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What to do when a Tornado is heading toward your campground

| Updated May 28, 2024

This week on the RV Podcast:

  • Those horrific storms and tornadoes keep coming, this time hitting campgrounds crowded with Memorial Day RVers
  • We’ll talk about what to do when a Tornado is heading toward your campground
  • There’s continuing fallout and confusion over new rules by the CDC about bringing your dog back from Canada or Mexico… and the CDC won't comment on our attempts to get clarification.
  • All this plus the RV News of the Week, your questions and Mike & Jen's RV Storytime coming up in Episode #499 of the RV Podcast.

You can watch the video version from our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel by clicking the player below.

If you prefer an audio-only podcast, you can hear us through your favorite podcast app or listen now through the player below.

We’re just back from a great trip to Arizona, where we toured a new desert development aimed at RVers. We’ll have a full video on these new properties as well as a visit to all the awesome things to do nearby, from the Colorado River to the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas. Look for that video on Saturday on our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel. We’ll also show you how Rvers are living off grid in the desert with all the comforts of home. 

Our Latest Travel Guide is Now Available-
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This is an 81-page eBook (not a printed book) leading you on an epic road trip through the heart of Kentucky’s Bourbon country. The Bourbon Trail is home to some of the most renowned distilleries in the world, each with its own unique story and flavor profile.

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Beyond the distilleries, the Bourbon Trail offers a wealth of experiences that will enrich your journey and allow you to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and hospitality of Kentucky.

Check it out now, available for instant download, at: https://rvlifestyle.com/RVBourbon

Fallout and Confusion in the Wake of The CDC’s New Rules on bringing dogs back from Canada and Mexico

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Like many others, we’re still confused by a sudden new rule by the CDC that takes effect August 1 and affects tourists and travelers returning to the US from Canada and Mexico. 

We’ve been trying since last week to get clarification from the CDC on this and they basically said they’re too busy to answer our questions.

But in the week since we reported on this, those new rules have frustrated and angered both RVers and veterinarians who have to fill in forms for their dog patients.

Those rules say that after Aug. 1, dogs coming back must be microchipped and have proof of a rabies vaccine after the chip was installed…. Plus, one or two days before coming back to the US, travelers need to upload a photo of their dog and fill in a form on what port of entry they will be using.

We will stay on top of this and try to reach the CDC and have a lot more to say as we get more info. But we can tell you these rules and forms have really upset a lot of people, and we’re sure the CDC is going to have to acknowledge the concerns and offer some clarity. So stay tuned…

SOCIAL MEDIA BUZZ – Wendy Bowyer

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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 Weather for RVers Space, Carrie wrote that she is a California kid planning her first trip across the US in a class B campervan. She must have been listening to reports about ALL of the tornadoes the country has experienced lately because she asked: “Besides checking weather reports and trying to avoid bad weather, what would you do if you found yourself in a tornado or severe storm situation?”

Bob and Roxy said the best answer is don't let yourself get in a situation you can't get out. Get a good weather app for your phone like AccuWeather and if a storm is coming, always find a safe place to wait it out. Often fire or police stations are good places to go, and even some rest areas have tornado shelters.

And Brenda and Marc added to know the area around you, and depending on where you are staying, see if there is a storm shelter. And don't be afraid to change your route, if necessary.

Also in the Community's General Discussion Space, Bernie and Erikka wrote that they know you are supposed to leave a little room in the back of the fridge for air flow, but does the same go for the RV freezer or can we pack it tight?

Richard said do not pack it tight. Just like the frig, you need air to circulate to keep things frozen in the freezer. And it sounds like he learned that the hard way.

Nancy wrote: Oh dear! I knew about the refrigerator but did not not know the same goes for the freezer.

But then David said this is true for the traditional 3-way gas evaporation refrigerator, but the newer all-electric RV refrigerators operate differently. Sounds like David has a Nova Cool electric refrigerator in their rig and they ARE able to fully stuff the freezer. So it may be a situation where you need to check your RV's owner manual because the advice may vary rig to rig. 

Over on our RVLifestyle Facebook Group, one post that really got people talking was about the classic campfire treat, s'mores. Don took a picture of a s'more alternative. Instead of the classic graham cracker, chocolate and roasted over the campfire marshmallow sandwich so many of us love, Don combined what appeared to be two Keebler Fudge Striped Cookies with a perfectly roasted and gooey marshmallow sandwiched between them. He wrote: “It's the ONLY WAY we do s'mores now!… My waist line hasn't been the same since.”

Don's post really took off, we're talking hundreds of comments, thousands of shares, something like 700,000 views. People piggybacked on Don's s'more twist and started sharing their own.

We had suggestions of using peeps instead of marshmallows. Some use Oreos instead of graham crackers. Others replace the chocolate bar with Nutella and still others replace the Keebler Fudge stripes with chocolate chip cookies – and on it went.

But many loved Don's tip, thanked him and said they were planning to make it on their next camping trip.

RV Discussion of the Week – What to do when a Tornado is heading toward your campground

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Memorial Day is traditionally the start of summer when everyone who can gets the RV and heads to a campground.

But last weekend’s much-anticipated summer RV kickoff turned out to be a nightmare in many parts of the country when absolutely savage weather swept through numerous states, producing hailstones, high winds, heavy rains, and multiple tornadoes.

As of this writing, 24 people have lost their lives.

Kentucky’s governor issued a statewide emergency declaration early Monday. At least 4 of the deaths happened there with a tornado touching down and just devastating storms hitting almost all parts of the state.

A tornado also touched down in Texas, becoming the deadliest tornado to hit the state since 2015. From Texas to Missouri, there were more than 20 tornado reports in that storm that passed through last weekend.

A tornado devastated  the Ray Roberts Marina and RV park near Sanger, Texas. A CBS crew talked to survivors afterward. The owner of the park went around honking his horn and warning people to take cover shortly before the storm hit. One man said he grabbed his dog and took cover with others in the walk-in cooler at the restaurant at the marina. When he came out, everything around them had been destroyed.

Another man at the same park rode out the storm in his camper. He said the tornado picked up his RV, spun it around, slammed it into another camper causing it to explode, and he has no idea how he survived.

A very crowded Will Rogers Downs KOA near Claremore in Oklahoma was just devastated by the storm. At least four people had to be excavated from their campers. An interview with a storm chaser described what it was like after the tornado hit, with RVs torn up, on their sides, thrown.  About 140 of the campsites were full, and about 200 people took shelter at the campground’s storm shelter, with campers describing the terrifying minutes inside with people crying, praying or sitting in stunned silence as the tornado struck. When they opened the door, RVs were shredded, tipped over, some sent flying a football field away. (story here)

In both our RVLifestyle Community and Facebook group RVers were watching these storms, and some lived through them. And in our RV Lifestyle Community at https://community.rvlifestyle.com, we have a special discussion space set up for RV weather. There you can find the latest watches and warnings and reports from RVers in those areas.

We thought it would helpful this podcast to talk about tornado safety – what to do, and what not to do to stay safe.

Here are our tips: (our story is here)

  1. Take Tornado warnings seriously.
  1. Stay calm.
  1. Know where you need to go to seek shelter BEFORE a storm hits (most campgrounds have a shelter – might be a cement block bathhouse, restaurant, or even in states like Oklahoma, a tornado shelter)
  1. Have old school technology on hand, like a weather radio.
  1. Abandon your RV (don’t try to ride out a tornado in your RV- RVs aren’t made for this).
  1. If you aren’t in a campground, seek a safe spot – maybe police, fire or hospital will usually let you shelter with them.
  1. If there is no building anywhere, seek the lowest spot in the ground—a ditch, etc….. Most deaths and injuries from tornadoes are caused by flying debris. So, your goal is to put a thick barrier between you and debris, whether it’s the ground, concrete walls, or a large boulder.

RV NEWS OF THE WEEK

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Man violently attacked by grizzly at Grand Teton credits bear spray and reading up on what to do in case of attack with saving his life

A Massachusetts man is lucky to be alive after he was violently attacked by a Grizzly bear who was protecting her cub at Signal Mountain in Grand Tetons National Park.

You wouldn't believe this story. Shayne Patrick wrote it all on his Instagram account, complete with bloody and gory pictures of the aftermath.

Patrick was walking a trail alone, hoping to photograph the Great Grey Owl as his wife waited in the parking lot.

It sounds like he did everything right—he made a lot of noise walking, sang, and talked to himself, but as he says, he was in the “wrong place, wrong time.” 

He saw a baby bear run by, and then its mother came out of nowhere, made a B-line to him, and attacked.

He was blooded up pretty severely, and the disabled Army Reserves Veteran said the attack was the most violent thing he ever experienced, he has experienced being shot at, mortared and IED explosions.

Patrick clutched the bear spray the whole time of the attack, but was never able to spray it. But when the mother bear bit into the can, and it exploded in her mouth, she fled.

Patrick credits the bear spray and reading and preparing ahead of time about what to do in case of a bear attack with saving his life.

It is a good idea to brush up on safety anytime you are in bear country. Click here to see our story.

Self-propelling Lightship travel trailer gets investment money from Thor & expects production to begin later this year

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The company—Lightship—announced it is now in a 32,000-plus square foot facility in Broomfield, CO, with full production planned for late this year. Their EV trailer can supposedly propel itself for 300 miles.

The company raised $34 million in investment earlier this year—a good chunk of that money coming from Thor Industries. (Thor owns Jayco, Airstream, Keystone, Tiffin, Dutchmen, and many more RV brands.)

The 27-foot Lightship L1 travel trailer is three times more aerodynamic than traditional travel trailers. Much of that is achieved by the roof sliding down into a compact space—much like a pop-up trailer. 

The Lighthouse has no slide-outs, tons of windows, and solar (solar is even on the awning), and we find it very interesting that Thor Industries is investing in it.

 Woman nearly dies while camping from carbon monoxide poisoning; propane refrigerator blamed

When is the last time you checked your RV's carbon dioxide alarm?

A woman camping alone in Pennsylvania's Moshannon State Forest nearly died last week from carbon dioxide that was coming from her propane-powered refrigerator that malfunctioned.

The 53-year-old woman normally camped with family but was alone on this occasion. She woke up in the middle of the night not feeling well.

She left camp, got in her car to drive for help, but then realized she couldn't drive, and ended up collapsing. She was found by Forestry workers who called 911. She credits them for saving her life.

She did say she will keep camping, but from now on will always make sure the carbon monoxide detector is working.

To see our story on 11 critical tips on how to detect carbon monoxide in your RV, click here.

Alaskans Flags Welcome at Denali National Park despite fake news reports

Reports that a National Park Service (NPS) official ordered the removal of an American flag from a Denali bridge construction worker’s vehicle at Denali National Park are false.

Says the NPS in a statement released Sunday:
“At no time did an NPS official seek to ban the American flag from the project site or associated vehicles. The NPS neither administers the bridge project contract, nor has the authority to enforce terms or policies related to the contract or contractors performing the work. The American flag can be seen at various locations within Denali National Park – at park facilities and campsites, on public and private vehicles, and at employee residences .”

Furthermore, the park superintendent said he welcomes the flag's display this Memorial Day weekend and every day.

The fake news story was first circulated by a right-leaning Alaska website and then amplified by Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan.

As word spread, a group of patriotic Alaskans planned to meet at a Walmart in Fairbanks—two hours away—and drive to Denali, waving numerous flags from their trucks and vehicles in protest.

The protest quickly fizzled out when the original story was debunked.

So for the record, please note… American flags are very welcome at Denali and its environs.

RV QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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QUESTION: This is my issue: I am an international airline pilot with 5 years till retirement. I can camp nearly anywhere in the USA, Canada and Mexico and then ‘commute' to work to JFK airport to fly my trip(s) then return to the city where my rig is parked. The big question is that if I fly for 1 week straight and leave my rig – lets say in Rapid City- where can i keep it safely while I am gone? Thanks and keep up the good work! –Steve

ANSWER: If you are gone for a few days or a week, the easiest solution is to rent a space in a campground. But depending on where you are, that could easily cost several hundred dollars.

So, our first suggestion, and the cheapest, is a peer-to-peer site called Neighbor.com

They prefer monthly renters, but we’ve found many property owners are open to shorter stays. You can communicate directly with the owner from the website and see what you can work out. We have found their rates to be the best. We’ve always found several and the costs seems to be around $70-$80 a month, about what a good RV park charges per night.

Commercial storage businesses are the next best bet. 

Google RV Storage near me or try sites like Uhaul.com, SpareFoot.com or Extra Space Storage. Com

Outdoor RV storage is the most affordable type of RV storage. Depending on your location, the cost can range from $50- $75 per month. The more rural the location, the less it is to store each month.

Indoor coverage is the most expensive type of RV storage. This means that your rig will be kept inside an enclosed building. The best ones are even heated and air conditioned, have electricity, and maybe a webcam.

While you may be able to find some indoor storage deals, this will likely be the priciest of all your options. Some places charge as much as $500-600 per month. Again, this varies greatly on location. Storage in Los Angeles, CA, is going to be a lot more costly than it will be in Des Moines, IA. The more expensive the cost of living in a given city, the higher your storage rent will be. 

Mike & Jen's Storytime – The Great South Dakota Bug Blizzard

bug splatter on windshield

Early June is when a whole lot of RVers start heading west, to National Parks like Yellowstome or Glacier. And for many RVers, that means traveling I-90.

And every June, in those wide open stretches of prairie grass west of Sioux Falls and east of Mitchell, South Dakota, the bugs hatch.

We have no idea what kind of bugs they are but we used to call them June Bugs back in Michigan. All we knew is they are big as a beetle and they come out right at sunset.

The first time we encountered them we didn't know what to do.

First one, then a couple, then a half dozen went  SPLAT! On the windshield.

With the sun gone and a big orange glow still on the Western Horizon, it was suddenly like a blizzard. A Bug Blizzard. A BugOut.

Our windshield was smeared with them. The wipers didn't help. The sound of them hitting the windshield was like a hailstorm

And it went on for hours.

By the time we reached Mitchell, it was full-on dark, and the bug storm had stopped as suddenly as it started. We pulled over for gas and watched other RVers, regular drivers, and 18-wheelers try to wash off all the bug corpses.

“Something hatched,” muttered the driver of the 18-wheeler.

Right across from the Cabella’s parking lot there in Mitchell, where we overnight whenever we travel I-90, we found a self-serve carwash and went through $10 in quarters rinsing the bugs off.

As it happened, the next year we were back on I-90 again, also in June. Same thing. Dark came and several thousand of that night’s hatch splattered all over our RV.

We still travel that route. We love I-90 and its wide-open views.

We just make sure that if we’re between Sioux City and Mitchel, we are off the road by Sunset.

We're OVER 13,500 members in our NEW Community!

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We have a Space for all sorts of things you want to know as an RVer, including Boondocking, 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 2024-05-29

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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