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What we've been up to
We've covered a lot of ground through states since we last connected.
- In Alabama this past week, we visited another own-your-own RV land development, this one comes with an RV lot directly on a whitewater river, complete with water and electric hookups.
- In Tennessee, we camped out on our property to check up on what's been done the last few weeks and plan the next phase of development of what will be our own private RV retreat for ourselves and invited guests.
- And this week, after lots of disappointments and frustrating shopping, we will buy a truck, get a hitch installed, and head towards Goshen, IN where we'll get our first glimpse of our new 5th Wheel RV.
We'll have videos and stores about all these in the days ahead.
One of the reasons why we stopped by our Tennessee property was to see how my Starlink satellite Internet service worked there.
Too many trees. Maybe when I get it on a pole 20 feet up in the air I'll have better luck.. but trees are a bummer. You need clear skies.
We’re trying to name our property there in Tennessee. Right now we’re thinking something like Camp Wildlands. But we need a descriptive name. Send your ideas in. If we pick the name you suggest, we'll send you a prize and give you an invite to join us in a campout there this year.
Feedback to one of our RV Stories last week about high truck prices
We had lots of comments to last week’s podcast where we talked about the exorbitant pricing on both new and used trucks, almost all agreeing with us that a great many automotive dealers around the country are really sticking it to their customers by taking advantage of the tight market caused by the chip shortage and charging huge price markups way, way over MSRP… in some cases, over $20,000 more!
Sample of the feedback:
From Kate: Unfortunately, this is just like everything else. All the big companies are taking full advantage of the profiteering opportunities. We know this because many companies are making record profits.
From Bill: Sold my 2003 F150 – great truck but had 250k interstate miles. Folks offered twice the book value for a vehicle with half the miles. AC died a couple of days before I sold. No problem – the buyer said he’d figure it out. Craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
From Justin: Good on you for calling out these cowboys, it's an absolute disgrace that their getting away with this!
And from Greg: I saw a 2021 Ford F250 with 3,000 miles on the used lot of a dealer last September. The website had a link to the window sticker for the truck. The dealer was asking $11,000 over the window sticker for a used, truck. Made me feel fortunate to only pay full sticker for my 2021 F250.
Why you should always have an independent inspection when buying a new RV
We also received some good feedback on why we should all get an inspection by an independent party when we get an RV… even if it is new:
Kathy wrote to say:
I also insisted on an RV inspector when my brand-new travel trailer came in. They fought me all the way trying to get me not to do the inspection. They even made several calls to my home prior trying to talk me out of it and I said no. They even tried to buy my RV from me prior to me viewing it myself and again I said no (they did that because the prices went up after I had ordered mine long ago and they knew they could make more money).
My unit also arrived with an off-road flat tire that they did not tell me about. The inspector found scratches on the wheels, several wires on the interior were wired backwards, and there were a few other things as well. On top of all that the dealership did not provide water so none of my water lines which did turn out to have quite a few leaks were inspected at the time.
To find an inspector, go to the National RV Inspectors Association at NRVIA.ORG.
5 RV Stories – big and small – you need to know this week
Gasoline prices throughout the country dropped slightly in the last two weeks, with AAA reporting the national average of $4.077 as of Saturday.
The drop happens as China, a huge consumer of fuel, enacts massive lockdowns because of rising COVID numbers, reducing its fuel consumption to October 2020 levels. Also, it comes as several countries, including the U.S., announced plans to release oil from their strategic reserves over the next few months.
The Biden Administration is also planning to permit E15 gasoline, made from ethanol, to be added to the gasoline supply. The E15 product makes more smog.
Yet even with these measures, anyone on the road knows gasoline prices are the highest they've been in years and years.
#2 – Conservation groups sue Environmental Protect Agency for failing to protect air quality in national parks
Several environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week for failing to protect air quality in the nation's national parks.
The Sierra Club and dozens of other groups say the EPA isn't enforcing something called the Regional Haze rules of the Clean Air Act that require states to submit plans to reduce emissions that create haze.
These plans were due last summer but 34 states, according to the lawsuit, have not done so yet.
The National Parks Conservation Association says haze affects 90 percent of the nation's national parks, harming public health and visitors' wilderness experience. Coal plants, emissions, and wildfires – the latter of which has been a major problem in recent years – can also impact air quality.
Here's a link to it.
Did you see the video of the air inflatable pop-up trailer out of Australia? The Australian-designed off-road camper called Mars Space X Air looks sort of like an old pop-up tent Jen and I had years ago when our kids were young – only with a modern, automatic twist.
By pushing a few buttons the camper unfolds into a pop-up tent trailer complete with a pop-up screened-in porch that is pretty interesting.
Not sure when or if the camper is coming to the US, but sometimes it is just interesting to see what other countries are creating.
The Dyrt, a popular app for camping has released a study that found that it was three times more difficult to find an available campsite to book in 2021 than it was in 2019. And there’s no indication it will be any better this year. In fact, we are sure it will be worse yet in 2022.
The Dyrt looked at seven different types of camping — tent, RV, trailer, dispersed, cabin, backpacking, and motor camping – and compared the difficulty of finding campsites from 2019 to 2021. Six of the seven more than doubled, led by trailer camping, which increased from 16% of campers reporting difficulty in 2019 to 55 percent last year.
Nearly half of all campers surveyed reported difficulty finding a campsite to book in 2021. Campers in the Mountain West reported the most difficulty (48 percent), followed by the West Coast (47%). New England was the least-difficult region in which to book camping, with just 37% of respondents encountering difficulty.
With campgrounds full, campers have had to get creative. The report found that winter is the fastest-growing camping season, up 40 percent since 2019 and that dispersed camping, or free camping on public lands, doubled in 2021.
Normally, it's good news when Amazon comes to town. But the online shopping giant's plan to build a huge new multi-story regional warehouse in Elkhart, IN is causing some worries among those who run Ekhart’s leading industry – the RV industry.
The huge RV boom has made Elkhart one of the tightest job markets in the country. Unemployment is just 1.7% among the lowest in the country.
Every RV plant has help wanted signs out front. Many of Elkhart's workers are from surrounding communities in northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan.
So Amazon's new warehouse which will require 1,000 new workers has the industry worried that it will also likely draw some employees from existing RV businesses in the region because of better scheduling, pay, growth opportunities, or even the work environment.
To compete, wages and benefits will have to go up at the RV plants… and that means, those RVs will likely cost us more too.
RV Questions of the Week
Joan asks – I want to do the Natchez Trace Trail. Have you considered leading a group caravan of it? I think that would be awesome. With all your knowledge and guidance, it would be a great experience.
Answer: We've talked before about how it is really challenging for us to lead tours (listen to the video or audio of the podcast to hear all the reasons why we really shouldn't lead tours) – but we created a guideline for you to follow if you want to do it yourself! Our NEW ebook is out and ready for you. It's been a long time coming and now it's available – The Natchez Trace 7-Day Adventure Guide.
Tina asks– I like the size of a travel van, however, I'm tall 6'2 and I worry about feeling cramped. Do you have any suggestions on vans? Thank you.
Answer: Here are four vans that should work for you:
- The Pleasure-Way On Tour with 6'6′ interior height
- The AIrstream Atlas – 6'6″
- The Leisure Travel Vans Unity and Wonder models – 6'5″
- The Winnebago Travato – 6'3″
There are others – even one we saw at the RV Supershow this year. Your best bet is to do a search for the interior height of travel vans and you'll see a few more options. Most importantly, the bed length will be important. Try and go to a show and check many of these out by physically standing in them and checking out the bed. You'll have more head space in a 5th wheel or travel trailer – so check those out too.
What are your RV stories? Let us know.
Thanks again for all your questions and comments. You are welcome to send them along to us MikeandJen@rvlifestyle.com. And if you've missed any of our podcasts you can just go here and listen or watch to catch up.
New ebook from Mike and Jennifer Wendland – the Natchez Trace
The Natchez Trace Parkway will capture your imagination, soothe your jangled travel nerves, open your mind and inspire you with the history that unfolded along its 444 miles.
Each of the 7 Days of the ebook has:
- Suggested Mileposts to explore
- Places to Eat in each area of the 7 sections
- Campground descriptions and links
- Links to all the special places and information
- Links to videos that show more in detail
- and a lot of highlighted information for each section
PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a printed, hard copy guide.
Whether you want to follow the footsteps of explorers, discover natural beauty, or visit historic sites, the Trace has something to grab your attention and leave you eager to see what’s at the next milepost.
You can see why this is one of our favorite US routes to explore. We’ve traveled it a half dozen times!