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RV Travel Issue #366
2009-3-16 7:15:28   RV Travel

The 2009 Milepost
is THE guide to visiting Alaska

This is THE mile-by-mile guidebook for RV or auto travelers headed to Alaska, the Yukon Territory, British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. If you only take one guidebook to Alaska, take this! Learn more or order at a discount price.

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Editor's corner

By Chuck Woodbury

Dear reader,
This is a very brief issue. I have been sick and in bed the last few days with a nasty flu. I have felt so totally crummy that I pondered whether I could muster the energy to do even an abbreviated edition of this newsletter. In the end I decided I could.

I'm finishing up the issue now on Friday afternoon, and am feeling much better. I expect to be back in action in a day or two. So look for a full-blown issue of this newsletter next week.

And just a suggestion. . . if you yearn to learn more about RVing than what this abbreviated issue delivers. . . how about dropping by RVbookstore.com and picking up some reading or viewing material? Sales at the bookstore keep us going, so please check out what we offer! Thanks.

* * *
DID YOU MISS last issue? If so, read it here.

Follow me on Twitter
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RV Travel Sunday Chat
Please join RVtravel.com's Adrienne Kristine every Sunday at 6 p.m. (Pacific Time) for our weekly chat. Discuss anything to do with RVing.

RVtravel.com Forum Update as of 2/20/09 at 3 pm:
9,181 registered members, 25,160 messages.

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2008 Wal-Mart Atlas & FREE Bonus
"No Overnight RV Parking" Directory

Order the best-selling Wal-Mart Atlas and receive the "No Overnight Parking" Directory for FREE. SAVE $9.90! Most Wal-Mart stores permit a free overnight stay in RVs. The 2008 Wal-Mart Atlas provides driving directions to more than 4,000 Wal-Marts and Sam's Clubs. It lists which stores sell diesel, have pharmacies -- and it provides store GPS coordinates. The "No Park" Directory lists more than 350 stores that DO NOT allow stays! Learn more or order.

Shopping for an RV? Don't overlook the "fitting test"
You're thinking about buying an RV. Should you go with new or used, big, small or somewhere in between? Whatever type of RV you're thinking about, there are a few "rules of thumb" that will help you avoid making mistakes when shopping. Here's some excellent advice from RVtravel.com blogger Jim Twamley.

Dutchmen lays off 100
Dutchmen Manufacturing has laid off about 100 workers from a northern Indiana plant where it makes towable RVs. Dutchmen is a brand of Thor Industries, the world's largest RV manufacturer. The news is another blow to Elkhart County, which has seen its unemployment rate triple to more than 15 percent in the past year because of layoffs in the RV industry. About 600 people still work at Dutchmen and most plants are operating five days a week.

2009 New York Campground Guide now available
The 2009 New York Campground and RV Park Guide is free and now available for online reading. Entitled "Camping New York Style," the 100-page guide lists the features, amenities and contact information for over 210 privately-operated campgrounds and RV parks across New York State.

With RV sun shades you see out but nobody sees in!
Put up inside your rig! So no climbing up ladders!
RV windshield sun shades offer you daytime privacy inside while allowing you to see outside clearly. RV Quick Shades are made in the USA from Textilene, a durable, tough fabric made from PVC coated woven polyester. The shades reduce glare and harmful sun rays which protect draperies and your RV interior, plus reduce energy cost. You'll never find a lower price than at RVtoyOutlet.com. Learn more or order.

Flush the black tank slush with this RV innovation
Keeping your RV black tank in good shape is important. Thoroughly rinsing your tank after emptying will help keep it functioning properly. If you don't keep your black holding tank cleaned out, a buildup of sludge will slowly accumulate and eventually block the valve. Here are several options to assist you in keeping your tank in top shape.

How to inspect your RV for water damage
If there is a way to get in your RV, water will find it. Here are tips from RV technical expert Mark Polk about how to protect your RV from damage from water leaks.

Travel with us!
FREE catalog
of our RV Tours!

Have you ever taken an RV tour? If not, you've missed out. Join Tracks RV Tours (est. in 1975) for the trip of your lifetime! Visit Alaska, the Yucatan, New Zealand, Nova Scotia, Baja -- or tour the National Parks of the American West. Form friendships you'll treasure forever. All arrangements including RV parks by Tracks RV Tours. Click here for your FREE full-color magazine of all our many adventures or call 800-351-6053.

Driving a motorhome is different, but not necessarily difficult
Driving a motorhome is a wonderful way to explore the country. However, it can be dangerous if you are not familiar with the differences that the weight, size, and visibility demands of your RV driving. Read more.

TV host, actor Gary Collins charged with drunk RV driving
Former actor and TV host Gary Collins, 70, has been charged with drunken driving. The California Highway patrol arrested Collins on Jan. 31 on suspicion of driving a motorhome while drunk. Authorities gauged his blood alcohol content as .29, more than three times the .08 level at which a person is presumed impaired. Collins has two previous drunken driving convictions, and authorities say he could face up to 120 days in jail if convicted. PHOTO: Police mug shot

Fleetwood to mark 60th anniversary with Wyoming rally
Fleetwood Enterprises' RV Group will commemorate its 60th anniversary during the Fleetwood MotorHome Association's "Wind Your Way to Wyoming" first national rally in Gillette, Wyo. June 27-30. Learn more about the motorhome-only event.

RVers spot big cats in Quartzsite
This season, several RVers in the snowbird capital of Quartzsite, Ariz., have realized how close they are to nature. Early in the season, a couple living in a fifth wheel near town hall were startled when a fairly good sized bobcat strolled through the property. Maybe it was the same cat, but about a week later, other RVers reported similar sightings just a few blocks away. Read more.

Motorhomes, Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels, Truck Campers, Pop ups and much more. See the big selection at NewRVer.com. Click here

Recent RV recalls
Each month we list the latest recalls of RVs at RV-Recalls.com. Here are the most recent ones: December -- November -- October -- September -- August -- July --  June -- May -- April -- March -- February -- January

Essential for Fulltimers!
2009 'Choosing Your RV Home Base'
For would-be fulltimers, which state to establish an official home base is critical. Picking the wrong state can result in paying thousands of dollars extra each year in taxes or RV registration fees. Don't let that happen! This best selling guidebook is an essential planning tool. Learn more or order.

2009 Fall RV Show Schedule
Learn about RV shows through the winter of 2009. Check in here to learn when shows will be held in your area.

Finance your RV at RVfinancing.com
RVfinancing.com is THE largest online RV financing company. Lowest rates nationwide. Visit its website or call 1-888-929-4424. Toll-free 24-hour recorded RV financing tips at 877-905-0060. Endorsed by RVtravel.com

A Woman's Perspective

Checklist helps with grocery shopping
By Adrienne Kristine
When you shop for groceries, you probably have a list of needed items on paper or a whiteboard. When I shop, I usually purchase whatever is in season from the local farmers market and the rest of my list contains the same items to replace. Perform an inventory of your pantry and make a list with room for a check mark after each item. Take the list to Kinko's/FedEx and laminate it for reuse. Take an erasable marker to check off each item you need when you're shopping and wipe it off when you're done. You won't forget something you need and the list can be reused indefinitely.

Follow Adrienne Kristine on Twitter

Learn more about RVing as a woman.

RV Cookbooks: Big selection at RVbookstore.com

The RV Kitchen

Janet Groene's Stove-top Breakfast Bread
Janet writes: "I have lived for months at a time with no oven in remote areas where I had to bake bread, cakes, pies and everything else on a two-burner stove. I never had a stovetop oven, preferring instead to use a skillet or pressure cooker. You'll need a heavy skillet with a tight lid for baking evenly atop the camp stove." Get the recipe.

2009 Next Exit Directory

This should be an essential guide for every road-tripping RVer! Learn what you will find at every Interstate highway exit: gas/diesel fuel, campgrounds, truck stops, casinos, stores, malls, hospitals, factory outlet stores, parks and more. Learn more.

This Week's Reader Survey

Do you use a GPS navigation system while traveling with your RV? Answer here.

Last week's survey question
Do you play card games while traveling with your RV? Read the answer here.

Past reader surveys and results

2009 Trailer Life RV Parks & Campground Navigator CD-ROM
America's most popular RV campground directory is now on 2 CD-ROM disks. The user friendly interface provides the ultimate RV travel planning software for the U.S. and Canada. This is the best CD-ROM RV park and campground directory. Retail price: $59.95. Now 38% off -- only $36.99. Learn more or order

Ask the RV Doctor
Gary Bunzer, The RV Doctor is a well known RV author and the host of RV Roadtrips, the DIY Network cable television show. He is one of the RV industry's most sought after speakers and the host of the popular DVD Do It Yourself RV Care.

Buyer buys RV on consignment and big problems follow

Dear RV Doctor,
I recently purchased a used consignment motorhome. Do dealerships that sell this way have a responsibility to safety check the vehicles before selling the units? Upon picking up the motorhome I had the oil system, transmission, cooling, and brake system serviced. Visual inspection of areas such as the cooling system showed it had been doctored to appear to look in good shape. Inspection of the engine included a compression test, which showed that the engine needed extensive work.

Since I have purchased this RV, it has been in the shop more than on the road. My understanding is that dealers selling a vehicle have them inspected before selling them. My dealer claims work was performed. If so, I feel that problems should have been found, fixed or at least reported to me. I realize there is probably very little I can do except continue to pour money into this rig to make it roadworthy and livable. --R.D. Kelly

Read Gary's response.

Read previous RV Doctor columns

Guide to Dog-Friendly campgrounds and RV parks
Dog Friendly's Campground and RV Park Guide is a jam-packed, well-researched directory of campgrounds, filled with detailed information, about where you can camp with a dog in the USA and Canada. Learn more or order.
RV Boondocking Tips

Avoid stray loads on inverters
By Russ and Tina De Maris

Planning on using a power inverter to create shore power from RV batteries? When using a larger inverter, many RVers connect their rig's shore power cable to the inverter. That's fine, but watch out for unexpected loads that will drain your batteries needlessly. Refrigerators that automatically switch to AC will probably need to have their shore power cord unplugged -- you'll find it in back through the outside access door. The power converter -- that box that turns shore power into low voltage for lighting, etc, will also need to be taken "off line." If your converter can be switched off, do so. If it's "hard wired" you may need to put a switch in the "hot" lead. If you're not completely sure about how to safely do this, get the help of an RV technician or electrician.

Russ and Tina De Maris are the authors of RV Boondocking Basics.

Are you a veteran boondocker?

Would you please share some of your tips and tricks at our RVtravel.com reader forum?
We'll reprint some of your comments in this newsletter each week.

Books and DVDs about camping on public lands and RV boondocking.

Towing downhill is prime time for an accident
Eighty percent of all towing related accidents happen when you're traveling downhill, where it takes about three times longer to stop than on a level surface. And the greater your speed, the greater the stopping distance required. Here are a few tips for towing on downgrades:
--Downshift on downgrades to lessen the braking action required. Reduce your speed. Remember that trailer sway is more likely to occur when descending inclines.
--On steep or long downgrades, reduce gears and avoid prolonged brake use on the tow vehicle. The brakes can easily overheat and begin to fade. Use the vehicle brakes in intervals.
--If the trailer becomes unstable when descending an incline and the trailer starts to sway, reduce your speed, avoid using the vehicle brakes, and manually activate the trailer brakes to regain control.
--Do not travel above the posted speed limit on downgrades.
--Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Find out about DVDs and eBooks by RV expert Mark Polk.

The best club for motorhome owners
If you drive a motorhome you should join the Family Motor Coaching Association, the largest and best club exclusively for motorhome owners. Many benefits including rallies, local chapters and thick monthly magazine. Special new member price of $35. Click here to learn more or join.

Check out these RV Travel Forum discussions

Follow RV Travel Forum Moderator
Adrienne Kristine on Twitter

RVing novices need advice about buying a used RV
My wife and I are not novices to taking to the highway, just the RV life. We plan to take about one year before we decide on where to settle down, or we might become full-time RVers. We plan to tow a smaller size car. One of our first questions on where to start is with the RV itself. Class C or A? How large? I will be working from the RV so I'll need adequate space and internet access. We will be buying a used RV but want a reliable brand that will have good performance, and price is a strong factor. We realize that this is a large undertaking, but we thought this forum would be a great place to begin. Any advice?

Confused about holding tanks
My wife and I are buying a used motorhome from a private party. Do I have two tanks that I have to fill for the toilet and the fresh drinking water, or do the toilet and the shower draw water from the fresh water holding tank? We are buying a 1978 Dodge Pioneer motorhome. Any help would be useful.

Interesting Forum:
RVing in Mexico
If you plan to travel to Mexico with your RV, then this is the place to learn more about how to do it. Share information with other Mexico-bound RVers, ask a question or answer one. If you are already in Mexico or are a veteran traveler there, forum members would likely welcome your input.

Read other Forum discussions

Updated for 2009
Casino Camping: Guide to RV-Friendly Casinos

This 2009 directory is the best casino guide for RVers. Learn which casinos have RV parks or offer free overnight stays. Plus get tips and information about other casino benefits for RVers.
Learn more or order.
Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, lettered in four varsity sports at UCLA -- the first student at the college to do so. Odd as it may seem, the sport he had the most problem with was baseball. His season batting average in 1940 was an unimpressive .097.

Learn how to drive a motorhome
Learn how to drive a motorhome the right way from RVer/tour bus driver Lorrin Walsh. In this 67-minute DVD, Walsh and host Mark Polk show you what you need to know to confidently drive a motorhome. This should be essential viewing for novice motorhome drivers, but even experienced RVers will learn a lot. Save 10% on this at RVbookstore.com. Learn more or order.
Bill's Hints
"Before retracting a slideout, check for dew, snow, tree leaves or other debris on the slideout roof. Remember that the roof will be inside your vehicle when it is retracted." --From Motorhomes Made Easy.
2009 directory of
RV services at truck stops!

The 2009 RVers Friend directory lists RV services at truck stops with free "camping," dumps, Internet, propane, repair services & more. Truck stops offer more to RVers than ever. Let this best selling directory be your guide. Get the 2009 edition now! Learn more or order.

Bumper Snicker
Is there life after death? Mess with this truck and find out!

Just published. New laws for 2009.
2009 Guide To The Firearm Laws of the 50 States
RVers who travel with a firearm may not know that what's legal in their home state may be a felony in another. This guide explains current, specific gun laws for every state. Don't cross a state line with a gun without knowing the laws!
Learn more or order.

Random RV Thought
"When you are driving an RV or pulling one and you want to move from the left lane to the right lane, it is a good idea to confirm with your copilot if the lane is clear. But only accept an answer of yes or no. An answer of 'I think so' is not good enough and can get your vehicle smacked."

DVD: RVing Alaska
(with Joe and Vicki Kieva)

Learn everything you need to know about traveling by RV to and from Alaska via the Alaska Highway and the Alaska ferry. Essential viewing for Alaska-bound RVers. Learn more or order.

Worth Pondering
"Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's only what you do for others." --Danny Thomas


About the editor
Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for nearly three decades. In the '90s he published a quirky travel newspaper about his adventures and was an "on the road" writer for the New York Times Syndicate. Nowadays, he lives near Seattle where he drinks massive amounts of coffee and travels often in his motorhome and sometimes by plane when vast expanses of saltwater would turn his RV into a leaky submarine. He is the host of the Better Business Bureau DVD "Buying a Recreational Vehicle," the definitive guide to purchasing an RV the right way.