers fans should be jubilant. Louisiana State University says it will allow tailgating at spring sporting events, which has been shut down until now due to COVID-19. Health and safety is a priority, so restrictions apply: Fans are limited to groups of 15, and all members of the same household. Congregating groups is verboten. Face coverings are required away from the tailgate area. RVers can tailgate, too, but their group is limited to “within the footprint of their motorhome.” No reservations on the RV lot – first-come, first-served.
“Remote work” used to be an anomaly. Prior to COVID-19, less than 10% of the country’s workers were doing their jobs remotely full-time. Within a month of the onset of the pandemic, that changed to about 50% of the labor force. Most of those remoters are still remote, and forecasts suggest as much as 25% of the U.S. workforce will keep their desks somewhere other than at their employer’s location. How many of them will opt to park next to you in their RVs?
RVers who own properties in Iron County, Utah, were recently cut a small bit of slack by county commissioners. The commission has changed an ordinance that now allows RVs to be lived in for up to 16 days without a permit. In certain areas of the county, the limit is now 180 days. The stays are limited to RVs owned by the property owner. The six-month stays require filing an affidavit with the county affirming the dweller owns the property and will handle waste and water in a way meeting health standards. They’ll also need to sign up for garbage service.
An RV in Salisbury, Maryland, suffered “heavy damage” when fire broke out March 12. Firefighters responded to the fire in the Class C motorhome at 11:20 a.m. It took them about a half-hour to knock the fire out. The rig was parked close to a frame-built home; fortunately, it appears damage to the residence was limited. Such could not be said for the rig – damages figured at around $30,000. Cause? “An unspecified failure of the onboard refrigerator,” reports the Maryland State Fire Marshal.
RV awning manufacturer Carefree of Colorado may not exactly be a carefree place to work. The Berkshire Hathaway-owned company is now paying out $100,000 to settle a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, as well as putting in place a disability awareness program. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), when Anna Biryukova tried to hire on with Carefree, the company refused to consider hiring her as she is deaf. The EEOC also says Carefree retaliated against her because she and a job placement advocate working on her behalf complained about the company’s discrimination. Biryukova will receive $100,000 from the company in back pay and compensation. EEOC says it tried to set matters straight with the company first, but was forced to file a suit against the outfit in a Colorado court. According to the National Deaf Center, only 53.3% of deaf people ages 25-64 were employed in 2017 in the U.S., compared to 75.8% of hearing people – an employment gap of 22.5%.
Since Pacifica, California, has outlawed living in RVs on its streets, RV dwellers have been getting citations for non-compliance. The initial $100 fine can blossom, and three violations in a year can result in a $1,000 fine and potentially jail time. More than five tickets can lead to an impound. Now, with the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, RV dwellers are suing the city, claiming the ordinance is unconstitutional as it unfairly punishes people for being poor and being unable to pay for “fixed” housing. Filed in the U.S. Federal Court, Northern District of California, it asks for an immediate injunction barring the city from enforcing the RV ban.
The nation’s land overseers, National Parks, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife, and others, now themselves have a new overseer. The U.S. Senate has confirmed President Biden’s pick for a new Secretary of the Interior. The choice fell to Deb Haaland from New Mexico. Haaland, who was one of the state’s representatives to Congress, is now the first Native American ever appointed to a cabinet-level position.
Be cool this summer
Now use your RV air conditioner when you could never use it before. SoftStartRV makes it possible. No kidding!
HAVE YOU SEEN THESE STOLEN RVs?
Great news: No RVs were reported stolen this week. But be sure to check out our lineup of RVs stolen in recent weeks and months. Let’s find these vehicles for their owners. Click here.
A weekly roundup of news stories that will make you smile (and maybe shed a tear or two…). This week: Buzz Lightyear goes on an adventure before being returned to his young owner by Southwest Airlines employees who went way above and beyond, a street musician shares his earnings with veterans less fortunate, a new look for prosthetics, a funny photo from a reader and, of course, adorable animal videos. Click here to smile.
Is this your RV?
If it’s yours and you can prove it to us (send a photo for comparison), tell us here by 9 p.m. Pacific Daylight time today, March 21, 2021. If it’s yours you’ll win a $25 Amazon gift certificate.
If this isn’t your RV, send us a photo of your RV here (if you haven’t already) for a chance to win in future issues.
Last week two readers claimed their $25 Amazon gift cards: Joni W. of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Frank Moy of Pierre, South Dakota.
We’ll have another photo in tomorrow’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter (sign up to receive an email alert so you don’t miss the issue or those that follow). Some of these photos are submitted by readers while others were taken by our editors and writers on their travels around the USA.
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.
2022 Ford Super Duty truck series coming soon with more tech
The brawn and bravado of pickup trucks are defined in the pending 2022 Ford Super Duty offerings. The models – F-250, F-350 and F-450 – have impressive statistics for the mammoth segment, specifically in areas important to RVers. Max towing and hauling numbers are massive. Learn more.
2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup truck: It’s electrifying!
More details are now available for the pending debut of the 2022 GMC Hummer EV. The Hummer was previously known for its outrageous design. Actor and former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite vehicle was a Hummer. However, the new Hummer will look significantly different. Its engine and many other features will also be different than its extinct predecessor. Continue reading.
Truck spill woes: millions of bees, pizza, milk and lots of money
They could have been scenes from comedy movies or low-level horror films. And since no one was seriously hurt, a little truck humor seems fine. Here are some stories regarding unusual cargo that’s fallen or spilled off vehicles traveling the country’s highways. Read these strange stories here.
The best kitchen sink strainer – no more odors or clogs!
If you’re unfamiliar with the revolutionary Kitchen SinkShroom, you’ll want to introduce yourself. This popular sink strainer prevents anything from going down your kitchen sink’s drain (in your house or RV). Say goodbye to odors and clogs – the SinkShroom won’t let that happen. Read more about it and its partner, the TubShroom, here, or order one here.
Is it harder for you today to obtain an RV park space without an advance reservation than 5 years ago?
WOW! We were surprised by the results of yesterday’s poll question when we asked readers how many years they had financed their RV for? What surprised us was how many paid cash with no financing at all. What do you think? Roughly 32 percent, 53 percent or 65 percent? Find out.
A cowboy rides into a town on Sunday. He stays four days and leaves on Sunday. How can that be?
Thanks to Norm Duquette for submitting! Do you have a brain teaser you think we should use? Send it to us here.
New book for camping areas managed by the NPS
This recently published book from The Ultimate Public Campground Project describes 2,241 camping areas across the United States that are managed by the National Park Service. If you’re looking for new places to camp, this is the book for you. The project has been growing since 2008 and now has a website and an app too. Learn more or order.
Mike Sokol’s Ask the Expert – SoftStartRV no-cut install
Watch this live-streamed event on Tuesday, March 23, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time (5 p.m. Pacific) with Danny Rahner from SoftStartRV. We’ll discuss Danny’s new installation method that doesn’t require you to cut any air conditioner wires, only make splices. Sign up here.
Looking for a summer job? Indiana State Parks operations is looking to hire around 1,300 summer employees. From gate attendants to laborers, naturalist aids and security folks. Oh, there’s plenty of room for dishwashers, cooks, guest service personnel, and camp store attendants. To apply for a position at one of the properties, see WorkforIndiana.IN.gov. To apply for a position at one of the seven Indiana state park inns, see indianainnsjobs.com
A pilot flying over Yellowstone National Park spotted a sure sign of spring. A grizzly, attracted to a group of wolves. The latter were working over a carcass, and apparently the bear figured a meal was a meal. This according to National Parks Traveler.
An amusement park owner may get his wish to add an 84-site campground to the existing Wild Acadia Fun Park in Trenton, Maine. The local planning commission recently voted 4 to 1 to approve the project, which could mean 48 large full-hookup sites with 50-amp power. The lone dissenting vote came from a board member who said she found discrepancies between the developer’s map and a city-produced map hanging on the wall in the hearing room. Local media was silent on how the discrepancies might be explained. Still, the four other board members voted to approve.
Gorges State Park in Sapphire, North Carolina, will soon open the gates to a new RV park. The 7,709-acre park has located the campground near Rainbow Falls. Construction on the 14 RV-site campground (with 5 primitive cabins and room for 17 tenters) began last November. The $3.5 million dollar project will open this fall.
Take out a golf course, install an RV park. That’s the proposal in Hercules, California, where developers want to demolish the Franklin Canyon Golf Course and replace it with a 160-site RV park, in addition to walk-in sites and tent bungalows. You might not need a golf cart, but bring your clubs. There’ll be an 18-hole putting green.
If your travels take you out Alabama way, then you may find yourself putting up at Stevenson. The town is pumping $25,000 into a new 50-site RV campground at its town park. The plan is moving full-speed-ahead, with water piped out to sites, and electrical planning to be in the ground soon.
Cavco, a major manufacturer of park model RVs, will soon open a fully air-conditioned park model factory. It’s a good thing – the new plant will be smack in the middle of Glendale, Arizona, where hundred-and-teens summer days are not unusual. The company expects to hire 200 workers to begin production this year.
Locals will have a slight advantage over visitors when Raleigh County, West Virginia, parks officials open campground reservations in April. On April 12, county residents can reserve short-term sites; non-residents will need to wait until April 15 to do so.
More room for RVs in Cold Brook, New York. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation says it plans to add on 20 acres of space to the Hinckley Day Use Area on the Hinckley Reservoir and bring in 150 overnight sites. The plan has been on the books since the 1960s, but apparently got stuck on a shelf and covered with dust. No word on start or completion dates.
RV manufacturers are putting full faith in the idea that their industry is going to soar. Now Alliance RV, high-end fifth-wheel manufacturer, is putting their money on it. This week it announced it will pump $33 million into expanding its manufacturing base and add 650 new RV jobs by the end of 2023. Alliance produces rigs on 254,000 square feet of factory floor space in Elkhart, Indiana, and says it will add 240,000 feet more in two different plants this year alone.
Campground and RV Park News
Developments in places where we stay 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 and RV Park News” here.
LESS THAN TWO WEEKS LEFT TO SAVE!
Harvest Hosts membership increasing – join now and save!
Harvest Hosts NEW member prices are going up to $99/yr. in April 2021. If you buy a membership now, it’s only $67.15 a year after our 15% discount. This link will lock in this rate forever, regardless of how much the prices increase in the future. Use HHFRIENDS15 at checkout. Save over $30 off the new price on a whole year of unlimited overnight stays. Learn more.
RV recalls posted since our last newsletter
?????? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??????
We can think of many places where this would come in handy in the RV…
Did you miss yesterday’s RV Travel?
If so, stories you missed:
• Editor’s Essay: Will RVs fundamentally change the way we live?
• Planning way ahead is the “New Normal” for RVing in 2021
• Campground Crowding: “We camped for pleasure. Now there is none.”
• Can I use my RV generator for emergency power in my house?
• A sad story of road rage. Why is everyone still so angry?
• The many useful RV applications of Google Earth – Part 2: Height clearances
• Owner DESTROYS brand-new Jeep while flat towed. You won’t believe the damage!
• Selling your RV: How to prepare it before listing it for sale
• So you want to sell your RV? Here are the best places to sell, and why
• Portable oxygen: Keep fresh air in your pocket
• Do black tire covers protect your RV tires?
• Building an RV park: Septic progress and 4th of July announcements!
… and much more
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of March 15, 2021:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.85 [Calif.: $3.73]
Change from week before: Up 8 cents; Change from year before: Up 61 cents.
Diesel: $3.19 [Calif.: $3.95]
Change from week before: Up 5 cents; Change from year before: Up 46 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!
Two of the best black tank dumpin’ gadgets
Tony Barthel writes: “Dealing with the black tank is one of the least enjoyable parts of the RV lifestyle. When a product comes along that makes the process even a little bit friendlier, I’m in. As such, two Camco products have really made my black tank dealings less miserable and have taken some of the frustration out of parts of this process.” Read more about these two helpful products here.
Upcoming RV shows
Most of the RV shows in the early part of 2021 have been canceled. We will restart our show directory feature here as shows begin again. In the meantime, see the frequently updated schedule here.
If you’ve never seen this video, you’ve got to watch it. Be warned, though – the song might get stuck in your head! It’s too funny! [Diane just watched this for the first time. You really need to watch it! 😆 ]
Brain teaser answer:
His horse’s name is Sunday!
RV Travel staff
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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