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Issue 825 • Week of December 23–29, 2017 #rvtravel
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With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
It’s almost Christmas. My staff and I will be with friends, family (or both); some will be on the road with our RVs. Gail and I will be near Fresno, Calif., at my aunt’s home, which is surrounded by orange groves. I spent my childhood playing in orange groves, so being in their presence at Christmas is comforting.
My staff and I wish you a very Merry Christmas. If you are observing another holiday we wish you a joyous celebration.
Whatever our individual beliefs, we might pause now to reflect that 99 percent of we humans want the same things in life — peace, good health, security for our families, enough food to eat, a roof over our head, and the acceptance of our fellow beings. It saddens me to see how divided we have become in recent times.
ONE WONDERFUL THING ABOUT RVing is that we meet new people and make new friends as we travel from place to place. The subjects of politics or religion seldom come up. We are just “people” who have a common bond, RVing. We can enjoy each other for who we are, not based on who we worship or vote for. I love that about RVing. I have met hundreds of RVers the last year and I can’t tell you the politics or religious beliefs of a single one. We simply enjoyed each other’s company, talking about RVs, our travels, families and in many cases cute dogs.
Thank you for being along on this amazing publishing adventure I accidentally stumbled into 20 years ago when the World Wide Web was in its infancy. I especially thank those of you — nearly 2,100 now — who have “voluntarily subscribed,” which has enabled us to be an increasingly valuable resource to the more than 61,000 readers who benefit from what our hard-working editors and writers produce week after week.
With that I will move along. Please be safe this holiday season, stay warm and share when you can with those less fortunate. Let us celebrate how blessed we are to live in a wonderful country (and that goes for Canadian readers, too), in the most stimulating and interesting time in human history.
P.S. This issue is missing a few regular features as our staff takes a well-deserved break.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Support Honest Journalism
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RV street dwellers: “It’s a crisis.”
We’ve written on RVtravel.com about today’s crowded RV parks. But there’s another problem: many people living in RVs on city streets because they can’t afford a space in a park. Learn more and listen to an NPR report about the problem.
Some recent recalls:
• Fiat Chrysler recalls 1.8 million Ram pickups.
• Thor recalling 110,400 towable RVs and motorhomes.
• Keystone issues recall on more than 1.2 million RVs.
• Travel Lite recalls some Falcon trailers.
New York Times
Best Selling books for 2017
Fiction and Non-fiction. Click here.
No contest this week or next. We’re taking a break for the holidays.
Last week’s winner: Ken Summer of Lexington, S.C. He won the cute, but practical, Happy Camper Mug.
If you thought Christmas holiday travel in 2016 was nuts, watch out! Auto club AAA says travel this holiday season will be up again, with an aggregate estimate of 107 million folks on roadways, train tracks or in the air.
If you’re a Texan left without a home by Hurricane Harvey, it must feel like a very long three-and-a-half months. But, says one local news source, hope is on the way! kristv.com reports that “hundreds” of manufactured homes and RVs are at a staging point at Chase Field in Beeville, Texas. Once the Federal Emergency Management Agency gives approval, at least some of those rigs will roll out to hurricane survivors. But the caution, says the news outlet, is that it may take as long as 15 days to install the new “homes” once they arrive at their intended location.
Planning on soaking up some Arizona heat this winter? You’ll have lots of company. Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds says its RV park members are reporting an earlier-than-normal return of snowbirds, and many say they’re booked up from January through March. You can blame (or bless) early snow in the northern end of the U.S. and the effects of hurricanes in Texas and Florida for the upsurge of Arizona RVing arrivals, say industry insiders.
Fire officials say the wildfire at South Dakota’s Custer State Park is now fully contained. More than half the park went up in smoke after power lines caught fire December 11. The park officially reopened in full capacity on Friday, December 22.
Looking to buy a new pickup to pull your RV? Now might be the time to consider it. GM and Fiat Chrysler are both looking to 2018 to roll out newly redesigned pickup trucks to chip away at Ford’s success with its new designs. November sales data showed discounts of existing trucks running from $4,100 to as high as $5,300. But, notes market watcher AutoPacific Inc., discounts generally aren’t particularly significant on those soon-to-be-released newly designed trucks. Pick up the 2017/2018 pickup models at deeper discounts now.
A few changes at Texas’ Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island may raise a bit of ire: Folks accustomed to reserving RV spaces a year in advance will now have to compete with others – reservations for the busy summer months will open for everyone on January 15. Reservations will be limited to three months, down from the current six-month policy. And because some people have been naughty, selling their free entrance passes to others, entry passes will now have to be purchased. And no more generator use, unless park power itself goes down.
Starting January 1, it will cost more to snooze at Sleeping Bear Dunes. The National Lakeshore in Michigan will hike the rates for camping at several of its campgrounds by $4 a night. Entry fees to the park are also going up.
Need mail forwarding? Choose the best!
Choose Americas Mailbox! It’s the best, 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 interview RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury conducted with Americas Mailbox owner Don Humes.
Popular Tortilla Campground in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest is shut down “until further notice.” The Forest Service says they’re having trouble with water treatment on the site and fear for the public’s safety.
The year 2017 has proved to be a better one for towable RV manufacturers selling in Canada. Overall, the sector saw an 11.6 percent gain over 2016 through the first 10 months. Travel trailers led, up more than 13 percent, while fifth wheels came up 8 percent. “Pop-ups” showed a dismal loss of nearly 5 percent. Source: Statistical Surveys Inc.
Emily Simmons and Tim McKesson’s RV camper was parked for six weeks in the Camping World lot in Fountain, Colo., awaiting warranty work. When they left it, they requested it be put behind the shop’s locked gates, but it was never moved. Wednesday night their trailer was broken into along with several others. They are out thousands of dollars, and they have also lost their trust. “They [Camping World] also didn’t disclose to us that they would not cover our vehicle if it got broken into on their lot. If they would have, we would have pulled it off their lot knowing they didn’t have any security,” McKesson said. “… I would never take my camper back there after this,” he added. KRDO NewsChannel 13 called Camping World, which confirmed that multiple break-ins did occur Wednesday night, but when asked about their security measures, they reportedly hung up. Source: KRDO.com
While Congressional budget allowances decrease, visitation at Nevada’s Great Basin National Park just keeps climbing. In 2016, 25 percent more visitors than 2015 flocked through the gates. This may help explain why, come 2018, rates for some attractions at the park will head up. Camping fees at the park’s campgrounds will rise $3 per night, while Lehman Cave tours will ascend $1 for those who wish to descend.
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.
If a family in Columbia Falls, Mont., has its way, there may be more RV overnight spaces available in the future. Robert and Geraldine Rupp are working the first legal hurdle for a 77-site RV park called Whispering Pines off Montana SR 40. Their plan would see the 13-acre park completed in two phases, with all sites in by 2023. Next step, a public hearing – to be scheduled.
Since the Oregon legislature passed a law that directs the state parks department to “set a reasonable range of rates,” department heads have been scratching out a new rule to make it happen. Under the proposal, high-demand campgrounds could charge more money, and less-in-demand parks – well, less money. For RVers, this could mean discounts as deep as $5, and increases as much as $3, all above or below the “base rate.” Want to comment? Visit here.
Lori Jones helps customers at the Horsetooth Inn and RV Park in Fort Collins, Colo. She recently had a surprise “customer” when she looked up to find a young mother deer taking interest in crisps and sunglasses. Not wanting her customer to take an unwanted flying leap, she lured the doe out of the shop with a peanut bar. Smart, and not-so-smart. A few minutes later the doe returned, this time with two fawns and a buck friend.
Perhaps it’s the water in Butte, Mont.: On one day, police first arrested a 38-year-old man for “mooning” pedestrians; later they hauled in another man for running stoplights while driving a motorhome. At the stop the man explained he didn’t know what he was doing, who the motorhome belonged to, or how he got to town. Both characters were locals.
If ever those of us who handle the assignment of this weekly news compilation despair, we think of how difficult it must be to put together the “police blotter” pages of local newspapers. Apparently some either take to humor, or else have gone completely around the bend. Here’s a sample from the madriverunion.com. “3:18 p.m. A shoeless and inadequately socialized traveler lay on the picnic table at the Community Park playground, staring at frolicking children with unknown intent. An officer came and moved the leering layabout along.”
Keep up with RV Industry news
throughout the week at RVbusiness.com.
This week’s Reader Poll
NO POLL THIS WEEK.
We’re taking a break for the holidays.
Read the up-to-the minute responses from last week’s poll:
Will you migrate south this winter with your RV? Click here for the results.
Towable RV owners lose tax write-off with new tax bill
While it remains unclear how the new federal tax bill will affect typical Americans, it will not benefit owners of many towable RVs. The previous deduction on interest payments will no longer be allowed, which could significantly raise taxes for many owners. Read more.
Protect your RV in the winter months – or else!
Rich “The Wanderman” lives in a region where they experience harsh winter weather, and that can wreak havoc on an RV. If water gets into a gap, for example, it can freeze and expand the gap. When it melts you see a tiny leak, but when it rains you have a real ingress of water. Even small amounts of water over a long time can cause problems like mold, mildew and rot. So, what can you do about it? Find out here.
Replace or repair your damaged RV power cord?
Nothing lasts forever, including most of the parts that make up your RV. For instance, sooner or later, the connection between your RV’s power cord and its plug will begin to separate. When this happens, you have a couple of options, which Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, explains. Watch the video.
Southwest snowbirds – Beware the wind of many names
When snowbirding in the Southwestern deserts this winter, be careful not to allow yourself to be lulled into complacency when you take off for a day of exploration and the desert is calm with nary a breeze. Desert winds, no matter what their name, can come up quickly and unexpectedly – and blow strongly, sometimes for hours. Take some precautionary measures before you leave that may prevent a wind-caused disaster. Read more.
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.
Take care with your RV generator switchovers
Got a “built-in” RV generator? Don’t have to “plug and unplug” shore power cords when switching from shore power to the genset? Then you have an ATS (automatic transfer switch). They’re convenient, indeed, but there are some caveats you need to be aware of. Here are a couple of tips for firing up any generator, especially those with an ATS. Learn more.
How to set up a computer work station in your RV
Lots of RVers, even those that are retired and fulltiming, still do a little work (or more) on the internet. In this video, computer guru Chris Guld of GeeksOnTour.com shows off the computer workstation in her motorhome, and explains how she had it made to meet her needs. Watch the video.
Fish throughout the USA without a license
Until a national fishing license is available, it will continue to be inconvenient for RV anglers to fish legally when traveling around the country: A separate license is required for each state, and it’s often difficult finding where to buy one. Here is a suggestion of where you can fish legally without a license.
Propane exchange could be an expensive pain
Look outside nearly any hardware store, supermarket or Walmart, and there’s the enticing offer: Bring in your empty propane cylinder and “trade it in” for a refurbished full one. With the number of live “filling stations” said to be decreasing, and the “convenience” of nearly 24-hour access to propane, it may seem a real temptation. But let’s compare dollars and cents. Read 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! 24/7 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
• Camping World home RV delivery plan is bad idea.
• Will you go south this winter with your RV?
• Not all RV antifreeze is created equal.
• RV Electricity – Surge Protector Evaluation.
• Top RV dealers of 2017 announced.
• Avoiding “mysterious” RV battery deaths.
More popular articles from last week’s issue
• OK to support just one dual tire on leveling block?
• Wife has created a “solar monster.”
• Keep that RV going straight down the road.
• What hikers and others need to know in mountain lion country.
• Our RV holding tank is frozen – Help!
• Keep your drinking water safe.
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.
Ask the RV Shrink
The Shrink took the week off to celebrate Christmas with his family.
He will return next week, wise as ever.
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.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.45 (on Dec. 18). Change from week before: Down 4 cents; Change from year before: Up 19 cents.
Diesel: $2.90 (on Dec. 18). Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 37 cents.
EARN EXCELLENT MONEY RENTING OUT 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 real money! Learn more at Campanda.
RV Fire Safety Tip
Be prepared in case of fire when towing
Practice unhooking your tow vehicle as quickly as possible to avoid spreading the fire to other vehicles. 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.
REMINDER: We’ve made it easier for you to shop through our Amazon affiliate program. Simply click the link on the blue bar near the top of all pages of this website. The prices will be the same as if you went to Amazon directly, but we’ll get a tiny commission on what you buy to help us do a better job for you.
RV Quick Tips
Only use distilled water in batteries
When topping off battery cells, never use anything other than distilled water. Most bottled water and tap water contains minerals (that’s why it tastes so good!). That may be good for your cells, but it’ll raise Cain with your batteries’ cells!
Regularly check plastic plumbing fittings to avoid leaks
Reader Mark C. hopes you’ll learn from his experience: Be sure to regularly check plastic drain lines under sinks, etc. He’s had them come loose and dump water everywhere. Hand-tighten all screw-on plumbing fittings. Thanks, Mark!
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!
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 tester, for about $8, will alert you in an instant to the condition of your batteries, saving you money from needlessly tossing ones with plenty of life left! Works on AA, AAA, C, D and 9V and button-type batteries. Learn more or order.
Gizmos and Gadgets
Echolocation technology enables safer backing up
Rear View Safety, a distributor of vehicle safety solutions, will soon release the RVS-112-W Waterproof Backup Sensor Reversing System, an upgraded version of the flagship RVS-112 Backup Sensor Reversing System. All components of the RVS-112-W are waterproof. The system warns drivers of potential obstacles behind their vehicle up to eight feet away. 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
What’s the best way to change two flat tires on RV?
I have two flat tires on my RV, one on each side. How do I change tires on a travel trailer? How do I jack the trailer up to change the tire? Or is there a better way? —Willie B.
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 Bob Difley
Holiday greetings to all boondockers, wherever you are
My husband and I and our nearest neighbors are boondocking in Arizona and enjoying the beautiful desert stretched out before us, but we were talking a few nights ago that sometimes we feel isolated from the holiday spirit and the hustle and bustle of the season. None of us would want to be anywhere else, but we would like to wish all boondockers everywhere who are also enjoying the boondocking life a very happy holiday season, but we are not sure how to do it. Any suggestions? —Clair, Jeffrey, Kathy and Mike
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .
Read the most recent BoondockBob Blog post: Holiday wish list for the wandering RVer and boondocker.
You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.
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.
with Mike Sokol
How do you know if you have a (dangerous) miswired power pedestal?
I didn’t see anything about phase protection in your last article. I realize on a 30-amp service it’s not an issue, but people should know on a 50-amp service it’s a big deal – because without it (phase protection) a miswired shore power pedestal can cause a serious overload on the neutral leg. How do you know when you have an incorrectly wired shore power pedestal? … —Larry McGaugh
Read the rest of the question and Mike’s response. (Reader poll included.)
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.
Camco Store at Amazon.com
There isn’t much you need for your RV that Camco doesn’t have. If you think we’re kidding, then click through to the Camco store on Amazon where you’ll find some of their best-selling products — all for your RV or for you to make your RVing better. Click here and you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store.
RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
Pros(?) and cons of dual tire air balance systems
Roger read a thread on an RV forum about connecting two tires in dual position, with hoses to “balance” the inflation pressure. There were some claims made about performance improvements, but Roger believes the conditions necessary to deliver those improvements are pretty extreme and improvements are tenuous. Read his explanation of how the cons outweigh the pros.
The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
America’s Test Kitchen has re-engineered 650 of its best recipes to serve just two, perfect for RVing couples. The highly rated, comprehensive cookbook takes the guesswork out of cooking for two so you can be sure that anything you create — from Classic Beef Stew to Lasagna to a mini batch of Fudgy Brownies — comes out right. Also includes 150 recipes that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less. Learn more or order.
The RV Kitchen
with Janet Groene
Peanutty Peachy Chicken
Simply peachy: chicken and fruit. Put this easy meal in the oven with a baked rice pilaf and dinner will be ready by the time you’re finished hooking up. Get the recipe.
Free and bargain camping
Will return next week
Microwave cover collapses for easy storage
When heating your food you don’t want to spend 10 minutes later cleaning the splatters inside the microwave. Here’s the solution — perfect for RVers: It pops down flat for easy storage. Lid perforations allow steam to escape to keep food moist. Doubles as a strainer! Learn more or order.
This week in history
Week of December 23–29
Compiled by Dell Bert
1845 – Texas enters the Union.
1941 – Bing Crosby introduces Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” to the world.
1923 – President Coolidge lights first national Christmas tree.
1932 – Radio City Music Hall opens.
1941 – Automobile tires are rationed: no more than five tires per driver.
1962 – “To Kill a Mockingbird” debuts.
1968 – Apollo 8, first manned mission to the moon, returns to earth.
The poinsettia, which is indigenous to Mexico, is named after the first United States Minister to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the United States in 1825.
Bumper sticker of the week
Librarian – the original search engine.
Funny/clever business slogan
“Let us strip for you” – at a furniture refinishing shop.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker or business slogan? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
True story: An assignment in a creative writing class at Slippery Rock University required students to write a concise essay containing the following elements: religion, royalty, sex and mystery. The winning essay: “My God,” said the Queen. “I am pregnant! I wonder who did it?”
Random RV Thought
If you are having a bad day at home and your RV is nearby, escape to it for awhile. Close the door and just sit quietly. The change of scenery plus the “good feeling” of the RV might improve your spirits.
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” —David Mitchell
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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