RV Travel Newsletter Issue 818

Learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. This newsletter, now in its 17th year of continuous publication, is funded primarily through advertising and voluntary subscription contributions from our readers. Thank you!

Issue 818 • Week of November 4–10, 2017   #rvtravel

Editor’s corner
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com

RVers are not created equal. The young family that camps in a popup trailer on summer weekends has little in common with an older couple that sold their home, bought a big Class A motorhome or luxury fifth wheel, and moved into it full-time.

A young family in a tent trailer “camps” in it, while an RVer in a big rig typically “lives” in it.

As RVers, they share some common interests, but not many.

In the boating world, calling a guy with a bass boat and a business mogul with a 70-foot yacht both “boaters” would be true, but, again, they would be far different people with far different interests.

Next chance you get, attend an RV show. You’ll see many lightweight trailers, popups and truck campers. But what many, if not most, people over 55 will drool over are the big rigs — the 35- to 40-foot Class A motorhomes and spacious fifth wheels, each as comfortable as small homes. It is easy to imagine living in such luxury, traveling “where you want when you want,” as the industry advertises (which isn’t true anymore).

Most of the readers of this newsletter are no longer “campers.” They may have been, but “roughing it” got old. They travel now in comfort, in portable abodes with most of the conveniences of a traditional home. That applies to even those in low-end coaches which can be purchased secondhand in great condition (usually with most of the bugs worked out) for half or less of what they sold for new, making them more affordable than a home or modest apartment.

If you own an RV like this, chances are you’re not using it to “rough it,” roasting weenies over the campfire.

We recently asked the readers of this newsletter how important an electric hookup was to where they stayed. Eighty-five percent said “essential” or “very important.” What does that say about them? It says they want comfort, not just an escape from their busy lives to a secluded spot in the woods where they can roast weenies over a campfire. They chose homes on wheels over homes on foundations. They live in them, not camp in them.

It’s no longer proper to call these big RVs “recreational vehicles.” They’re mobile homes. The industry hates that term, but it’s true.

An RV like this is a mobile home, not a “camper.”

And way too many of the RV parks where avid RVers stay are more like the trailer parks of old than campgrounds. RVs are squeezed in side by side, sometimes without enough space to extend an awning. Permanent residents, frequently struggling young families or retirees living on Social Security, are stuck in an out-of-the-way corner, with personal possessions scattered about. If your neighbor smokes, so do you unless you close your windows. If the guy next door snores on a hot summer night with his windows wide open, then lucky you for sharing the experience.

WE KNOW THAT MOST READERS of this newsletter are 50-plus. I don’t think many of us would even travel all or much of each year if RVs had not evolved into comfy mobile homes. I believe the tipping point occurred when slideouts debuted. They made it possible to walk about without bumping into each other. I don’t think we would be traveling as we do without WiFi, cell phones, and RVs that are often more beautiful than the traditional homes we left behind.

RVs were once for camping, not “living.” This first-ever Coachmen trailer would have been an impossibly tight fit for full-timing, which was mostly unheard of in its day.

In fact, RVs are so ridiculously attractive and comfortable these days that more people than ever are buying them, and in the process adding to the crowds at the wonderful places where many of us once stayed without reservations.

BABY BOOMERS are now turning 65 at the rate of 11,000 a day (headed toward 18,000 a day in the early ’20s) and are buying up big rigs as fast as they’re produced (and RV makers are rushing to crank them out, resulting in way too many with serious defects). Record sales are great for RV manufacturers and campground owners, but not for you and me: More and more often we’re stuck in a Walmart parking lot for the night instead of in a campground or RV park, where spaces are booked weeks, months or even years ahead.

And, yes, I know all about boondocking, how great it is, and I know some of you do it. Frankly, it’s the best way to enjoy an RV, and in stunning surroundings (I’m talking about “boondocking,” not “pavement camping” like at Walmart). But once you get east of the Mississippi, it’s not as easy to do as in the West, with its wide-open spaces. And it’s not a practical way to live for months on end for most RVers.




P.S. If you are one of our voluntary subscribers but did not receive my special email yesterday, please let me know so I can send it along and also add you to our list for future special newsletters and private videos. One thing I covered yesterday that I won’t announce publicly for another week or two, is about the new website we’ll debut Tuesday to a select group of people (actually, it’s not new, just a remake of an oldie but goodie!).

Won’t you join us?
More than 400 of you signed up last weekend for our new group on RVillage , and the discussion got underway almost immediately. If you have not joined RVillage and our RV Travel group there you are missing out. One of the great things about RVillage is you can, if you wish, learn if RVers with common interests are in your area or even your campground. If there’s an RV Travel reader close by, meet up and send us a pic. Heck, it might be Gail and me!

Oh, one more thing. . .
My long-time friend Dave Williams, who some readers in Dallas may recognize as the morning co-anchor on KLIF-AM, has debuted a new podcast which he calls Saturday Morning Joe. Dave is a wonderful writer and his podcast is delightful. Check out this one, which Dave titled “The Dumas Kid.” It’s short, barely one minute. You will smile your way through it.

My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
• Where do you live? Why there?

Sign up for RVtravel.com’s
new monthly newsletter about RV electricity

•Did you miss last week’s RV Travel? Read it here.
Directory of back issues.

Need an RV Home Base?
Then you need Americas Mailbox! You’ll enjoy great tax advantages with your South Dakota “residency,” like no state income tax and low insurance rates (second lowest in the USA says the Insurance Information Institute). Many plans are available. Click the video where RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury talks with Americas Mailbox owner Don Humes. Or click here to learn more or enroll

Support Honest Journalism
The staff of RVtravel.com works hard to bring you an honest, unbiased, valuable newsletter every Saturday. Readers help make it possible with their “voluntary subscriptions.” Even a pledge of $5, $10 or $20 a year is appreciated — that’s for more than 50 weekly issues! Many readers set up an ongoing subscription, most $5 to $10 month. Your contributions make it possible for us to write about important matters, not just fluff to please advertisers and RV industry big shots. Enter a voluntary subscription. Use a credit card, PayPal or mail a check.

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Comprehensive list of
RV-related recalls for October

The list of latest recalls on RVs and other vehicles and/or products of interest to RVers has been released by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The list includes models from Forest River, Grand Design, Heartland, Jayco, Keystone, Thor and others — plus other vehicles commonly used by RVers. Is your RV or other vehicle on the list? Find out here.

More recalls:
Prevost recalling more than 3,100 motor coaches
Employee error prompts recall of 3,621 Grand Design RVs.
Keystone recalls some Crossroads, Volante trailers.
Thor recalls some 2017-2018 motorhomes for label issue.
Kidde recalls 40 million fire extinguishers.

We have a winner! No more entries for this contest, please. The answer: A 1,400-pound wheel of cheese. Win this Camco water filter with flexible hose protector. The winner will be chosen randomly out of all correct entries received by noon (Pacific), Monday. The question: What dairy product “stunk up” the White House during Andrew Jackson’s presidency? (Answer below in the trivia section). Email your answer 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 the next (correct) entry. Contest ends Monday at noon (Pacific), at which time a winner will be selected by Random.org. We’ll let you know if you win.

Last week’s winner: Robert Houzenga of Clinton, Iowa. He won the Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill.


Want to “fill ‘er up” in California? Bring more money! A new state fuel tax kicked in this week. Prices for a gallon of gasoline have gone up 12 cents. Pity the “oil burners” among us: Diesel tax shot up 20 cents per gallon. 

State park campgrounds in Oregon are now more costly for RVers – but not tenters. This week state officials jacked the rates $2 to a typical $30 per night. But tent fees were not increased. Fine print: Your actual rates may vary. 

Steve Walser photographed this (“Twins”) vintage Shasta trailer with matching bike trailer. See a larger image or Steve’s catalog by clicking here. Photo © Steve Walser

Something that’s needed is coming to Yosemite National Park (Calif.). A $2 million project at Camp 4 will provide 25 new campsites, nearly doubling the existing space to 57 total sites. And a first in Yosemite, a bathhouse for campers, also at Camp 4, all expected to be completed sometime next year. 

Another National Park Service site is hiking rates at the first of the year. Gulf Islands National Seashore (Fla./Miss.) will jump entry fees by $5 to $20. RVers will be hit particularly hard, with site fees jumping up a whopping $14 to $40 per night. But if you tent, there’ll be no flap over these plans: A new tent-only section is being established, and rates will stay where they are now: $26 a night. 

Look in your rear-view mirror, Marcus Lemonis of Camping World – Luke Weil is getting closer! Weil is the founder and chairman of Andina Acquisition Corp. His outfit just bought up Lazydays RV, which is proclaimed as “The world’s largest recreational vehicle dealership,” with outlets in many states. What’s Weil’s plan? Sounds a lot like Lemonis’. Says Weil, “We look forward to the company broadening its product and service portfolio, as well as increasing its geographic reach as it makes opportunistic acquisitions of dealerships across the U.S.” So what happens to the consumer when there’s less competition? We’ll find out.

Last week campgrounds in the Angeles National Forest (Calif.) were shut down because of a wildfire near the Mount Wilson Observatory. Firefighters report the fire is not out, but the danger of it spreading has gone down, so the Forest Service has reopened roads and campgrounds. 

While the views at California’s Death Valley National Park may be staggering, the dates of campgrounds opening there this winter are staggered. Some campgrounds are already open: Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, Emigrant and Wildrose campgrounds. Two others are open until snow forces their closure: Thorndike and Mahogany Flat campgrounds. Others are delayed in opening for a variety of reasons. They include Mesquite Spring and Texas Springs, which will open later. Sunset Campground opened November 3, but closes again for a short time on November 14. Service officials say there will probably be plenty of camping available anytime, with the exception of Veterans Day weekend, Thanksgiving, and the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s.

Town council members in Oliver, British Columbia, must have learned from the adage, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire.” A few weeks ago they were considering an ordinance that would have limited campgrounds in the jurisdiction to one fire pit – per campground! At least one local RV park owner was burnt up over the proposal, telling council members there was trouble enough running a park without essentially taking away campfires. The council has recanted – a little. The new ordinance allows one fire pit per 25 sites. 

Waterless trap for your RV plumbing system
Make foul smelling odors a thing of the past!
Already used by major RV manufacturers, the revolutionary HepvO waterless trap is a fantastic alternative to a conventional ‘P’ trap and it won’t fail due to evaporation, movement, freezing or leakage. Its unique membrane prevents foul air from the gray water tank entering your RV and its in-line design helps create extra storage space! Save 10% off all purchases before 11/30/2017 using code RVTRAVEL10. Learn more.

news524(2)More News

Portland, Ore., officials turned a local raceway into a dumping ground for unwanted RVs last weekend. The city wanted people who had old RVs not to give them away or sell them cheap, but rather, let the city dispose of them for free. The idea was to reduce the number of “zombie” RVs used by homeless people on the streets. City officials say it costs about $1,000 to scrap an RV. Only 18 people turned up with unwanted RVs – and one homeless man who stood outside the raceway with a cardboard sign offering to buy an RV to live in.

A Surrey, British Columbia, RV park is being haled to court after the local natural gas company says the park took a 15-year free ride. FortisBC Energy says Pacific Border RV Park signed up for gas service in 2001, but, whoops, the gas company forgot to put them in their billing system. In 2015 the gas company figured it out, and the park has been paying its bills ever since. Now FortisBC wants their money for 15 years’ worth of gas, plus interest, and punitive damages. Talk about gas pains!

Photo: Wendi Schwab on vvdailypress.com

Visitors to Table Mountain Campground in California’s Angeles National Forest will have an easier time finding their way, thanks to a Boy Scout’s project. Landon Rushforth, a 14-year-old working on his Eagle Scout project, spent eight months designing, building and installing 115 redwood signs marking campsites at the campground. Landon didn’t allow his autism to stand in the way of the formidable job, and got donations of materials, cash and assistance to complete the project valued at $7,000.

As many as 175 workers were at risk for being temporarily idled as fire broke out in a Renegade RV manufacturing plant in Bristol, Ind., last Saturday. While firefighters reported the smoke was so thick it was described as “you can’t see a hand in front of your face,” the fire itself was largely contained to a motorhome on the assembly line. It took 9,000 gallons of water to douse the flames. 

Heat your RV with Electricity, not Propane!
SAVE $$$! Until now, the standard for heating recreation vehicles of all types has been to use bottled propane (LPG). With the CheapHeat™ system there’s a better option. Now you have a choice to change the central heating system between gas and electric with the flip of a switch. When you choose to run on electric heat rather than gas, your coach will be heated by the electricity provided by the RV park. Learn more.

Photo: theslowl on flicker.com

Persistent thieves at California’s Whiskeytown National Recreation Area have made life a bit more difficult for campers and others at the popular destination. After “iron rangers”‘ (fee boxes) kept getting robbed, officials shut down the fee boxes, forcing users to pay fees at the visitor center. For campers this means a trip of five miles to pay site fees. For those showing up after hours, an iron ranger at the visitor center will still accept payments. We just hope he’s better guarded than his compatriots were.

With more and more RVs being sold, there’s a greater need for places to camp, right? Apparently the good administrators in Plainfield Township, Mich., didn’t get the memo. Officials there are lined up to buy a 75-acre campground called Grand Rogue. Trouble is, they have no intention of operating it as a campground, but want to turn it into greenspace, as it butts up against a township-owned park that used to be a golf course. 

When Canada’s economic doldrums hit a few years back, it frightened Geoff Westlock so much he took evasive action. Geoff thought he might lose his job, and found himself $40,000 in debt. What to do? He borrowed another $35,000 to buy a travel trailer, moved into it, and worked his way out of debt. To save money, his “home base” often turned out to be in “big box store” parking lots, and heat was a luxury, even when winter nights hit 40 below. Now that he’s out of debt, he’s not giving up the trailer life, but hopes to sock away enough money to buy some land. His advice? Stick to your budget, and when it gets cold, stitch together four layers of long johns to stay warm.

A couple of campground hosts at Lake Thunderbird State Park (Okla.) are now charged with being dirty birds – accused of embezzlement. Anissa and Johnathan Chambers allegedly sold parking passes to campers at the park. Trouble is, the parking passes are supposed to be free to campers, and the money went in the couple’s pockets, say investigators. Faced with the facts, both confessed. 

rvbuslogo519Keep up with RV Industry news
throughout the week at RVbusiness.com.

This week’s Reader Poll
Do you keep your gray tank open or closed when you have full hookups?  
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. We’ll post the final results in next week’s newsletter. CLICK HERE.

Read the up-to-the minute responses from last week’s poll:
Would you pay $70 to enter a National Park? Click here for the results.

Is Walmart “camping” doomed? 
It’s only a matter of time, says RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury, before Walmart pulls the plug on free overnight stays in its parking lots. Many stores already do so, and more post “no parking” signs every week. Sometimes they’re enforced, sometimes not. Or sometimes they’re enforced one day and not the next. What will many RVers do when the plug is pulled? Read more.

FMCA slashes rate for roadside assistance plan
The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) has rolled out new pricing for its Roadside Rescue plan, available exclusively to its members. For $69 a year, members gain access to an RV plan that provides benefits that include towing to the nearest qualified repair center, lockout assistance, vehicle fluid delivery and much more. Members may also add their cars to the program and extend coverage to family members living in the household with no increase in the rate. Learn more.

Stupid RV design: Another example
This is hard to believe: On a luxury motorhome on the sales lot of one of America’s largest RV dealers, the toilet seat lid is partially sawed off. Why? Because it won’t stay up with the bathroom door closed. Who approved this design? You gotta wonder. Read more.

Have a dead bathroom vent fan? Easily and inexpensively replace it
On a recent trip (of course), Rich “The Wanderman” switched on his circular bathroom vent fan to exhaust moisture during his shower. A couple of sparks and – no fan. He found a direct replacement, but the newer model would have required way too much work to install and, besides, the round fan was always noisy and an energy hog. He found a better and easier replacement. Read more.

  Tank Sensors Reading Full?
Restore them overnight with Caravan Sensor Cleaner
Caravan’s highly concentrated, bio-enzymatic formula is guaranteed to remove the debris causing your tanks to misread. No driving necessary. No dangerous chemicals. No strong odors. Perfect for full-timers and permanently parked RVs. Learn more or buy at Amazon.com.

Camping World cuts off the competition – again
In a move that might be viewed as a “don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” National RV Supply Company, a major wholesale RV parts and supply distributor (and a “sister company” of Camping World), has shut down sales to the public. Evidently “the public” includes RV dealers who’ve come to depend on the outfit for getting parts for their customers. What will this do to prices and, possibly, wait times for parts for repair jobs? Learn more.

Is Good Sam giving away free memberships? Appears so …
In last week’s newsletter editor Chuck Woodbury asked if you had ever received a complimentary membership to the Good Sam Club. Well, it looks from the responses that the club does, indeed, give away free memberships. It also appears it gives away memberships that look like memberships, but aren’t official. Read what some readers wrote.

It’s Quartzsite boondocking time

It’s snowbird time again – when we RVers leave the cold, rainy weather behind for the sunny and warmer regions of the country. Arizona is one of the most popular destinations for Western RVers, with Yuma, Tucson, and the greater Phoenix area among the most popular. For boondockers, however, Quartzsite is the boondocking champion and a “must see” for RVers at least once before hanging up their wheels. Read more.

How to avoid damaging slides when leveling an RV
So what’s the correct way to level your rig without damaging the slides — before or after they are extended? The safest (and most warranty-wise) answer: “Do what your rig’s manual tells you.” Russ and Tiña De Maris give us some helpful tips.

Is your RV just sitting around?
Rent it through Campanda. It’s like AirBnB, but for RVers! You’ll be amazed at how much you can earn! The owner of a Class A motorhome, for example, could earn up to $4,520 a month. Own a popup trailer? It could bring you $1,780 a month in rent. Join thousands of happy RV owners making real money! Learn more at Campanda.

Readers’ comments on recent articles

Recent popular articles that attracted high numbers of reader comments
RVtravel.com making progress promoting RVers’ rights.
Family sours on RVing over new RV’s problems.
What effect does speed have on tire failure?
RV Electricity Discussion of surge protector survey results.
Would you pay $70 to enter a National Park?
Where to start learning about desert camping.

More popular articles from last week’s issue
An example of the importance of vigilance while traveling
What to do about a very loud RV water pump.
Electric pressure cookers are perfect for RVing.
Winter is almost here – Time to prep that RV!
Electric RV heating system self-adjusts to available power.
Tricks to help you see more in the night sky (and elsewhere).

tire-guage660gauge4Endorsed by tire expert Roger Marble!
Outstanding 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 staffLearn more or order.

No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.

RV Clubs
Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.

Reader RVs
Click here to see many submissions from our readers about their RVs

Essential for big RVs! 
2018 Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas
If you drive a big RV — extra long or extra tall — then this is for you. The truck driver’s road atlas shows all the highways 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.

Ask the RV Shrink

Dog owner’s “bite” is worse than dog’s bark

Dear RV Shrink:
I love dogs. Cats aren’t bad either. But lately while camping I find I am having problems dealing with barking dogs. It might be my age. The noise never used to annoy me. Recently I was parked next to a couple who had two little barkers. They were quiet while the couple were in camp, but as soon as they left the dogs would begin to bark and not stop until they returned. Thinking they didn’t realize that the dogs barked while they were gone, I mentioned it to them. They jumped right down my throat in defense of their pets and refused to believe that the dogs would bark that much. …

Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.

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

Camping with the Corps of Engineers
Many RVers consider Corps of Engineers campgrounds to be the best in the country. This guide is just for RVers — boat-in and tent-only sites are not included. Of all the public lands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has some of the best parks and campgrounds available. In fact, it’s the largest federal provider of outdoor recreation in the nation. Learn more or order.

gas-738Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.49 (on Oct. 30). Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 26 cents.
Diesel: $2.82 (on Oct. 30). Change from week before: Up 2 cents; Change from year before: Up 34 cents.

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.

extinguisher-697(3)RV Fire Safety Tip  

First priority – Get people away from fire
The first rule of RV firefighting is to save lives first and property second. Get yourself and your family to safety before attempting to extinguish a fire. Only if you can do so without endangering yourself or others should you use firefighting aids on hand. Never stay behind or re-enter a burning coach to retrieve anything. Re-emphasize to everyone aboard that objects can be replaced, people can’t. Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy

Editor’s note: Choose from a wide selection of fire extinguishers at Amazon. Here are links from Amazon.com for smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, LP gas detectors, and combination smoke and CO detectors

Great gift!
Lucy and Desi go RVing

Now, here’s the perfect movie for an RVer – Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz go RVing! In this 1954 classic – in gorgeous Technicolor – the famous couple (as newlyweds) invest in a 40-foot travel trailer and hit the road. The result is hilarious! The scene in which Lucy tries to make beef stew, a Caesar salad and cake in the wobbling, moving trailer is a classic! This DVD is a great gift for your favorite RVer! Learn more or order.

RV Quick Tips

Helpful advice in case of emergency while away from rig
Reader Pat Mitchell suggests if you’re concerned about being involved in an emergency situation while away from your rig, you could do what he does. “I usually just pick up a park brochure from the campground office to leave in our truck. It’s always handy and if we are in an accident, the location of our camper and other details are right there with us.” Thanks, Pat!

Possible cause of trailer sway
Reader Jim S. read a story we carried earlier about reducing trailer sway. Jim rightly points out that oftentimes, sway can be attributed to too-little weight on the hitch. Industry recommendations range anywhere from 10 to 12 percent of your trailer’s weight should be on the hitch, but Jim likes his at 15 percent. Thanks, Jim, for keeping us (and our rigs) straight!

Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!

The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
RV Travel contributor Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. Mike has taken his 40+ years of experience to write this book about RV electricity that nearly anyone can understand. Covers the basics of Voltage, Amperage, Wattage and Grounding, with additional chapters on RV Hot-Skin testing, GFCI operation, portable generator hookups and troubleshooting RV electrical systems. This should be essential reading for all RVers. Learn more or order 

Gizmos and Gadgets

Under-cabinet-mounted mini food processor and coffee grinder
There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh ground coffee beans and that morning cup of coffee, but the efficient use of space in an RV has to be considered whenever adding a new kitchen appliance. The latest addition to Black & Decker’s Spacemaker line is a mini food processor and coffee grinder which mounts to the underside of a kitchen cabinet, freeing up counter space but in a ready-to-use location. Learn more.

Be sure to sign up for our monthly Great RV Accessories Newsletter. Click here.

Save your knees when working under your RV
Do you ever need to reach under your RV to grab something, adjust something, add air to a tire, or remove a leveling block? If you’re parked on dirt, gravel, hot pavement or other uncomfortable surfaces, your knees can take a beating! This kneeler pad, for about $8, will save the day. The RVtravel.com staff uses its pad all the time. Learn more or order

gary-736Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions

How to add RV batteries

Hey Doc:
I recently purchased a used Class A Newmar coach. Where do I find out what rating of battery needs to be used for replacement? The specific gravity on the existing batteries is low and after charging, is not coming up. The batteries are weak after only eight hours of using a very light load. They are five years old. I have no clue as to what amp-hour I should be using. —Rich W.

Read Gary’s response.

Read more from Gary Bunzer at the RVdoctor.com. See Gary’s videos about RV repair and maintenance.

How to Live in a Car, Van or RV
And Get Out of Debt, Travel and Find True Freedom
There are two main reasons you might buy a book on living in a vehicle: 1) You’re being forced into it by a bad economy, divorce, or unemployment, or 2) The “American Dream” has become a nightmare for you and you are dropping out of the rat race. Whatever your reason, this book will tell you everything you need to make it the best possible experience it can be. Learn more or order.

bob-d-med399Ask BoondockBob
with Bob Difley

Visit stunning red rock country near Las Vegas

Hi Bob,
We spend part of our winter in Las Vegas, but would like to visit other nearby points of interest for a few days. We don’t need hookups so where do you suggest we go? —Marsha and Donald

Read Bob’s response.

Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .

Read the most recent BoondockBob Blog post: Coyote Camping: The ultimate in boondocking.

You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.

battery-test-751SAVE MONEY!
Don’t toss away good batteries!
Most RVers rely on battery-powered devices while on the road, whether flashlights, radios or cameras. But sometimes you just can’t tell how much life a battery has remaining so you toss it to “be sure.” This small, inexpensive tester will alert you in an instant to the condition of a battery, saving you money from needlessly tossing ones with plenty of remaining life! Works on AA, AAA, C, D, 9V and button-type batteries. Learn more or order.

RV Electricity
with Mike Sokol

Electric space heater safety, Part 1
This is a special two-part article on a topic that’s not only seasonal, it’s very important to your safety, both in your home and your RV. This is about electric space heaters and how dangerous they can be if not used correctly. What can go wrong with an electric space heater that makes them so dangerous, especially in a confined space like an RV? In Part 1, Mike discusses the issues of current draw and how to avoid electrical outlet overload. Learn more.

rv-safety-764Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit NoShockZone.org for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

fridge-fan651Keep your food cool with this RV fridge fan
Every RV refrigerator should have one of these!
This small refrigerator fan from Valterra Products will help keep the food in your RV fridge cool and from spoiling. It cuts down initial cool-down time by 50 percent. Runs for more than 30 days on 2 D batteries. Don’t leave home without this! Learn more or order from Amazon.com.

RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble

Some differences between towable, motorhome and car tires
In response to questions on an RV Forum regarding differences between travel trailer and motorhome tires, Roger not only covered that topic but also some differences between RV and car tires and why RV tires require more maintenance. Learn more.

Read more from Roger Marble on his blog at RVtiresafety.net.

Best seller year after year
The Ultimate RV Cookbook
This popular cookbook will help you prepare cuisine in your RV that’s appetizing, healthy and convenient. Each chapter provides a grocery list and recipes for three days’ worth of meals! There’s a reason this has been a best-selling cookbook in RV kitchens for years. Learn more or order.

The RV Kitchen   
with Janet Groene

Chili Strata
No tears tiers: Easy layered chili dish.
A layer here, a layer there and it stacks up to be a socko campground supper in one ten-inch round pot, skillet, Dutch oven or slow cooker. This can be cooked atop the stove, in the oven, in a convection oven, in a microwave oven or solar oven. All the ingredients are canned and food safe, so it’s just a matter of heating until it’s melty and steaming with flavor. Get the recipe.

Check out hundreds of other recipes by Janet . . . and her many books at Amazon.com, including the new “The Survival Food Handbook.”

RVtravel.com Readers’ Favorite Recipes 
with Emily Woodbury

Linda’s Healthy Nut Bars
with Emily Woodbury
Being an avid hiker, I’m always on the lookout for tasty, healthy snack options to get me up those big climbs. I try to always buy good trail food: nuts, dried fruit, jerky, cheese sticks, etc. But in all honesty, it’s really hard to find snacks that aren’t totally awful for your body. Most protein bar companies advertise themselves as healthy, their packaging shows a man climbing a mountain, a woman rock climbing – but in reality, the bars are full of sugars and artificial flavors. Ironic right? Sure, there may be some almonds and dates in there but also another 5,000 ingredients I don’t need.
Read more and get the recipe here.


micro-2-762Microwave cover collapses for easy storage
micro-2-flatWhen heating your food you don’t want to spend 10 minutes later cleaning the splatters inside the microwave. Here’s the solution — and perfect for RVers: it pops down flat for easy storage. Lid perforations allow steam to escape to keep food moist. Doubles as a strainer, too! Learn more or order at Amazon.com

Digital RVer

Google Maps can find your next rest stop
There are lots of apps that can tell you where the rest stops are, but they don’t know where you’re going. It can be a pain to check the rest stop app, then go back and check your GPS, then go back to the rest stop app, etc. When Google Maps is in navigation mode, you can search for anything, including a rest stop, and it will look along your route and give you directions. This works on iPhone and Android mobile devices. Learn more in this article from Chris Guld (includes short instructional video).

Learn about smartphones and tablets
… from Geeks On Tour. Here is a popular webcast: #100, Cloud computing with Microsoft OneDrive and your smartphoneWatch live or archives of past programs.

Special offer for RV Travel readers!
Visit the Geeks’ Store to buy a membership. Use the coupon code rvtravel and get a 20% discount off anything you order.


This is the Cone Nebula in the constellation of Monoceros, 2,700 light-years away from Earth. Photo by Chris Fellows on October 30.

Astronomy for RVers
with Chris Fellows, Serenity Mobile Observatory

RVing to the stars – McDonald Observatory, West Texas

Chris begins another recurring theme with this article – some of the many wonderful destinations around this great country that provide interesting astronomical-related features including telescopes, Dark Sky sites, planetariums, museums and historical observatories. Many of these are public- or university-funded and have extensive outreach programs that are guaranteed to amaze and educate. In this edition, he visits Davis Mountains State Park and the McDonald Observatory in West Texas. Read more.

warming-77012-volt warming blanket is perfect for winter!
Here’s a way to keep warm in your RV without wasting propane to run your heater. Just snuggle up with a warming blanket! This one operates on 12-volt, perfect for RV use. Stitched from 100-percent polyester fleece, the blanket is comfortable, functional, safe and gentle on your RV’s battery. Put it on your bed before turning in to warm your sheets! Learn more or order from Amazon.

Good reading from RV123.com 629-rv123
Are You Over-Complicating Solar Power? (Video)
Campanda: Airbnb for RVs
Featured App: AR Measurekit

Easily check the tire pressure on your inner dual tires!
Do you have trouble reading the tire pressure on your RV’s inner duals? This dual head tire pressure gauge with an extension steel shaft will reach where a standard gauge won’t. Be sure you know the pressure of all your tires, or risk a potentially dangerous blowout. No batteries required. Learn more or order at a discount.

Free and bargain camping
From OvernightRVparking.com

Walmart Supercenter # 1369, Payson, AZ
FREE. Overnight RV parking is allowed. Obtain permission from the store, per Walmart policy. Parking lot signage: “No Overnight parking after 24 Hours.” Level, well lit, no apparent security issues. Address: 300 N. Beeline Hwy. GPS: 34.244, -111.3235. 

5-R Travel Center, Deming, NM
FREE. Overnight RV parking is allowed. Staff stated permission not required. Park anywhere that’s out of the way without obstructing movement by other vehicles. Rigs that will fit in a single auto spot may park in the auto area. Larger rigs park in one of eight pull-thru or 15 back-in truck spaces in back. Level, well lit, quiet, and appears safe. Some truck noise. Dump station on site is free. Public laundry on site. Wagon Wheel cafe on site, with “old-fashioned ranch hand fare at low prices; good food.” Address: 1695 US 180. GPS: 32.28176, -107.75946.

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 demoWatch a video about OvernightRVparking.com.

sponge91FkFZCzPZL__SL1500_Easily clean those stubborn bugs off your RV
The Microfiber Mesh Bug and Tar Sponge has millions of tiny fibers embedded in the microfiber cloth that grabs and holds the dust and dirt. It is so effective it even cleans without chemicals, saving both time and money. The secret of this sponge lies in its unique, double-layer microfiber mesh. Older nylon bug sponges can harm your clear coat, but this one is completely paint safe. Learn more or order.

Our favorite products for RVers at Amazon.com. Check ’em out.

Upcoming RV Shows

• Portland Metro RV Show, Nov. 9-12, Portland, OR
• Tampa Bay Fall RV Show,
Nov. 9-12, Tampa, FL
• West Palm Beach Fall RV Show,
Nov. 9-12, West Palm Beach, FL
• Palm Springs Area RV Show & Sale,
Dec. 7-10, Indio, CA

See the complete list of all upcoming RV shows.


Add an outdoor water faucet to your RV!
This lead-free outdoor faucet is really handy. If you don’t have one, here’s a super inexpensive way to add one. No tools required and it installs in a minute (just screw it on). Brass T included with the plastic faucet, just as it’s shown in the product photo. Learn more or order.

del-545This week in history
Week of November 4–10
Compiled by Dell Bert

1775 – Birth of the U.S. Marine Corps.
1879 – Will Rogers is born in Oklahoma.
1927 – Heavy rain leads to flooding in New England, killing 200 people.
1965 – The Great Northeast Blackout leaves 30 million people in the dark.
1980 – Steve McQueen dies.
1990 – “Dances with Wolves” debuts.
1991 – Tropical Storm Thelma kills nearly 3,000 people in the Philippines.
1994 – George Foreman becomes oldest heavyweight champ.

Red hair is the least common hair color in the world, as the recessive gene is rare. It is prominently found in the U.K. and Scotland, where about 6 percent carry the gene.

CONTEST ANSWER: Farmers gave President Andrew Jackson a 1,400-pound wheel of cheese. Jackson invited all comers to help themselves and, for weeks after, the White House reeked of cheese. Another bit of Jackson trivia. At the seventh president’s funeral service, Jackson’s parrot, Poll, had to be removed after he started cursing at the mourners!

Bumper sticker of the week
Growing old is not for sissies!

Funny/clever business slogan
Viewers of a local TV channel were told by a dry cleaning establishment to “Drop Your Pants Here.” Thanks, Anon.

Have you seen a funny bumper sticker or business slogan? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com

better-living-showerOrganize your RV’s shower!
Quit hassling with shampoo and conditioner bottles
RV showers are small! Hassling with bottles of shampoo, conditioner and soap are a pain! Make it easy with this Better Living Classic 3-Chamber Dispenser. It utilizes a “patented pump technology” and comes with a lifetime warranty. The liquid is stored in three 15 oz. refillable chambers. The right amount of product is dispensed with a stroke or two of the pump. Installs in minutes without tools. Learn more or order.

Joke of the Week
Following an argument with his wife, a husband tried to make peace. He suggested: “Why don’t you meet me halfway on this? I’ll admit you’re wrong if you admit I’m right.”

Random RV Thought
The more “stuff” you carry in your RV, the more fuel your motorhome or tow vehicle needs to haul it. Once a year, go through your drawers and cupboards and remove things you haven’t used in the last year.

Worth Pondering
“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” —Yogi Berra

RV Travel staff 
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editor: Russ De Maris. Staff writer: Emily Woodbury. Contributing writers: Greg Illes, Bob Difley, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Mike Sokol, Chris Guld, Julianne Crane, Chris Fellows, Wolfe Rose and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring.

ADVERTISE on RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at)RVtravel.com.

cw501About the RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for 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. 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.

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

This website utilizes some advertising services. Sometimes we are paid if you click one of those links and purchase a product or service. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc . RVtravel.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

RVtravel.com includes links to other websites. We cannot control the content and/or privacy policies of those sites. Please be aware when you leave this newsletter or any other section of RVtravel.com to read the privacy statements of any of those websites that collect personally identifiable information. Our own privacy policy applies only to RVtravel.com and its affiliated blogs.

This newsletter is copyright 2017 by RVtravel.com


25 Thoughts to “RV Travel Newsletter Issue 818”

  1. jerry Berry

    i would like to know statistics about rental of pop ups and travel trailers,and the ratings of most popular states,like average rental times,size of units and number of occupants and a general average popular rental rate per day and week

  2. Ron Swartz

    I recently contributed but am not receiving your weekly e-mail as well.

  3. Jillie

    I find it irritating that those who drive the rigs are living it better then those who drive or tow smaller vehicles. I bumped into a couple who retired and are living out of trailer that is a 22 x 8. Almost the size of mine. I much prefer smaller then bigger. Especially if there is only one of me. I was in a 36 footer once and did not like not knowing what was on the other side of the door.

  4. David

    Chuck, we are relatively new to this RV newsletter, past couple of years, and we are campers, not full timers, our choice. Recently, I have noticed much more of your personal irritation with life flowing into negativity within the newsletter since you became a full-timer. Full timing is a life-style you choose to live, not required. The newsletter of the past was filled with information, tips, tricks, advice and was enjoyable to read. Lately, however, your negativity oozes from nearly every paragragh. There is so much negativity in our daily lives from the President of the United States down to the retail clerk. I choose to reach up and turn it off or stop patronizing, my choice. Your newsletter is not far behind. Just saying….

  5. Rob

    Chuck, I love your writing style, your humor while writing is great. This new gimmick of a special email for subscribers IMHO is a little cheesy. In the last few months, your site seems to be looking for money (which as a business) requires money to run but don’t use a special email for subscribers as a ploy to get contributions. Your content is worth paying for. Maybe it’s time to change the site into a subscription-based vehicle. I wouldn’t have any issue paying a yearly subscription fee of say $35 (mind you I pay $5 a month now as a contribution.


  6. Buzzelectric

    I think another issue that is just as important as lack of camp sites is the lack of storage sites and the lack of support to stop cities from excluding rvs from their streets and even your own land.

  7. Ron Lane

    I also contributed but did not get the special email

  8. John Ahrens

    Regarding calling luxury RVs “mobile homes,” with the modern tiny house movement that seems to be gathering steam, many of which are built on trailer frames, so they’re really custom built travel trailers, we like to call our 2015 Phaeton 40AH a tiny house with a motor.

  9. Larry Gold

    I, too enjoy your newsletter.
    One subject I haven’t seen are tolls or fees (ferns) where towing is a multiple of the RV and the tow car. It’s common for a toll of $5/vehicle to wind up as $20 or more when actually towing. Seems to be no logic to this except to make money by soaking the RV’er.

  10. Mary Milord

    We enjoy the very informative newsletters. Please add me to your special email like st. I have contributed and not received an email.
    Looking forward to the great information !
    Thank you

  11. Stevan Garcia

    Chuck I have been reading your news letter for the past 6 months and find the content interesting and helpful. I was wondering if you’ve given thought to the website layout as the content seems to be randomly placed and a mix of topics and advertising rather than organized in a manner more conducive to easy reading and reference.

    1. Sandy Lindsay

      I love this newsletter and am fairly new to it, but I find it hard to navagate too. At times I get lost clicking back and forth and then am afraid I’ve missed something important.

      Thanks for having this newsletter for us.

      I did not get the special email either.

  12. Bill

    Hi Chuck. I have tried several times to sign up for the new electrical newsletter from the link and after I select subscribe, I get a empty white screen with no information on it at all. I get no subscription confirmation either. Keep up the good work.

  13. Jean C

    Regarding renovations at Camp 4 in Yosemite NP. Camp 4 is a first-come-first served campground for tents only. Each site accommodates 6 people. Only 2 in your party? You will share your site with 4 others. Since there is a long line waiting to camp at Camp 4 every morning the increase in sites will be welcome but I doubt most of your readers will be affected by the additional sites.

  14. J Cripps

    Good morning – I did get your email, thank you. In this issues newsletter you differentiate between camper and full timer. However, there are those of us who travel for 6/8/12 weeks at a time in a smaller rig (C class/trailer/5th wheel, etc). Yes, we do some boondocking but really enjoy a good campground too. We cannot afford the prices charged at ‘luxury’ campgrounds that cater to the big Class A rigs. But we are serious travelers/RVers and want to see quality campgrounds at affordable/realistic prices. That said you brought up a very good point. The difference between RVing in the west and the east. I would like to see an article about this ‘difference’ especially offering information about RVing in the east (broken down regionally, i.e., north east region and southeast region) as I live in the west and plan on trips to the east. One difference in northeast brought to our attention – campgrounds are not open all year. Big subject but an important one for those traveling across/throughout the US. Also, you have touched on the National and State campgrounds and their lack of maintaining campgrounds, lack of upgrading them to meet ‘today’s” needs, etc. RV Village would be a good place to have a section (broken out by state) where people could report on parks they have visited, their experience, etc. As always, RV Travel is great and thanks for all your hard work.

    1. TechiePhil

      RVParkReviews.com is an excellent site (and app and Facebook page) for park reviews. It is searchable. I look there first when planning travel.

  15. Sharon Morrow

    Please add me to your special email list. I donated this morning via your website. Look forward to your newsletter every weekend. The Fire extinguisher recall information was greatly appreciated!
    Thank you!

  16. Janice Frame

    I am also a contributor and did not receive any special emails.

  17. Bob Jones

    I also made a contribution this year and haven’t received the newsletter.
    Thanks for all you do – a contribution coming your way each year.
    The Greyhound Express heading south,.

  18. john stahl

    I also enjoyed the section about ‘what are you driving or towing?’

  19. Robert Beede

    Good morning Chuck,
    I contributed a couple months ago and am not receiving your special emails. Please add me as well.

  20. Mike Ward

    I’m a volunteer subscriber and am not receiving the additional subscriber only emails from Chuck. Can you add mike@waywards.org?

  21. Stuart Cawthon

    I also contributed but did not get the special email

  22. Debbie Fulton

    Good morning, we did contribute and did not receive the special email yesterday.

  23. Paula Miller

    What happened to the section in rv travel “what are you towing or Driving”? I always thought is was interesting to see all the different rv’s people had.
    I Enjoy your newsletter.

Comments are closed.