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Issue 823 • Week of December 9–15, 2017 #rvtravel
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With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) wrapped up its annual national trade show last week. It was a love fest of monumental proportions.
At the opening breakfast, the organization’s president Frank Hugelmeyer announced that not only will 2017 RV sales be good, they’ll be spectacular! He told the crowd that shipments of RVs to dealers this year will exceed a half million units — about 505,600 to be precise, 13 percent higher than previously forecast. That’s double what they were ten years ago!
“It is time to begin an honest conversation about what it will take to build on this momentum,” he said. “How do we go from 500,000 units to 600,000 units? Or even 700,000 units and beyond?”
Yeah … great, Frank. But where will we stay with our RVs out there in the real world? Is Camp Walmart (its parking lots) prepared for the onslaught?
I was not at the show, but I know from experience that the RV salesmen and executive were mighty happy at Hugelmeyer’s announcement, smelling money — primarily that of all those Millennials and Gen Xers who are increasingly choosing a house on wheels over those that don’t move. Hardly a mention was made of geezers my age, Baby Boomers, even though we’re usually the ones who buy the bigger, more expensive rigs.
As far as I can tell from every report I read from the show, very little was mentioned about the problem of crowded campgrounds or the epidemic of bad RVs being cranked out to keep up with unprecedented demand.
The national media reported all the glorious news. And do you know why the media wrote so glowingly about all the huge sales and how wonderful everything is? Because they weren’t there! They were spoon-fed fluffy, feel-good stories by the PR people from the RV industry.
“None of those national reporters actually came to the RV show,” boasted Kevin Broom, director of media relations for RVIA, to RV Business. “They did it all based on what we pitched them, or we’ve worked with them in the past, and they were interested to do the story. Then they basically took our interviews. They took our phone calls. They took our information, and they ran the stories.”
Now how’s that for quality journalism? It stinks!
I’m getting more disturbed every day about what’s happening in the wonderful world of RVing. I have equated the current RV state of affairs to what happened to me growing up in Los Angeles. When my parents moved to the then-rural town of West Covina, about 20 miles from Los Angeles, when I was one year old, it was paradise, population 4,000, with orange groves everywhere. It was a great place for a kid. When we moved away 16 years later, the population had ballooned to 60,000. The orange groves were gone, replaced with side-by-side tract homes, crowded schools, clogged freeways and smog (my high school P.E. classes would often be cancelled due to unhealthy air).
Sometimes a good thing gets spoiled when too many people get involved …
Remember the Joni Mitchell song?
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Other bloggers and writers are beginning to discuss problems in RV Land. I think, in part, it’s because I’m stirring the pot. The RV industry just keeps churning out RVs and hauling its money to the bank. I understand and embrace capitalism. But to me, if you make something, you make it right. You inspect it before you sell it to be sure everything works. Have you noticed the number of RV recalls lately? It’s recall-mania! Ridiculous!
Here’s what Henry Ford wrote back when he was building Model T’s: “When one of my cars breaks down, I am to blame.” What a guy! Today’s RV business leaders would more likely say, “If we don’t make enough money for our stockholders, I’m to blame.”
Do these guys even read the horror stories from customers who buy their defective RVs? If they did, how could they sleep at night? A few months ago we asked our readers to describe the workmanship on their RV. Nearly 22 percent of the 1,443 readers who responded answered “poor” or “terrible.” That is NOT acceptable!
Please tell your friends to sign up for this newsletter. Post the URL of this issue on your Facebook page and give us a plug: http://rvtravel.com/rv-travel-newsletter-issue-823 . The more RVers we reach, the more influence we’ll have to force the industry to address its problems and innovate solutions. They will do nothing without pressure. If you have not voluntarily subscribed to this newsletter, please consider doing so. Most major advertisers won’t have anything to do with us anymore because we’re yanking their chains way too hard. So far, 2,076 of you have chipped in out of about 60,000 regular readers. We work hard and deserve your support. We’re not begging. We believe what you get here week after week is worth something!
Gail and I are now in Seattle, having arrived by speedy aeroplane. After 12 days, we’ll fly to central California to spend Christmas with my aunt at her orange grove ranch, where I will engorge myself with freshly squeezed orange juice. Then we’ll jet back to Texas and start exploring the beautiful Hill Country near San Antonio. I complain a lot about the state of RVing, but still, when it’s good, it’s really, really good. It is for us now. Thanks for coming along on our ride and for reading during this busy holiday season.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
• Marriage coming up? How about a $10 wedding dress?
• This public library is a spaceship!
• Beautiful mannequin woman: Does she exist?
“Best RV of the Year” comes with hefty price tag
RV Business Magazine has named the Winnebago Horizon the 2018 RV of the Year. The award is bestowed upon the one RV that, in the opinion of RVBusiness, “best exemplifies a manufacturer’s ability to ‘push the envelope’ through design and engineering.” But it may not be the RV of the Year for most RVers. Its price begins at $385,214, which might be a bit rich for most budgets. Read more and take a video tour.
Support Honest Journalism
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We have a winner! No more entries for this contest, please. The answer: 2001! Win this very cool novelty apron! The winner will be chosen randomly out of all correct entries received by noon (Pacific), Monday. The question: In what year did the RVtravel.com newsletter first publish? 1995, 2001, 2007 or 2011? 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: Shelle Walker of Agoura Hills, Calif. She won the DVD of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.
Overall manufacturer-to-dealer shipments of RVs shot up in October, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Comparing October 2017 to October 2016 shows a blast-up of more than 26 percent. Towables were in the lead, up 27 percent, shipping 43,294 rigs. Motorhomes rose more than 20 percent, rushing 5,632 new rigs to dealers.
This weekend gate fees at Utah’s Arches National Park are free as the park is huzzahing the wrap-up of a major road reconstruction project. Route 3R had been disrupted for months as workers brought the road up to standards to handle the needs of millions of visitors – a road originally designed to handle 75,000 annual visitors. See the park free through Sunday, 4:00 p.m.
Sales of new motorhomes in Canada continue on a roll according to Statistical Surveys Inc. Based on sales closing in September, Class C motorhomes were the winner, with sales up nearly 44 percent over the year. Class A motorhomes also pressed ahead 19 percent.
New California wildfires that broke out in Ventura County on Monday moved quickly – fast enough that by Monday evening the Ventura Ranch KOA in Santa Paula had been evacuated as a precaution. As of Friday morning, the fire spanned 132,000 acres and was 10 percent contained. More than 400 structures have been destroyed, most in the city of Ventura. There is one confirmed fire-related fatality.
If you think filling your RV fuel tank is a bit expensive, you’re right – prices haven’t been this high since 2014. Blame it on hurricanes and more gallons of fuel being sold – the net effect is more pinch on your wallet. However, auto club AAA says we should expect fuel prices to start sliding downhill for the next couple of months, and then (catastrophes aside) stay stable through 2018. Uncle Sam’s Energy Information Administration says it figures 2017 will end with seeing an annual average of $2.40 per gallon of regular. It predicts the 2018 average will be $2.45. While that’s up from this year, compared to the “more than $4 per gallon” days of 2008, it’s a bargain.
Nueces County, Texas, will soon have room for more RVers in its Padre Balli Park. An official ribbon-cutting last week revealed 45 new full-hookup sites with 50-amp electrical service, some new roads, and bathroom facilities. The $2.5 million renovation will open for use, according to a park employee, “in a couple of weeks.”
Trying to thin out the crowds at the most popular national parks, the Park Service has floated a controversial idea of jacking up entry fees during “high season.” Now they’re trying something a little less contentious: suggesting the masses check out those parks less visited – and using popular celebrities to promote them. Using an internet series, the service has Jordan Fisher, who starred as Phillip Hamilton in the play “Hamilton,” praising the virtues of Channel Islands National Park. Featuring Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park is Dierks Bentley, of country music fame. You’ll find other celebs promoting other sites. Check out findyourpark.com.
California’s central coast will have 200 more overnight spaces available for RVs come next May. The self-described “high-end resort” known as Cava Robles will open in Paso Robles. Expect “spacious banquet facilities, two large swimming pools, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a large covered picnic and gathering spot.” Staff at RVtravel.com “dummied” a reservation for five days in June and could have signed on for as little as $340 for a back-in site, or gone whole-hog with a “premium pull-though” site for just $432. All sites are full-hookup 50-amp service. Still interested? Check their website here.
Canada’s National Parks will become free for people 17 and under starting in 2018. “These experiences will create memories that will last a lifetime for Canadian youth and their families, as it has done for our family,” said Catherine McKenna, the federal environment minister.
Boondockers Welcome, a website that facilitates RVers spending one to three nights for free at private residences, whose owners act as hosts, has unveiled a new, improved website. Check it out
RV SnapPads For the Special RVer in Your Life
The world’s only permanent jack pad is also an ideal RVer Christmas gift! With three different product lines, we now offer SnapPads for luxury fifth wheels and Class A Motorhomes by Forest River, Heartland, Tiffin, Jayco, Winnebago, and more! Visit rvsnappad.com for $10 off your order with code CHRISTMAS2017 and a chance to win your purchase.
After taking considerable heat from both lawmakers and constituents, Missouri State Parks officials have extended the public comment period on what they might do with three still-unopened state parks. The parks are Bryant Creek, Ozark Mountain and Jay Nixon state parks. One possible option officials are mulling is selling the land off. Reaction to the original 12-day comment period was swift. The state says they’ll take comments into January.
Five campgrounds in New Mexico are now under seasonal closure and will reopen April 1. They are: Iron Creek, Upper Gallinas, Railroad Canyon, Cherry Creek and McMillan.
Maryland’s Assateague State Park was set to do a major campground relocation project this winter, but officials have pushed that back a year. Camp loops would have been relocated, causing the loss of some sites, in order to allow for measures to prevent sand dune erosion to be put in place. But things got bogged down in the financial end and the work won’t start until next winter. Meantime, those with established reservations will hear from officials regarding their site assignments – and everyone will still have a place to camp.
Remember the RV park in Carrabelle, Fla., which was sued last month because they wouldn’t allow children under 18? They now accept kids of all ages after an out-of-court settlement stipulating the change – and an undisclosed payment to the plaintiffs. Ho-Hum RV Park says kids can come – but the other rules, no campfires and no wind-chimes – still stick.
RVers’ dollars are important at Mustang Island State Park in Corpus Christi, Texas. While the park is still shut down in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, state park officials are working feverishly to reopen the RV campground there – hopefully sometime in January. But the rest of the park? “Closed indefinitely,” is the word. Highway officials will have to figure out a timetable to get the access road to the beach reopened. But the loss of RVers’ overnighting dollars is adversely affecting the park in general, hence the rush to reopen to trailers and motorhomes.
The Alexander Valley RV Park & Campground in Sonoma County, Calif., is usually closed this time of the year. But this year it’s packed with temporary workers helping clean up after October’s wildfires, where more than 5,100 structures were destroyed.
Pinery Provincial Park managers have stepped back – a little – in dealing with a threat by First Nation’s members to “repossess” the park in southwestern Ontario. Last month, when the George family of the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation showed up at the park claiming the land the park lies on originally belonged to their ancestors and they wanted it back, park officials shut the park down. Now they’ve reopened the park to day use, after losing $20,000 in revenue during the two-week closure. Overnight camping is still closed.
Overnight RV Parking at Golf Courses & Resort Hotels
An RV Golf Club membership allows you to park FREE every night of the year at 430+ beautiful, safe, private Golf Courses and Resort Hotels in the U.S. and Canada. No blackout days or restrictions. Golf, restaurants & shop discounts at most locations. Watch the video for answers to your questions or visit the RV Golf Club website.
A fire department emergency response vehicle is having to jump a lot of international hoops to become an Oregon family’s RV. Ryan Evans bought the 1995 Mercedes-built incident response vehicle sold as surplus by a Wales fire department in England. Under import/export restrictions, the rig could not come directly to the U.S., so Evans had to make arrangements to have the rig routed to a shipping company in Bristol, thence to sea, and eventually to land in Nova Scotia. It will make its way to Oregon by way of British Columbia, where a conversion company will turn the red rig into a family-suitable motorhome.
New Hampshire state police were called for a “disturbance” at the Hooksett rest stop fuel station on I-93: A motorhome driver had parked in front of the pumps and just wouldn’t move. Trouble was, the driver had completed his purchase and didn’t move for two days. Police figured the driver might have dozed off after knocking several times with no response, but a peek in the window revealed the Canadian RVer – face down on the floor with his purchase receipt next to him – dead. Fuel stop operators reckon clerks didn’t discuss the situation at shift changes.
A weird incident in Yorkville, Ill., proves that police scanners and social media can combine with freakish results. At 7:00 a.m., police scanner information reported from Hideaway Lakes, a local RV park, “Animal bite. Unconscious male losing a lot of blood. Unknown what type of animal at this time.” By noon, social media had plenty of speculation as to what “animal” creates so much “blood loss.” Coyote? Bear? Mountain lion? By 5:00 p.m., police had to issue a press release: A man was bitten by his brother’s dog while visiting, causing such minor injuries he’d left by the time police arrived. Put away your pitchforks, the werewolf has left the campground.
Keep up with RV Industry news
throughout the week at RVbusiness.com.
Unique RV overnight stops at wineries and farms
With membership in Harvest Hosts® you can stay overnight at more than 570 wineries, farms and attractions across North America. Harvest Hosts offers an exciting alternative to traditional overnight stops where you can meet interesting people and learn about their lifestyle. Learn more at the Harvest Hosts website, or watch an interview with the founders by RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury.
This week’s Reader Poll
Are you happiest participating in group activities or spending time alone?
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:
How would you describe the condition of your RV? Click here for the results.
RV Mods: Fuel-saving devices for your RV?
If you recall that infamous scene from “Blazing Saddles,” you know that there’s a lot of gas floating around these days. Some of the hottest air in the marketplace is on equipment and additives “guaranteed to help you save at the gas pump.” Add-on devices to modify your motorhome or tow vehicle come from a variety of directions. Be skeptical of these advertising claims. And what’s one of the best fuel-saving devices you can own? Find out in this article from Russ and Tiña De Maris.
How to keep rodents out of your RV during storage
When RVs are stored for the winter it’s not uncommon for mice and squirrels to make their winter home inside. In this video, Mark Polk with RV Education 101 offers some tips and tricks to help keep rodents out of your RV. Have you ever had a mouse, squirrel or other rodent take up residency in your RV? Please answer our quick survey below the video. Watch the video.
Keep those expensive RV batteries alive!
A critical factor for RVers who boondock is that of a viable battery bank. Keeping those batteries properly charged can make the difference between an enjoyable experience and a bust. Even more important, a battery that is discharged too much is a battery that will experience a premature death. How do you know your battery’s state of charge? Find out here.
RV ghettos along the road
Found along some highways, on the cheapest property, are RV parks. Some are nice, but some are dumps, with old, beat-up trailers and motorhomes. Most traveling RVers would not want to stay there. So, when RVers talk about the shortage of RV parks in America able to handle the half-million RVs being built every year, but the RV industry talks about the number of RV parks in America, these should not be included. They’re RV ghettos. Read more.
Texas flea market puts all others to shame
You have never seen anything like this unless you live in the areas of Dallas or Tyler, Texas, or have visited. First Monday Trade Days, in Canton, is dubbed the largest flea market in the United States, spanning hundreds of acres and accommodating 6,000 vendors. It’s open four days before the first Monday of every month. To see everything would probably take four days. There’s an RV park on the premises. Learn more.
Fulltime RVing – What’s the best kind of RV for you?
A poll running on the fulltime RVers’ club Escapees’ website asks: What type of RV do you fulltime in? We found the results rather interesting. Learn more.
Camp on the water with floating tent
How does a waterbed sound to you, when the “water” is a lake or river, not something you use to fill the bed in your bedroom? Well, that pretty much describes the Shoal Tent, a very cool way to sleep on the water, letting the ripples of the water lull you to sleep. Watch the short video.
When towing, can I use cruise control and overdrive?
When towing a travel trailer, can you use the cruise control? What about an overdrive transmission? These are questions that can puzzle new RVers – and even some veterans. Here are some important safety tips.
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 type of phone is most useful?
Rich “The Wanderman” recently needed to replace his 6-year-old Motorola cell phone. You may have noticed that he tends to research things to death before making a decision (and we get to benefit from his research!). Since he has been boondocking a lot and seldom (if ever) has hookups or Wi-Fi, he relies on his phone to be his internet connection, so it had to be the right one. How to choose a new phone? And what did he choose? Find out here
Why coyotes pose a threat to your pet in campgrounds
National parks require pets to be leashed to protect the local wildlife. But where coyotes roam it’s the pets that need protection. As in many expanding suburbs, coyotes in national parks have become so accustomed to people that they often forage in plain view. Cats and small dogs are easy prey for the quick, powerful predators. Learn how to keep your pets safe.
Always read the fine print – no matter what you’re buying
It seems a common thread among RVers is trying to get the most mileage out of the travel dollar. Whether shopping for low gas prices or the lowest rates on RV parks, you can count on RVers to do their shopping. But be careful – not every deal is a great deal. Slow down and read the fine print or you may pay the price like this unfortunate woman did. Learn more.
Join Chef Jolene in the Trailer Park Kitchen
Guests coming over to your RV for dinner? Then maybe Chef Jolene Sugarbaker, The Trailer Park Queen, can be of help. Join her in the Trailer Park Test Kitchen as she whips up tasty down-home treats including pickle poppers, dinner waffles and beet brownies! Chef Jolene will show you tips and tricks including how to save money using inventive ingredient substitutions. Watch the video.
The Quartzsite phenomenon
Ask RVers about their opinion of Quartzsite, Ariz., and you will receive as many different opinions as the number of RVers you ask. However, one thing they may all agree on is that every RVer should experience the phenomenon that is Quartzsite at least once. Why? Find out here from Boondock Bob Difley.
This RV is pulled by a scooter
This is one way you might have camped in the U.K. back in 1959 — with a scooter and collapsible trailer. Great for a quick getaway close to home. Watch the short video. Fun!
Beautiful Texas deer are pests
This photo was taken behind an RV park near Kerrville, Texas. They’re Axis deer, considered the most beautiful deer. They look like big Bambi’s with all those spots. But they are also on the local most-wanted list — they don’t belong here. They were brought to the USA from India to be shot by hunters at game farms. But, oops, they escaped. And they breed like rabbits … all year-round. Read more.
RV capital Elkhart reaches out to find workers
An area that was formerly a poster child for the Great Recession now has a problem it could only have dreamed of nine years ago. We’re talking about Elkhart County, Indiana, where four out of five RVs are manufactured, and some of its marketing dollars are now aimed at recruiting lots of workers. Learn more.
The New TireTraker™ TT-500 with a Lifetime Warranty
The new TireTraker™ TT-500 is the most innovative & user-friendly TPMS on the market with an unprecedented “Lifetime Warranty”, the only TPMS company in the industry to do so. The TT-500 features a larger, easier to read display, continuous pressure & temperature monitoring, automatic update, & monitoring up to 22 tires on your motorhome, trailer & tow vehicle from 0-232 psi! Seven days per week sales & technical support & over 13 years of experience. List price (4 tires) $389. Our price only $289. SAVE $100! (Additional Sensors $35 each). Learn more or order. Read testimonials.
Readers’ comments on recent articles
Recent popular articles that attracted high numbers of reader comments
• FMCA to welcome towable owners.
• KOA owner laments company’s branding, missed opportunities.
• Letter to editor: Don’t expect RV industry to change.
• Why would you want a lithium battery pack?
• Dusty Quartzsite is winter haven for sun-seeking RVers.
• Slow cellular internet: When will carriers catch on?
More popular articles from last week’s issue
• Thumbs up – November 2017.
• Wife’s rock collection overloading RV.
• Rusty’s RV Ranch will keep you in the dark – perfect for stargazing.
• RV Electricity – Overloaded wires – What’s the big deal?
• Are boondocking spots becoming as crowded as campgrounds?
• What to do about uneven tire wear on travel trailer.
RV Parts and Accessories
Give Dyers a try on your next purchase of RV parts or accessories. Large selection, great service, low prices and fast shipping. Visit our website.
No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.
Stinky holding tank odors? Here’s the solution
Eliminate disgusting tank odors for less than $1 per treatment with formaldehyde-free Unique RV Digest-It. Unique’s highly concentrated, non-toxic blend of tank cleaning microbes maintains clean sensors, eliminates odors and liquefies the solids in your tank, ensuring no backups. All without harsh chemicals or dangerous ingredients. Try it once and you’ll be shocked at how clean your tank can be! Learn more or order.
Click here to see many submissions from our readers about their RVs.
Upcoming RV Shows
See the complete list.
How can you end the “military” RV shower?
You know the routine, constantly turning off the shower to conserve hot water. That’s because most RVs have tank heaters with limited hot water. You never have to run out of hot water with a hybrid instant water heater. Find out how the Truma AquaGo® gives you a real shower in your RV. Learn more
Ask the RV Shrink
Wife uncomfortable in remote boondocking spots – What to do?
Dear RV Shrink:
I don’t mind boondocking. We spend several months a year on the road and camp a majority of the time without hookups. My ex-Marine husband will camp anywhere, but I do not care to camp in remote areas by ourselves. My husband says I am being silly. Recently we camped in Big Bend with a backcountry permit. [Sometimes] I felt we were too isolated at the end of a dead-end road. Am I being silly? Should I develop an attitude like my husband and throw caution to the wind? I love the places he finds to legally park, but some of them keep me from feeling comfortable. —Apprehensive in American Outback
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.
EARN EXCELLENT INCOME RENTING YOUR RV
Is your RV just sitting around?
Rent it. 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 rental income. Join thousands of happy RV owners making significant money! Learn more at Campanda. Endorsed by RVtravel.com
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.50 (on Dec. 4). Change from week before: Down 3 cents; Change from year before: Up 29 cents.
Diesel: $2.92 (on Dec. 4). Change from week before: None; Change from year before: Up 44 cents.
Need mail forwarding? Choose the best!
Choose Americas Mailbox! It’s the best, hands down, and is endorsed by RVtravel.com, which has toured its South Dakota facility and interviewed its very customer-oriented owner. Many plans available. Learn more. Or view the video of the interview RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury conducted with Americas Mailbox owner Don Humes.
RV Fire Safety Tip
Have three fire extinguishers for your RV
You should have three fire extinguishers for your coach – one in the galley, one in the bedroom and one outside of the coach in an unlocked compartment or in your tow vehicle. Make sure family members know how to use the extinguishers and understand which extinguishers are effective on various fires. 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.
“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.
RV Quick Tips
Don’t overdo it when pulling in the slideout
When pulling the slideout back in to travel position, you can “overdo” it. When the slide gets close to the retracted position, let up on the switch, then tap the switch and bring the slide in a bit at a time until your helper tells you the seals have made full contact.
Important RV park Wi-Fi tips
Planning on using RV park Wi-Fi? Before you park, ask: Does your signal cover the entire park, or just my site? Is there an extra charge for using Wi-Fi? Do I need to know the network name (SSID) or a password? If you do, ask for the information when you make your reservation so if you get in after the office is closed, you’ll still be able to log onto the Wi-Fi service.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!
An inspirational book about RVing
“Travels with Charley in Search of America”
When you ask most RVers if there was one book that inspired them to take up RVing, it’s John Steinbeck’s classic road tale, “Travels with Charley.” The famous author set off in the early 1960s in a home-built camper with his poodle, Charley, to “find America.” And what he found makes for a delightful read. Get this for yourself or as a gift. Learn more or order.
Gizmos and Gadgets
Coleman RoadTrip Propane Portable Grill folds for easy storage
Stop manhandling those heavy, bulky backyard beasts and show off as the Grill Master with the Coleman RoadTrip LXE Propane Grill. It’s easy to tote around (rolls on wheels), sets up in seconds and it lights with the push of a button. Cook for more than an hour on one propane cylinder with 20,000 BTUs of power on 285 square inches of cooking surface. When you’re done, it folds down small enough to fit in one of your RV’s lockers. Learn more.
Be sure to sign up for our monthly Great RV Accessories Newsletter. Click here.
Give gift cards to your favorite stores and restaurants
You can’t go wrong giving a gift card for the holidays — or any other occasion. Here’s where to order most of America’s most popular gift cards.
Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions
Can blowout plug damage water pump when winterizing?
In reference to your mention of using a blowout plug for winterizing, I used to use compressed air for winterizing as well, but was told that this method doesn’t get the water out of the check valves in the water pump and could subject the pump to rupture. I would be most interested in your comments on this. —Bob K.
Avoid hitting low bridges!
2018 Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas
PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT! 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. Click the video by Chuck Woodbury or order at Amazon.com.
with Bob Difley
Boondocking threatened at two Utah National Monuments?
I read in the news that Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments will be downsized. We haven’t visited them, but are thinking we might visit before their size is reduced. Is boondocking allowed on either one? —Howard and Grace
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .
Read the most recent BoondockBob Blog post: Corn Creek: A rare Nevada desert oasis.
You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.
Protect yourself from intruders, bears and more!
The BASU eAlarm lets us explore, sleep, and adventure with confidence! This tiny device emits a 130-decibel alarm which scares away intruders, burglars and wild animals, and will call for help if you find yourself stranded. Used by the RVTravel staff, you can count on this alarm to keep you safe. Watch the video to learn more or click here to order for about $10.
with Mike Sokol
Is a surge protector enough to protect an RV?
I’ve recently purchased the top Progressive EMS 30 Amp surge protector which seems to work great. I now have several extra test gadgets (the Fluke Non-Contact Voltage Detector, as an example) and wonder if I need to hold on to them. Can I now just plug into pedestal power and not worry about extra electrical testing? Thanks. —Martin F.
Read the first issue of Mike’s new monthly RV Electricity Newsletter. It’s full of important and potentially lifesaving information. If you have not signed up for an email alert for new issues, please do so today so you don’t miss out.
Mike 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.
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 $10, will save the day. The RVtravel.com staff uses its pad all the time. Learn more or order.
RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
Is using state scales for “four corner weights” of RV wise?
Roger was recently following a forum thread on using closed state scales to learn the “four corner weights” on your RV. (This is possible in Washington, Oregon, and some other states.) Some commenters felt the practice was not wise as the area around the platform scale might not be perfectly flat. Read his thoughts on the topic as well as tips on selecting the correct inflation for your tires. Learn more.
Endorsed by Roger Marble of RVtireSafety.com!
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 off the gauge, don’t worry, it will automatically shut off. The included lithium battery never needs to be recharged or replaced. And all this for about $15! Learn more or order.
Astronomy for RVers
with Chris Fellows
Test your eyes on M45 aka Pleiades or Seven Sisters
As winter approaches, a beautiful star cluster called the Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters, is coming into view in the early eastern night sky. This open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus, is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. M45 can be easily spotted even under poor viewing conditions from late summer to early spring. Learn how to locate it here.
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
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken with “Fake Fennel”
Slow and easy, Italian style. Don’t stew over cooking and serving times. Forget this easy dish in your slow cooker on High for 3 hours or Low for 6 hours. Be generous with affordable, healthful celery and add fennel seed to give it that irresistible Italian flavor. Get the recipe.
Cooking with Convection
Don’t know how to cook with your RV’s convection oven? Then this book is for you. Beatrice Ojakangas, an authority on convection cooking, explains how to use your convection oven to achieve perfect results in dramatically less time than with a conventional oven – from meat to side dishes to dessert — all at the same time. Learn more or order.
RV Short stop
Plains, Georgia: Pres. Jimmy Carter’s hometown
“Located in Southwest Georgia among the pine trees, peanut fields, magnolias, and gnats is Plains, Georgia,” hometown of James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr., the 39th president of the United States and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Read about Plains, President Carter, and Billy Carter. Also learn about how the Koinonia Farm, Habitat for Humanity (headquartered in nearby Americus), and the RV Care-A-Vanners are linked together. Julianne G. Crane shares some of her fondest memories of this region, which she has visited frequently since she first started volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in 1991. Read more.
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.
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
Free and bargain camping
Walmart Supercenter #2832, Hardeeville, SC
FREE. Overnight RV parking is allowed. Obtain permission from customer service. Park along the north edge of the lot, farthest from hwy and from the store. Level, well lit, quiet and appears safe. Address: 4400 Hwy 278. GPS:32.310613, -80.976485.
Old Sappington Railroad Station Parking Lot, Sappington, MT
FREE. Overnight RV parking is allowed. Permission is not required. Park in the large gravel lot on north side of RR tracks where the RR station used to be. Nothing around, so you’ll be visible. Level, quiet, unlit, and safe other than remote location. Train passes by on some days in the evening. No amenities. Address: Sappington Rd. GPS: 45.795133-111.754883
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.
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.
This week in history
Week of December 9–15
Compiled by Dell Bert
1835 – The Texan Army captures San Antonio.
1915 – Ford builds its 1 millionth car.
1925 – Dick Van Dyke is born.
1963 – Frank Sinatra Jr. is kidnapped.
1967 – Hepburn, Tracy and Poitier star in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
1977 – “Saturday Night Fever” premieres.
2003 – Saddam Hussein is captured.
2008 – Billionaire conman Bernard Madoff arrested.
Herbert Hoover was Stanford’s football team manager. At the first Stanford-Cal game in 1892, he forgot to bring the ball.
Bumper sticker of the week
Don’t believe everything you think.
Funny/clever business slogan
Seen on a pest control company truck. See photo. Thanks to Dick Sweigard!
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker or business slogan? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com
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.
Joke of the Week
“What has antlers, pulls Santa Claus and a sleigh, and is made of cement?” “I don’t know.” “A reindeer.” “What about the cement?” “Oh, I just threw that in to make it hard.”
Random RV Thought
If you bring along a dog or cat on a trip, there is a 99 percent chance that it will prefer your favorite easy chair to all other places in your RV.
“If any man seeks for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both.” —Horace Mann
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, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring.
ADVERTISE on RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at)RVtravel.com.
About 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.
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