RV Podcast #304: Rising COVID fears and RV Travel

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As the nation once again finds COVID rates dramatically rising, RVers are wondering what to do with summer travel plans. “Should we stay or should we go?”  is a question we’ve been asked a lot this past week.

So in this 304th episode of the RV Podcast, we’re going to talk about that. We’ll share our feelings and hear from a bunch of you who responded to our request to call and share your opinion.

Plus, we have lots of RV questions this week, plenty of RV News, and a great off the beaten path RV report from the Burketts.

RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK

Officials say no reported COVID-19 cases at Yosemite, but then they discover it in human sewage
In this time of pandemic camping, there was an intriguing story this week out of California that caught our attention. Yosemite National Park is open to visitors, regular testing of employees and residents shows no one has tested positive for COVID-19, and no visitors have reported back as positive. Seems a safe place to go, right? Well, apparently a company that is checking human raw sewage for the virus found COVID-19 in the waste. The company estimated between June 30 and July 6, about 170 infected people were at the El Portal stop, while just a few were at Wawona. The science is still developing, and being outside and away from crowds is still considered a relatively safe activity, but this adds to our belief that using the facilities in your RV is still the safest thing to do.

Black bear bites woman, child, in Yellowstone backcountry then eats their food
A black bear bit a woman and a child at Yellowstone National Park last week after entering a campsite shared by five backpackers in search of food. The woman and child were outside their tents and the bear walked right up to them, bit them, then went to their food which was under a storage pole but not yet hung up. When rangers arrived, the bear was still eating the campers’ food, so the bear was killed. The bear bit the woman in her arm and head and bit the child’s hand. Both received bruises and minor cuts. Rangers, again, urged visitors to carry bear spray. Here is an article we did on how to camp safely in bear country – we’ve shared it before, but believe it is worth sharing again.

Woman chased by a bison at Yellowstone trips, falls, plays dead and survives encounter without injury
Speaking of Yellowstone, did you see the video of the woman who was being charged by a bison, tripped and fell, played dead, and survived the encounter without a scratch? Apparently, the woman and another person got too close to the wild creature so it charged. The woman tripped and fell when running and once down, she played dead. The charging bison came to an abrupt stop spent a few seconds sniffing the woman – who lay there motionless –  and then ambled away. The woman then got up, apparently unharmed. It was all caught on cellphone video and as is clear, too many people were too close to the bison.  Click here to see.

Man transforms jet engine into camping trailer
We’ve all seen pictures, and may even have, a do-it-yourself van transformed into a camper. But have you ever heard of anyone transforming a jet engine into a camping traile? A British man did just that. He bought a decommissioned VC10 jet engine from a scrap yard and started tinkering. The engine is 13 feet long. He flattened the bottom so it could attach to a chassis, then meticulously went about taking things apart and building them back up while installing a sink, twin burners, cabinets, and a lounge-dining area that coverts to beds. The story and pictures can be seen here. Because of corona virus, the man and his family have not gone camping in it yet but hope to soon.
 

In this summer of pandemic camping, remember to check ahead
New Mexico state parks campgrounds are the only ones nationwide to remain closed to campers from other states, according to Campendium.  But, when looking throughout the U.S., about 9.1 percent of the campgrounds Campendium surveys are closed because of COVID-19. What remains closed are a number of national park campgrounds – like Acadia in Maine, the Badlands in South Dakota, Big Cypress in Florida, and quite a few others. Also, with COVID-19 numbers rising significantly out West, officials there are starting to question whether campgrounds should again be closed. And out East, some state parks now open were closed over the weekend because they reached capacity. As always, things are fluid. We recommend checking before heading out by clicking here.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes, America’s #1 e-bike brand, offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping  

RV QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK                                                       

First, a question that came in on our RV Lifestyle Voicemail (586-372-6990) number this week:

QUESTION: This is John from Marietta, Georgia. Thank you for the great review on your new Leisure Travel van Wonder I was wondering if you thought about a Rad Power Bike mini fold up bikes would fit in the garage. Let me know what you think. We love to bike and it would be super nice if both of them would fold up and fit into the Wonder garage Thank you again. Happy RV Trails!

ANSWER: Absolutely they would. In the video review John references from our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, we showed the giant pass through storage space at the back of our RV that we call the “garage.” We said it would take two regular bikes but we though our large ebikes might not fit. Since then we have heard from another ebike owner who has a Wonder RV model like ours and he said he is able to get two eBikes in the back. We’ll have to try. But certainty, two of those foldup Rad mini’s that John writes about would definitely fit!

Next, we have some questions that were posted this week on our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group:

This question on our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group comes from Savina:

QUESTION: Is it normal for the AC to drip water over the side of the RV?

ANSWER: Absolutely. In fact, if your conditioner control is on and there’s no water runoff outside, then the air conditioner is not working! In fact, during the summer, when it’s humid, it’s normal for your AC to drain anywhere from 5-20 gallons of water per day.

Other members of our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group weighed in on Savina’s question with their own answers:

Ronnie – I put a bucket under mine and use the water to water my plants.

Elizabeth –Yes we have the plastic “gutter router” so it doesn’t leave a streak. Pretty impressive that they are so easy to install and just stay in place down the road!

Tina – That water has to go somewhere. Better than inside the trailer. You could possibly add a plastic drain tube to direct it better.

Next question comes from Michael, who asks:

QUESTION: “On a 40 foot class A, should we level first and then put out the slides or put the slides out and then level?

ANSWER: For us, when we owned a Leisure Travel Vans Unity model with a slide, we were told to always level first, and then put out the slide. The rationale being that if the RV is uneven, putting the slide out that way could cause unnecessary wear and tear on the slide mechanism.

But that was the advice of our manufacturer. But there are some manufacturers who recommend the opposite and this question on our Facebook Group as brought over 42 comments. The vast majority said to level first and then put out the slide but not all. Here are some of the replies:

Rick says “Depends on the manufacturer. Newmar says slides out, then level”

Chad notes that “Different manufacturers have different procedures: It depends on what the manual says…certainly don’t listen to everyone who thinks it’s all the same across the board— my Winnebago said to level 1st, but now my Beaver says to run slides before jacks (even says so next to the switches for the jacks)”

Kimberly Ann says “Our manual says to slide then level. First year, we did that. We were constantly in the shop with “slide” issues. Finally we decided to level first. No issues since then. It’s been 7 years! I say level first. We have 37ft class A.”

So…summing up: Check your manual but in doubt or you can’t find specific instructions in the manual, level your rig first.

We’ve been sharing some of the questions and answers posted on these topics on our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group. We

We’re closing in now on 40,000 members and whenever you have an RV Lifestyle question, it is the place to go for quick and immediate response from your Fellow Travelers. To join, just go the 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

THE RV PODCAST INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK

As we said earlier, the theme for this week’s episode is “Should we stay or should we go?

As the nation shuts down again because of spiraling COVID-19 infections, many RVers are wondering what to do with their travel plans for the rest of the summer. Just when it appeared that RV road trips would once again be okay, now there is once again a groing number of calls to locak down certain states and discourage travel.

In particular, many of the Western States – at the top of most RVers bucket lists – seem to now be experiencing a new surge in infections. So, should we stay, or should we go?

That is the question.

I wish there was a clear-cut answer.

Well, let me tell you what Jennifer and I are doing: 

We’re staying relatively close to home and not planning any long trips. What RV travel we will be doing for the next few weeks will be in the Great Lakes region, where we’ll closely monitor local conditions and maintain social distancing.

Yes, we are going camping… just not far from home for a few weeks. We’ll be avoiding any gatherings or groups and stick pretty much to ourselves.

But we also asked our Fellow Travelers on our various RV Lifestyle social media sites what they were doing and what advice they have. We want to share those with you now:

Hi, this is Kathy and Joel We have a pleasure way Plateau FL. We plan to use that as a way to safely drive our daughter to college halfway across the country, and then continue traveling across the country out to Oregon, California another state to visit am distantly with our family members including my older parents. Don’t want to go years without seeing them. We will be camping along the way in campgrounds where we are actually researching to get sites that are not close to others. Uh, and if all goes well, we’ll be about six weeks on the road.

This is Patty Nolan and Al . We are living in New York state on Long Island. Yes, our plans have changed we had reservations about to go to Maine in the fall, but with the uncertainty of borders and quarantining and all that and maybe the virus coming back in the fall. We decided to stay in our home state. So we’re going to take a trip to the Finger Lakes area in September instead of going up to Maine. And other than that we Boondock in our son’s driveway near Syracuse New York. That’s those will be our trips see are identical twin granddaughters. Hope you’re all well. 

Hi, how are you guys doing? This is Rachel and my husband Rob and I had originally had a summer trip planned out to the Grand Canyon through New Mexico and Arizona. We live in South East Texas. So when things kind of went downhill the second time for COVID  we just decided to stay in Texas because we weren’t sure if they were going to have any quarantine requirements or lockdowns in any of the states we plan to plan to go to and we may n ot be able to get back or there may be a call in requirement when we got back. So we just stayed in our own State and we took a nice little eleven day trip out and back through different places Big Bend,  Davis Mountain, Fredericksburg, Austin staying at state parks and various places and everywhere. We went everyone was social distancing and wearing masks. It was really no problem for us. So bottom line. We opted to stay within our own State and still take our trip and we had an awesome time.

Hi, Mike, and Jennifer. This is Linda and Peter we too just got a new RV recently. We got a Tiffin Wayfarer and as you, we’re really anxious to travel but we’re also being very cautious.

We live in New England in Massachusetts. And although I have travelled to Pennsylvania and back up 81 through New York back to New England. We’ve been very careful about where we’ve been staying and now that seems to be a new outbreak of COVID we have kind of toned our plans down as well.

We were hearing that if we wanted to take our usual trip to Maine we would have to stay at the campsite for two weeks because that’s how much time they want us to quarantine and we didn’t want to pay for two weeks, even though planned to be there for a few days.

So we’ve decided to stay local. There’s lots of nice places to visit on Cape Cod, and we’ve just been going to some of the local campsites and even though we’re close to home, there’s a lot of our own state that we haven’t seen yet. So we’re just trying to take advantage of that but I certainly can appreciate people that are away from home and they’re trying to make their way back.

Being on the east coast and the northern area around New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, it’s been kind of dicey and I would probably tell people if they’re going to be making plans to check ahead and even the day before check the campsites or check where they’re going to be going because like I said, Maine now requires you to stay there for two weeks cuz that’s their quarantine time and that just seemed to be a little bit I thought for somebody who’s not been getting you going to be leaving our RV a lot off and people don’t want to get into a campsite and then find it there stuck there because they’ve gone over the border.

I’m looking forward to hearing your podcast and hopefully next year this time or over the winter things will be a little bit more back to normal, and we’ll we’ll get to cross paths on the road. So, thanks again. And again, this is Linda and Peter from Massachusetts.

Hi, Mike. Owen, Lynn and  Maggie from VanTrekking Lifestyle. So have our plans changed the summer. You bet. We were planning a four-month trek to Newfoundland but due to COVID we chose to play it safe and we chose to stay close to home. And that’s what we’re doing. We try to stay no more than two to three hours away from home and we’re keeping our trips to 1 to 2 weeks at a time and we decide where to go based upon three pieces of information.

Number one – We list out four to five  place we really want to visit that’s within two to three hours of home.

Number two – we check the weather and the events for those places and weed out the ones with not so good weather or biker week kind of things going on during that time.

And then finally we look at the COVID cases per capita for those places that made the shortlist. For us the lowest per-capita number or cases per thousand residents wins. We throw out the ones with the high numbers and we narrow it down that way. We use Weather.com of all things to get the information, there’s a tab on there. So yes, we’re still traveling but also yes COVID has changed how where and how we travel.

Thanks for everything you do to to support this RV Community especially during these trying times. And by the way Lynn, and I love your Wonder. Maggie says to tell Bo Happy Tails.

Hello, Mike and Jennifer. This is Anthony Williams from King George, Virginia. My plans are to stay mainly in my home State, Virginia. The rest of camping season. Just wanted to visit some state parks and visit a couple of family members, and that’s pretty much it. I’m not going too far outside the state and maybe into Maryland, which is only less than a half an hour away, but that’s with my plans and be safe. Thank you.

Hi, this is Angel. I’m calling from Northwest Ohio where I manage a campground for summer and I just like to put my two cents in.  Honestly, I am excited to be out camping. My campground is busier than ever. However, I would feel better If folks were really just sticking around a little more regionally.

I’m all for getting out enjoying the fresh air and saving the economy and tourist regions, but I wish people would think about how about a hundred miles or so from home, just do what you want to do but to a close by home, you can get home quicker. You’re impacting less.

Your circle is a little less. You can still get out enjoy the great outdoors, but this doesn’t feel like the time to be planning a big trip. If you do go out. I’d implore you to please wear your mask,  practice whatever behaviors need to do in the area that you’re at and respect the local community and understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Our area is being saved this summer. I think my cottages and hotel rentals are way down Camping is record breaking.

So, I understand the economic need for it. I just realize that folks coming from long ways, and then turn around and leave and do nothing, but perhaps we have a little bit of money and the chance the risk a higher risk for COVID for all the folks left behind. Thanks so much. Looking forward to seeing you guys. Maybe next summer. Take care. Mike and Jen. See you soon. Bye.

Hi, this is Cathy calling from New Jersey. Our state was hit hard by COVID early on and now thankfully we are doing somewhat better. Personally, I’m staying close to home with my RV. Better to be safe than sorry. Also, just today our governor increased the list of states whose residents are being asked to quarantine. Should they visit the Garden State. So, there are now 31 states on that list. So, I would recommend staying home and try coming back to visit us again next year. Thank you.

Hi, my name is Brittany. I’m forty. I’m a high school science teacher. The pandemic has changed my RV travel plans in that we’d actually planned on going to Europe for the summer and we had several other vacations planned where they’re just small trips where we flew some place and did a specific activity… going to Hawaii, going to Washington DC,  and we end up canceling all of those.

The first one was to start on March 13th or 14th, and we’ve canceled four different trips now at this point so what we’ve been doing instead is doing long weekends in our RV at the local state parks in Florida.

And then recently we took a 3,200 Mi road trip for the first half of July from Florida to Maine and back. We did quarantine before we left our home. We also took COVID tests, the nasal swab test, close enough that we actually received our results while we were on the road. We stayed at a relative’s property in Maine for a week. And then we drove back south to Florida. It’s actually been a unique because a lot of people have cancelled their travel plans.

So, we were able to stay in nice state parks, you know with 24 hours advance notice rather than making a reservation with three months or a year in advance.  And I don’t think we would have been able to do that without COVID. We would have travelled more.

We would like to travel more but we didn’t think it was the responsible thing to do.  Since we got back to our home late on 17th, we’ve been doing like a self-imposed quarantine. We went to the grocery store and then we went and bought a few essential things from the hardware store like a light bulb and some batteries that we actually did need but we aren’t going to any restaurants anyplace where we’d be in public around other people for any extended period of time and of course, we’re continuing to mask like we had to been before.Have a good summer.

Hi, Mike, and Jennifer. My name is Laurie and I’m calling about travel plans for RVing this summer. Believe it or not, I haven’t even gone yet. I live in a Great Lakes State and our campgrounds opened the third week of June, but I’m not comfortable myself spending time in a campground and I really think in terms of going out of state that for the for the good of the country and our fellow Americans that this is just the summer they put in our own state. Not going across state lines and having people from places where COVID is high come into our state.

We have our numbers down a little bit. I’d like to see it stay that way and the United States we don’t have borders like they do in Europe and some of our states are as big as European countries. So I just think citizens need to kind of stay put hunker down. I do plan to go out yet this summer.

I just was not ready to do in June and the first part of July, but I do have some plans coming up and of course staying in National Forest is probably my number one goal just because I would feel safest being solitary and not by a lot of people. So anyway, that’s my two cents. Thanks a lot, bye-bye.

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  

RV PODCAST OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT   

Tom & Patti Burkett of the Rv Podcast
The RV Podcast off the beaten path reporters Tom & Patti Burkett

BY TOM & PATTI BURKETT

 As you travel along US 30, the Mighty Lincoln Highway, through Eastern Pennsylvania, you might see a faded sign for Roadside America.  

Farther down the road you’ll come to the place itself, a nondescript one-story brick building with a couple of hex signs, set back from the road in the middle of a parking lot several times bigger than the building itself. 

 We’ve mentioned before John Stilgoe’s book Outside Lies Magic, and his advice to look for clues in the landscape to help interpret what you’re seeing.  There’s big clue here.  First. the setting in the middle of a parking lot says people are going to be visiting by automobile and, second, the size of the paved lot says it gets (or used to get) a lot of visitors.

This miniature version of the United States is the stylized vision of one man, Laurence Geiringer, who began building the model in 1903, when he was nine years old.  As he grew up in the town of Hamburg, Pennsylvania, along one of the country’s first roads, the King’s Highway, which later became the Centre Turnpike and is now Interstate 78.  

Work progressed steadily on the model and when Laurence was in his twenties, his friends convinced him to allow the community in for a look.  The resulting newspaper story led to an offer from the owner of the local amusement park, and in 1938 it moved to Carsonia Park.  

The front of Roadside America – The subject of this Off the Beaten Path Report on the RV Podcast

One of these times we’ll talk about trolley parks, but for now, let it suffice that Carsonia was a weekend destination for commuters from the nearby cities.

Geiringer kept building, and shortly the display outgrew its space among the amusement rides and moved to an abandoned dance hall in Shartlesville.  Roadside America, by now a well-known roadside attraction, attracted enough custom to allow the construction of its own building, the one it now inhabits along the side of the highway.  

There’s a small gift shop and restrooms, but the six thousand square foot model takes up almost the whole building.  More than three hundred scale model buildings, and crafted by Geiringer, by hand, from salvaged fruit and vegetable crates, are spread across a landscape of mountains, hills, gorges, towns, pioneer settlements, and fishing villages.  

Keep in mind, though, that this is not a historical re-creation, but rather one mans stylized vision of the country.  On close examination it’ll be clear that there’s a lot about the USA that doesn’t appear here.

Three trolley lines and a half dozen railroads wind their way through little towns, over mountains, and through tunnels as you make your way around the model.  Some you can actually operate by pushing buttons along the rail.  

About every half hour, it becomes nighttime in the building.  Streetlights and houselights come winking on as stars appear in the sky overhead.  As it becomes full dark, train headlights rush out of tunnels, dance hall music can be heard, cowboys gather around campfires, and patriotic music fills the building as Old Glory waves in projection on the back wall.  

It’s all very fifties, very kitsch, and very nostalgic.  The display gets a makeover for a variety of holidays, including Christmas and Halloween, with special theme promotions.

Nearby in Shartlesville, I once had the most amazing breakfast of my life.  Served family-style, even to this single diner, it encompassed twelve different items and cost a whopping five bucks.  There are still plenty of family-style restaurants in the area, and it would be a shame to pass up the experience if you haven’t had it yet. 

I also remember regular dinners with my grandparents at Zinn’s Diner in Denver, PA.  Standing out front was Big Amos, a fifteen-foot-tall fiberglas Amish man who welcomed you in his booming mechanical voice.  Zinn’s Diner is now the thoroughly remodeled Park Place, and Big Amos strode on his long legs about fifty miles to the Hershey Farm Inn and Restaurant, where he sports a new outfit and new Pennsylvania Dutch patter.  

Strange indeed are some of the things you can see out here off the beaten path.

 

 

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