RV Travel Newsletter Issue 863

Learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. This newsletter, now in its 18th year of continuous publication, is funded primarily through advertising and voluntary subscription contributions from our readers. Thank you!

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Issue 863 • Week of September 15-21, 2018   #rvtravel

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

It’s Thursday evening and I’m in Hershey, Pennsylvania, at the annual Hershey RV Show. I have only two hours to write to you: There’s too much to see, too many people to visit with, and way too little time.

The RV show is huge. It’s a sight to behold. You can walk around for a day and not explore even a fraction of the RVs on display. They’re big, they’re small, they’re cheap and they’re hugely expensive. The big diesel motorhomes sell for a half-million dollars with monthly payments of $2,000 or more for 20 years. Or buy a small tent trailer for less than $10,000. Many RVs don’t even show price tags, just a monthly payment.

I didn’t see a single RV that offered a financing option for less than 7 years. Most everything that sells for $60,000 or more is offered at about 6 to 7 percent interest. “Most of what we sell is financed for 20 years,” one salesman told me. Other salespeople said the same. It wasn’t always so, but that’s the way Camping World operates and other dealers are forced to do the same. 

Gail and I spotted a popup trailer for $8,999 for $92.50 a month when financed for 12 years. Twelve years on an entry level travel trailer? That’s crazy!

The New York Times ran an article two days ago, “As Elkhart, Ind., Goes, So Goes the Nation, and Elkhart is Nervous” (thanks to the many readers who alerted me to the story). Apparently, the folks around boomtown Elkhart, Indiana, where 80 percent of American RVs are made, are getting nervous that the RV buying bubble might burst soon. If so, Elkhart would be in a heap o’ trouble. But here in Hershey, there is no evidence of such a slowdown. Buyers are frothing at the mouth to buy their RV and head out to see America. The thought “buying frenzy” came to my mind.

Gail and I sat on the couch in one motorhome to eavesdrop on a salesman going for the kill on a couple obviously primed to buy. “It’s a great price,” he told them. “You’ve already saved $51,000 off the MSRP.” I’m sure my eyes rolled at that, like anyone in history has ever been dumb enough to pay the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. “I just want to get you camping,” he said.

Only $670 a month. . . for 20 years!

“Sold” signs were posted on RV after RV. I watched one couple pose in front of their new Class B motorhome, their Camping World salesman happily snapping their photo. I hoped they had done their homework and bought intelligently. Another woman sat on a bench outside her new motorhome. She was video chatting on her phone, showing off the outdoor TV.

So far, we’ve had two RVtravel.com reader meetups (as of this writing), with three more to go, from 11:30 to 12:30 every day. The RV show is promoting the meetups on the big Giant Arena scoreboard. About sixty subscribers showed up the first two times. What fun it has been to meet everyone! If you will be at the show this weekend, please stop by the Power Play Room.

As many of you know I have been on my soapbox in a big way lately, talking about the bad quality of many RVs. Yes, I know most of you own perfectly fine RVs with only a few problems here and there, which is to be expected. But others, maybe 10 to 20 percent of all owners, are not so fortunate. I get mad at the runaround they get when they try to get their RVs fixed. At the RV show VIP party, the lobbyist for the Pennsylvania RV Association boasted to the audience of mostly RV dealers and park owners about his company’s efforts to defeat the passage of RV lemon laws in the state legislature.

I’m not bragging or boasting or looking for a pat on the back, but RVtravel.com is the only voice I know of these days that is speaking up to represent RVers (although Alan Warren of the “RV Show USA Today” radio show has also begun to join in). I have a lot to report about our efforts, but we’ll save that for another day.

Side tear and roof separating.

Please take a minute and read this horror story about one family’s travel trailer that simply fell apart after three-and-a-half years. You will find it hard to believe. The family has just about admitted defeat after the runaround by their insurance company and the RVs manufacturer. They’re stuck with an RV that can’t be used. I just hope they don’t have another 16-and-a-half years to pay on a 20-year loan for something that is now junk. Please read their sad, alarming story.

I must go now, out of time. I wish I could write more, and tell you about new, great features in RVs I have seen at the show. But, frankly, I have had no time to do much exploring yet, so will need to hold off on saying anything for now.

Oh, one more thing. We have set up a new thread in our forum about Hurricane Florence. We would love to hear from you if you had to evacuate in your RV, know of any safe places to stay (short- or long-term) and if you are willing to host other RVers, or know someone who will, to keep them safe. Please be sure to sign up for our new forum, and contribute to the Hurricane Florence forum here.


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breaking-newsThe latest news
about RVing from our newsroom

Humans cause about one-third of wildfires in Washington.
Burglar breaks into motorhome, steals electronics.
Hubby’s RV driving habits frighten his wife. (Includes great driving tips from our readers.)
Changing lanes without signaling nabs RVer with $500,000 aboard.
Vandals damage Forest Service campground, forcing closure.
Police investigating Florida RVer found dead in fifth-wheel.

Atlanta Motor Speedway opens campground to Hurricane evacuees. (Sept. 11)
Hurricane Florence intensifies and slows as it nears Carolinas. (Sept. 12)
RVers park illegally outside old San Diego Chargers Park.
New Zealand brewery opens dump station and water fill for RVers.
Hurricane Florence doubles in size Thursday morning. (Sept. 13)
All Appalachian Mountains campgrounds closed due to hurricane. (Sept. 13)

People living in RVs in Flagstaff increasing, legal parking more scarce.
Bizarre series of events could land man in the slammer for 20 years.
Seasonal changes announced for Bitterroot NF campgrounds.
Fire engulfs motorhome driving on freeway in Reno.
Mount Rainier National Park entrance passes now available online.
Hiker killed by cougar in Oregon’s Mt. Hood National Forest.
Man buys motorhome. Writes check. Drives off lot. Check bounces.

JOIN THE NEW FACEBOOK GROUP: RV Horror Stories (A place to share your story about a new RV you recently bought that is riddled with defects that your dealer or manufacturer can’t or won’t repair.)

Recent recalls:
KZRV recalls trailers for wrong tire size placard.
Forest River recall: Coachmen trailer safety switch issue.
Forest River recalls trailers for oven issue.
Winnebago recalls motorhomes: Cabinet mirror may fall off.

Adventure Anxiety? Not Anymore!
Nothing gives you peace of mind like good prep work! With Road & Home™’s “Ready for the Road” checklist, you can feel confident you have what you need on board before you head out on the road. Click here to learn more.

Which cell carrier will save your day?
For our readers (as with most everyone these days), staying in touch is a major priority. We surveyed readers back in August, asking, “Which cell phone service do you use?” The comments readers left us indicated that some folks have cellular service from more than one carrier because they haven’t found one that covers all areas. If you’re having problems with service, this information could be useful. The article includes a link to a handy “coverage” map.  Learn more.

(Mis)Adventures with pull-throughs
Is a pull-through site better than a back-in? Depends. Read Russ and Tiña De Maris’ recent misadventure at a Washington state park. Russ rates this particular campsite as “sweat and swear.” Find out why.

The importance of backing up – your computer!
Rich “The Wanderman” just avoided a computer catastrophe … barely. He has an old laptop that has documents and software on it that need an older version of Windows for when he programs radios and other older devices. A few days ago, he booted up the laptop and it warned him that the hard drive was going to fail … soon … so he decided he’d better back it up. Find out what backup tool he chose, and how close he came to disaster! 

High arsenic levels found in water at Arizona RV park
In recent tests the water at Rio Verde RV Park showed a high level of arsenic, concerning residents of Yavapai County and RVers at the park near Cottonwood, Arizona. Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) officials have confirmed the levels of arsenic flowing at taps in the RV park exceed the levels deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more.

This week’s Reader Poll
Has your RV ever developed a water leak that caused serious damage?
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.

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.

spyWhat we learned from you last week
Where do you camp? Are your parents still alive? What time zone are you currently in? Do you collect anything (you’ll want to read this just to see what reader RVGrandma collects!)? When is your most productive time of day? And more! Plus, Porky Pig and Mel Blanc make a special guest appearance. Click here to read.

Pot growers using national parks as free illegal farms
It seems that our national parks are being used for more than camping, sightseeing and hiking. Officials in an interagency raid in Sequoia National Park seized more than 3,500 illegal marijuana plants worth about $5,250,000 in a remote wilderness area within the park. Read more.

Winnebago introduces Micro Minnie fifth wheel for midsize trucks
Winnebago has just introduced a 7-foot wide Micro Minnie fifth wheel trailer aimed at owners of the growing midsize truck category. Capitalizing on the success and industry-leading growth of the 7-foot-wide Micro Minnie trailer, Winnebago Towables is extending the concept into the fifth wheel market with the Micro Minnie fifth wheel. Learn more.

Campground owner seeks to replace RV campsites with tiny homes
RV manufacturers are selling record numbers of RVs but the number of campgrounds and campsites to accommodate them is not rising as rapidly. This is no longer news. But a new trend could be adding to an even greater shortage of campsites available to road-wandering RVers. Though this could be bad news for RVers, the trend could be good news for tiny home owners. Read more.

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.

The RV Lifestyle: How it all began
Did you ever wonder how the RV craze began, and what were the factors that made it such a popular way to travel, experience the great outdoors, and do it in comfort? Terence Young wrote an article about how it happened. 

Warning issued for “bold behaviour” of wolf at Banff National Park
If you are camping or plan to camp in Canada’s Banff National Park, note that Parks Canada is advising people to be cautious after campers had a close encounter with a lone wolf that showed “bold behaviour,” posing a risk to visitors. The warning extends from the Fireside day-use area along the Bow Valley Parkway to Castle Junction, including all campgrounds and trails in the area. Learn more.

Golfer chooses the RV lifestyle to pursue scattered tournaments
Travis Hofland is a PGA professional golfer with a pretty cushy job as the golf professional at Twin Falls Golf Club in Idaho. But that wasn’t good enough, so he moved into an RV with his girlfriend, Nikki, and began chasing golf tournaments across the country. No more steady, predictable wages – constant traveling between tournaments and keeping focused on the next tournament have become his RV lifestyle. But is it working out for him and Nikki? Find out here.

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.

Popular articles from last week’s issue
RVer’s new trailer is a continuing nightmare.
I live in an RV park, which is really a mobile home park
Sanitizing the RV’s fresh water system.
What kind of parking pad for your RV at home?
Family’s RV woes inspire hilarious music video.
• What we learned about you last week (September 1-7).

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. Or click the video to play.

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.

Where to complain about bad RVs, dealers, service, RV parks.
This is an ever-expanding list of resources where you can report, share or discuss your problems with RV manufacturers or dealers. 

Readers’ comments on the poor quality of their new RVs
RVs today are being built fast, and in way too many cases poorly. Here are some horror stories.

Did you buy a lemon RV?
Here’s more about RV lemons and lawyers who will represent you if you need help.

RV guided tours
If you’re looking for a new experience with your RV, consider a guided tour, where all the planning and details along the way are handled for you. Plus you’ll make some great friends! See what tours are coming up.

Current wildfire information
To help with your travel planning, here is complete, up-to-the-minute wildfire information around the U.S., from Incident Information System (InciWeb), a U.S. government interagency. Click here. Here is a real-time interactive map of USA wildfires. (There are still 77 wildfires burning in the U.S. as of Friday night, September 14.)  (Note: Click the “x” next to “Sign In” if you don’t want to sign in.) Includes a number of acres burned and percentage of containment for every wildfire in America. From esri.com. Here from NOAA is a map of the current fire and smoke conditions in North America (click below the map for “fire” or “smoke”).  Map of Canadian wildfires. From Natural Resources Canada.

DyersRV 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

Hubby obsessed with finding one replacement wheel cover

Dear RV Shrink:
My husband can be obsessive. Several months ago we slightly dented one of our wheel covers while crossing a very narrow, high-curbed toll bridge. My husband was fit to be tied. The toll collector said it happened all the time; the toll booth and the curb were well scraped. My husband asked the attendant if it was designed to destroy RVs. That incident started six months of trying to find one matching wheel cover. …

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

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his 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.

Drink the water…anywhere!
We carry our LifeStraw with us everywhere. This little straw filters out 99.99% of bacteria and parasites in any water source. Carry this lightweight lifesaver in your backpack hiking (you won’t have to carry pounds of water, hurting your back) when you travel (sure, you can drink the water in Mexico!) and keep it in the pantry in case there’s ever an emergency or natural disaster. We couldn’t recommend a LifeStraw more. Learn more or order. 

gas-738Latest fuel prices, September 10, 2018
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.83. [Calif.: $3.51]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 15 cents.
Diesel: $3.26. [Calif.: $3.97]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 46 cents.

Monocular telescope connects to phone, wow!
This is one of the neatest gadgets we’ve seen in a while! This waterproof monocular telescope connects right to your phone, so you can take photos of that bird waaaaaaay over there. You can now photograph anything up to 10x closer than before. Great for birdwatching, concerts or shows, fishing, boating, or any sporting event; you’ll get the best shot and impress everyone! We already bought one! Learn more or order.

extinguisher-697(3)RV Fire Safety Tip  

An emergency fire plan that can save your life – Part 5 of 13
Having a solid fire escape plan may help you replace panic with logical, life-saving actions if a fire occurs. Knowing exactly what to do and doing it quickly can make a big difference in an emergency situation

During discussion of the meeting place, make sure everyone knows that if the coach is on fire, they should get out fast. Re-emphasize to everyone aboard that objects can be replaced, people can’t. Never stay behind or re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything. Immediately leave through the nearest escape hatch.

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

LOW BACK PAIN? Not only will this help, but it’s fun too! Click here to view.

RV Quick Tips

Hang that sewer hose in your basement
Not everyone has a great storage place for their sewer hose. Reader Mike Rogers worked out a way to park his: “I bought a plastic fence post at Home Depot. Cut it to fit in my Class A basement. Suspended it from the roof of the basement with nylon web straps. Put an end cap on each end and attached it with a thumb screw then marked which length it contains. It holds a 15′ and a 5′ hose. Each respective hose is accessible from both ends.” Editor’s note: If you live in an area where your local “Homer” doesn’t stock vinyl fence posts, like us, you can order them shipped direct to your house. Thanks so much to Mike!

Measure your RV at its full height
After reading a story on the importance of measuring and knowing your rig’s height to avoid “low bridge” problems, Richard Blackwell adds an important reminder: If your rig has an air suspension system, be sure to start up your rig and let the air bags fill before measuring your height. We can’t call this a tall tale, just a wise one! Thanks, Richard!

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

Best-selling small-space organizers
It can be hard keeping everything organized in a small space like an RV, right? Here’s Amazon’s list of best small-space organizers so you can keep everything in check. You’ll find everything from under-the-sink kitchen organizers, to clothing and closet organizers, to tiny little bookcases. Explore these helpful items here.

Gizmos and Gadgets

Stemless wineglasses keep the wine where it belongs – in the glass
There’s nothing better at the end of a day of exploring or hiking than to settle into your camp chair to watch the sunset. Oh, and a glass of Chardonnay, of course. But that camp table or glass holder in your camp chair is not the best for balancing a long, narrow-stemmed wine glass. Zeppoli has a solution for you: Their wine glasses are stemless. No tipping over at the slightest touch. Learn more.

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

Fold-up step helps enter and exit RV
Camco’s Folding RV Step is an extra-wide 8″ by 19″ platform with angled legs to provide stability. The folding legs lock open for an overall height of 8.75″. The gripper strips on the platform help keep you on solid footing. It folds down to only 2″ high for easy storage. The heavy-duty steel frame supports up to 350 pounds. This will really come in handy! Learn more or order.

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

Confusion and problems with main and auxiliary fuel tanks

Dear Gary,
On my older Pace Arrow motorhome (gas), which tank is the main fuel tank – the front or the back? When the dash switch is in the “main” position, the motorhome will run for about ten minutes then die. I’ve changed the fuel pump but it still does the same thing. What now? —J.R. 

Read Gary’s response.

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

Inflatable foot rest is comfortable for couch and passenger seat
Now that’s cool! Missing your favorite recliner? Miss it no more! This inflatable foot rest is perfect for lounging on the couch, in the chair by the campfire, or in the passenger seat for long drives. Take it on a plane ride, or take it to the grandkids’ soccer game (we know those can get long). It weighs less than 1 lb. and folds down small for travel. Learn more about this comfy foot rest here.

bob-d-med399Ask BoondockBob
with Bob Difley

How to find your rig when boondocking on unmarked roads

Hi Bob,
I dream of getting my coach ready to boondock on BLM lands. My goal is to try long-term boondocking out West next winter. My question is: When I disconnect my toad and go into town or for a sightseeing trip, I am concerned that I will forget where I parked the coach! With limited signage and uncharted roads, moving every couple of weeks to similar terrain, and thousands of other campers’ rigs to overlook, how are you confident that you can remember landmarks accurately and get back to where you camped? Have you ever “lost” your rig? —Ken Q

Read Bob’s response.

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

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

Lap desk puts your back to rest!
If you find yourself using your computer on your lap, reading your Kindle on the couch, or having a hard time holding that heavy hardback, you need this lap desk! Staff writer Emily uses this when she works and highly recommends it. The desk has eight adjustable levels and even has a stopper to hold objects upright. Great for those who have lower back pain or terrible posture (ahem, Emily). Learn more or order.

RV Electricity
with Mike Sokol

Stray Voltage found on call button box on gate!
This report just in from the Stray Voltage Patrol…. It describes an SVP member feeling a shock from the call box at the campground gate. This was an extremely dangerous situation that was identified and reported by an SVP member before anyone was injured or killed. Read more.

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.

Space heater uses only 200 watts!
It’s hard to believe that an electric space heater could use a mere 200 watts — the same as a couple of light bulbs — a fraction of other space heaters. And this one really works! It’s meant to heat a nearby person, not a room (although it will keep the chill away in a small bathroom). Put it on your desk or at your feet. Perfect for the RVer who’s “always cold.” For about $20, this is a winner. Learn more or order.

RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble

Should you replace valve stems when installing TPMS sensors?
Roger got this question on an RV forum: “I understand from the thread that you should use metal tire stems with TPMS [tire pressure monitoring system] caps. The ends of the tire stems on our trailer are metal with the only visible rubber part right where they go through the wheel. I am guessing these are still considered rubber stems and should be replaced prior to installing TPMS?” Read Roger’s answer.

Winterize your RV with this kit
Make winterizing easy with Camco’s Pump Converter Winterizing Kit. This kit is a permanent installation that allows you to bypass your fresh water supply line and use your RV’s water pump to fill the fresh water lines with antifreeze. Every piece is made of high-quality material. The kit includes all parts necessary to bypass the fresh water supply line. Some tools needed for installation. Learn more or order.

The RV Kitchen   
with Janet Groene

Extra Tomato-y Beef Stew
Seeing red: Tomatoes make the stew. It’s that time of year when gardens are shutting down and tomatoes are spilling out of every corner. Embrace their goodness. Let their mild acid tenderize stew meat while your slow cooker does all the work. Stews like this can also be made over the campfire, in an instant pot or pressure cooker. Also try it with turkey or chicken thigh meat. Get the recipe.

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


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 pad will save the day! The RVtravel.com staff uses it all the time. Learn more or order.

The RoVing Naturalist
with Dennis Prichard

Mudbugs – Yum!
Imagine a nighttime invasion of the RV park lawn by strange, ten-legged creatures with external skeletons, globular eyes rotating on the ends of flexible stalks, and long antennae. These creatures come out in the cool, moist night air of summer to scavenge in lawns, only to disappear in their subterranean haunts before daylight. It would make a good sci-fi movie, except it is real. Crayfish have already invaded and are well-established. Learn all about these delicious little creatures.

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 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. You can order it here.

RV Short Stop
with Julianne G. Crane

Oktoberfests abound for RV snowbirds
The world’s biggest Oktoberfest takes place in Munich, Germany. Fortunately, in the United States, we are lucky to have dozens upon dozens of communities hosting their own festivals featuring overflowing steins of brew, live music, folk dancing, German food and elaborate parades. Here are a few of the events popular with snowbirding RVers.

vac-long-755vac-square-755Lightweight vacuum perfect for RVs
This Dirt Devil Simpli-Stick Lightweight Bagless Stick Vacuum is compact and it works great. Plus it converts to a hand vacuum in a snap! It’s the vacuum of choice in the RV Travel motorhome. Weighs less than 4 pounds. Learn more or order for about $20 (can’t beat that!).

Facebook Groups about RVing

Tiffin Motorhome Lifestyle
Full Time RV Living
RV Tips

Free and bargain camping
From OvernightRVparking.com

Coffee Cup Travel Plaza #6, Burbank, SD
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Obtain permission from the fuel desk, who will assign you to a specific numbered parking space in a gravel lot. Well-lit, level, and appears safe. Showers available (fee). Convenience store on site. Subway and Pizza Hut on site. Address: 47051 SR 50. GPS: 42.7852, -96.7979

Walmart Supercenter, #1333, Van Wert, OH
FREE! Overnight parking is permitted. Obtain permission from the store. The extremely large lot is spacious, well-lit and presents no apparent security concerns. Mostly level. McDonald’s, Hong Kong Buffet within walking distance. Gas station on site with diesel. Address: 301 Town Center Blvd. GPS: 40.887596, -84.579732

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.

It’s time to clean your CPAP machine!
A recent survey told us that 51% of you (or your partner) use a CPAP machine. Wow! When was the last time your machine was cleaned thoroughly? They get very dirty! This highly rated cleaning kit will get out all those yucky germs and bacteria. The extendable brush will expand to 7 feet, but folds up into a small plastic bag as to not take up too much room in your RV. If you use a CPAP, you’ll want to order this here.

Upcoming RV Shows

America’s Largest RV Show, September 12-16, Hershey, PA. Seminar speakers include RVtravel.com’s Mike Sokol and Gary Bunzer. Order tickets here.
• Great American RV Show,
September 13-15, Colorado Springs, CO
• Southwest RV Supershow, September 13-16, Dallas, TX
• Maryland RV Show,
September 13-16, Timonium, MD
• Portland Fall RV and Van Show,
September 13-16, Portland, OR
• Georgia RV & Camper Show,
September 14-16, Atlanta, GA
• Indianapolis Fall Boat and RV Show,
September 21-23, Indianapolis, IN
Austin RV Supershow, September 28-30, Round Rock, TX 
New York State RV Show, September 28-30, Syracuse, NY

See the complete list of all upcoming RV shows.

Double refrigerator bars ensure nothing moves while driving
I know it’s happened to me many times – I’ve opened the fridge (even slowly) after driving down the road and a heavy jar has fallen on my toe – “OW!” – because it shifted in the fridge. Never have that happen again with these easy-to-install double refrigerator bars. These spring-loaded bars can also be placed in cupboards or in closets. Order for a good price here.

New Mexico State University’s first graduating class, in 1893, had only one student, Sam Steel – but he was murdered before he received his diploma.

Bumper sticker of the week
I’m old and slow. Pass or back off!

Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to Gail (at) RVtravel.com

Joke of the Week
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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. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis.

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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.

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36 Thoughts to “RV Travel Newsletter Issue 863”

  1. Elaine Ashton

    I just tried twice to order a book from Amazon through RV Travel and I was told … zero results. Yet when I went directly to Amazon — voila — there was the book I was looking for: The Burzinski Breakthrough by Thomas Elias … what’s going on? I do all my Amazon ordering through RV Travel … I try to do my part to help. I hope Amazon isn’t trying to scuttle this income source again.

    1. Hi, Elaine,

      Sorry to hear you’re having trouble ordering through Amazon. We appreciate your support! As long as you use one of our links to Amazon (for any product) you can search Amazon as you normally would and we’ll still get our small percentage. Here is a direct link to the book you were looking for: https://amzn.to/2MRO6os. I hope that helps!

      Thanks again for your support, Elaine.

  2. Dave Stansbury

    Sorry Chuck- didn’t work. I tried re-setting again.

  3. Dave Stansbury

    Chuck- been trying to sign in on the forum a number of times yesterday. It doesn’t accept my password. I have changed it so many times now, like it asks me, and still can’t log in. Like I said, that was yesterday. (Tue. Sept. 18) . I’m going to try it as soon as I get done here. (I also tried to contact you/email you yesterday, but couldn’t find where to do it. That’s why I came here. ) One more thing- Thanks. We love everything about RV Travel.

  4. jillie

    I am finding and experimenting with one pot meals that I found thru Pillsbury. I liking quite a few of them. Something easy while on the RV trail. I find I have a hard time getting a fire started for foil meals and in a TT they do not have an oven and a microwave does not like tin foil.
    As for computers and hard drives? If you notice a total lag try C Cleaner and if that does not work? Try finding a mom and pop computer repair shop. I have an 8 year old lap top that finally decided it had enough. I took it in and they replaced the case and the mother board as well as the hard drive. What they did is something called cloning. Which worked for a spell until the screen went. That is when I went to Best Buy and got a new computer for under 300. I am planning on repairing the old one for storage of photos and to work on another project. So. Just because your computer has crashed and died. The hard drive is still functional. It just needs to be removed and given life in a new system. I have my collection of people to fix things as needed. Good luck and seriously if your computer is failing? Take it in. Best Buy does have a good geek squad but if you can support the community? Find a good computer shop. Good luck.

  5. Bill Flowers

    Thank you for the mention of my Facebook group: Tiffin Motorhome Lifestyle. I noticed a BIG increase in new member requests and I had been wondering why. Some sleuthing led me to this page. And now I will be signing up for your newsletter. Thanks again!

  6. John Hiler

    Let the bank have back these junkers. In short order you will see a drastic change in values as they are stuck with junk.

    1. Jeannie

      Sure! And watch your credit rating go down the toilet.

  7. Wolfe

    Regarding the $20/200W heater, in that micro-heater category, I prefer the $12-19 “Handy Heater” – which has a shutoff timer, thermostat, and 400W@120/800W@240 (marked on mine). Hangs on the outlet, so impossible to knock over and cause fire by accident.


  8. Jeff Lefevre

    I was at the Hershey RV show. This year there was no handicap parking, it was full early with people who didn’t have handicap placards or licenses. Camping World was everywhere. It looked like the dealers I wanted to talk to weren’t there. Taxis were few Most golf carts were taken up by vendors. I live close to Hershey, but I am not sure I will go to the show in future. When I did find a RV. I wanted information about, I couldn’t find a salesperson.

  9. "Actual computer expert who doesn't give out his full name because I read you shouldn't do that on an RV blog..." LOL

    Re: Rich’s article on computer backup:

    I’ll tell you a story of one of my clients, who operates a busy medical office. Upon learning that they really had no clue about backing up their computerized patient records, I urged them into making backups (in that era, CD/DVD were the norm). So far so good, I thought, until their office complex burned to the ground. I helped them rebuild their computer systems, and asked for the backups. “They were in the desk, of course.” Which one? The one under the server that burned… The “take it offsite” part of my instructions didn’t seem to sink in. I ultimately (expensively…) did a professional laboratory recovery of the blackened harddrives, and got back most of their data.

    Fast forward a few years, and I checked in with the same office, who reported “That SMART thing has been saying the drive has been failing for *two years* but it always continues if you press F1 a few times…” I ordered a new hard-drive THAT DAY, and got there ASAP. I asked if they had a current backup, and they said “Of course, after last time!” I shut down the server to install the new drive (not necessarily needed for hot-swappable SATA drives, but still advisable). Started to boot up to clone drive-to-drive, and GRR-GRRR-GRRR — the harddrive sounds like rocks in a blender. Phew, just in time, I think. Where’s the backups? “Here’s last month’s… but you can still transfer this month’s, right?” Um, no. I’m good, but not supernatural. By another miracle, I got everything restored up to the day before…

    Check with them last month, and they were properly making ALTERNATING backups (two backup devices with full backups), plus incremental backups DAILY, all performed automatically as long as they physically take one of the external drives offsite each night… Are they doing that… “Of course…” they say. We’ll see…

    BTW: I really DON’T advise cloud backups (as most people understand them) because they are VERY insecure and often unreliable. There are decent services with server farms in nuke-proof bunkers, but not in the price range of mere mortals. In the case of this medical office, most cloud services apparently violate HIIPA regulations (?).

    For “mortals” like RVT readers, EaseUS is good, but I’ve had lots of compatibility issues (esp. with mixed Windows/Linux systems). I’ve had better luck with AOMEI (full/differential/incremental backup modes, totally free for typical backup/restore use, only pay for commercial and expert backup-set features). But ultimately, you should get familiar with WHATEVER program you’re going to rely on, including restoring a backup set before you NEED to in order to check if it works.

    1. Still that guy...

      Another note on the long-running SMART (harddrive failure) error above — do NOT continue overwriting any backups after you get errors like that; DO continue making incremental backups until repaired. In the case above, after 2 years or so, their backups were all riddled with already-corrupted data. Also know that the heavy-drive-access of making a backup can accelerate failure, so “if you like your data, protect it ASAP.”

    2. Jeannie

      LOL! I noticed you didn’t give out your full name, either. 😉

      I disagree with what you had to say about cloud backups. They can be very secure and reliable as long as you use a good one. That excludes mere cloud data storage sites and, especially, the freebies. The two I recommend for most users are Backblaze (the best and, at $50/year, the least expensive, well within the budget of most people) and Carbonite.com (to be honest, the only reason I still use Carbonite is I have too much data already uploaded to want to bother with changing backup providers). Both have excellent reputations.

      Backblaze and Carbonite use software on your computer that encrypts your data before it ever leaves your computer. Both are password protected and, if you are really paranoid, you have the option to hold the encryption key yourself. The latter makes it impossible for the service see the contents of your encrypted data (of course, if you lose the key, the provider will not be able to help you).

      For those who don’t trust someone else to hold your data, you trust banks to hold your money, don’t you? Banks operate over the cloud. Most of you bank online. It’s no different with your data as long as you choose a reputable cloud backup (not data storage) provider. Backblaze and Carbonite store your backups in guarded, secure server farms with backup air conditioning and power systems. They also use antimalware protection far more stringent than anything you will ever use. Your data is probably safer there than it is on your computer. The only thing the home user plans do not have is georedundancy but it’s highly unlikely you would ever need that level of protection.

      The disadvantages of cloud backups is you do have to have a reliable broadband internet connection. The initial upload and full recovery do take a long time. The latter is one reason for also having an onsite backup. The offsite backup, whether cloud or a drive stored offsite, is the last resort should you lose both the computer and the onsite backup.

      Businesses need more stringent backup procedures than average folks. Backblaze and Carbonite are not HIPAA compliant. There are excellent cloud backup services for businesses and medical facilities but there is no need for average folks like us to pay for those.

      Although I’ve never used it, AOMEI has a good reputation.

      1. jillie

        My daughter swears by google drive. I have it and love it since my daughter asked me what I was doing and I told her I had to get all my stuff off my phone and to my computer. After 2 hours of this she pushed me out of the way grabbed my phone and 10 seconds later my stuff was on google drive. I felt like an idiot. But now I get it and love it. She says it is a great place to store anything safely. Now to delete some embarrassing photos. So no more uploading and downloading. Who knew. Technology. What a concept.

        1. Jeannie

          Congratulations. Google now has access to all your data and can (more like, probably will) sell it to advertisers. Also, since the data’s not encrypted, it is an easy target for hackers.

          1. Wolfe

            People forget about things like PGP (freestanding encryption). If you ARE going to use cloud storage, I always re-encrypt (over whatever they do) anything I created — if the NSA wants to decrypt my family photos, they can certainly crack it, but at least Google won’t casually publish or exploit my intellectual property (photos, code, books, etc). Things I wouldn’t want anyone else to have, just DON’T upload.

  10. Mike

    How about a survey on how many people are financed for a lengthy term vs. those that are paid off. Of course we have to consider the vintage of the rv. !!!! Hummm….just a thought

    1. jillie

      We plan to have ours paid off within 3 years. Want to be debt free within 5 years so we can retire. At least I can.

  11. Jim

    Concerning the Heartland, in our travels to Alaska this summer at least 4 travel trailers had axle failures from roads with ice heaves and other bad road conditions. One did suffer structural damage but nothing like yours and they did get it fixed through insurance but only after a lot of wrangling. Don’t know about the others. That was very bad advice saying wait till you get to Canada and should not have been taken.

  12. Dave Hagen

    Interesting info on financing at the rv show. I am on my 5th RV and have never financed through the dealer. My bank, a credit union, has rates half of what you mentioned and a choice of years financed. My present motorhome is financed at 2.25% for 10 years.

  13. John T

    There certainly is a buying bubble for Elkhart to worry about. Millions of potential buyers have been waiting for the economy to get on a solid footing, and now that it has, they are buying en mass. Once they have all bought their RVs, sales will drop back to the steady flow of new entrants and replacements.

  14. Sherry Dawson

    Great newsletter, full of tips and wisdom! I copied lots of information in to my RVing spreadsheets. Thanks!

  15. Booneyrat

    Only a fool would finance a spendy RV for 20 years…that is a scam waiting to infect every sucker who walks on an RV lot.Even 12 years is too much.If one has to get such a lengthy loan..they better ask themselves if the thing they want is a need..or a want.Now days a good used RV is usually built better than the pricey junk most manufacturers are shoving out the door.I would take a well cared for Hitchhiker any day over the sorry built krapola I have seen for sale from RV dealers.

  16. Sandy Swede

    20-year financing? What could possibly go wrong with that! I am currently looking for a 2005 to 2008 Class A DP. I have inspected three recently from private parties. All three have liens on the coach and all are ‘upside down’ on the loan. One just reduced the price by $7k because their lender is going to repossess soon. Another seller is under pressure from the lender to get it sold. They are elderly, wonderful folks but were totally unaware that their coach has rust issues, fogged windows, and moisture infiltration in the walls. The third seller does not seem to be under financial pressure, but is probably not thrilled about having to come up with several thousand $ at settlement. BTW, if the seller does not have ‘title in hand’ get the lender to agree in writing that they will release the lien in return for receiving $x from you and that they will aid in getting you the clear title. Of course, always get a Bill of Sale from the seller(s). All this before you even inspect the RV (best to get an independent inspector).

  17. Jeannie

    I tried to leave this comment after Rich the Wanderman’s article on computer backups but I’m subscribed to whatever comment service he uses (social media and most comment services are not secure so I don’t use them) but it doesn’t appear to have gone through so I’m posting it here.

    What I don’t understand is why you weren’t already backing up your computer all along? You obviously are a pro and should know better.

    Drives, and even the computers themselves, can suddenly and irrecoverably fail without any warning whatsoever, taking your data to Computer Never, Never Land where it will be gone and lost forever! Also, professional data recovery will usually cost upwards of $1,000 or more (usually way more) with no guarantees of success. You were really, really lucky this time.

    Not everyone gets a warning like you did. Computer forums are littered with posts from unhappy individuals saying their drive died and wanting to know how to get their data back. The sad fact is most attempts to recover one’s data one’s self usually fail and guarantee the data will be irrecoverable, assuming it was even still there to begin with. The only answer I can give them in good conscience is to send the drive in for professional drive recovery (not the average computer shop), mortgage the farm to pay for it, and pray it works (throwing money at it doesn’t always work).

    The only way data, etc. can be reasonably safe is to have three copies of it. For most people, this means on the computer, on an onsite backup drive, and on an offsite backup drive. Even only one backup drive is better than no backup drives but keep in mind that even backup drives can fail without warning and backup drives kept in proximity of the computer can be lost due to fire, theft, storms, etc that take out the drive in computer. Also having an offsite drive reduces those dangers dramatically.

    For a backup to be an actual backup, it has to be kept disconnected from the drive and powered down except when updating the backup. Keep in mind that data that hasn’t been backed up can’t be recovered so it’s imperative that backup drives be updated as frequently as possible.

    Finding a place to keep an offsite backup drive can be problematic for RVers due to their mobile nature. The best choice for RVers would probably be to keep the offsite drive inside a cool, hidden location of your tow vehicle or toad. Drives stored that way should be in a cushioned case of some kind to avoid damage from road shock. IF you can get reasonably fast upload and download internet speeds the vast majority of the time, a cloud backup service, such as Backblaze (the one I recommend most) or Carbonite.com (frankly, I won’t recommend anything other than these two) is an excellent substitute for an offsite backup drive. Do not consider any free or inexpensive cloud data storage sites. Those are unsafe and unreliable.

    Both the free versions EaseUS TODO and Macrium Reflect are excellent, easy to use backup programs and will work fine for most people.

    I happen to prefer a paid version of Macrium Reflect for backing up my OS and FreeFileSync for backing up my data. Using them together is a bit more involved but saves me huge amounts of time and effort when backing up the massive amounts of data I have (far more than most of you will ever see in a lifetime). Also, since much of my data is irreplaceable or difficult and/or expensive to replace, I keep a set of four backup drives for every data drive in my computer: two of each set are kept onsite and the other two are kept offsite in my safe deposit box at my credit union. I swap them out with no less than once a month for updating. However, what I do is overkill for most people and two backups will be plenty.

    1. Sherry Dawson

      Jeannie, everything you said sounds like good advice, but for such an important topic, I always want to be sure I’m getting advice from an expert. Since you list only your first name, and no affiliation, would you be willing to share your credentials with us? Please don’t be offended, but such critical advice should come from an expert (and it appears you are one).

      1. Jeannie

        I do not share my full name on the internet for security reasons (neither should anyone else whose identity is not needed online, unlike the owners of a website, for example, to avoid problems like identity theft).

        As far as credentials go, mine are years of research and experience, which goes back as far as the venerable Commodore 64. While I never earned a living in computer tech, I have used them on the job (until I retired), have my own computers at home (heck, I build my own), and depend on them in my everyday life.

        Formal credentials are often overrated.

    2. John T

      If you use Windows 8 or 10, you have 5GB of free backup on Microsoft OneDrive. You also have 5GB of free Google Drive space on each gmail account. Then you can get a free Dropbox with another 5GB. That’s plenty of space for most people to back up their documents and photos. If you need more, just get more gmail addresses. I also use a 1TB external hard drive for making weekly backups. Being a full-timer, I also recently mailed a backup flash drive to a friend for safe keeping.

      1. Jeannie

        OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox are not very secure; freebies rarely are. Also there is a huge difference between cloud storage and and good paid cloud backup services. The latter are far more secure and stable. Also, Microsoft and Google are notorious for discontinuing services with inadequate warning, especially the freebies but sometimes also the paid services.

  18. Brenda

    I’ve been reading the newsletter for a few years.
    Wondering if you ever plan to go to the Tampa RV Show in January in the future. It’s huge. We went 5 years before we bought our used 2005 Newmar Dutchstar. Even though we knew we couldn’t afford new it helped us figure out the layout that would work for us. And it gives you an idea about the quality of build vs just the flashy aesthetics.

  19. John

    I would not believe everything the New York Times publishes.

  20. mikhen

    Wow. That story about their Heartland RV falling apart is heartbreaking. And the lack of caring from the manufacturer is sickening. That story solidifies your mission for better built RV’s. That story needs to be shared.

    1. Steve

      The only thing business cares about is money. We can help by not buying Heartland products and tell this story to all our RVing friends.

  21. kevin Morrissey

    Hi , been reading your newsletter for a few months now. Here’s a question for an expert. I’m a Brit just purchased a F250 and 1985 airstream to travel the US. Running into getting Insurance problems and therefore getting registration, I can’t be the first non US resident to do this but information is really short, any advice?

    1. Sandy Swede

      Can you get an email, letter, or documentation from the DMV from the state in which you wish to title the truck outlining the requirements for a non-citizen to register a vehicle? If you can demonstrate to the insurance company that you meet those requirement, you should be able to get coverage. Go to a local, independent insurance agent – someone you can speak with face-to-face. Tough being in a ‘chicken or egg’ situation. Can’t get the truck registered without proof of insurance, and the insurance company doesn’t want to – – yada yada. Best of luck.

    2. CJG

      As a Canadian I have had problems a long time ago getting insurance in the UK as you drive on the other side of the road? Convincing the insurance company that you have plenty of experience driving on our side is necessary.

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