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RV Camping at a Truck Stop

| Updated May 1, 2024

This week on the RV Podcast:

  • The chain of Love's Travel Centers is opening up more and more space for RV camping at a truck stop, not just overnighting, but multiple night stays if you want. We’ll share the details in our Interview of the Week,
  • What’s up with this? Crackerbarrel is closing some if its restaurants where RVers like to overnight.
  • Where can you get the oil changed on your Class C motorhomes? Our RV Community has some practical suggestions.
  • And answering one of our questions of the week, we tell you just how strong the wind has to be to flip an RV.
  • All this, plus the RV News of the Week and much more coming up in Episode #494  of the RV Podcast

To watch a video version of the podcast, click the player below:

For an audio version, use the player below or download to your favorite podcast app.

SOCIAL MEDIA BUZZ – Wendy Bowyer

Wendy Bowyer reports on the hot issues most talked about this past week on social media and our RV Lifestyle Community group.

In our RVLifestyle Community General Discussions Space, Russell asked: “Where can I go for an oil change for a gas Class C? I am new to a Class C, I've always had Fifth Wheels. I'm looking for a place in Houston to get an oil change. It's on a Ford e-450 Chassis, but the Ford dealers will not do oil changes on them. Does anybody have any ideas of where to look?”

Bob and Roxy suggested Russell find a semi repair shop that will do an oil change or a place like Flying J.

Marc and Brenda also suggested a semi repair shop and they went so far as to look one up in Houston, and while they had not been there personally,  confirmed on the shop's website they do oil changes, copied the phone number and shared the number with Russell. Talk about kindness! This is an example of what I love about our new community – people are so helpful and kind.

In our Community's Plumbing Space, Julie said she has a 2023 Imagine with a Dometic 300 series toilet. When she depresses the foot pedal to flush, a small amount of water drips from under the pedal. The tech at the RV dealer's service department said he flushed it multiple times without any leaks but as soon as they took it out again, Julie said it was doing the same thing so she asked if the group had any thoughts on what it might be.

Rita and Jeff said their valve used to drip like this, too, and they couldn't figure it out so they kept a small cloth to catch the water, which was a super tiny amount. This worked fine but when they replaced the base for another reason and got a new valve, the dripping stopped.

Ditto for Brenda and Marc. They bought another foot pedal part, and no more leak.

Meanwhile over in our RVLifestyle Facebook Group, we had a post that just took off like crazy last week. It was from Matthew and it said: “The usual progression of camping.  Year 5 is our actual current setup.” Mathew shared a photo with five scenes.  Year 1 was a tent in the woods with a picnic table. Year 2 was a popup. Year 3 was a travel trailer. Year 4 was a Fifth Wheel pulled by a pick-up truck, and Year 5 was a Semi with a cab and trailer hauling a toy hauler.

Everybody loved this and started to chime in on what year they were in. Some were saying they skipped a year and others said they are staying right where they are. And then people started creating their own posts showing their progression.

I saw several posts like one from Heidi, that showed her and her husband first camping in a tent, then a popup, then a travel trailer, and then another travel trailer…. Anyway, I wonder how many of you went bigger each time you replaced a rig? Something to think about.

RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK – RV Camping at a Truck Stop

Jim Wheeler, director of hospitality and RV operations for Love's. 
Jim Wheeler, director of hospitality and RV operations for Love's. 

 Many RVers need a place to stop on a long road trip & don't want to pay stiff campground fees when all they're seeking is a place to lay their heads. Sometimes they boondock in places like Walmart or Cracker Barrel, but sometimes there are safety issues or they need amenities like electricity. So what to do?

Well, increasingly they are camping at Love's Travel Stops. While many may associate Love's as a place to stop for fuel, Love's is increasingly becoming a place to camp with all the amenities and more.  

Our guest in the interview of the week is Jim Wheeler, director of hospitality and RV operations for Love's. 

Summary

Loves Travel Centers has embraced the RV lifestyle and now has over 640 locations nationwide that cater to RVs. They plan to open at least 90 more locations by the end of the year. The Loves Connect app provides a 10 cent discount on fuel and allows users to find RV-friendly locations, make reservations, and access utilities and amenities. 

Loves offers two types of locations: hookups, which are smaller locations right off the travel stops, and larger stops with more amenities. Prices for overnight stays range from around $40 to slightly higher for pull-through spaces. Reservations can be made up to a year in advance.

Takeaways

  • Loves Travel Centers has over 640 locations nationwide that cater to RVs.
  • The Loves Connect app provides a 10 cent discount on fuel and allows users to find RV-friendly locations, make reservations, and access utilities and amenities.
  • Loves offers two types of locations: hookups, which are smaller locations right off the travel stops, and larger stops with more amenities.
  • Prices for overnight stays range from around $40 to slightly higher for pull-through spaces.
  • Reservations can be made up to a year in advance.

RV NEWS OF THE WEEK

Cracker Barrel closes 4 locations, reports revenue decline, leading some RVers to urge the community to eat more often at the chain 

Some RVers are urging the RV community to eat more often at Cracker Barrel restaurants after hearing reports the southern home-cooking chain is closing four stores and experiencing declines in guests.

Cracker Barrel is closing two stores in California (Sacramento and Santa Marie), one in Oregon (the chain will now have zero stores in this state after closing 3 there in March 2023) and one store in Columbia, South Carolina.

The chain has closed 10 locations in fiscal years 2023 and 2024, but still has 658 stores remaining. Its first quarter total revenue decreased by 1.9% compared to the year prior, but it sounds to us like the company has a plan, including launching a loyalty program, improving its marketing, and focusing on guest experience.

Most Cracker Barrel restaurants allow RVers to overnight in their parking lot during long road trips and many use these stops all the time – making some very passionate about keeping the chain healthy.

When RVers overnight at the chain, the expectation is they will grab breakfast there in the morning – or dinner the night before. To us, this sounds like a great deal.

In fact, we love staying at Cracker Barrels when on a long road trip and having breakfast before a long day on the road is so convenient.

To see our story on the 7 Unwritten Rules for Overnighting at a Cracker Barrel click here.

Colorado bridge over the Blue Mesa Reservoir closed because of steel beam crack

If you are planning a camping trip this summer in Colorado, be sure to check if your route is affected by the closure of a bridge over the Blue Mesa Reservoir on U.S. 50.

A 3 to 4-inch crack along a steel beam was discovered on the bridge that connects Gunnison to Montrose.

The alternative route is a 300-mile detour that is likely to take six or seven hours to drive.

Many people planning to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park or the Curecanti National Recreation Area use this road. 

The Colorado Department of Transportation found the crack during a mandatory inspection of high-strength steel bridges required by the Federal Highway Administration. No date yet on how long it will take to fix.

If you are heading to Colorado, we do have a Colorado Adventure Guide full of suggestions of what to see, what to do and where to camp. Click here to learn more.

Jellystone campgrounds plan special Mother's Day activities 

Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts locations across the country are holding special Mother's Day weekend events. Mother's Day this year is Sunday, May 12. 

Activities vary by location. 

At some campgrounds all moms will receive a free color-changing Jellystone Park Mom cup. Others have everything from Dress-like-a-Mom contests, special crafts, tea and cookies, scavenger hunts, massages, hay rides, parades and much more. 

We have camped with our family several times at Jellystone campgrounds and always have a great time. Here is our adventure from last fall.

New LA Chargers head coach & the offensive coordinator talk up the RV life and give tours of rigs

Sounds like LA Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman have totally enjoyed spending the last couple months living the full-time RV life in Huntington Beach.

In a video just released by the team, Harbough and Roman talk up the life, give a tour of their rigs, and even settle in their campground at the end of day in a lawn chair enjoying a beer. 

Harbough, who makes $16 million a year, announced his intention to live full-time in an RV for a few months after he left his coaching job at the University of Michigan. Harbough said he was inspired by one of his favorite TV shows, the Rockford Files.

The video shows Harbough's Quantum Thor Motor Class C parked at a crowded blacktop RV park right across the street from the Pacific Ocean. The coach gives a tour of his coach, mentions some awesome RV trips he has made, and even talks about emptying the black tank.

The video also gives a tour of Roman's luxurious 2019 Newmar Ventana Class A, complete with the American flag flying off the back, with the Charges flag just below it. Roman says the RV life beats any hotel, to which Harbough enthusiastically agrees.

As Harbough's family now joins him in LA it sounds like his days of full-time life are coming to a close. If you would like to see the video, click here.

RV QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

QUESTION: I just got a weather alert about a red flag warning for the area we’re traveling to. We’re in Texas, far from the coast. Aren't red flag warnings about rip tides and dangerous water conditions? – Marcia

ANSWER: You’re thinking about the red flags lifeguards fly. We can see the confusion because a red flag on the beach means don't go in the water. But a red flag warning from the weather service is completely different. And it means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. The combination of strong winds…low relative humidity…and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

So when you hear that there is a red flag warning for the area you are in, it means you should be extremely careful with any activities that could potentially lead to a wildfire. Camping…outdoor grills…smoking materials…chain saws…and all terrain vehicles all have the potential to throw a spark and ignite a dangerous and destructive fire.

But speaking of high winds… something that happens a lot in the early spring… that leads us to our second question this week:

QUESTION: We have been told to expect a lot of heavy winds near Amarillo, TX where we are headed for a few days to tour the Palo Duro Canyon. A fellow RVer said we should probably pull in the slides from our Grand Design Fifth Wheel when we’re gone hiking for the day and away from the campsite. What’s your advice? – Keith

ANSWER: Amarillo is indeed known for almost always being windy. I remember one night in a Class B we owned at the time being really tossed round. In the morning, the locals said it was no big deal. But there is indeed some wisdom in pulling in the slides when there are really high winds and you are not around. And by high winds, I mean 40 miles above or more for extended periods of time. It wouldn't flip your RV. But it can add a lot of stress to the slide mechanisms if they're being buffeted a lot. And by the way, I Googled what it would take to flip an RV and I came up with an answer referring to a study called  “Wind Speeds Required to Upset Vehicles” by lead authors Thomas W. Schmidlin and Barbara O. Hammer, of Kent State University. Their study said you would need hurricane-force winds in excess of 91 miles per hour to flip even the least stable RV.

We're OVER 12,200 members in our NEW Community!

RV Camping at a Truck Stop 1

We have a Space for all sorts of things you want to know as an RVer, including Travel Planning, Electrical, Plumbing, Traveling with Pets, Gear, and more.

You can join each Space individually and only see what's being discussed in just that Space. Or you can see everything in the main Feed.

You can watch livestreams that are focused on one Space or another – like we recently did for Internet on the Road!

It's a calm, well-organized, friendly space to meet other RVers who might be traveling near you!

Join us https://community.rvlifestyle.com

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-04-24

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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