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RV Podcast: Campgrounds are getting ready to reopen

Campgrounds across North America are getting ready to open as we’re seeing many places in the US adopting a three-phased process to ease mandatory stay at home orders and travel prohibitions.

The question is… when?

Some campgrounds in a handful of states are planning to book new campers starting in May. Others have tentatively set reopening dates to a little later. Still, others say they have no idea.

But whenever they do open, as we learn in our Interview of the Week segment, camping as we know it will be different, sometimes vastly different, with new procedures and policies that may be with us long into the future.

We update the current open and closed list of campgrounds and hear from two industry experts, both of whom are voicing cautious optimism that the 2020 camping year will soon be starting – in one form or another.

Plus, we have RV News of the week, your questions, and an off the beaten path report. But first, my lifelong traveling companion and my bride… Jennifer.

Show Notes for Episode #291 of The RV Podcast:

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK

Like you, Jen and I have pretty much been staying at home during this pandemic and while we are not in as strict of a lockdown as other places, we are starting to feel the strain of no travel and closed businesses.

While there is a strong glimmer of hope that things are starting to improve and some of those restrictions will be lifted, I think we all have at least a couple more weeks yet where unnecessary travel will be prohibited by health and governmental authorities. But I am very optimistic now that, come summer, we will all be able to get back on the road.

To that end, while we’re all hunkered down, we now are doing two YouTube live streams. Our regular Sunday evening “Ask Us Anything” show on our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel has been joined with a Friday night Virtual Campfire. Both start at 7 PM Eastern time and are a great way to stay connected and interact with the online RV Lifestyle community. Join us at https://youtube.com/rvlifestyle

We invite you to pull up a chair and join us for the live streams! Here’s hoping that soon we’ll be able to have real campfires again!

We’ve been watching the Super B RV Show online this past week Like all in person RV shows, this year’s annual Super B Show I Phoenix was canceled. So the event organizers – LaMesa RV -moved it online and have been featuring video tours of various small motorhome models, along with live Q&A on their Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.

The online Super B Show will continue all week. Here are the ones we’ve watched so far.

The Pleasureway Ascent TS  – https://youtu.be/_pOmtyH0sDI

The Pleasureway Tofino – https://youtu.be/MFqmsBWZqE8

The Leisure Travel Unity – https://youtu.be/iye_CPe0Dqw

LaMesa is doing a live broadcast each day of different Class B units at 10 AM PT at https://www.facebook.com/lamesarv

RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK

Homeowners association refuses request by COVID-19 treating physician’s assistant to live in RV in her driveway
A New Jersey physician’s assistant treating COVID-19 patients was denied the right to live in an RV in her driveway by her neighborhood homeowners association in Burlington County. The physician’s assistant and her husband have a 6-year-old daughter, so the couple thought if she lived in an RV in the driveway she could see her daughter and husband and be close, but have the separation needed to protect their child. But apparently the homeowners association still denied the request. 

Gary Bunzer, widely known as the RV doctor, dies after four-week fight against COVID-19

Last weekend we shared over our RV Lifestyle Facebook group, the very sad news that Gary Bunzer, known far and wide in the RV Community as “the RV Doctor,” died in a Washington hospital after a four week battle with COVID-19. Gary was a frequent guest on our podcast and he made appearances in several of our videos. We last saw Gary in October in Elkhart, IN at the opening of the RV Technical Institute which trains RV techs. Gary was instrumental in designing the curriculum for that school. Gary was gracious, fun, a true expert in all things RV and always willing to share his expertise. To see the post in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group click here.

As you’re out walking during this time of lockdown, beware of ticks
As more of us head outside to exercise during this time of social distancing, be aware that in much of the country, tick season is just beginning. A story out of Idaho last week talked about how ticks are quick to latch on to dogs, which then carry them into your home. But they can also latch on to people and can carry a variety of diseases. Ticks often live in grassy, bushy areas, and here is a story with some helpful tips on how to remove them from your dog.

 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  

LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

From Erin via the RV Lifestyle Facebook Group:

I’m new here to the RV world and can someone explain to me why in the world do some campgrounds not allow RV’s that are over 10 years old? By the time mine is paid off it will be over 10 years old!

(This question generated 110 answers from members! O avid that but, say most of our readers, overlook it routinely if the Rv is in decent shape. Most upscale parks do not want ratty, duct-taped, and unsightly RVs. They make that rule.

This is from Jason via the RV Lifestyle Facebook Group:

My wife and I are planning a trip from Oklahoma to Alaska. We are thinking about utilizing the ferry system and bypass Canada altogether and was curious if anyone else has used the ferry for their RV and approximate cost to do so.

 (Transporting an RV on the ferry can cost $5,000 and more round trip and the ferry schedules have been cut back and are described by many members as erratic)

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

RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK

The US is adopting a three-phased process to ease mandatory stay at home orders and travel prohibitions.

The question is… when?

Some campgrounds in a handful of states are planning to book new campers starting in May. Others have tentatively set reopening dates to a little later. Still, others say they have no idea.

But whenever they do open, as we learn in our Interview of the Week segment, camping as we know it will be different, sometimes vastly different, with new procedures and policies that may be with us long into the future.

We update the current open and closed list of campgrounds and hear from two industry experts, both of whom are voicing cautious optimism that the 2020 camping year will soon be starting – in one form or another.

Before we hear from some industry experts, let’s update the current situation.

  • As of April 21, as we record this, about 60% of U.S. based campsites are closed due to COVID-19.
  • Forty-two out of 50 states have closed or delayed opening their state park system campgrounds: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware,
  • All Army Corp of Engineer campgrounds, nationwide, are closed.
  • Some states have classified private RV parks as ‘non-essential’ businesses, and have ordered them closed – or have placed restrictions on access to them: Connecticut, Indiana*, Illinois*, Iowa*, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio*, Vermont, Virginia*, West Virginia
  • Many casinos and their corresponding parking lots, which often permit overnight parking, are closed. Have a back-up plan if intending to utilize a casino parking lot as an overnight resting spot.
  • All  National Parks are closed to camping and many are also closed to day use.  While most facilities and events are closed or canceled, outdoor spaces in some parks remain accessible to the public. Before visiting, please check with individual parks regarding changes to park operation
  • All U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed campgrounds in every Division and District in the nation have closed at least May 15th.
  • Multiple military RV parks and campgrounds have closed. U.S. Military Campgrounds & RV Parks is tracking these closures on their website.
  • Thousand Trails / Encore Resorts RV remain open to guests currently on site, however, they are not accepting new reservations through April 30, 2020. Guests currently at locations may extend their stay.
  • KOA campgrounds are generally open, unless, as in many states, they have been ordered closed by state or local officials. KOA lists the status of each campground state by state on this website.

Our friends at Campendium have the most detailed list of what is and isn’t open at https://www.campendium.com/camping/covid-19-state-by-state-campground-closures-responses/. Their up-to-date information can help you find what areas are/aren’t accessible as you travel. You can also filter your campground search by open campgrounds removing those with temporary closures.

Now, that said, May first will be a critical date for many campgrounds as a growing number of states will be entering phase one of the reopening plans being suggested by federal and many state officials. We can’t give you a list as of yet because none have officially released their plans as we record this episode.

But the first expert we want you to hear is from Toby O’Rourke, the CEO of KOA She released a video message this week. You can watch her full interview here but here are some audio excerpts as she discusses the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the camping industry, and talks about what campground owners can expect in the coming months.

PLAY O’Rourke message

Next up, I want you to hear an interview with our friend Mark Koep, of Campgroundviews.com. Mark talks about the challenges campground owners face and what he thinks camping will be like in the months ahead. Information on the Back to Camping Summit Mark talked about can be found at https://www.btcamping.com/

PLAY Koep interview

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

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT   

 By Tom & Patti Burkett

Bats.  When you’re in Louisville Kentucky you’ll want to take in the tour at the Louisville Slugger factory and, if it’s the season, catch the city’s triple-A team in action.  But today’s report is about a different kind of bats.  The kind with wings.  

There are a number of places across the USA where you can see mass flyouts of these nocturnal mammals, and we encourage you to make time for one or all of them.  Some are in striking rural settings, like Carlsbad Caverns, and some in equally interesting urban locales, like the State Street bridge in Austin.  We recently had a chance to watch the evening departure from another spot, the campus bat houses at the University of Florida.

It was certainly not warm when we arrived, and we came early to get a good look a the bat houses, unsure if there would be any evening departure in the coolish weather.  They certainly are interesting looking structures.  I’d describe them as two-car garages on fifteen-foot poles (sort of like a beach house) and with open floors.  According to University lore, the bats originally lived in the attics of Johnson Hall, a historic building that burned in 1987.  From there, the bats moved to the stadium that housed the track and tennis teams.  Bat droppings became a nuisance, and when the University President got bombed at an event one day, it was decreed that the bats were no longer welcome.

The bat houses

Thousands of bats were captured and relocated to a newly built bat house in 1991.  They moved out the first night and didn’t return.  The bat house was a failure and sat empty for more than three years.  In 1995, for no reason anyone could identify, the bats returned and moved in for good.  The colony continued to grow and, by 2010 required a rebuild and the addition of a second bat house for the newcomers.  Guano collected from beneath the colonies is composted and used to enrich the soil of the University’s landscape plantings and student gardens.

These are mostly Brazilian free-tailed bats and are strong fliers.  They’ve been clocked at sixty miles an hour with a tailwind and can get almost two miles up in the atmosphere.  Their nightly feeding forays range twenty miles or more from the roost.here in Gainesville, they are joined by evening bats, another common Florida species, and the less common southeastern bat, the only bat known to regularly produce twins.  We got busy cooking dinner in the RV, determined to stay until sunset to see if there would be a departure.  The parking lot began to fill up, and a small crowd gathered on the wide sidewalk between the bat houses and Lake Alice.

There was much chatter and speculation among the crowd, almost entirely made up of first-timers.  Will they fly tonight?  How many are there?  What do they eat?  Will there be babies?  How do they get out?  Questions flew and were answered by others more knowledgeable in bat lore.  AS the sky darkened, a few bats emerged, flitting around the space under the bat houses.  Then there were more and then, in an instant (it seemed), thousands of them pouring out of the houses, forming two longs streams heading out to feed

We watched for twenty minutes or so.  One group headed off north to who knows where, and another flew out over the lake, snapping up flying morsels of food above the water.  Before the night was over, they’d eat about two and a half billion insects.  The crowd seemed quite satisfied with the display, and so were we.  It’s worth a stop, and a bit of a wait, to see this nightly show going on up there, both off and above the beaten path.

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