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RVTravel 205: Midweek Edition

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Issue 205 of the world's largest email RV newsletter: Learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. This newsletter is funded through sales at

An alert for this issue was emailed to more than 110,000 RVers. . . plus you!

This newsletter is posted early every Thursday morning.

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Learn where to Camp in America's State Parks
Learn about 1,600 state parks and recreation areas in 49 states that have camping facilities suitable for RVs. A great resource!
Read more or order, 

Editor's Corner

by Jerry (RiverGuy) Brown

What a difference a year makes! During my first snowbird stay in Arizona a year ago, the desert was green: grasses covered much of the sandy soil, normally dormant trees and shrubs were in full leaf, and wild flowers bloomed everywhere. Creeks (they call them washes down here) ran and rivers were high. The heavy rains that had caused such havoc in southern California had brought the usually arid Southwest to life.

No Fishing at Hassayampa River, by jkbrown
That was then. As of this writing -- mid-February -- there has been no measurable rainfall in central Arizona since October. Last year's grasses and wildflowers are now brown and brittle reminders. Nearly everything is dormant. Many rivers, the Gila is typical, are wide dry washes for large sections of their courses; such flows as there may be have retreated to subterranean channels. The sign in this recent photo of the dry Hassayampa River in Wickenburg incongruously warns “No fishing from bridge.”

We've had day after day of sunny and pleasant conditions, ideal for all manner of outdoor activity. In contrast our friends in the Northwest who enjoyed a mild winter last year have this year endured rainy weather for weeks on end. They aren't complaining too loudly since reservoirs are filling and ski slopes are blanketed in white.

The prognosticators have been saying that the weather is likely to be more erratic and sometimes extreme than it has been in previous decades. For a snowbird like myself, that just confirms my preference for wintering in the Southwest. Staying up north, odds are that I'd have to endure a harsh winter half the time. While in the desert, possibilities range from months of pleasant sunny days to watching a garden come to life.

I don't wish to trivialize the effect that severe weather can exact on life and property -- drought either. And I'll probably grumble as loud as the next person if it rains for the next week. But I cherish the freedom that my RV gives me to make the best of whatever the weather may bring.

Last week's essay on tire safety attracted quite a few reader responses. Safety on the highways is obviously a topic that we all share concerns about. RV Travel reader Warren Cooke recommends the Rubber Manufacturers Association
website where you can download its RV Tire Care & Safety Guide for free.

As always, we've tried to pack this edition with lots of interesting and useful information. Send your comments to

THE DIGITAL RV -- Just published!
Learn everything "digital" as it relates to a RVer: Connecting to the Internet, setting up a mini stereo system, managing digital photos, mastering GPS and more.
Order or get more info.

Roadside America
Bottle Forest, Oro Grande, Calif., by jkbrown
A strange forest stands alongside National Trails Highway north of Victorville, Calif. Hundreds of "bottle trees" interspersed with roadside relics and seemingly random metal sculptures fill a large lot near Oro Grande, a small mining town in the southern Mojave Desert. No signs proclaim purpose or pride of ownership for this attraction. The gate was closed on the day we passed by. This road is a section of Historic Route 66, so perhaps the forest is a remnant from days gone by, before I-15 siphoned off the tourist trade.


RV Park Spotlight!
RV Travel reader Dori Bowerman writes "My husband and I recently retired and are full time RVing. We have found a great place to stay: Bayview RV Park. Cost is $140 monthly plus electric (30 amp service only). It is not fancy; there are no organized activities. The wind always seems to be blowing and there are only grass pads and dirt roads. The weather has been great!! Where is this little spot of heaven? Port Mansfield, Texas, right on Laguna Madre. One of the special things about this place is that the county has set up wild animal feeders. Every night the deer come in; we must have seen 200 last night. They come right up to the campground. We have also counted 24 wild turkeys, javalina, and wild hogs. We think this place is home. The weather has been sunny and in the 70s in the day and 50s at night. And on a very limited budget the price is certainly right."

Port Mansfield is located on the Texas Gulf Coast, about 30 miles from Brownsville and across from Padre Island National Seashore. Call (956) 944-2313 for information.

2006 Next Exit Directory
Don't get lost!
Never take a wrong exit off an Interstate highway again. The 2006 Next Exit lists every exit along every Interstate and what's at each: campgrounds, fuel, truck stops, casinos, malls, rest areas, hospitals and more.
Learn more or order

From the Free Camping File
If your travel plans include South Dakota's Black Hills or Badlands National Parks, you may find the City Park in Crawford, Neb., a convenient stopover. The park offers free overnight camping in 10 sites, four of which have electric hookups.
Details here.

Do you know of a free or inexpensive ($10 or less) campground? Please share it at

Quartzsite, Arizona. See it on DVD!
Visit the
Boondocking Capital of the West on DVD. Like being there!

Camp Hosting Opportunities
Incredible Idaho Hosting Opportunities
At 13th in size in the U.S., Idaho has a lot of space to fill. The state park system has plenty of need for folks who can serve as "park ambassadors." During the camp season, March to October, hosts handle a variety of duties, from greeting campers to tidying up the flower beds. The state also needs folks who can man visitor centers and kiosks, even help out with inventorying natural resources. 20 to 24 hours per week per person is asked back in return for a free campsite in one of Idaho’s beautiful state parks.

Camp Hosting in State Parks. Learn how!
Finally, a guide to everything you need to know about working or volunteering as a campground host in one of America's thousands of state parks. New book tells how and provides specifics about jobs with contact information.
Read more or order,

This Issue's Reader Survey
How many miles do you estimate you will travel with your RV this year between Memorial Day and Labor Day?
Answer here.

Read previous reader surveys.
No license required at these fishing holes

There's no such thing as a national fishing license, so when RVing anglers travel outside their own state, they need to buy a temporary license in each state they fish. Big hassle! That is. . . unless they fish at private lakes and ponds. And lucky for RVers, plenty of RV parks have such facilities. We'll profile such parks each issue.

Bring your own pole! Basswood Country Inn and RV Resort at Platte City, 20 miles from Kansas City, Mo., has four spring-fed fishing lakes. Catch channel catfish, bass, crappie and more. Eat what you catch; no license required, but there is a $3 daily fee per pole. Shoreline fishing only with limits on some species. Other resort amenities include walking trails, outdoor pool, and game room. Basswood has 103 full hookup sites, 30 and 50 amp; standard rate is $31. Call (816) 858-5556 for details and reservations.

2006 Campground Directories and other new RV guides
From Trailer Life, Woodalls and other publishers.
Check 'em out.

Fulltimer Tips from Russ De Maris
Don't forget about lighting
Since most RVers shop for a rig in daylight hours, we may never consider what things will be like after sundown. Is there sufficiently spread lighting to fill your rig with light, and enough "work light" for reading and other fine work? Fluorescent lights use less power for light produced--are they the principle lights, or can you replace less efficient ones? -- Russ De Maris is the editor of
COOKBOOKS FOR RVers. You have never seen so many in one place.

Peggi's Packing Tips
A tip from a Florida park resident simplifies the task of adding shelves to the RV’s narrow bedroom shirt closets. To avoid the challenge of installing shelf supports in the limited space, her husband cuts two pieces of pegboard to fit the sides of the cupboard. Simply insert shelf supports into the holes and add plywood shelves. The good part of this is there are NO holes to drill and when you change units you take your installation with you.

Peggi McDonald is the author of the eBook RV Packing Tips, Life lessons & Easy Living Tips.

State Park of the Week
Fort Stevens State Park
occupies the far northwest tip of Oregon, where the mighty Columbia River meets the sea. At six square miles, it's Oregon's largest campground and one of its loveliest parks. Visitors enjoy miles of clean ocean beaches, the wreck of the "Peter Iredale," picnic facilities, boating, horseback riding and swimming. Explore the many artifacts from its fort days beginning with the Civil War and extending through World War II. A network of bicycle trails and hiking trails extends through spruce and hemlock forests, wetlands, dunes, and shore pine. Historic Astoria and Fort Clatsop, part of Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, are nearby. The park has 530 campsites, 174 full hookup and 303 with water and electrical service. Rates are $18 October through April and $22 May through September. Information at (800) 551-6949.

Halls o' Fame
Nashville, Tenn., is synonymous with country music. Where else would you expect to find the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum? Great performers, songwriters and broadcasters in country music have been honored here since 1961, starting with Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. Located in the heart of Nashville at Music Square, the hall and museum are open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $16.95, but discounts are available. Call (615) 416-2001 for additional information. RVers will find many parks and campgrounds nearby, several on Music Valley Drive. And of course no visit to Nashville would be complete without a stop at the Grand Ole Opry.

2006 Traveler's Guide To The FIREARM LAWS of the 50 States
Don't carry a weapon across state lines without knowing the laws. What's legal in one state may be a felony in another. Explains the specific gun laws of every U.S. state. Many changes since last year. Still only $12.95.
Learn more or order
Little-known National Treasures
National Parks, National Monuments and other Federally operated places

Collections of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is the nation's newest monument to freedom. It brings to life the struggle for freedom around the world and throughout history. The Cincinnati site recognizes that city's service as a major hub of activity on the Underground Railroad through the early 1800s. The Center is open to the public Tuesday - Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. General admission is $12, discounts for seniors, children and groups. For appointments and information call (513) 333-7737.
DVD tells what it's like to be a full-time RVer
Anyone who is thinking of traveling full-time with an RV will have his or her questions answered in this wonderful 90-minute DVD. Interviews with dozens of fulltimers as well as experts on the lifestyle.
Learn more or order.

RV Factory Tours
Tours of this factory will have to wait. At the suggestion of RVTravel reader Garret Walther, we bring you the sad news of the destruction of the Scamp Trailer factory in Backus, Minn.
See photos of the January fire that put the plant out of action. The folks at Scamp are committed to rebuilding their business. We all wish them well.
Tourist Railroads
Sacramento Southern Railroad, Sacramento, Calif.
This steam train travels six miles roundtrip from Old Sacramento along the Sacramento River, once the route to and from San Francisco for gold rush era paddlewheeler ships. Train passengers ride in enclosed coaches or open-air gondolas. Boarding is in Old Sacramento, just two blocks from the California State Railroad Museum, one of the finest such museums in the world. Trains run on the hour April through September. Information: (916) 445-6645.

. . . Great American Train Rides VHS Home Video. Two volume set on sale for only $18.74. Only 12 left! Learn more or order.

"HOW TO BUY AN RV" from the Better Business Bureau
New 50-minute DVD from the BBB explains how to buy an RV. Learn how to get the best deal, the best rig (for you) and how to avoid classic buying mistakes. Hosted by RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury. Introductory price: $19.95. Available in
DVD and VHS.

Day Cruises
Take a nature cruise with Captain Mike.
Located about 60 miles north of Tampa, Fla., Lazy River Cruises provides guided boat tours down the Withlacoochee River, Rainbow Springs River, and Lake Rousseau. View great wildlife and wetland scenery from a covered pontoon boat. Florida rivers offer some of the best bird watching in the country, along with many other types of wild animals. One to three hour cruises are available as are romantic sunset and moonlight trips. Captain Mike's is located about halfway between Ocala and Crystal River. Call (352) 637-2726 or visit Stay at nearby Rainbow Springs State Campground, where all sites have water and electric hook-ups and some have sewer. The rate is $19. Fishing for largemouth bass and other fresh water species is popular; guide reports recorded 90 bass over 10 pounds caught and released in nearby waters last year.
Locate Wal-Mart stores
Use this directory to plan free overnight stays.
Get easy driving directions to every Wal-Mart in America.
Learn more about the Wal-Mart Locator or order.
Lowest price anywhere: $19.95

. . . eBook lists Wal-Marts that DO NOT allow overnight stays. Only $4.39.

Camping with Pets
By Christy Powers
While on the road, what food you buy and where you buy it could make a big difference in the comfort of your traveling pet and those who travel with him. Do not change foods suddenly while on the road or ever. But make sure the product you are buying is fresh. All pet food stores are not created equal.
Read more.
A resource book:
Camping and RVing with Dogs

Gleanings from the Forum
In a thread titled
Got Kicked Out of Campground a reader shares her unfortunate experience. See what others have to say or share your own thoughts.
Do you drive a really BIG RV?

RVers with big rigs will love the 2006 Rand McNally Motor Carriers' Road Atlas. Designed for truckers, this atlas shows where to travel to avoid low overpasses and narrow roads where a big RV could get into trouble. Learn more or order.

Big Rig RV Park
If you drive a coach 34 feet or longer, you just can't squeeze into any ol' RV park. Here from the
Big Rigs Best Bets Campground Directory is one park that loves super-sized rigs:

Juniper Campground, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Watford City, North Dakota
It's not everyday you can park your big rig and spend some meaningful time with a bison. If this sounds good, this could be your place. Some of the campsites may take a little creativity to squeeze into. If you have a super-sized RV, try space #5, which can take up to 95 feet. No hookups, but generators are okay 8-8 daily. Good dump station. No reservations. From Watford City, head south 15 miles on Highway 85 and watch for signs to the park. And keep an eye out for buffalo: it's bad news if you hit one of these big fellas!
RV Website of the Week
I'm not sure what I find more interesting about this RV: its rugged, go-anywhere construction or its sleek and functional interior design. Check it out at
Tech Tips

Help your RV refrigerator:
There are several things we can do to help our RV refrigerator do its job more efficiently. First and foremost the RV must be fairly level for the refrigerator to operate properly. Older RV refrigerators required more precise leveling, but even the newer models need to be close to level for optimum performance. Over time a cooling unit operated out of level will be permanently damaged. The initial cool down process can take four to six hours. You should turn the refrigerator on the day before you plan to leave and before you put any food in it. When you do load the refrigerator, the food you put in should already be cold, and the food put in the freezer should already be frozen. -- Mark Polk
Visit for more suggestions on RV technical issues.
Books and DVDs about repairing and maintaining an RV
See the
big selection of titles at

Upcoming RV Shows
Feb 25 - March 5, Pennsylvania Home Show, Harrisburg, PA
March 2 - 5, Colorado RV, Sports, Boat & Travel Show, Denver, CO
March 2 - 5, Kansas City RV Show , Kansas City, MO
March 2 - 5, Fort Washington RV & Camping Show & Sale, Ft Washington, PA
March 2 - 5, Red River Valley Sportsmen's
Boat, Camping &                   Vacation Show, Fargo, ND
March 2 - 5, Central New York RV & Camping Show and Sale,  Syracuse, NY
March 3 - 5, Vermont State RV & Camping Show, Essex Junction, VT
March 3 - 5, Ottawa Spring RV Show, Ottawa, ON (Canada)
March 3 - 5, Rhode Island RV, Camping Show, Providence, RI
March 3 - 5, Moncton RV Show, Moncton, NB (Canada)
March 3 - 5, New Orleans Spring RV & Camping Show, Kenner, LA
March 3 - 5, Central Illinois Recreational Show, Peoria, IL
Quote of the week
"It takes a long time to grow an old friend." --- John Leonard
RV Travel staff
Editor:  Jerry (RiverGuy) Brown, Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Contributors: Christy Powers, Chris Dougherty, Mark Polk, Bill and Dot Bell. Forum Administrator: Adrienne Kristine. Office Manager: Jody Allcott. Web Operations Director: Zoey Platt. Warehouse Administrator: Walter Cardwell. Phone Orders Supervisor: Martha Lamb. Clapper Loader: Emily Woodbury. Mascot: Georgie, the "give me food now or else!" Jack Russell terrier.

RV Travel is copyright 2006 by Our International Headquarters:, 170 W. Dayton Street, Suite 103, Edmonds WA 98020, USA

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