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Thursday, October 15, 2015

The lure of the free sometimes comes with a price

I've long been an advocate for saving a buck.

I use every discount I can find when shopping for stuff. My Internet connection sizzles when I'm shopping for RV parts. I scrutinize new "apps" to help me find public campgrounds and other spots for boondocking on the cheap. Some of my favorite websites are the ones that help you find a place to dump your holding tanks for less money – or even better – for free!

Sometimes I guess you can take it too far.

Up in Utah's high country not long ago, we were planning our road-future, and included in the plan was the need to get rid of a bulging blackwater tank load. We'd been sitting on "no cost" boondocking land for better than a week, and that was sweet. What wasn't so sweet was the paucity of "free" dump stations on our route plan. I'd finally tracked a dump station down at a truck stop along the route – but there was a five dollar charge associated with the process. I grumbled about it, but figured it was just the 'cost of doing RV business,' and pointed the tow rig's nose down the highway.

But hang on! Out of the corner of my eye I thought I spotted a dump station logo as we passed a small rodeo grounds outside of a little burg on Highway 191. A quick slow-down and a swivel of the neck muscles revealed that I'd just passed a dump station. We managed a turn-around and coming back to the spot proved indeed, a dump station – and free!

Maybe it was the thrill of a free dump station what wasn't on the list. Maybe it was just concern from getting from Point A to B, but in any event, your writing pilot failed to notice just how narrow the entrance to the dump station was. Eyeballing the street-side mirror to line up the dump valves with the dump station port, I barely noticed the little "bump" that shuddered its way through the rig. But did I ever notice something when I walked around the curb-side of the rig to eyeball the fresh water fill port. The rear awning arm, instead of being tucked in snug against the sidewall was hanging loose – arms akimbo, as the saying goes.

It didn't take long to figure out why this preposterous posture was posed. The lower spring clamp which holds the arm against the rig was broken, a piece laying on the pavement near the fresh water supply pipe. Yep, just a wee bit narrow, and sliding into the spot I sheered off the clip. I guess that replacing the clip is less expensive than the awning arm, but still, a lot more expensive than dumping that load at the truck stop. After we wiggled out of the station, a look-around revealed had we come in from the other direction, the space between the curbs there was a whole lot wider.

Yeah, the lure of the good deal strikes me. And sometimes, it bites me.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Free book gives helpful tips on safe towing

It's not every day you can get something free from Uncle Sam. Seems like along about mid-April, Unc's hand is out to many folks across the land. But here's a turn, in this case, the U.S. Government wants RVers (and other folks that tow) to be safe. So they've got a free e-book that covers the basics.

Called Towing a Trailer – Being Equipped for Safety, this 26-page full-color presentation covers stuff like, how to select a tow vehicle (and what to do if you already have one). Connecting your trailer up to the tow rig. Tire safety. Properly loading and distributing weight. Getting a grasp on the legal aspects. A pre-departure safety checklist. More safety tips, and information on maintenance.

You can download this booklet by pointing your browser to