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California backs down on requiring motorhomes from out of state to be smog tested, boondocking areas are stretched to their limits, will the feds introduce a new gas tax, or perhaps a per-mile tax on new cars,? Will you need a vaccine passport to enter events and travel on airplanes? Rocky Mountain National Park will once again require reservations. A new best-in-class cell booster is introduced, as is the world’s lightest truck camper. Plus, we’re giving away a DISH Satellite bundle. Your weekly news brief is here. Read on to learn more!
By Jason Epperson
The CDC’s latest vaccine effectiveness data shows that people who have received a COVID vaccine are less likely to transmit the virus, and that’s big news for the travel industry, as it spurred the CDC to change its travel guidelines Friday. The guidelines now state that fully vaccinated people can resume travel without the need to get tested or for self-quarantines. COVID cases are still raging throughout the country as the vaccines roll out, but this news will fuel the fires of what is already shaping up to be an incredibly busy travel season. Airports in popular tourist destinations in the U.S. are already back to normal capacity, but international hubs are still operating at about 50% as business travel remains stunted, that saying it ever returns to what it was.
A growing number of companies — from cruise lines to sports teams — say they will require proof of vaccination before allowing people to enter, which has caused State and Federal governments to begin work on so-called “vaccine passports” that would allow people to show proof of immunity for boarding cruise ships, international flights, concert arenas, and baseball stadiums. New York has already released its app-based vaccine passport.
You’re not considered “fully vaccinated” until 2 weeks after receiving your full vaccine dose, including both shots of a 2-shot regimen, and the CDC still recommends the use of masks and social distancing by vaccinated people.
Fuel Prices Continue to Hold Steady
Fuel prices have now held steady for about the last 3 weeks with the average at about $2.86 for regular, and $3.09 for diesel, with growing fuel demand being kept in check by growing refinery production. Thankfully, that container ship stuck in the Suez Canal for six days didn’t disrupt oil shipping too much, but the full effects of the backup in one of the world’s most important shipping lanes have yet to be felt. When the ship was freed, around, 400 others were queuing to pass through the canal. This prevented $9.6 billion worth of trade. Many containers of all kinds of goods were stuck at sea, and surely many of those products and resources were bound for RV manufacturers who have been dealing with a nightmare of supply chain issues this year. And there is a finite amount of shipping containers in the world, so lots of goods have been waiting on containers to return home to pack new shipments. It’s a backlog that will continue for months in a global economy that has learned about all kinds of weaknesses over the past year.
The rise in fuel prices that began in November doesn’t seem to be hampering many American travel plans. Around half of Americans are set to take a trip in the next three months, according to an analysis from the U.S. Travel Association, with 60% planing on driving somewhere over Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day Weekend, or the Fourth of July. And if you think boondocking is the solution, I’d like to read you this in-the-field report from YouTube viewer Round Peg.
“I’m in zion now, well blm outside of it near laverkin. I’ve come here in the spring every year because it’s not crowded. However this year it took 4 days to find a vacant spot on blm. It is so crowded out here in the “boonies” it’s worse than a Koa. People are packed in here like sardines. As I write this TWO of the rigs here have been running their construction generators all night. There was also a domestic fight at one rig resulting in the wife shooting a gun into the air and the police surrounding the trailer to arrest her. Boondocking is ruined.”
A new survey from RV Life says that 45% of campers that had started planning their 2021 trip are having difficulty finding campsites. Just over half said they would be booking more of their campground locations ahead of time than in previous years. Only 17% said that they would not be making more reservations.
In a survey organized by CampgroundViews.com, two-thirds of 2000 campgrounds and RV parks stated that their advanced bookings are up 50% over average for the 2021 camping season. In fact, 24% of respondents are seeing advanced bookings up over 80% for the same period.
But people aren’t giving up on camping due to concerns over campground availability. Over 90% of those looking to purchase or upgrade an RV told RV Life that they were not dissuaded or concerned by the availability of campground locations and planned to continue with their RV purchase.
It’s not all bad news out there, there’s still plenty of camping to be had. My advice to you right now is the same as it was 10 months ago – this is another year to explore the less popular areas in our country. And be prepared for lots of cancellations. People tend to book way more than they plan to use, and then cancel when they get time off approved from their job or finalize plans in other ways.
California Backs Down
An RV Miles YouTube viewer, David, did us all a favor and followed up on the story about the California Air Resources Board – or CARB – proposal that would require large diesel motorhomes to have smog inspections to enter California, even if they are registered from out of state. David reached out directly to CARB at the right time and got the following response in an email that he shared with me and that I have confirmed:
Since the December HD I/M workgroup meeting, we’ve been revising the draft document and are now looking to exempt out-of-state motorhomes from the periodic testing requirements in response to a March 8, 2021, letter from the RV Industry Association, National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, and CampCALNow. We expect to post the updated version of the draft regulatory language to the HD I/M webpage during the week of March 22, 2021, and will be discussing it at our next HD I/M workgroup webinar on March 29, 2021 (info on how to register for the webinar is available from the HD I/M webpages).
Federal Gas Tax?
A number of RV Miles viewers, listeners, and readers have asked me to keep an eye on President Biden’s new sweeping infrastructure plan, which was rumored to be flirting with Federal gas tax increases or even taxes on miles driven in a vehicle. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg confirmed to CNN on Tuesday that neither are part of the negotiations for the estimated $3 trillion to $4 trillion infrastructure bill.
South Dakota FIres
Several fires in the Rapid City, South Dakota area closed portions of I-90 and Mount Rushmore last weekend, so, ya know, it’s that time of year again. The fires have been mostly contained and the National Monument has re-opened.
National Park Reservations
Rocky Mountain National Park will again require reservations for entry this year, beginning May 28th. Park staff expect higher visitation this summer and are continuing to manage COVID-19 concerns. The park is also facing staffing shortages due to housing, reduced shuttle bus capacity, and residual fire impacts in some areas of the park from last year.
Permits issued using the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within two-hour windows of availability. The reservation system will apply to all areas of the park. The passes will cost $2, through recreation.gov, in addition to your standard park entrance. Reservations to enter the park will go on sale through at 8 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Sat., May 1 for entrance from May 28 through June 30. The next release will be on June 1, for the month of July and then July 1 for August visits, and so on. 25% of permits will be held and available for purchase the day prior at 5 p.m. through recreation.gov. Reservations will be based on approximately 75% to 85% of the park’s total parking capacity, which is more than were available last year, but still far from park capacity.
Camping World Acquires More Dealerships
Nation’s largest RV dealership chain Camping World has acquired 3 more independent dealerships in the past week – by my count that’s 12 this year, in addition to the new stores it’s building on its own. Maybe I need to begin having a “Camping “World Acquisition Counter”?
WeBoost Destination RV
Wilson Electronics has announced the new weBoost Destination RV, which they say is the most powerful cell signal booster now on the market. The Destination RV includes a powerful amplifier, a 65 dB antenna mounted to a 25’ telescoping pole, and is optimized for 5G from all major carriers. It retails for $650 U.S.
Win a DISH Outdoors Bundle
Do you follow us on Instagram? We’re doing a whole month of giveaways in April, and we’re kicking off with a fantastic bundle from our friends at DISH Outdoors! One lucky winner will receive a DISH package including a Playmaker Portable Satellite Antenna, DISH Wally HD Receiver, a DVR drive, and more. You can enter here, but make sure to follow RV Miles on Instagram to hear about all of our April giveaways.
RV with a Mud Room?
Remember when Mud Rooms were all the rage in new housing? Well, now you can get one in a trailer. The Cougar 357UMR from Keystone features a multipurpose utility room with an outside entrance that has a desk, a washer/dryer hookup, and a pet-friendly utility shower. It’s probably also good for your muddy kids.
Inflatable Truck Camper
Finally, if you’ve really been wanting a truck camper, but your truck just can’t carry the weight, maybe give this a try – an inflatable truck camper from Mitsubishi. It’s 7’ tall inside, can take a full-sized mattress, and weighs in at under 60lbs.
Have a piece of news to share? Email Jason Epperson at [email protected].