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Issue 857 • Week of August 4-10, 2018   #rvtravel

Editors Corner

with Chuck Woodbury (chuck (at) rvtravel.com)


he story of Wall Drug always inspires me. If you have never heard of Wall Drug, then you have not spent much time traveling the West or reading about America’s roadside attractions. Wall Drug is along I-90 in western South Dakota, about five miles from Badlands National Park.

Gail and I stayed a few days this past week at the Sleepy Hollow RV Park, which is just a five-minute walk from the store.

Wall Drug is a major tourist attraction. It now takes up one full block in Wall, and is far more than a drug store. Dine at the restaurant or buy toy Indian drums, trinkets, quality leather attire, a silver belt buckle, sporting goods, and fine Western art. Need cowboy boots? How about Western jewelry? Or maybe a scoop of ice cream? It’s all there. Be sure to get your picture taken atop the giant jackalope. And if you wish, pause in the peaceful Traveler’s Chapel right in the middle of things. Oh, yes, the drugstore is still there.

WALL DRUG WAS PURCHASED in 1931 by Ted and Dorothy Hustead. It was the only drugstore in town, and there wasn’t much of a town, only 326 people, or as Ted once said, “326 poor people.” Most were farmers who’d been wiped out by the Great Depression.

Friends and family advised against buying the store, but Ted and Dorothy bought it anyway. They gave themselves five years to make it work. It’s good they had patience, because their life for the next four-and-a-half years was a struggle. Then, on a blazing hot day in July 1936, one inspired thought transformed it from a near failure to a fabulous success.

It happened like this: Dorothy told Ted she was going home to take a nap. An hour later she returned. “Too hot to sleep?” Ted asked. “No,” said Dorothy. “It wasn’t the heat. It was all the cars going by on the highway.”

Ted said that was too bad, but Dorothy didn’t think it was bad at all. It gave her an idea: She told Ted that those motorists were likely very thirsty, dealing with the extreme heat in their cars that back then had no air conditioning. “They want water, ice cold water,” she said, noting that she and Ted had an unlimited supply. “Why don’t we put up a sign on the highway telling people to come in here for free ice water?”

So Ted, with the help of a local high school boy, did just that – they put up a sign with Dorothy’s poetic message: “Get a soda/get a beer/turn next corner/just as near/to Highway 16 and 14/free ice water/ Wall Drug.”

“I have to admit I felt somewhat silly doing it,” Ted recalled later. But by the time he returned to the store motorists were already stopping to refresh. While there, they bought ice cream and other items.

AND THAT WAS THE BEGINNING of what is now a hugely successful, world famous business that draws more than two million visitors a year. It’s still run by the Hustead family, although Ted and Dorothy are now gone.

Ted once recalled that his experience with the business had taught him a valuable lesson. “No matter where you live, you can succeed because wherever you are you can reach out to other people with something they need.”

Anyone who drives across South Dakota today on I-90 literally cannot pass without knowing where to find the store. Hundreds of billboards, all hand-painted, span the state. Some still advertise free ice water and the store’s legendary five-cent coffee. You can see many of the signs here. But the signs don’t end at the state’s border. Through the years they have appeared throughout the world, even one inside London’s Underground.

Click here to see a large map of the store’s layout.


P.S. I ran out of room to write about a lot of other stuff that’s going on (which is a lot!). You can click here to read it (lots of little short items). Be sure to read about me being on a radio show next Wednesday where you can watch the taping live on Facebook or YouTube. I also have an announcement for our members (our voluntary subscribers) about a special message that I promised this week but couldn’t get to because I ran out of time (so sorry!). And, how about my current RV park? I can toss a baseball and hit a passing vehicle on I-90 (but it’s okay).

My Roadside Journal

(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)

This Week: It’s easy to take your stuff with you with a big RV and trailer.

See all

Readers Speak Out

(Your comments are welcome – please add them below the specific article.)

This Week: New type of RVer putting squeeze on RV park space.

Harvest Host

Unique RV Overnight Experiences at 600+ Wineries, Farms and More
With a Harvest Hosts membership (just $49/year), you can stay free overnight at more than 600 wineries, farms, breweries and other attractions in North America! Harvest Hosts offers a unique alternative to traditional campgrounds, where members can meet interesting people, taste great wines, eat fresh produce and stay in peaceful settings. Learn more here.

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Comprehensive list of RV and RV-related recalls for July

The list of latest recalls on RVs and other vehicles and/or products of interest to RVers has been released by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The list includes models from Forest River (many), Grand Design, Jayco, Keystone, Newmar, Thor, Triple E and others — plus other vehicles commonly used by RVers.

Recent recalls
Keystone recalls trailers: wrong tire rim size on Federal ID label.
Newmar recalls some motorhomes: Slide out may move unexpectedly.
Forest River recalls some trailers: water heater exhaust issue.
Jayco recalls motorhomes for windshield wiper issue.

All July Recalls

Cover Story

Why Camping World is not an RVer’s friend

By Chuck Woodbury

By Chuck Woodbury: If you have read this newsletter for long, you know how disturbed, even angry, I am about Camping World, which is doing all it can to force gullible buyers into 15- and 20-year loans on the purchase of new, inexpensive RVs. I, for one, do not like what Camping World has become. Read more

South Dakota mail forwarding service abruptly shuts its doors

Even before it emailed its customers that it was closing, the company was already returning their mail to its sender, which likely included legal documents, licenses, prescription drugs,  and other important correspondence. Here’s the entire story and what you can do if you lost your address.

Almost Breaking News

The latest news about RVing from our newsroom

Bears break into pickup looking for food in Tahoe Donner.
Homeless RVers desecrate Jewish cemetery in Seattle.
Travel trailer stolen twice from Oklahoma dealership.
Online reservations jump 244% at Ohio RV resort.
Security patrols required to keep order in Florida campground.
40-foot motorhome disappears from owner’s front yard.
Camping World to open 40 Gander RV stores in 2019.
Lemonis expounds on future of RV industry on CNBC.
People living in RVs on urban streets increasing.

Wildfire updates
Mendocino Complex fires surpass Carr Fire in acreage burned.
CA wildfire smoke affects wider areas causing breathing difficulty.
Montana Forest Service puts out unattended campfire; more on wildfires.
UPDATE: CA wildfires grow, Mendocino fires threatens 12k structures.
Two new NorCal wildfires; Carr and Ferguson fires rage on.
National forests tighten fire rules.
California, literally and figuratively, is burning up.
BLM campgrounds closed due to spreading NorCal wildfires.
Mendocino and Lake county wildfires force residents to flee.
Heat and low humidity contribute to multiple roadside grass fires.
UPDATE: Carr fire continues to rage thru weekend in Northern CA.
Ferguson Fire forces parts of Yosemite NP to close until August 3.
UPDATE: Vehicle mechanical failure cause of Carr Fire.

Malia’s Miles: Do I have the right to die with dignity?

Malia is a full-time RVer and was recently diagnosed with cancer. She is graciously sharing her journey with us. “Who gets to make that decision? And what exactly does ‘die with dignity’ mean? Is there really any such thing as dignity in death? Isn’t it something we’re supposed to fight against with all our might – just to stay alive at any price? Isn’t any quality of life better than death?” Read the rest of Malia’s insightful, thorough and important article.

Editor: Rural Nevada is among my favorite places

One of my favorite places to visit in America is rural Nevada. Of those millions and millions of acres, those in the state’s Silver Trails region have always been my most favorite. I first explored the area several decades ago and have returned a dozen times since. As you will see in this video, Nevada is not just Las Vegas and then a huge barren desert. Read more and watch the video.

Airstream says “cease and desist” to new Silver Streak plans

It had been 20 years since Silver Streak manufactured travel trailers, the aluminum-bodied brand launched in 1946. Entrepreneur Ellie Dillon acquired the rights from the former Silver Streak owner in 2016, and she and her husband determined to bring back the once-famous Silver Streak aircraft body trailers. They began to reimagine the trailer with various designs but Airstream, owned by Thor Industries, sent the Dillons a cease-and-desist letter. Read more.

Another example how slobs are ruining our camping

This is why we all need to be responsible campers, and even go beyond the call of duty sometimes to clean up after the slobby Neanderthals in our midst. Read all about it.

Fuel cell technology powers prototype Mercedes RV

Mercedes-Benz is not waiting for existing motorhome manufacturers to get into the race to develop electric-powered RVs. Instead, Mercedes has introduced a prototype motorhome based on a Hymer low-profile coach powered by the latest hydrogen fuel cell technology. Learn more.

This Weeks Readers Poll

How long can you go without an electric hookup?
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.
Take the poll

It’s Summer: Who has the time for waste?
When it comes to RVing, everyone knows that adventure is the best part of the journey and waste removal is the worst. Road & Home™ has everything you need to tackle this stinky task. Stock up today and fight the fear of a waste disaster! To shop all the essential waste removal parts, click here.

What we learned from you last week

Do you like to socialize in RV parks? Has anything ever been stolen from your RV? Where do you read the news? Are you a picky eater? Do you wash your RV yourself or have it done professionally? This plus more (including a funny gag gift) in this week’s article.

Small purchases on credit cards not such a bad idea – if…

In a recent reader poll we asked: “On routine store purchases of $10 to $20 how do you most often pay?” Nearly 2,500 of you responded – and a pretty lopsided majority of more than 1,110 of you (47 percent) said, “With a credit card.” Read this report from Russ and Tiña De Maris about why that can be a good idea (and which, apparently, a lot of our readers have figured out).

Do you drive with a dog on your lap?

Poll included!
Anyone of advanced age knows that their ability to make quick decisions slows every year. Simply looking down to change a radio station and then looking back up requires slightly more time to adjust to the scene. A dog on one’s lap, in our opinion, is simply way out of line and just plain dangerous for the driver and nearby motorists. If you travel with a dog, please answer our poll and leave a comment. Even if you don’t travel with a dog, you can view the results and comment. Click here for more.

Take the poll

Protecting bears and humans goal of bear box project

Most of us that camp in wilder areas such as national forests have heard the saying, “A fed bear is a dead bear.” And if you’ve been to a campground, you’ve seen the sturdy metal bear boxes where campers store their food while away from the campsite and while sleeping. Yet, some campers still practice bad food storage habits, which are not only bad for the bear but can also be dangerous for campers. Wildlife groups are joining up to put a stop to that. Learn more.

Minnesota adds Mille Lacs as its 22nd Scenic Byway

The Scenic Byways Commission designated Lake Mille Lacs as the state’s newest Scenic Byway this week. The designation will open up opportunities for increased tourism and promote the region’s unique character. The 68-mile-long Lake Mille Lacs Scenic Byway is the 22nd in Minnesota’s 2,948 miles of regionally outstanding scenic, natural, recreational, cultural, historic and archaeologically significant road trips. Learn more.

RV cleaning tips & tricks for the summer season from Eva-Dry

For recreational vehicle owners, the RV is their home away from home (or maybe it is their home) and keeping it clean is imperative to ensuring the interior and exterior lasts. With a little planning and preparation, one can be sure to keep the RV in working order without using up too much time. Here are some quick RV cleaning tips and tricks from Eva-Dry, manufacturer of dehumidifier products. Learn more.

Camping World plans to open 40 Gander RV stores in 2019

In 2017 Camping World surprised the RV industry by purchasing the Gander Mountain retailer in a bankruptcy auction. Many assumed CW wanted to add more general camping and outdoors products to the CW line, but according to a press release, Camping World said that since the Gander acquisition it has negotiated leases “for a number of the old Gander Mountain locations” where it believes it can grow its RV operation. Learn 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.

Millennials choose smaller trailers over larger traditional RVs

Millennials don’t look at RVing the same way their parents did when they retired to massive, feature-rich motorhomes and fifth-wheel trailers. These young adults instead are embracing a new, hip wave of travel trailers. From small, app-connected campers to solar-powered cabins on wheels, young adults can find an influx of innovative travel trailers geared specifically toward their interests. Read more.

German motorhome has a garage for your car

RV enthusiasts, like car and truck owners, have varied preferences in the modes of travel. Add to the list the Variomobil Signature 1200. The German-made bus-sized motorhome features a 523-horsepower Mercedes-Benz engine, and it can carry another Mercedes-Benz or another car of your choice. Read more.

Causes of these recent RV fires unknown

The threat of having your RV catch fire is an alarming and frightening prospect, and often the cause of the fire is unknown. Could it be a manufacturing problem? Or did the RV owner’s actions cause the fire to erupt? Here are three mysteriously caused fires that happened last weekend. Learn more.


What is this?
If you’re the third person to correctly identify this object found in an antique shop, we’ll send you a $25 gift card at Amazon. Click here to see the complete rules and a six-second video of the object in action.

Rent a vintage trailer by a vineyard pond

The look, feel and ambiance of some new campgrounds are changing from the typically cramped RV parks to renting just a few RVs, mostly trailers (and vintage, at that), already set up in a campsite on a larger piece of private land. It may be a slow progression for now, but if the Trailer Pond is any indication, more creative entrepreneurs will soon follow suit. Check this out.

New campground to open Aug. 6 at Idaho’s Stanley Lake

New campsites opening is welcome news just about anywhere in America, as the numbers of RV resorts and campgrounds fail to meet the increasing demand of campers. But when new campsites open in some of the country’s most scenic areas, it is cause for hootin’ and hollerin’ among RVers that like to camp in nature. Such is the case at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Learn more.

Here’s an idea: Camp in a cave!

How does camping in a cave sound? Oh, not with your RV — no room for that unless you have an itty-bitty micro rig you can drag in. But if you like the idea of camping where the sun doesn’t shine, and are brave enough, then here’s a fun idea for a night away from the rig. Water Cave in Alabaster Caverns State Park in Freedom, Oklahoma, provides the opportunity to spend the night in a cave. Cool (literally)! Learn more.

Hitch Hotel introduces hitch-mounted, expandable hotel room

Utilitarian? Check. Lightweight? Check. Easy setup? Check. This is the Hitch Hotel, a comfortable and secure anytime, anywhere hotel room. Made for the modern road-warrior, the Hitch Hotel hitches to any vehicle with a minimum Class 2 hitch. It’s small and light enough to affix to the rear of even a Smart car or Mini Cooper. Learn more.

Can you watch streaming TV using a mobile hot spot?

A few weeks ago Rich “The Wanderman” got a 2nd Generation Fire TV Stick from Amazon for $19.99. Since he already has a couple and they work great on home-based WiFi, he decided to get one to experiment with on the road. Would he be able to watch anything at all while connected to the internet via his cell phone’s hot spot? For 20 bucks, he figured it was worth a try. Here’s what he found out.

Odors that make special appearances in extreme heat? Say goodbye!
The Unique Tank Odor Eliminator is the leader in hot weather odor elimination. If you’re tired of those disgusting smells coming from your RV bathroom in hot weather, or when you’re off the grid, say no more! These drop-in tablets work in both gray and black tanks, and will completely remove, not just mask, odors. Perfect for dry-campers who are worried about using too much water. Drop in a tablet, and flush! Learn more or order here.

Popular articles from last week’s issue

Is this the most beat up, junky motorhome in America?
Editor’s notes for July 27, 2018.
Why so many RVs are junk (video).
• Do RV manufacturers “lie with statistics”?
Future fulltimers beware: You could be voiding your RV’s warranty.
Your Sprinter RV cost too much? Blame chickens!

In-laws spoiling full-time RVing experience.

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.


RV Clubs

Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.

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.

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.

Camco vent insulator keeps you warm…and cool!
Is your RV too hot in the summer? Too cold in the winter? Camco’s vent insulator and skylight cover features a thick layer of foam which helps stop heat transfer, keeping you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Installation is easy – simply push the fitted foam into your skylight, reflective side up. The reflective surface blocks sunlight, preventing it from heating your RV in the hot months. The insulator is designed to fit standard 14″x14″ RV vents. Learn more or order here

Ask the RV Shrink

How to deal with noisy campground “soap opera”

Dear RV Shrink:
I think you need to schedule campground office hours. We just spent a night in Rocky Mountain National Park next to a couple in a large tent. Their campfire circle was directly out our motorhome bedroom window. They spent a few hours around the campfire discussing their relationship loud enough so that we could not help hearing the whole sordid mess very clearly. It was a warm night so they had to know everyone around them had their RV windows open. …

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.

A Waterless RV Wash & Wax!
Spit Shine has more emulsifiers than other waterless washes. It traps and lifts dirt to leave a clean, scratch-free, glossy surface. Great for when you’re on the go and don’t have access to a water hose. Requires just a damp, and a dry, towel. Watch Wade clean all RV surfaces. Click here to buy, or learn more about, Spit Shine at the Wade Maid website.

Latest fuel prices, July 30, 2018

Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.85 [Calif.: $3.51]
Change from week before: Up 2 cents; Change from year before: Up 49 cents.
Diesel: $3.23 [Calif.: $3.95]
Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 70 cents.

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.

RV Fire Safety Tip

An emergency fire plan that can save your life – Part 2 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.
Recognizing the signals from each type of detector is important because different reactions are required for each type of alarm. With smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, stay low when they sound. LPG gas gathers low, so the best action is standing upright when you hear the LPG detector. An easy way to remember what to do is to observe the placement of the detectors. If they’re placed high, then you should stay low, and vice versa. Weekly testing will also help you become very familiar with the varying sounds of each so you’ll know how to respond. 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

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.

RV Quick Tips

Avoid trouble in mountain passes

from Jim Twamley, Professor of RVing

For all RVs it’s important that your brakes and tires be in top-notch condition. Traveling through mountain passes you will often encounter high winds. So, if you’re pulling a travel trailer, I highly recommend a load-leveling system with anti-sway control. If you have a diesel truck or a diesel pusher motorhome, you absolutely must have a compression braking system. If you don’t have a compression braking system, you will burn up your brakes and have repeated white-knuckle experiences.

Equipment aside, the biggest safety tip for RV mountain driving is: “Don’t be in a hurry.” Allowing your rig to gain excess speed on a downhill run is just asking for trouble. When you’re plummeting down a hill in your multi-ton RV, it is extremely difficult to stay in your lane when you encounter a sharp turn at the bottom. I’ve seen RV rollovers and collisions from this common mistake.

Be sure to stay in the right-hand lane as much as possible. Take your time and don’t overtax your engine. Gear down and enjoy the scenery. Give yourself plenty of room to slow down and stop when following other vehicles. During summer months you will encounter a lot of road construction on mountain roads. You will encounter many controlled stops where road construction is being conducted on mountain roads, so if you’re limited on time, be sure to check your route with the various state departments of transportation when you plan your trip.

Dead decal removal

Tired of those worn-out RV sidewall decals crisping up at the edges and making your rig look old and tired? Here’s how one RVer was able to remove his: 1. Use a hair dryer (or heat gun used carefully – works much faster) to warm them up. 2. Slide a fingernail under an edge to begin the pull-off process. Peel carefully, reheating as needed. 3. Use “Goo Gone” to remove any remaining adhesive. 4. Immediately wash off the Goo Gone to protect the rig’s gel coat.

Do you have a quick tip?

Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!
Email Russ

The largest, tiniest blanket for all your outdoor needs
Pack your beach bags and park picnics, it’s summer! What’s one thing we always need for a relaxing day outdoors? A blanket! This tiny, super lightweight travel blanket is great for RVers, campers, hikers, concert-goers and travelers. When folded up in its drawstring pouch, it fits in the palm of your hand. When unfolded, it’s a waterproof 55″x70″ two-person blanket. Be right back, we’re buying it here!

Gizmos and Gadgets

Do you shave with a blade?

From editor Chuck Woodbury: “I’ve shaved with a blade most my life. For some odd reason I got in the habit of using disposable shavers, then I realized all the plastic I was tossing into landfills. I’d read about the Harry’s Shaver for years. So I decided to try one. Wow! Wow! It’s the closest shave I can remember. The reviews on Amazon are not spectacular, but I can’t figure out why. I do know, though, that mine is a keeper. You can find a good selection of men’s and women’s models at Amazon or you can go directly to the Harry’s website.

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

Sign up here

Totally, 100% compostable K-cup pods
If you love your Keurig coffee maker but are concerned about tossing away so much plastic, here’s a solution, the one used by RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury: Faro Roasters Blend 100% Compostable Rainforest Alliance single-serve pods. After you make your coffee, toss the pod in your compost bin and it will quickly decompose back into the soil. Learn more or order.


Harvest Host

Unique RV Overnight Experiences at 600+ Wineries, Farms and More

With a Harvest Hosts membership (just $49/year), you can stay free overnight at more than 600 wineries, farms, breweries and other attractions in North America! Harvest Hosts offers a unique alternative to traditional campgrounds, where members can meet interesting people, taste great wines, eat fresh produce and stay in peaceful settings. Learn more here.

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