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Issue 784 • Week of Mar. 11–17, 2017
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
FMCA, the Family Motor Coach Association, is proposing to reinvent itself 54 years after it was founded as a club exclusively for owners of motorized RVs. President Charlie Adcock outlined his vision of the club’s future on Wednesday to an audience of about 500 members at the club’s international convention in Chandler, Arizona.
The future includes opening the club to owners of towable RVs. Current members will vote this fall, but I’ll be surprised if they vote it down. About 85 percent of all new RV sales these days are towables, leaving very few candidates for membership in a motorhome-owners-only club. To me, accepting all types of RVs is imperative.
WATCH MY VIDEO
OF CHARLIE’S SPEECH.
(in standard definition to conserve your bandwidth)
As is, the club is bleeding members and money. Membership peaked in 2004 at 130,000 member families and has declined ever since to today’s 70,500, with the exception of a minuscule gain of 616 members in fiscal year 2016. The club spent $269,901.76 in “acquisition and retention tactics” to get those members — $438 a member, hardly sustainable.
The club’s monthly magazine Family Motor Coaching, the most popular member benefit, was once packed with advertising — a cash cow earning the organization $3 to $5 million a year. Today, most advertisers have bailed and the thinner magazine struggles to break even.
FMCA INTERNATIONAL RALLIES, typically two a year, were once a big deal. In 2000, more than 7,400 coaches were on hand for the event in Brunswick, Maine. Attendance has declined ever since. Last year’s gathering in West Springfield, Massachusetts, attracted a mere 1,000 coaches. Attendance at the just-concluded event in Chandler, Arizona, was up to 2,300 member coaches, likely fueled by thousands of its snowbird members already in the area.
The average age of an FMCA member is 71. RV industry stats show that the average RV owner is 48.
With the 1.5-million-member Good Sam Club now little more than a marketing tool for Camping World, there is no major club dedicated to RVers’ interests and concerns (Escapees does a good job but its membership is modest).
FMCA is a non-profit organization with leaders elected by members. Its emphasis is on education and “having fun,” with regional and special interest clubs across the USA and Canada. In my opinion, if it opens its doors to towable owners, it will thrive again with an influx of new, younger members.
But, for now, without the change, the writing is on the wall: Accept all RVers to the ranks or fight a losing battle to survive. To hear what club president Charlie Adcock said in his speech, please watch this 25-minute video of highlights.
If you would like to join me as a member of FMCA, save $10 through a special offer for RVtravel.com readers.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
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Don’t forget to set your clocks forward one hour as of 2:00 a.m., Sunday, March 12, for Daylight Saving Time — except in Arizona and Hawaii. And this is a great time to replace your smoke and CO detectors’ batteries.
Clean your RV… with beastly-good results!
Your RV’s not your car, it’s your “beast.”
Your RV’s large surface area makes it a beast that collects more bugs, grit, grime, soot and industrial pollution than your car does. And it may have different surfaces of paint, fiberglass, vinyl and aluminum. Click on the video to see Wade clean, shine and protect EVERYTHING with Beast Wash. Click here to buy, or learn more about, Beast Wash at the Wade Maid website.
What RV do you drive or tow?
Send us a photo of your RV (and tow vehicle) with a 150-200 word description of where and how often you travel with it, and what you like or don’t like about it. Include your name(s) and hometown. We’ll post them to RVtravel.com. Send to assistant editor Diane McGovern at Diane(at)RVtravel.com
CLICK HERE to see last week’s RV Travel Reader RVs.
THIS WEEK’S CONTEST!
We have a winner. No more entries for this week’s contest, please.
Win this Hamilton Beach Dual Breakfast Sandwich Maker. Cook one or two sandwiches at once. The winner will be chosen randomly out of all responses received by noon (Pacific), Sunday. To enter, just tell us the funniest pet name you’ve ever heard (we’ll reprint some next issue). The winning entry will be chosen randomly and not based on the pet name. Email to RVcontests (at) gmail.com. We can only ship prizes to addresses with a U.S. Zip Code. Only one entry per household. All entries must include your mailing address and telephone number (only used for mailing if you win) or your entry will be disqualified and we’ll choose another winner. Contest ends Sunday at noon (Pacific), at which time a winner will be selected by Random.org. We’ll let you know if you win.
A major gripe among RVers is long wait times for rig repairs. Dealers often explain this away as “waiting for warranty parts.” Now RV manufacturer Forest River may have actually taken a positive step to alleviate some of the wait. In the past dealers had to obtain parts directly from Forest River to do under-warranty repair jobs. Now the company says dealers should get parts “in the most expeditious manner,” in order to get the customer’s rig out the door – even if that means getting them from other sources. The company says it will bear the costs of the parts even if they are higher than factory-supplied ones. How long before other manufacturers follow suit is anyone’s guess.
The National Park Service is forecasting that March 19-22 will be the start of the peak bloom period for the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. That’s slightly later than originally anticipated due to colder than predicted temperatures. Once in bloom, the flowers can last from four to 10 days, depending on the weather.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes will be adding two new campgrounds to their state park system. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says it will open a campgrounds at Whitewater State Park northeast of Rochester, and at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park north of Duluth.
Despite howls of complaint from some locals, Paso Robles, Calif., planning commissioners cleared a request that will see a new 290-site RV resort on a former golf course. The original 230-acre golf course property has been divided into several lots and one of them, 188 acres, will host the RV resort, a smaller golf course and 20 acres of vineyards. Commissioners noted they tended to favor the RV park/golf course idea over earlier plans to turn the whole works into an industrial park.
Central California’s popular Morro Bay State Park and its campground reopened Thursday. The park was closed February 17 after a winter storm knocked down trees and damaged roads, campground facilities and other structures.
Traveling the Northeast this year? Then be on the lookout for increased chances of contracting Lyme disease. That’s the word from scientists from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. Researchers there have found a link between bigger populations of mice and incidents of Lyme disease in humans – and last year, there was a bumper crop of mice. Lyme disease is spread by ticks, and ticks find mice to be great carriers. Lyme disease can lead to joint pain and swelling, memory problems and chronic tiredness. If you’re in a Lyme area, do a daily “tick check” – they especially like to hide in the scalp, in armpits and groin, and behind the ears. Early symptoms include a red rash or fever.
Murtaugh, Idaho, will soon see a switch-around affecting some visiting RVers. The Twin Falls County Waterfront park there hosts a 10-site RV park, but county officials say the park is in the way of the park’s day users – it has to go. Fear not, you’ll be able to use the camping area this year, but come spring 2018, you’ll need to go elsewhere – in the park. A new 10-site RV campground will open there.
Leading cause of U.S. wildfires? Not lightning, says a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Humans are now the leading cause of wildfires, starting 84 percent of those from 1992 to 2012. Of these, 21 percent were racked up to arson, the rest accidental, with trash burning accounting for 29 percent of fire starts and 11 percent attributed to “misuse of equipment.”
Popular San Diego, Calif., RV park Campland on the Bay was due to lose its lease in early November. The park lies on property owned by the city, and is set to be returned to marshland in the future. It looks as though Campland got a new lease on life, albeit a short one. City officials say they’ll allow a short lease extension while the city completes its planning on how to return the property to nature. Campland first opened in 1968 and sits on 45 acres.
Imagine a 550-acre old growth forest land, complete with interpretive trails, a natural stream, and an underwater fish viewing chamber. Now imagine being able to park your RV overnight there to take in all that nature. That’s what the Bureau of Land Management would like you to do at the Wildwood Recreation Site near Welches, Ore. The agency says it costs $450,000 per year to maintain the facility in day-use-only status, but takes in only $49,000. But when the BLM suggested converting three acres to a campground, locals hit the fan, drumming up 500 signatures on a petition that would kill the proposal. The initial public comment period on the plan closed in November, but will reopen later. We’ll keep you posted when it reopens if you wish to make your own comments.
We want to take you out to the ball game! Spring Training is here and we have your Cactus/Grapefruit League guide to nearby accommodations for your visit. Check out our resorts near the Arizona/Florida stadiums and get ready to kickoff your team spirit this upcoming baseball season. Click here to reserve your Spring Training site today!
When a rash of complaints about RV parking in Papillion, Neb., began a few months back, RV owners asked the city to cut them some slack and relax ordinances. In response, a city committee pushed back – asking for more restrictions for “consistency.” The proposal would have forced any RV 20 feet or longer to either park in the back yard or get out. The committee has been forced to eat the matter – some 50 RV owners packed a council meeting to fight against the idea. The city planning commission is now recommending the proposal be torpedoed.
Findings regarding the bear-mauling death of Forest Service ranger Brad Treat are out, with recommendations on increasing safety. Treat was killed by a grizzly last June, after colliding with the bear while mountain bike riding in Montana’s Flathead National Forest. A Board of Review found that Treat’s speed on the bike while approaching a blind curve allowed him only two seconds to see and react to the bear. Apparently a disproportionately high number of human-bear encounters occur with cyclists, as opposed to hikers. The board recommends mountain bikers in bear country slow down in limited-sight areas, shout when approaching blind curves, and carry bear spray.
The family of a man who died in a medical oxygen-fueled RV fire got a $2.5 million damage nod from a Knox County, Tenn., jury. Jimmy Kelley, 72, lived in a 40-square foot area of an RV in his son’s yard. Kelly was a smoker, and also used a space heater to keep the RV warm. Two weeks before his death he got a delivery of 14 oxygen tanks to the inside of the rig by Apria Healthcare Inc. The delivery driver indicated on a delivery form that the setup in the RV was safe – but later testified that “supervisors told him to always indicate a suitable environment for medical equipment, whether it was or not,” which Apria denies. Because Kelly contributed to his own death, the judgment was chopped to $1.275 million; however, Tennessee has a damage cap of $1 million. Source: knoxnews.com
An explosion at Canada’s Banff National Park has been reported. No rescue teams were sent, as the explosion is that of the number of campground reservations made for this year. Officials report a huge, 88 percent jump in the number of reservations made so far (20,500) in comparison to the same time in 2016. Increased staffing is planned to try and alleviate any potential suffering due to the anticipated crowds.
More than 100,000 people a year visited Scotty’s Castle in California’s Death Valley National Park – until a huge 2015 rainstorm left debris and mud up to a foot high at the popular attraction. Now the Park Service is offering a few, ranger-guided Flood Recovery Tours. These tours are the only way to visit the site until repairs are completed, probably in 2019 or even 2020. Tours are two hours long, involve walking over uneven ground, and cost $25 per person. No children under 6 are allowed. Reservations for the tours, offered March 12, 19, and 26, and April 2, are required, call 800-478-8564 (extension 10). (Oops. They’re all booked up already.)
With an increasingly high demand for RV sites in Canada, an Alberta town is moving ahead to fill the need. The Penhold town council is proposing it be allowed to borrow $650,000 toward a $1.1 million park with a campground that would handle 66 RVs with full hookups available. They expect to be able to repay the loan in 15 years without burdening taxpayers.
RVers at a Coos Bay, Ore., RV park got a surprise move-out on March 2. Police swooped into the Plainview RV Park on Cape Arago Highway, hurriedly evacuating guests while a SWAT team moved in. Seems two men wanted on warrants for weapons charges and violent crimes were staying at the campground. Cops cleared the park and closed down the highway, and the SWAT team made the arrests without incident.
An RVer who safely piloted his motorhome through a steer tire blowout still lost in the end. The unidentified man was driving his rig eastbound along Interstate 20 near Big Spring, Texas, on March 2 when the driver-side steer tire blew. Keeping his head, the driver carefully slowed and maneuvered the rig out of the speed lane and to a safe stop. Unfortunately, the tire was so hot that on stopping, it burst into flames. The fire then melted down the rig’s propane line, jetting flames clear across the eastbound lanes and into the westbound lanes of traffic. The motorhome was destroyed in the spectacular inferno.
The Most Scenic Drives in America
The newly updated trip planner & travel guide will steer you down the most scenic roads. From Florida’s Road to Flamingo, to British Columbia’s Sea to Sky Highway, to Cape Cod’s Sandy Shores, each featured trip is pictured in stunning full color and described in vivid text, keyed to an easy-to-follow map. Whether you choose a drive on a distant road or a back road in your own state, this book is your ticket to North America’s most beautiful byways. Learn more or order.
Keep up with RV Industry news
throughout the week at RVbusiness.com.
Your RVer Horoscopes for March
Did you miss Swami Hal’s RVer horoscopes for March a couple of weeks ago? No problem. He anticipated that (he’s good!) so you have another chance to check ’em out here.
RV Quick Tips
Slow-running kitchen faucet?
RV kitchen sink spout running too slow for your taste? Unscrew the aerator and check the screen for crud. If that doesn’t do the trick you can remove the water-saver fitting.
Having trouble with a stuck-on decal?
Trying to get rid of an unwanted (or worn out) RV decal? Use a “vinyl eraser” mounted to your corded electric drill. The rubber disc erases the sticker without damaging the rig’s finish. Here are some at Amazon.
More nighttime blackout help
Full-time RVer Mike Millard sent in the following tip: “I just saw the posting in RV Travel concerning RV day/night shades. My Monaco Diplomat has two-part pull-down shades. The lower part lets light in and acts as a dust filter while letting me see out during the day. The upper part, when fully lowered, is supposed to darken the RV interior but doesn’t quite do the trick, so I bought a can of liquid rubber. It comes in black or white and either works fine, although the black stops a little more light. I took down each shade and sprayed the upper ‘darkening’ part only. What a difference, and the shade still accordions upward!” Thanks, Mike!
Liquefy solid wastes in sewer holding tanks
Happy Campers Treatment liquefies solid waste and household tissue. It’s a natural formula that’s environmentally friendly and biodegradable, with no formaldehyde or harsh chemicals. Basically, the good bacteria overtakes the bad bacteria to eliminate odor and accelerate the natural decomposition of waste. Learn more or order at Amazon.com.
Find that RV dump station
Freedom is the name of the game for boondockers: freedom to go where you want, when you want, no reservations and no checkout times. However, no matter how large your holding tanks are or how frugal you are on water use, your RV must be occasionally tethered via the sewer hose to a dump station. Here’s how to make locating a dump station as painless as possible.
The readers write — with hot pens!
In our semi-monthly roundup of reader comments, we found that many had plenty to say — and in no uncertain terms. Hot topics this time: “Do RVers ‘camp’?” and “A tiff with Tiffin.” Read more.
Maneuvering big RVs in tight fuel stops
While having a larger motorhome or towing a bigger trailer has its share of “pluses,” along with the increased length comes what for some is a “problem set.” When it’s time to fuel up your rig, getting in and out of the fuel station can become anything between a challenge and a nightmare. What can you do to make fueling up easier? Find out in this helpful article from Russ and Tiña De Maris.
RV trailer tires: To balance – or not?
If informal polling holds true, the majority of trailering RVers probably don’t balance their tires. Many have never thought about doing it, others say their dealer never recommended it, and some don’t think the expense is necessary. How about it? Find out what a director with the Tire Industry Association has to say. Read more.
PUBLISHED THIS YEAR!
Guide to the National Parks
This award-winning guide, completely updated for the 2017 edition, includes more than 450 new photographs, 160 revised maps, and 50 hiking tables, making it the only guidebook you’ll need to explore the United States National Parks. Attractions beyond the parks and suggested road trips make it even more valuable. Learn more or order.
Full-time RVing: Getting the best out of your shower
Adjusting to the full-time RVing lifestyle includes many different areas of life, one of them being access to hot running water. Sure, you have a water heater in your RV — typically it’s a six-gallon job (not much) — so the biggest adjustment for most will be showers. How can you get the best out of your shower with its limitations? Find out in this article from Russ and Tiña De Maris.
Devices make connecting coax TV cable and RV hose easier
RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury talks with inventor Jim Wright, who explains his two new inventions, one to make hooking up a coax TV cable easier, and the other to make it easy to screw on a fresh water hose. Watch the short video.
RV body dent fixed with a “wrap”?
Chris Dougherty, certified RV technician, received the following question from a reader while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor: “We have an ’04 Winnebago Journey, and the back panel on the rear of the motorhome has a large ‘dent’ from a run-in with a tree. Our dealer recommended applying a vinyl wrap with some sort of scene to mask it. Do you know anyone we could contact regarding this?” Read Chris’ answer.
A great idea for anti-spill, heat-resistant coasters
This week, Rich “The Wanderman” is into coasters. Yes, coasters. He didn’t use them much before, but that just changed. Since he hates to clean and he enjoys relaxing, especially on vacation road trips, he has found a cheap and easy solution that will help him do both. Read more.
Best way to fill your batteries
Fill this container with distilled water, insert the nozzle into the cell of your battery, then push and hold. When the battery is at the proper level, the water will automatically stop. Then move to the next cell, etc. You won’t over- or under-fill your batteries this way, helping extend their lives. Learn more or order at Amazon.com.
This week in history
Week of March 11–17
Compiled by Dell Bert
461 — Saint Patrick dies.
1762 — First St. Patrick’s Day parade (New York City).
1802 — U.S. Military Academy (West Point) is established.
1804 — Mountain man Jim Bridger is born.
1820 — Maine enters the Union.
1958 — RIAA awards first Gold Record to Perry Como for “Catch A Falling Star.”
1968 — Construction begins on America’s highest vehicle tunnel (Interstate 70 in Colorado).
1972 — Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” opens.
2000 — Julia Roberts receives $20 million for “Erin Brockovich.”
Record RVing memories in this Camping Journal
Remember all your journeys with this easy-to-fill-in format. Each journal page is complete with thoughtful prompts including: Location, Date(s), Weather, People I (We) camped with or met, What I (We) did, and Things I (We) enjoyed most. RVing is an adventure: Write it down & treasure the memory forever! Learn more or order.
Bumper sticker of the week
This RV is a status symbol. It symbolizes me being poor.
Funny/clever business slogan
Sign in the window of a small shoe repair store: “We bring back departed soles.”
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker or business slogan? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com
Camco Store at Amazon.com
There isn’t much you need for your RV that Camco doesn’t have. If you think we’re kidding, then click through to the Camco store on Amazon where you’ll find some of their best-selling products — all for your RV or for you to make your RVing better. Click here and you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store.
Websites of the Week
Here are two we like:
Ten cheap themed road trips
One way to plan a road trip is to choose something you love and string together destinations related to that theme. Whether it’s wine or whiskey tasting, food-related fun, or following in historical footsteps, these 10 themed road trip ideas include stops that are free or cheap. From Cheapism and msn.com.
Hidden gems of the National Park system
Absolutely amazing natural and historic locations scattered across the U.S. that you won’t want to miss, especially after you see these beautiful photos. Includes national conservation areas, wildlife refuges, historic landmarks and national parks. “These are like appetizers for your wanderlust.” From USA Today and msn.com.
Here is our “master list” of more than 700 websites we like, which we have compiled over the years.
No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.
Essential for big RVs!
2017 Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas
If you drive a big RV — extra long or extra tall — then this truck driver’s road atlas will be a huge help in knowing where you can drive without encountering a low bridge or getting stuck hanging over a cliff. This is an essential aid even if you have a GPS! Coverage: United States, Canada, and Mexico. Learn more or order.
RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
Q&A about TPMS settings
I would like your opinion about what would be good alert values to set in the TPMS on my trailer. I need to set high and low pressures and temperature alerts. Thanks. —Dennis
Casino Guide includes RVer info
The highly rated 2017 American Casino Guide provides detailed information on more than 750 casino/resorts, riverboats and Indian casinos in 41 states including which have RV parks and/or allow RV overnighting for free. Includes maps and more than $1,000 in coupons. Discloses the actual slot machine payback percentages for every state’s casinos. Learn more or order.
Good reading from RV123.com
• Crater Lake is one of America’s most unique geological features.
• Try this quick and easy snack after a long day of hiking!
• The creators of Ramblr believe that your adventures deserve more than just a blog post or a status update.
Best Road Trip Book
If you’re heading cross-country or through a few neighboring states, bring along Jamie Jensen’s best-selling guidebook Road Trip USA. You’ll learn about great two-lane routes plus road-tested advice for adventurers who want to see the parts of America that the interstates left behind. RVtravel.com always travels with this wonderful, highly rated book. Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Shrink
Wife wanted dog. Hubby now resents “giving in” and the puppy
Dear RV Shrink:
My wife and I have been full-time traveling for three years in our 35-foot fifth wheel. We’ve had a dog our whole married life but when our Schnauzer died just before we started traveling we decided not to get another dog while traveling. That only lasted a few months. My wife wanted a dog real bad. … —Leashed in Lubbock
Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.
‘Better than Duct Tape!’
That’s what many users say about Gaffer Tape from Gaffer Power, which is much like duct tape except it comes off easier without being gooey or messy. It’s been popular with television and video crews for years, but has recently caught on with the public because it’s great around the house or RV. Made in the USA. Learn more or order at a discount from Amazon.
RV Tech Tips
from Mark Polk
Cleaning the RV shower, sinks and toilet
Remember that whatever you use to clean the sinks, shower and toilet ends up in the RV holding tanks. Never use any cleaners that could possibly damage the holding tanks. Clean these surfaces with a non-abrasive mild detergent, water and a soft cloth. Never use any harsh detergents or abrasive cleaners that can scratch or damage ABS, plastic and fiberglass finishes. Some wet wipe products work well on these surfaces, but avoid using bleach. [Editor: Don’t put wet wipes in the sewer system.]
Mark Polk is the owner of RV Education 101, the premiere source of educational DVDs about buying, maintaining and using an RV. Learn more.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.34 (on Mar. 6). Change from week before: Up 3 cents; Change from year before: Up 50 cents.
Diesel: $2.58 (on Mar. 6). Change from week before: None; Change from year before: Up 56 cents.
Fix it In Foil! Tasty Recipes. Easy cleanup!
Easy prep, great taste, good nutrition, quick clean-up! “Fix It In Foil” includes 51 fantastic recipes to make in foil — plus instructions for cooking in an oven, on an outdoor grill, or on a campfire. Fix it in foil and forget about scrubbing pots and pans. And, with plenty of substitution suggestions, enjoy a whole new list of recipe possibilities! Great for RVing! Learn more or order.
The RV Kitchen
with Janet Groene
Cabbage Patch Pie
One skillet, one big meal
The trick to making this a two-“crust” pie is to use the skillet itself to shape the “crusts.” As it cooks, the rich, beefy flavor floats through the cabbage and onion filling. It’s a whole meal from one skillet. Get the recipe.
George Foreman Grill is perfect for RVers
Create nutritious meals in minutes with this George Foreman 2-serving, Classic-Plate Grill, with a patented slope to help knock out the fat as you cook (critical if you’re watching your cholesterol). The nonstick coating lets you cook oil-free. A dishwasher-safe grease tray helps make cleanup a snap. Great for grilled cheese sandwiches and paninis, too. Learn more or order.
The Digital RVer
Get an accurate travel diary with Google’s location history
If you turn on Location Services and allow Google Maps to save location history, it records everywhere you go – as long as your phone is with you. It also records the times and photos you took along the way. Chris Guld, of Geeks on Tour, finds this very handy to remember locations and routes as well as for having a picture of maps with their route for putting in her Blog. No worries — This is for your eyes only. No one else can see this information unless they can log into your Google account. Learn more.
Learn about smartphones and tablets
… every Sunday on a live webcast from Geeks On Tour. Here are a couple of recent shows: #112 How to Learn from Geeks on Tour and #111 How to Add Photos to Your Maps. Watch live or archives of past programs.
The special offer for RV Travel readers is back!
Become a member of Geeks on Tour and get a 20% discount. Click here.
Toss your colander. This is better!
The adjustable Snap ‘n Strain silicone strainer fits nearly all pots and pans. Once snapped on, the pot can be tilted over a sink or bowl to do its magic. Leave it on the pan even while cooking! Works with heavier foods like potatoes. Super compact for storing, perfect for RVs. Dishwasher safe. Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions
What are these tubes for?
The attached photo shows two tubes sticking down from the enclosed bottom of our ’06 travel trailer near the black and gray holding tanks. Do you know what they are for? Thanks. —Jack
“The” guide to services at Interstate exits
Never take a wrong exit off an Interstate highway again. The 2017 Next Exit lists every exit along every Interstate and details exactly what you will find at each: gas stations (including if they offer diesel), campgrounds, truck stops, casinos, laundries, retail stores (by name), shopping malls, factory outlet malls, drug stores, hospitals, rest areas & more. Very helpful even if you have a GPS. Learn more or order.
with Bob Difley
Common sense guidelines for boondockers
I’ve just started boondocking and one negative aspect of it is that some of the places I find to camp can be a bit trashy and unpleasant. But unlike campgrounds with rules that make camping attractive for all users, there doesn’t seem to be a set of rules for boondocking. What can I do to make boondocking not only more pleasant for me but also for boondockers that follow? —Martin
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .
Read the most recent BoondockBob Blog post: Wildflowers ready to explode in the Southwestern Deserts.
You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.
Driving Route 66?
Let this be your guide
There’s one road that is always right at the top of an RVer’s bucket list: Route 66, the Mother Road. More than 80% of the old highway can still be traveled, and to do so is like taking a trip back in time. Most of the route is RV-accessible, too. Use this guide to plan your trip and to find all the great places and attractions along your route. Learn more or order.
Gizmos and Gadgets
Handy Gate tailgate lifts loads to and from pickup bed
Ultra-Fab Products’ new Handy Gate takes the strain out of moving heavy items, such as handicap mobility scooters, ATVs, golf carts plus many other heavy items from home to your favorite recreation area without the strain of physical lifting. Handy Gate is a tailgate lift that easily elevates loads of up to 1,000 pounds from the ground to the pickup bed level or from the truck bed back to ground level. It fits all 2009 and newer Ford, GM, Chevy and Dodge pickup trucks, and no truck bed modifications are necessary. Learn more and watch an installation video.
Seven-in-one Instant Pot provides easy meals
This Instant Pot would be very handy in a limited-space RV galley. It is a 7-in-1 multi-functional cooker, including high- and low-pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute/browning, yogurt maker, steamer and warmer. When the cooker is in operation, its microprocessor monitors the pressure and temperature, keeps time, adjusts heating intensity and duration, and even adjusts cooking time based on the volume of food in the cooker. It’s a best-seller on Amazon, earning 4.7 out of 5 stars with almost 17,000 reviews. Read more.
2017 Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States
JUST PUBLISHED: Learn how to prepare, carry & transport your firearm during travel in all 50 states, Canada & Mexico. Includes state breakdowns of firearms ownership, semi-auto gun ownership, castle doctrine, right to protect, open carry, concealed carry, state & national parks, permit reciprocity, loaded vs. unloaded, interstate transport restrictions, traffic stops, universal restricted areas, motorhome & RV issues, preemptive local laws & more. Learn more or order.
Upcoming RV Shows
• Virginia RV Show, March 10-12, Hampton, VA
• Rockford, Ill., RV, Camping & Travel Show, March 10-12, Loves Park, IL
• York RV Show, March 10-12, York, PA
• Flint Camper & RV Show, March 16-19, Flint, MI
• 48th Annual RV Super Show, March 16-19, Oklahoma City, OK
• Springfield RV & Camping Show, March 17-19, Springfield, IL
• Montana RV, Boat & Powersports Show, March 17-19, Billings, MT
• Champlain Valley RV & Boat Show, March 18-19, Plattsburgh, NY
• Northwest Sports Show, March 23-26, Minneapolis, MN
• Northwest Michigan Camper & RV Show, March 24-26, Traverse City, MI
• New Hampshire Camping & RV Show, March 24-26, Bedford, NH
• Upper Peninsula Boat, Sport & RV Show, March 24-26, Marquette, MI
SPECIAL EVENT: The RV Safety and Education Foundation will hold its annual educational conference Oct. 1–5 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The event provides a positive, networking opportunity for both new and veteran RVers with industry experts in classroom, roundtable and individual settings. Endorsed by RVtravel.com. Learn more.
Free and bargain camping
Desert Diamond Casino
FREE: Multiple members report that free stays are allowed in a truck and RV lot south of the casino on the north side of Topawa Dr., west of Nogales Hwy. It’s level and well lit with security cameras and no apparent security issues. Some railroad and aircraft noise. GPS: 32.115660, -110.962162.
Northwood Rest Area
FREE. Multiple RVers report that overnight parking is allowed for up to 24 hours. Free WiFi and dump station. Welcome Center is staffed year-round. Located along I-35, at Exit 214, then west on County Road 105. Turn right on County Road S-28. Diamond Jo Casino is next door. GPS: 43.445900, -93.354000
Overnight RV Parking, with more than 13,480 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.
Retrieve lost items with this
telescoping magnetic pick up tool
You will be thankful you have this along in your RV for finding those metal nuts, bolts, screws and other metal pieces that found their way into places you can’t get to. The durable, high-quality device expands from 7 to 30 inches and will grab items up to 15 pounds. Learn more or order.
Joke of the Week
A traffic cop had a perfect hiding spot for catching speeders. But one day, nobody exceeded the speed limit. He soon learned why: A 10-year old boy up the road a quarter mile was holding up a large hand-painted sign “RADAR TRAP AHEAD.” Further investigation led the officer to the boy’s accomplice, another 10-year old 100 yards beyond the speed trap with a sign that read “TIPS.” At his feet was a bucketful of change.
Downsizing The Family Home: What to Save, What to Let Go
Whether you’re downsizing to go full-time or for other reasons, this best-selling AARP book will guide you through the process, from opening that first closet, to sorting through a lifetime of possessions, to selling your home. The author helps you create a strategy and mindset to accomplish the task quickly and rewardingly, both practically and emotionally. Learn more or order.
Videos you’ll like
Caution: Do not confuse RV light bulbs
In this segment of an RVtravel.com live webcast, RV electrical expert Mike Sokol and certified RV technician Chris Dougherty discuss a common mistake: using the wrong bulb for an RV light, which could spell disaster! Watch the video.
Matching the right size truck with a towable RV
Walter Cannon of the RV Safety and Education Foundation explains the importance of matching the right-sized truck with the travel trailer or fifth wheel trailer it will tow. Watch the video.
Random RV Thought
Be sure the ice cubes in your fridge are at least partially frozen before heading out in your RV. Don’t fill the tray just before you leave or the water might splash around and then freeze all over the place.
Endorsed by tire expert Roger Marble!
An excellent tire pressure gauge
The Accutire MS-4021B digital tire pressure gauge has an easy-to-read LCD display that provides pressure readings from 5-150 PSI. It’s ergonomically designed with an angled head and a rubber-coated easy-grip handle. If you forget to turn it off, it will do so automatically. The included lithium battery never needs to be recharged or replaced. Used by the RV Travel staff. About $11! Learn more or order.
If an electric current is applied to a pickle, it will glow in the dark. (Here’s a YouTube video of glowing pickles. Like they say in the video, “Do not try this at home!”)
Microwave cover collapses for easy storage
When heating your food you don’t want to spend 10 minutes later cleaning the splatters inside the microwave. Here’s the solution — perfect for RVers: It pops down flat for easy storage. Lid perforations allow steam to escape to keep food moist. Doubles as a strainer! Learn more or order.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” —Augustine of Hippo
RV Travel staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Assistant editor: Diane McGovern. Contributing editor: Russ De Maris. Contributing writers: Greg Illes, Bob Difley, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Janet Groene, Roger Marble, Julianne Crane and Chris Guld.
ADVERTISE on RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Chuck Woodbury at Chuck(at)RVtravel.com.
About the RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for nearly three decades. In the ’90s he published the quirky travel newspaper Out West, and was an “on the road” writer for the New York Times Syndicate. His book, “The Best from Out West” is available at Amazon.com. Woodbury’s RVing adventures have been profiled on ABC News, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, and in People Magazine, USA Today and in hundreds of newspapers. Nowadays, he lives near Seattle, where he drinks massive amounts of coffee and travels often in his motorhome and sometimes by plane when vast expanses of saltwater would turn his RV into a leaky submarine. He is the host of the Better Business Bureau DVD “Buying a Recreational Vehicle,” the definitive guide to purchasing an RV the right way.
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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