Thinking of buying? Watch out.

When I put a 26′ Argosy up on Craig’s List not too long ago, I was rather surprised by the scam warning – and by the advice to go cash only as even cashier’s checks can bounce (see nerdwallet). Sure enough, more than half the inquiries I got from the ad fit the Craig’s List warning profile. But that isn’t the half of it.

Steve Lehto, an attorney in Michigan, says on YouTube Don’t Drive While In Possession Of Cash!. His 18 minute video is about civil asset forfeiture. If you get stopped by a guy with a flashing light, gun, and uniform (law enforcement officer) for some reason or other and he sees you have a good chunk of cash, he can take your cash on the pretext that it was ill gotten gains. You have to sue to get it back and that can be time consuming and costly. As with a lot of things, the risk may be rather small but it needs attention. Lehto provides an explanation about why it should be a concern.

Most people have never heard of Civil Forfeiture and are unaware that the police can seize cash from you and claim that it is the product of a criminal enterprise. They do this, often with no evidence, and they get to keep the money! This problem is widespread and there is a simple solution. I explain the solution but I know that the politicians will not fix this problem because of the way they profit from it. —

Is a cashier’s or certified check a risk? Here is what the FTC says:

However, just because funds are available on a check you’ve deposited doesn’t mean the check is good. It’s best not to rely on money from any type of check (cashier, business or personal check, or money order) unless you know and trust the person you’re dealing with or, better yet — until the bank confirms that the check has cleared. Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. The bottom line is that until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check.

So what do you do? The FTC site has a list of ways to protect yourself and some other good information. 

OK. That’s the money side. How about the product side? Lehto has some good videos about purchasing used vehicles, warranties, and the various issues that can be encountered. 

Caveat Emptor! It pays to know what you are doing. A friend can help, especially one with the experience necessary to check for condition of the mechanical parts and who knows what is important and what is less so. A friend can also help balance out the emotional side of things, too. You also need to know values and that should come from the ‘blue book’ sources as well as from watching actual sales and examining advertisements and from web sites that provide value information that shows how condition, age, and features all impact price.

Then there’s the DMV. In Nevada, it used to be the big problem was just getting the owner’s signature in the right box on the back of the title. Now it’s a case of having to download forms from the DMV website and making sure they are all filled out properly. That Argosy was titled in the name of the family trust and that now requires a notarized trustee signature for a vehicle sale. Things are getting complicated. Take care.


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Virtual exploring – finding a place to camp before you get there.

What with Google’s Earth and Maps and other resources, you can explore before you go from home. All you need is a decent I’net connection and a PC or tablet (screen size matters in viewing satellite pictures!) Dave Helgeson’s 26 Minute YouTube video include tips and techniques you can use to determine if a spot you find is suitable for an RV stayover.

Published on Oct 4, 2016
This is part three in a series: RV Boondocking expert Dave Helgeson presents his popular seminar “Boondocking Using Google Earth.” Even if you have boondocked for years, you’ll pick up some valuable tips here about how to find places to camp “in the middle of nowhere” before you even leave home! Dave will show you how to spot promising locations by using Google Earth, and then determine how to get there, and even to know if the terrain suitable — even level enough — for RVs. This should be a must-view for all RVers who like to camp away from the crowds using their on-board systems to sustain them for days or even weeks at a time. Nearly all the locations Dave shows you are on public lands, where the camping is free.

Google Earth will tell you the altitude as you traverse the pointer over a route. From that you can tell if the road has a significant grade or elevation change. Dave didn’t mention that Google maps will provide an altitude profile when you set the transportation mode to bicycle. So, if you can get maps to show you a route from, say, the highway to your campsite, you can see a graph of altitude along the route.

Others have used the satellite and road views to check out fuel stops as well as to look for camping areas. It’s virtual touring where you can see if an actual visit is feasible for your rig. One caveat though: things change. We had a gully wash out on the road to our Sweetwater Summit camping area that was almost enough to block getting through. That was due to recent rains and providing a reminder that surprises can happen, especially when you get off ‘official’ routes and roads where there isn’t much traffic. Take care. Be prepared.

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SNU October Newsletter

SNU Folks,

The October 2016 Newsletter has been posted – Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there.

Topics in the October newsletter – Anniversary Rally Review -|- October Rally -|- Thank you from Randy & Vicki -|- Celebration -|- Tin Man -|- Special People, the SNU members -|- Photograph Contributors -|- SNU business – Dues reminder, bylaws approved, questionable behavior -|- Wireless Experiment -|- Kitty Kredit Recognitions -|- Thanks Greenbrae Trophy

October Rally Scout Camp – Thursday October 20 to Sunday 23, 2016 the SNU rally will be at Scout Camp at Ft Churchill NV State Park. It is located on Hwy 95 just past Buckland Station. The turn off is just over the Carson River on the left. RSVP to the SNU at or call 775 972 9392.  For more information on the Scout Camp rally go to:

Keep Informed about the SNU




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Bodie Days August 2016

Wheels and Doris Wheeler visited Bodie Days, an annual event put on by the Bodie Foundation, and share their pictures with us.

Folks had period costumes and there were activities and events to bring out the history of the Ghost Town from its heyday. See the photo gallery!

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Sierra Nevada Unit 40th Anniversary Rally at the Lassen RV Resort

It was a special gathering at a special place, the Lassen RV Resort out of McArthur, California (wikipedia). Pictures? You bet! Photo galleries of the Lassen Rally: The decorations -|- Rally photo gallery one -|- Rally photo gallery two -|- Visit to the Ft Crook Museum -|- Lassen RV Resort -|- Photo Gallery – The Anniversary Celebration.


See the 40th anniversary home page.

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Trailer sway

U-Haul has put together a trade show demonstration to illustrate the effect of trailer loading on handling. Jalopnik says you can Learn About The Dangers Of Towing From A Toy Mustang On A Conveyer Belt. See the short video.

This is even likely less bad than a full-scale, real-world situation would be, because that conveyer belt is going at a steady, constant speed, and the car’s front wheels remain rigidly straight. In reality, once the swinging starts, the Mustang driver would likely be alternating cranking the wheel in a panic while jamming on the brakes, taking some time between these two acts to lavishly soil their pants.

So, take it from some toys on a conveyer belt: be careful how you distribute the weight of what you tow!

The steering issue needs emphasis as well. Because of the sideways push on the rear of the tow vehicle, oversteer (wikipedia) is common. That means that corrections to compensate for the trailer wiggle tend to produce more steering than intended. That means a correction to the correction is needed and that is what is called a positive feedback loop (wikipedia). That’s the source of oscillations and the last thing you want with trailer sway is an oscillation.

The video emphasizes that the first step in effective trailer handling lies in proper trailer configuration and loading. This is why Airstream has its water and holding tanks low down and near the axles. It is also why Airstream tends to have longer axle to hitch distances than many other trailers. The load distribution in the trailer involves the interior design as well because that determines the location of heavier objects (like the appliances) and the storage lockers. 

Tow vehicle loading, suspension, and configuration are also a part of the equation. That influences steering and the vehicle response to disturbances. Effective handling is not a simple phenomena. There is much you can do to make for a comfortable driving experience but you also need to be aware that training and experience are needed and that road and environmental conditions can bring surprises. 

Take care. Drive aware. Be prepared.

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1 in 200 on the Oregon Trail

Preparedness Advice talks about Foods Carried on the Oregon Trail that provides an interesting comparison for the modern traveler.

The Oregon Trail was an exhausting, sometimes treacherous, 2,000-mile journey that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon and locations in between. Over half a million stalwart souls were brave enough to leave the relative comfort of civilization at that time and venture off into strange and unknown lands.

We know a surprising amount of the Oregon Trail experience because so many travelers wrote journals, sent letters home, and even wrote books and newspaper articles. True Accounts of Life in a Covered Wagon and Ox-Team Days on the Oregon Trail are vivid, first-person accounts of this harrowing journey.

Most of these pioneers traveled by covered wagons, which were pulled by oxen and horses. Those wagons carried not only passengers and a few personal belongings, but over 1000 pounds of food! They were hoping to add to those food stores with hunting, fishing, and foraging, but none of that was guaranteed, so they had to give careful consideration to the most essential food items.

The journey from beginning to end took from 4 to 6 months. When you think about how much food your family consumes in that time frame, it’s a lot of food.

Travelers brought books, Bibles, trail guides, and writing quills, ink and paper for letters. About one person in 200 kept a diary.

Then consider what they had for roads, maps, directions, and all those other things we take for granted today.

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Road trip games

Jonathon Ramsey on Autoblog: Our Top 5 Favorite Road Trip Games Of All Time — (No, We’re Not “There Yet”).

Road trip games, those boredom-battling tests of concentration and quick vision meant to speed the hours, are some of the closest things we have to auto mythology.

Like early tales of Zeus and the Chupacabra passed down by oral tradition, they mean a lot to us, some of them make us laugh and some scare the pants off us, and no one knows from whom, when or where they originated.

I Spy, Road Trip Bingo, A is for Armadillo, Alphabet, Cow Poker … what are your favorites?

These days, it seems that parents are looking at other ways to keep the kids occupied. Consider the Raspicar wireless media server projectI wanted a way to stream video files to different Ipads and ipods I own to entertain my 4 children during long car drives.” Maybe the Pokemon Go phenomena will get an adaptation to automotive travel? 

It used to be we’d get maps at gas stops and plot travels and take notes on locations on the paper maps. No more. It’s electronic maps, wikipedia, and a whole lot of games on a tablet. Things have changed.

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SNU September 2016 Newsletter has been posted

SNU Folks,

The September 2016 Newsletter has been posted. Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there. Topics in the September newsletter: Obsidian Rally Review -|- Lassen Anniversary rally -|- Welcome Brandon and Kimberly -|- SNU Highlights & Achievements -|- Remembering the Leipper’s -|- 2005 Kingston crickets

September SNU Anniversary Rally at Lassen RV Resort. Thursday September 22– Sunday 25 2016, will be the culmination of the celebration of the SNU’s 40th Anniversary. Don’t miss this very special rally. There is still time to make your reservations.  Cost is $120 per rig (includes 3 nights space rental and special meals for 2 people) RSVP to Randy Grossmann Email  Phone: 775 883 3603. Lassen RV resort is located one mile off Hwy 299 and 8 miles east of McArthur, CA. It is 175 miles North of Reno via Hwy 395.

Keep Informed about the SNU



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Hartley Springs

Here’s an ‘official campground’ between June Lakes and Mammoth

Hartley Springs

See the photo gallery! saysThe campground has the feel of dispersed camping along an amazingly organized maze of roadways. Many camp sites have a “circle-your-wagons” character – great family or group camping. Widely spaced among Ponderosa and Jeffrey pines and White fir with patches of grass, privacy is good at most camp sites. Because of the abundance of OHV trails, this is an excellent base camp for such enthusiasts; it can also get noisy. The campground is pack it in, pack it out.”

The NFS says “Located between June Mountain and Obsidian Dome, at an Elevation of 8400 feet, this campground has 25 campsites surrounded by pine forest with nearby access to the tributaries of the headwaters of Owens River.”


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SNU Obsidian Dome Rally August 2016

This was a tenth visit of the SNU to the south side of Obsidian Dome.

Obsidian Dome SNU Rally

See the photo gallery!

The road to this place is a bit iffy and larger vehicles would be in for some nail biting situations. Next year, the SNU plans to transfer the rally site over to Hartley Springs nearby. That road is a bit better with a few sandy spots being the major hazard.

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Sawmill Meadows

Sawmill Meadows is about 11 miles off CA 120 between Benton and Lee Vining.

Sawmill Meadows Campground

It’s a dirt road off 120 to a camp area at nearly 9,000 feet in the pines. The camp area is a bit rough with limited room to maneuver. Coordinates 37.767960, -118.678055.

See the photo gallery!

There is a trail over to Glass Mountain and a lot of scenic vistas.

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USGS topographic maps courtesy National Geographic

There’s another way to get those high resolution USGS topographic 15′ and 7.5′ maps courtesy of National Geographic. See This should come up with a US overview. You need to hit the +/- buttons to zoom in and drag to the area of interest. Once you zoom in far enough, you’ll see a grid of red markers on the map. Click on one of these markers to pop up a map reference. Click on the map icon in the box and you’ll get a 5 page PDF with the first page a 15′ index to four 7.5 minute maps on the following pages.

Of course, you can also go to the USGS store and order the traditional paper copies or get free online versions (if you support the proper plugin). The NFS also has maps which have a lot of detail to the national forests for hikers and campers. If you are planning on travel in the forests with any vehicle “The following motor vehicle use maps have been prepared and issued under 36 CFR 212.56, and identify those roads, trails, and areas designated for motor vehicle use.” The MVUM are needed so you can make sure to keep your vehicle only on authorized roads.

To avoid the experience of those who blindly followed a personal navigation device (GPS) and have a tale of doom to tell, keep in mind Rule 1: never travel blind. Know your maps and where they came from.

The USGS and NFS maps have a lot of roads and trails you would not want to take your RV on. The state map have road maps a bit more suited for planning an RV trek (Nevada Department of Transportation Maps here). You can also often get a free paper map (Request a Nevada State Highway Map) that shows the major roads and has good tourist and visitor information as well.

The problem with PND/GPS maps is that they are hidden and electronic and the only source you know about is the brand name on the device. Fortunately, technology is making it easier to keep maps up to date, to cross verify maps with other sources, and to obtain current traffic and hazard information. The 511 home ( now provides links to highway cameras so you can see current traffic in some areas. Google also provides road traffic flow information for those who are using cell phones with location turned on. Waze is a social media app that can be used to report traffic situations, too. 

Maps can be fun, educational, and attractive art as well as utilitarian. The options available now are incredible. Be informed. Travel safe.

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SNU August Newsletter

SNU Folks,

The August 2016 Newsletter has been posted – Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there.

Topics in the August newsletter: Weed Heights rally Review -|- August rally at Obsidian -|- Welcome Claudia and Frank & Diane -|- Report on New Directions -|- Airstream Activities -|- SNU business – 2017 dues, rallies & bylaws -|- Trailer Park Troubadours -|- Wheeler Kitty Kredit memories -|- Good Maps

August Rally at Obsidian Dome

Thursday August 18 – Sunday 21, 2016 are the dates for the SNU rally at Obsidian.  We’ll start off with a sandwich and salad dinner on Thursday. Marla will pick up some bread at Shat’s. The rest of us should bring salads and sandwich makings. Obsidian Dome is south of Reno on US 395 about 160 miles. Between June Lakes and Mammoth Lakes, CA. The campground is 2.7 miles off of US 395. Check the website for detailed directions. Rick will post some signs to guide people to the rally site. RSVP to the SNU at or call 775 972 9392.

Keep Informed about the SNU




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Weed Heights 2016

The SNU gathered at Weed Heights for the annual air conditioner exercise. And good fellowship. And good food.

See the photo gallery!

The annual Night in the Country festival was also in Yerington so RV traffic on Alternate U.S. was rather heavy at times but nobody reported any difficulties getting to the rally or to home afterwords. The traffic situation made watching the Google Maps traffic overlay an interesting exercise.

The fixin’ this time was a water heater problem. The park manager just happened to have the part for the thermostat but that didn’t fix the problem. Figuring out the valving system on the water heater bypass turned out to be the trick this time.

Trying to find a path between the trees for satellite TV reception presented a challenge.

And it was a good time to try out the dolly for the toad to make sure everything worked right and the checklist was complete.

Down at the fairgrounds was a big gathering for country music and party fans. Up at the RV park was a bit quieter with a much smaller crowd having their own kind of fun and relaxation.

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Nash 100 years setting the stage for the modern car

Jason Torchinsky repostrs that the Nash Turns 100 Today: Here’s Six Reasons Why It May Be The Most Influential Car Company Ever.

Nash Motors would have been a century old today, and while I suspect that most modern gearheads probably don’t give Nash much thought, they really should. For a defunct car company, we still feel Nash’s influence a surprising amount, in ways that are pretty basic and fundamental to how cars are today.

Nash was a player in developing Flow-through ventilation and modern car HVAC systems that are now taken for granted. The minimalists can also look at Nash’s Reclining seats and car-sleeping ideas. A lot of things we take for granted these days was non-existent not that long ago. Many baby boomers might remember cruising down 66 through the desert with only an evaporative cooler stuck in the window. Big innovations and small ones have made a lot of the risk and discomforts of getting there as things fading in memory.

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Cutting back. Changing times. WBCCI Amateur Radio Service Nets

It’s a sign of the times. AJ4UX says the WBCCI sponsored 20-meter International RV Service Nets [are] Discontinued.

When WBCCI was created in the 1950’s, the primary need for amateur radio was for communications for caravans which roamed far and wide across North America and into the rest of the world.

Because we have been unable to recruit volunteers to manage these two nets, the low participation primarily due to poor propagation, and the replacement by an extensive network of mobile telephone service over North America, the officers decided to discontinue sponsorship of the two 20-meter nets.

The other three nets, all operating on 40 meters, are healthy and have a full complement of net managers and net control stations. These nets, spanning the lower 48 states and into all Canadian provinces, continue to provide excellent contact among net members for social, technical and communications purposes.

The 40 and 20 meter bands are popular for mobile operations. 40 offers regional propagation characteristics most of the time while 20 is better for DX or distance contacts. For local communications, the 2 meter amateur band, often with repeaters, and the CB radio service were used. CB does not require any testing or paperwork for a transmit license so it was very common for in-site rally news and communications. 2 meter with repeaters did require some paperwork and a technical and regulatory test for a ham license but it worked well for metropolitan area coverage.

Cell phones now cover most of these communications needs for sitewide, metropolitan, regional, and national coverage. In addition to voice, they also provide SMS for short text messages and I’net access for information sites and discussion forums. As the cell network has built out and the technology has become more prevalent, the need for CB and ham radio communications has dropped. CB is now nearly just a vestige and ham radio moving more towards the hobbyist aspects with the Preppers coming in because they see it as a doomsday backup.

There is more here, though. “unable to recruit volunteers” and “low participation” bespeak of change. This change is related to the recent ‘rogue Trustee‘ brouhaha in the WBCCI. It is about the Annual WBCCI rally being an order of magnitude smaller than in its heyday – despite Airstream cranking out trailers as fast as it can and despite the iconic nature of the brand and its vintage attractions. The need for in-person meetings to make decisions and printed matter distributed by the post office to communicate and inform and the disappearance of special costs and fees for long distance telecommunications, are technological advances that have diminished the need for the traditional local club operating in the traditional manner with a newsletter and a monthly gathering to decide what to do and how to do it. There are also social changes that divide personal loyalties and provide alternative means for satisfying social needs that diminish the need for the traditional local club. 

For each of us, these changes provide more options for us to express ourselves and find satisfaction and meaning in life. For traditional groups, it means finding ways to adapt to a membership that is not so bound to the group. This is not going to be easy. It will be exploring many new ideas. It means tripping and stumbling and growing and exploring. Errors will be made. Ideas will die. But some ideas will surface and flower. People will get angry and do harmful things. Our mettle will be tested. 

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Families, Kids, Pets, and the RV experience

The Family Corner has been updated. Camping isn’t just for the retired, ya know!

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Summer reading

Looking for something with a bit less fluff than the usual for keeping the mind exercised this summer without having to dip into the wallet? Take a look at the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

On Vietnam, the volumes include Military Communications: A Test for Technology and Engineers at War as well as everything from a history of the special forces to logistics to medical evacuation to social and general history material. 

Choose your war, from the Revolution to Iraq and you’ll find reading on about any military topic from unit histories to medal winner stories to global government and social issues. There’s enough good stuff to find your own gems.

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SNU July news online now

SNU Folks,

The July 2016 Newsletter has been posted. Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there.

Topics in the July newsletter: Hickison Rally Review -|- Weed Heights Rally -|- CBL Update -|- Welcome New Members -|- Remembering Dale & Marge Grosch -|- Update on SNU 40th Anniversary Rally -|- Early Report from Lewisburg -|- Brainstorming with NV State Parks -|- SNU Contributions to WBCCI -|- Dyann’s Kitty Kredits Memories -|- Clarification on officer lists

July Rally at Weed Heights

Weed Heights RV Park near Yerington is the site for the SNU rally Thursday July 21 – Sunday July 24, 2016. The park fees are approximately $24 per night per rig with Good Sam or AAA membership. Pay the park host upon arrival. This full service park The special event for this rally will be Friday dinner with Jerry’s special Nevada Surf-n-Turf BBQ and ice cream for dessert. Don’t miss out. Let us know if you plan to attend so we can make sure we will have enough food for everyone. RSVP to the SNU at or call 775 972 9392.

Keep Informed about the SNU


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