As COVID-19 raises its ugly head again with more infections and hospitalizations, things that once were opening are closing again. This week on the RV Podcast Episode 303, we offer straight talk about what the rest of the year may look like for RVers.
Plus we have an interview about an interesting place where RVers can go to get their RVs renovated called RV Renovation Camp. We also have lots of RV News, tips, an off the beaten path report from the Burketts, and much more all coming up in Episode 303 of the RV Podcast.
Show Notes for Episode #303 July 15, 2020 of The RV Podcast:
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
We’re still in Michigan and will likely stay here through fall.
And while we think there will be lots of opportunities for short trips in and around the Great Lakes Region, long-distance, cross-country travel for us has been put on hold as the nation tries to figure out what to do as COVID-19 infection rates have shot upwards again. What had been an encouraging downwards trend in early summer, has now been reversed to where we are now seeing record infection rates in many places, more hospitalizations, and rising deaths.
In other words, just when you thought it was okay to start traveling again, we’re seeing the virus rapidly spreading and many states contemplating shutdowns again.
So let’s talk about what RV travel looks like for the rest of the year:
In our opinion, it’s not good. Just today, Elkhart Open House, the mega event put on every fall by the RV manufacturers to jumpstart business for dealers and suppliers, was canceled for this year. That event has probably become the most important venue for the RV industry and canceling it shows just how serious the industry sees the new spike in invections.
We don’t have a crystal ball. We’re not privy to any inside information. But since the end of February, the newsman in me has kept careful track of what is happening with this horrible illness and I think there are several things happening that will adversely affect the RV Lifestyle.
Hopefully, what’s unfolding and developing now will not result in total nationwide shutdowns like most of us experienced in March and April. But I don’t think there is any doubt that it’s getting worse rather than better.
Will you still be able to travel in your RV? Yes, I think so, certainly more than you were able to this past spring but, sadly, I fear, not as much as you perhaps would like to.
Here are seven things that I think will shape what RV travel looks like for the rest of the year
- There will be more campgrounds, state parks, and national parks either closing to out of state campers, shutting down entirely, or limiting the number of visitors. We have some examples of that happening even now coming up in the News of the week segment but expect more quarantines and in some places, like California, parts of Texas and other states, to be more severely impacted by COVID and actively tell visitors that they are not welcome the rest of the summer and ell into the fall.
- What campgrounds that remain open will be more crowded. That’s a given. With all the new RVers out there, camping space is already at a premium in many places. If campgrounds now open start closing again, those that are still open will be putting out the “no vacancy” signs a lot sooner than normal.
- RV manufacturers will once again have to wrestle with the decision to shut down their assembly lines to stop the spread of the virus. Same with RV parts manufacturers. If shutdowns happen the ripple effect will immediately be felt through all segments of the industry. It may be booming now because so many people bought new RVs for much-needed vacations once the economy started to reopen in May and June. But if the COVID rates keep rising – as most health experts predict – the industry is going to be hit with a double whammy. If you have a new RV on order, don’t be surprised by more delays.
- The US/Canadian border will remain closed to nonessential travel. That’s what RV travel is – nonessential. Technically the closure is scheduled to end July 21. But officials on both sides have conferred and are expected to extend that at least another month, until at least Aug. 21, There have been some reports that Canada, alarmed by the huge spike of new cases in the US, may even push to extend it to the end of the year. This will really put the huge hit on the travel plans of an estimated 4 million Canadian snowbirds who come to winter in the US (about 3.5 million to Florida, which is currently the number one hard-hit COVID state.)
- All RV shows have or will be canceled until 2021. The big ones, the Hershey RV show, Elkhart Open House and the California RV show have already canceled. So have virtually all local and regional RV shows, missing – for the first time ever – the annual new model introductions normally made in the fall each year.
- Service and repairs may be harder to get for your RV. Dealerships will likely have trouble getting parts if those manufacturer shutdowns happen. Fewer parts mean fewer repairs and that means more broken RVs.
- Anger and bitterness will increase. Just look at the strong feelings and bitterness over wearing masks. The so-called “Stay Home and Stay Safe Movement” will grow. Resentment and even open hostility of traveling RVers is a distinct possibility given the rancor and divisiveness.
Okay. That’s my thoughts on what RV travel looks like for the rest of the year.
As I said early on, we will still be able to travel. But I think it best to urge you to consider staying close to home. And when you do, it goes without saying, wear masks when in close proximity to others whether indoors or outdoors, practice social distancing use the facilities in your own RV as much as possible, avoiding public restrooms on the road and even in campgrounds.
Be safe, stay informed about local conditions, and be patient. These are unprecedented times. If we are going to get through this, we need to get along.
Does that make sense?
Long lines causing new challenges as all Glacier National Park visitors must use one entrance
If you’re planning to head this summer to Glacier National Park, be ready for long lines to enter the park’s lone open entrance which may soon begin a timed entry system. The park’s east entrance is part of the Blackfeet Nation but the Blackfeet closed the entrance last month in an attempt to limit the tribe’s exposure to COVID-19. About one-third of all COVID deaths in Montana were to Native Americans, who make up just 7 percent of the population. This means all visitors must come through a single western entrance, causing long backups. Glacier is one of our favorite national parks and we certainly understand the desire to see it (see previous articles here). We also understand the Blackfeet Nation’s desire to protect its members. If you do decide to head out, we urge you to thoroughly investigate entrances and polices first.
Man who was boondocking shoots and kills bear that was chasing his dog before turning on him
A man who was boondocking near Nederland in Colorado told officials he shot and killed a bear after the bear was chasing after his dog, then turned and came after him. The man said he heard his dog barking, looked, and saw the bear chasing it. He said he shot the bear when it came toward him. The bear did not survive. It is illegal in Colorado to shoot bears when they attack your pets. But, because the bear then turned on the man, he was also in danger, and shooting a bear in self-defense is allowed. Park officials urged the public to make sure they carry bear spray in the backwoods. Bear spray is also what we recommend. To learn about camping in bear country, click here.
Animals nesting in engine while RV in storage blamed for fire
An Oregon husband and wife who hadn’t used their 30-foot Winnebago Sightseer for a while brought it in for an oil change when, shortly after parking, it burst into flames. Investigators said the fire was likely caused by animals nesting in the engine compartment during the years it had been in storage. A lot of dry, organic material was discovered during the investigation and officials believe this material caught fire from the heat of the engine and quickly spread. No one was hurt in the blaze.
Siberian Husky pup dies after swimming in Zion National Park river containing toxic algae
A five-month-old dog who died shortly after swimming in a river at Zion National Park, died from a toxins in the water, officials announced. The dog, a Siberian Husky, had been playing in the Virgin River, snapping at algae on the rocks. But, within an hour of swimming the dog was in pain, could not walk, had seizures, and died. Park officials said the cause of death was from the toxic algae. Warnings have now been issued telling people not to swim in the river and not allow their pets to swim or drink the water.
In this summer of pandemic camping, remember to check ahead
If you want to enter a New Mexico state park, you will have to prove you are a resident with a state driver’s license or plate, under a new rule that bars out of state residents from state parks. National parks in New Mexico can still be visited but only after out-of-towners quarantine for 14 days. Most state-operated campgrounds are now open, and many (but not all) national park campgrounds are open, too. In general, many campgrounds on Native American reservations are closed. And some states that opened are now discussing closing various activities as COVID-19 numbers rise. Each state is setting its own rules and procedures. As always, before heading out, check ahead by clicking here.
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Here’s a question from our Facebook Group from a reader named John:
What is the best way or tool to vacuum and mop my RV?
In the first two hours, this question brought in 53 answers from members of our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group.
Here are 10 of them:
- Cindy says: Broom and swiffer
- Debbie says: Good old rag and bucket
- Ron uses a Shark vaccum and a mop.
- Karen suggests Swiffer wet jet for the hard floors and a small Dirt Devil vac for the carpet noting, the handle collapses so it stores nicely in the camper.
- Bob uses Windex and paper towel on floors.
- Dhirag says I recommend the Bissell Crosswave, I love it so much. Vacuums and washes the floor at the same time. Get the pet pro one, it picks up hair without clogging up.
- Says Bev I’ve purchased several different mops/Swiffers etc and none of them were appropriate for the RV. I use a small bucket with water and Pine Sol and a microfiber rag and wear a pair of rubber flip flops. I take the wet rag and use my foot to clean the floor
- Jeanette says I have a round box of Lysol wipes. I just use them for wiping and disinfecting everything..the counter, sink, bathroom and the floor. (Sweep with Dyson vacuum first). Rinse the rag and repeat. It sounds ridiculous but does the job and no hauling around useless stuff!
- Grady says I have the Dyson battery-powered vac and it’s the best thing ever for vacuuming. I use a spray cleaner for the hardwood.
- Cheryl A small dust pan and brush or a Dust Buster. Then a wet soapy rag or paper towel. I use rinse-less floor cleaner.
The RV Lifestyle Facebook Group has nearly 40,000 members and is a tremendous asset for your RV questions and ideas. It’s free to join. Just go to https://rvlifestyle.com/facebook
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer, or a comment on the things we’re discussing? If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Battle Born Batteries, maker of quality, safe and reliable lithium batteries that can be installed in just about every RV. Get in touch with Battle Born to find out what lithium batteries and an upgraded energy management system can add to your RV Lifestyle. Check them out at https://rvlifestyle.com/lithium
Mike Wendland: Joining us this week for our interview of the week is an RV entrepreneur. I guess that’s what I’m going to call him, because I love stories like this, where someone has a skill. With a little entrepreneurship, they can turn it into a great business. So it is with our guest. His name is Mike Weyneth. He is with RV Renovation Camp. That is just what it sounds like. It’s a special weekend camp out on the farm in which you do some renovation on your RV. Mike joins us now. Mike, what a great idea. How did this come about?
Mike Weyneth: Originally, when I started Vanving, back about five years ago, I had purchased an RV. During the year I had it, I renovated it. When I went to sell it a year later, why I did real well, so it struck me as something that I might want to do for business. The last five years, that’s what I’ve done, is renovate RVs. I share those renovations online and I’ve had fantastic responses. People constantly ask questions and I’m constantly trying to answer them and teach them the products to use or the way that I did certain things, because I always post my before and after pictures online. I thought, “I have a big farm out in Southwest Missouri. Why don’t I bring the people out that really want to renovate theirs and actually have them on site and help them renovate their RVs?”
Mike Wendland: The idea is we bring the RV and we go camping for a weekend. I’m looking at your site, which is RVRenovationCamp.com. I’m looking at some of your schedules and you’ve got most of the weekends booked out or at least listed up. How many people can you handle on a weekend? Walk us through some of the things that you teach for renovation and how a weekend at Renovation Camp works.
Mike Weyneth: Sure. There’s three different aspects of a renovation, from my standpoint anyway. One of them is just flooring. On our weekend camps, of course, we couldn’t do the whole RV, so we picked an aspect. The first one is flooring. You come on a Friday night. Then Saturday morning we get up and we talk about how to remove all your old flooring, be it carpet or old vinyl or old linoleum. That’s all we do Saturday. Then Sunday, we get up and have a clinic on how to install the new flooring. I usually recommend vinyl plank. Then if you have a slide-out, unfortunately, you got to stick with a little bit of carpet, because that’s necessary for that gap that’s there once you put your slide-out out.
The next section of renovations is cabinets. People enjoy the new colors that are out there for cabinets, so we’ll spend a weekend and just show them how to pull out the hardware and the cabinet doors and what kind of sandpaper to use and what kind of primer to use. Then on Sunday, we go back and paint the new colors and reinstall them. Then finally, the most difficult part, which I know these camps will really help, is the upholstery part, because, without a professional upholsterer, it’s hard to do it yourself. We actually have an upholstery shop on site, but I have the campers, if you will, take all their upholstery off, show them how to do it, then come with their new material and then show them how to cut templates and put all the pieces together. Then we’ll run them through our machines here at the upholstery shop and have them re-install their upholstery.
Mike Wendland: In that weekend, you have one for flooring, you have one for cabinets, you have one for upholstery. Do they actually renovate it? Does it actually get done and they drive off with new floors, new cabinets, new upholstery?
Mike Weyneth: Absolutely. Yep. When they leave Sunday night, they leave with either new floors or new cabinets or new upholstery.
Mike Wendland: Now they don’t have to bring the supplies, right? How do they get the right floors? You have to have a store somewhere. Where do they get it?
Mike Weyneth: Sure. On the website, it shows exactly what to bring. They’re responsible to bring their flooring, the fabric that they’re going to want to upholster with, and the different primers and paints that they want as far as colors. They’ll come with the supplies. We make sure they get exactly what they’re supposed to. When they get here, then we don’t have to go anywhere or do anything.
Mike Wendland: The cost is pretty reasonable for this. I’m looking and it’s $250 for the weekend clinics. Now you do have, it looks like, a week-long renovation camp. Tell us what happens with that.
Mike Weyneth: Sure. That’s where we combine all three. We’ll do the flooring and the cabinets and the upholstery. It would take a full week to do that. That would be like a Sunday night through a Friday night camp.
Mike Wendland: This is a working renovation camp and they stay right at your farm. Are there hookups? Do they have water, anything that they need?
Mike Weyneth: We only would be able to supply water. It would be primitive camping while you’re here at the camp.
Mike Wendland: Boondocking on the farm.
Mike Weyneth: Correct. But it’s free. All you would pay for is, of course, the instructional part of the renovations. While they’re doing the work, I’m in and out of each RV and just looking over their shoulder and making sure what they’re doing is correct or there for questions if they have any.
Mike Wendland: Typically how many people show up for one of your renovation camps?
Mike Weyneth: Right now I have five spots for each one. I want to keep it small and personal because I want to see how much attention each camper needs. I’m certain I can deal with five at a time at this point.
Mike Wendland: That’s probably a pretty good number. Everybody gets to know each other. I would imagine there’s some comradery around the renovation campfire at renovation camp.
Mike Weyneth: Each night, right. We try to be done by three each day, then have free time. They can wander the farm. Then each night we try to have a campfire where we can get together. Of course, right now we’ll keep our distance. But in the future, we’ll all sit around the campfire and get to know each other and talk about where we’re all from and how our renovation project’s going.
Mike Wendland: You’re located in Carthage, Missouri. Tell everybody where that is and what it’s like in that area. There may be other things they may want to see coming and going.
Mike Weyneth: Sure. It’s in the southwest corner of Missouri, right next to Joplin. We’re actually on Route 66, the Historic Route 66. All of those pleasures are right here. Additionally, Branson, Missouri is only an hour away. Northwest Arkansas and Fayetteville, lots of campgrounds, lots of beautiful scenery to go and enjoy. You can come to renovate and then head on down the road and enjoy the area.
Mike Wendland: What kind of RVs are you renovating? Are they all kinds, motorhomes, towables? How old typically are the ones that you are helping folks get that new look to booth boot? How old?
Mike Weyneth: I’ll answer that with two answers, that’s anything and everything. We can renovate anything and everything. We have a [inaudible 00:07:43] 1968 Sportscraft Pop-up that we’re finishing right now. From that up to a class A diesel pusher. We do it all, so you can bring anything.
Mike Wendland: Mike, I think it’s a great idea. I’m glad to share it with our podcast folks through this interview. RVRenovationCamp.com. We’ll put a link in the show notes for everybody to find it, but great idea, Mike. I wish you great success. Renovation for your RV and a camp-out for a weekend. Great idea, Mike.
Mike Weyneth: Thank you.
The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country
BY TOM & PATTI BURKETT
I have to say I was a bit taken aback, as I was looking at the lovely stained glass windows in the little chapel to realize that what I was seeing was a B-17 bomber. We’ve seen World War 1 and World War 2 references in stained glass windows in many places, but none quite so graphic and startling as this one. On reflection it didn’t seem so out of place, since the chapel is on the grounds of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler, Georgia. Even though you can see the chapel and a B-47 bomber sitting right there by the I-95 as you bypass Savannah, it’s easy to miss among the other roadside clutter.
The museum, on the other hand, is a cool and fascinating oasis in the heat of Georgia, and well worth the modest admission price. Like somewhere out of a more genteel time, the lobby feels like some upscale government office building or corporate headquarters and features a sit-down cafe with Southern specialties on the menu. The office building vibe falls away fast when you enter the main exhibit space, where the attractions are large gleaming airplanes. In the center sits the aforementioned B-17, the City of Savannah, still undergoing restoration
Many B-17s, which were the bomber workhorses of World War 2, were processed through Hunter Air Force base outside Savannah, and many were delivered by WASP pilots, the women aviators who pioneered in the air corps. We’ve been to see their museum in Texas, which you can hear about in another episode, or on an NPR podcast here. Many heroic tales of piloting these “Flying Fortresses” both above the USA and on combat missions are told in the museum, some recounted on video and some in print. The stories are accompanied by artifacts and personal mementos.
The Eighth Air Force began here at Hunter, but shortly moved to England where it was central to aerial efforts during the war. Within three years it numbered more than 350,000 pilots, technicians, and ground support crew. Nowadays it’s headquartered in Louisiana, where you can visit the Barksdale Global Power Museum to learn more about the unit and see another display of vintage and more contemporary aircraft.
In the exhibit area is a large collection of Nazi artifacts and a history of that party’s rise to power in Germany. Nearby is what I would call a quonset hut. Not so, I found out. It’s a Nissen hut, name after the British mining engineer who designed it. Quonset huts were designed and deployed around the same time by the US military. Inside begins your mission briefing, part of a simulated bomber pilot experience that gives a good sense of what it might have been like for those soldiers.
Leaning against the side of the hut is a B-17 wing. It turns out this wing is from a plane shot down over Belgium in 1944. Charles Haskett, a gunner who escaped capture by the Germans when the plane went down, returned to Belgium in 1995 and found the wing, in use at a farm to shelter a colony of honeybees. The farmer and his family gave it to Haskett and he passed it on to the museum. Now it’s an interactive map of air strikes.
There’s lots more to see in the museum, including a fascinating display about escapes and prisoner camps, a labyrinth, and the chapel mentioned earlier. All this just a few scant yards from the busiest interstate in the country, but still off the beaten path.
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