Tuesday, December 5, 2023


The readers write — with hot pens!


Edited by Russ and Tiña De Maris

In our semi-monthly roundup of reader comments, we found that many had plenty to say — and in no uncertain terms. We love hearing from you — even when you don’t agree with us.

Do RVers “camp”?
It’s another nerve strike: Chuck Woodbury’s editorial musings in issue 783 about whether RVers can be rightfully said to be camping when out in their rigs definitely got a reaction from readers.

David kicked in with a question of his own: “Chuck, why does an RVer need to be a camper? I bought my DRV Suites 5th wheel because I wanted all the comforts of home; as it is my home. It gives me the freedom to go wherever I want, whenever I want. We’ve been fulltime for two years now and have yet to build a campfire to sit around. I didn’t do that when I had a house, either.”

Denny didn’t mince his words, either: “I dislike the word camping when someone is talking about RVing. I enjoy my creature comforts at home and also on the road. Okay, I like RVing better. We have all the creature comforts at home and prefer to take it with us on the road which is six sometimes seven months. Now I have a birtch (sic) not about you or the magazine, but about the width of spaces in (pardon me) camp grounds. With slide outs being dominate in today’s world it makes it worse. Then add your awning then when parks allow you to Edith back in like trailers and motorhomes can pull straight in then the two outdoor living areas are next to one another. We try to avoid narrow width lots. Parks are old and it’s costly to upgrade and then charge more.”

Several of our readers cast a historical, back-look on their thinking. Darrel was among them: “When I was a teenager I camped with a sleeping bag on a tarp in the deep woods, no tent. Later, I car camped and motorcycle camped with a tent in developed campgrounds. After my wife and I retired and decided to full time, we do not camp. We LIVE in our house on wheels. Mountains, seashore, woods. We RV. We LIVE. We do not camp. If you want to camp, buy a backpack, a two-man tent, and a sleeping bag and go for it. Don’t smoke me out with your campfire, and don’t blast me out with your outdoor TV and radio and we’ll be fine.”

“We used to tent camp as a young family,” writes Dave. “Now we are in our late 60’s and we still enjoy the outdoors with the fire pit and outdoor cooking and nature hikes. We have a 35′ fifth wheel and yes it has all of the modern conveniences, but we still go out into the forest and CAMP OUT. And no we don’t have a washer and dryer. Yes, we still camp out, just with a little more BLING that we used too. Now we can get DOWN out of bed instead of UP out of bed. LOL.”

MS thinks monikers get in the way. She writes, “I remember when you were ‘camping,’ no matter where you are and no matter what you were in. Not only has terminology changed but the people who are in the campgrounds and RV parks have changed as well. And not for the better. Too many ‘class’ distinctions abound and I do not think it is a good thing. Congratulations for keeping up with the rather annoying trend. The ‘RVing’ people have caused me to decide I do not want to be one of you with your little petty prejudices. I no longer ‘boondock’ (and I’m not sure what that word even means anymore). Plus I have been told several times that I am not an ‘RVer’ or a ‘fulltime RVer’. All because I do not fit the uber narrow definition of whoever is espousing it at the time. So I now tell people I am an RVDer (Residential Vehicle Dweller) and sometimes I ‘freedom park’ (park overnight anywhere that I’m allowed, self-contained). And I ‘camp’ when I have hookups (either full or limited).”

Evidently not everyone has a problem with being labeled. Dick K and Sandy S wear theirs as a badge of honor. “Camping is not what most RVers do, unless it is in a tent or pop up. Camping is the 12 foot umbrella tent we started out with in the 1960’s. What most RVers do, is now called GLAMPING or Glorified Camping. Yes, there are different classes of Glamping and there is Dry Glamping also. We call it Dry Camping but unless you are in a tent, or a teardrop, or a pop up, you are still Dry Glamping. There are some that still call motorhomes  campers. Our coach is 40 foot and has every convenience that is in our stick home. It is not a Motor Camper, it is a Motor Home and we are proud Glampers.”

On the other hand, Charmayne found the suggestion that RVing and camping are mutually exclusive to be offensive. Here’s the take: “I’m sad with your editorial this week. We enjoy all the extras of our fifth wheel but we still consider it camping. We enjoy cooking over the open fire compared to stove, oven, and microwave inside. We have TV outside which we watch because we can and are careful to keep the volume down so that neighbors are not annoyed, although some of them you never see because they might be inside their 5th wheel or motorhome. We enjoy sitting around the fire visiting with our neighbors. So just so we have the convenience of home in our 5th wheel, we still consider ourselves campers. I don’t think I’ve seen many pictures of you cooking or sitting around a campfire. And many times you always talk about places you have eaten out. So perhaps you should not be so judgmental as to who is a camper and who is not just because they enjoy a comfortable camping unit.”

Finally, BobG had a bone to pick with Editor Chuck. “Maybe it’s just me, but the routine negative tenor of your editorial is a bit tiring. Please consider an occasional upbeat topic. Great newsletter though.”

Chuck had his own view after hearing this. “Bob, I am not a cheerleader for the RV industry, where I see a lot of bad stuff going on these days. I have been writing this weekly newsletter for more than 16 years and have probably written far more ‘cheery’ editorials than those with a ‘negative tenor.’ I am sure you are not alone in your observation, but I can’t please everybody. You come sit in my chair for a few days and read my emails from RVers who got burned with a crappy RV or couldn’t get service on it after they bought it. The guy parked close to me where I am now has a five-year-old fifth wheel with five slides. He has had to replace the motors in those slides ten times! And, sadly, like many other RVers, he has a 20 year loan, and even if he wanted to sell his RV today, he couldn’t sell it for enough to pay off his loan without hitting his savings account. People write me all the time when they realize they are $20,000, even $50,000 upside down on an RV loan.

“The more people I can educate to help them avoid things like this, the better. If you want to read ‘cheery’ stuff, read the RV printed magazines, where it’s all fluff to please advertisers. Bob, I know where you are coming from, and I appreciate your comment. It’s just that right now I’m a bit angry at the industry and far more interested in educating RVers than pleasing industry bigwigs. I’d stop this newsletter in a minute if I had to just write fluff to please advertisers and industry people, who right now are beyond happy with record sales, even if the quality of many of those RVs is questionable.”

A tiff with Tiffin
After we published a piece regarding Tiffin Motorhome’s changed policy regarding factory service on older rigs, we got yet another earful.

Tren’s comments reflected what many felt – perhaps an underlying sense of betrayal? “I have a 2008 Phaeton and had planned on going to Red Bay in a month or so. Now I wish I had not bought a used Tiffin. Talk about alienating their customer base! Will they next insist on younger owners as well?”            

Others had their feelings well trod on. Debi sounds off: “In late November, we decided to take our 2008 Phaeton on a last minute trip from Texas to Red Bay to have roof rails, wet bay, and driver’s side slide-out (the Big Three) checked out. We bought the Phaeton used in January 2014. Turns out we had to have new roof rails and wet bay replaced. I’m glad we did it since we have received this news! What a slap in the face to us “older” customers!

Tom didn’t limit the focus to Tiffin alone. “This industry needs to get a grip. Most RV dealers have a limited service staff focused on delivering new RVs. Getting service on an RV, even if it’s new is like a veteran trying to be seen at the VA, and that’s mostly for coach issues. The problem doesn’t get any better when you want to get the chassis serviced. Freightliner just keeps saying bring the coach to Gaffney, SC. What a joke. Their Oasis Network is for the most part non-existent. It’s time the industry started spending some of those profits to build a network of service centers.”

Still, Mike seems to lay the fault on a wider audience: “Here’s an IDEA. If everyone went back to ‘CAMPING’ instead of ‘Glamping’ you would not have these problems as you would not own a massive MOTORHOME which essentially is a HOUSE with all its own problems bolted to a TRUCK chassis with all its potential problems. And we wonder why we have problems with these inventions of ‘Modern Manufacturing’!”

Finally, Marty has his own ruminations as to the “whys” of the matter. “I wonder if the change is due to a large increase in warranty work. We have a couple parked near us for the winter with a new Tiffin. His pick list of warranty issues covers a full sheet of tablet paper and he is having trouble getting the list cut down to size. For instance, the parking brake handle falls through the console and it is nearly impossible to disengage the parking brake. I understand he has been told he will have to bring it back to the factory, a mere 1600 miles from where he is now. My 2004 paid for rig looks better and better every day.”


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Wally Day (@guest_5154)
6 years ago

My wife and I bought a used 2010 Serrano a little over a year ago. We have learned much about dealers, resorts, repairs, campers, and the lifestyle of those who use them. As total novices the curve has been steep but rewarding. Some behaviors have been curious to observe. …a lot of sitting around, all sorts of decorations, campfires when it is 90 out side, making the most of a walk to the dumpster with the day’s trash, finding out that it may be all about the dog. State parks are generally great and most rv users are a friendly lot.
We set out to get away and see some sights on our own terms and have had a good time doing it. Having the means to enjoy the road and what it offers, or be at the home we love with all the things we enjoy is, for us ,the perfect blend. We enjoy the newsletter and appreciate the input and advice of all involved.

Lynn (@guest_5138)
6 years ago

Chuck, I love this newsletter. My wife and I joke (tongue-in-cheek) about how much I look forward to reading it every Saturday. That said, to some degree, I have to agree with Bob and I’m not sure how to state it. While I am very proud of you being about the only editor/blogger/writer standing up to the RV industry, your editorial comes at the beginning of the newsletter and “sets the tone” for the readers. Maybe you could do two brief topics and also cover something “cool, progressive, etc.” to offset the tough job of calling the industry to task or “wishing for the good old days?”

This is the only newsletter that is holding the industry to a higher standard and I wish other voices would join you. Many bloggers are paid by advertisers, so they really don’t address the quality issue.

On the other hand, this newsletter should not focus so heavily on the industry. Most of us RV to enjoy the experience and your newsletter accomplishes a lot when you help us expand that experience. Thanks again for your years of dedication to making our RV experience better and more fulfilling.

J French (@guest_5135)
6 years ago

I believe I am similar to many young retired who do “Camp”.
We are not full-timers but generally spend 1 week at a time in various State Parks, Campgrounds & an occasional Resort.
I have learned many things from the Tips & Tricks offered both in columns & postings by readers.
Like very many of us, I was not a truck driver & navigating a truck pulling a 32 foot Camper on Highways & Interstates was a definite stressful situation especially passing a vehicle due to mirror limitations & the frequency of road rage types to attempt to suddenly pull around you to pass on the right.
Backing up into tight spaces was also a chore, we use 2 way radios which helped as long as my wife remembers her right is my left.
Solved both issues with the purchase of a high quality WiFi camera & 7″ screen unit. Notice I wrote High Quality as in a commercial unit which was a little expensive.
Now backing into even tight spaces is simple & I no longer worry about passing a vehicle or possibly killing a motorcycle rider.
Short version – I can now see, amazing how cheap this expensive piece of equipment is in the long run.

AppyCamper (@guest_5144)
6 years ago
Reply to  J French

We use walkytalkys too and do not use right and left. We use driver and passenger to say which side to navigate towards.

Paul DeLaurentis (@guest_5132)
6 years ago

I feel so bad for those that are buying new coaches and fifth wheels. We are spending the winter in Mesa, AZ. and those around us that recently dove into new ones are experiencing horror. Mostly those purchased from Camping World. A Thor with the hopper connected to the gray tank. Another Thor that never had the washer hose connected and flooded on first use. Many many more. Then, having to wait months for service. Closing up your unit to go to a service appointment only to find they have to schedule weeks from now due to factory supplied parts. Horrible, absolutely horrible nightmares I purchased a used American Revolution from an independent dealer and have been treated like a king. Only one follow up service needed for a slide adjustment and that was on my schedule. No way I would ever buy a new unit and forget Camping World. There a much better options out there.

Tim Slack (@guest_5119)
6 years ago

Russ, here’s a positive note for all the Tiffin owners (rightfully) disappointed by Tiffin’s new policy to only service coaches 4 or less years old. Bunk House Conversion RV, right there in Red Bay AL, is owned by a 20+ year veteran of Tiffin’s service dept. We were directed there by Tiffin and received prompt, thorough, knowledgeable and friendly service for our 2007 Open Road. And they ALSO have a hookup waiting area adjacent to their buildings. Phone is 256-356-8634.

A further comment on Tiffin, though: I have helpfully received parts, PDF diagrams and advice from Tiffin’s svc dept over the years and done a lot of my own RV repairs…if one has the aptitude, always cheaper and more timely than a dealer.

theresa (@guest_5114)
6 years ago

Hi all! I want to compliment you for having the strength of character to not only endure, but rise above, some of the meanspirited, hurtful and downright nasty comments that you posted today in the readers’ roundup. As Chuck wrote, he cannot please everybody. But honest to goodness, some folk seem unnecessarily critical!!!
I, for one, just want to say a heartfelt thank you for putting out a high-quality, informative newsletter. My rig doesn’t fit into the RV category, I guess, because I lack a number of amenities. I own a small, 13-foot fiberglass trailer without a bathroom. It has served us very, very well for over 10 years. We love to “camp”, cooking outdoors (yes, we do have a 2 burner gas stove inside) as well as enjoying campfires. We fit into any spot, can manouever on a dime, don’t require a trip to the dumpstation and yet can pull over anywhere and spend the night. It amazes me to read how some other readers here get ugly when they pull into a “campground” and actually get neighbours who “camp”!!! If one doesn’t want the smell of a campfire, perhaps only frequenting RV resorts would be a better idea for them.
All in all, thank you again for putting out this newsletter. It is something that I thoroughly enjoy getting in my inbox each Saturday.

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