This is the story of how Mike and Jennifer Wendland came to embrace and evangelize the RV Lifestyle through their RV travel blog, RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, RV Podcast and RV books and newsletters
Our Story – Mike and Jennifer Wendland
This RV Lifestyle blog is a labor of love by us – Mike and Jennifer Wendland. It started as a hobby back in 2012. Now it’s what we really believe is… our calling.
So let me explain. This is the long version 🙂
“How’d you end up doing this?”
If I could have had a quarter for every time we’ve been asked that about our RV Lifestyle blog we could buy another motorhome.
Here’s How The RV Lifestyle Started
This RV Lifestyle blog is a dream come true for us. Decades in the making, but now being lived out like one giant movie, seen through the wide expanse of our RV’s windshield as North America rolls on by. We can stop anytime, explore anywhere.
And we do, sharing it with you on this blog, the RV Podcast, our RV Lifestyle YouTube channel, a weekly RV Lifestyle Newsletter, and by very active social media groups. And we also have written a series of 10 books and travel guides about the RV Lifestyle.
It’s all very much serendipity. Serendipity means a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise,” something fun and useful and enjoyable that was discovered by happenstance along the way. That’s a perfect description of what we find every day in this new wandering life in a motorhome.
It started when my wife Jennifer and I bought a Class B campervan-type motor home in early 2012 after years of dreaming. When we did, I started writing a blog about seeing North America, enjoying our RV, and the interesting stories about the people and places we came across.
The goal then and now is to share our RV lifestyle. I have to admit, I am not very mechanical. It took me an orientation session with my RV dealer to find out where the gas, ah, make that, diesel fueling point was on that first vehicle. This blog is nowaimed at tinkerers and mechanics.
It’s about the RV lifestyle and the great things to see and do out there on the open road.
By background, I’m a journalist. I have to tell stories. I love meeting people, learning, and seeing new things, enjoying God’s awesome creation. Taking pictures. Making videos. I’ve been doing this for more than four decades, for major newspapers, TV networks, radio stations, and magazines. I’ve written six books. I’ve won 18 EMMY awards, honors from the Associated Press, Ohio State University, and Wayne State University. I’ve reported from all over Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Central America.
I used to travel so much as a journalist that one of my newspaper employers, the Detroit News, once took an ad out in a journalism trade magazine referring to me as “one of America’s most well-traveled reporters.”
Much of that traveling was what we call “parachute journalism.” I’d fly in, cover the story and fly out, sometimes the same day, often using scenery and skylines as backdrops for my stand-up TV bits. I remembered so many times looking out at a mountain range or across some valley or in some small town or metropolis and longing to spend time, walk the streets, hike the trails, climb the hills, experience the sights and sounds and smells of a place. And, of course, meet the people. It seldom happened. There was always another story in another place on another deadline.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved those journalism days. I had a front-row, window seat to history. I covered Presidents and movie stars, CEOs and government leaders, the Mafia and even the Queen of England and a Pope. Those were heady days.
But as I approached retirement age, I knew I missed a lot of stories out there over the years, stories about people, places, and the things that make the U.S. and Canada such wonderful countries. The kind of good news and general interest stories hard-noted editors and news directors tend to skip over in favor of the sensational and controversial. The world of big media today concentrates on strife and tragedy and bad news. It has little time for good news.
In retirement, as my own boss, I decided I wanted to go back and actually see and experience the country and tell those good news stories that I am convinced people are really hungry for.
An RV was our solution
The one other journalism obligation I still have every week is with NBC-TV, where, since 1994, I have been reporting on personal technology. I’m known there as
“PC Mike” and my reports are sent weekly to the NBC Newschannel service which distributes my “PC Mike” report to all 215 stations each week.
But this blog is an obligation, too, as is Facebook page and group, the podcast, the newsletter, our YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel, and all the email that needs to be answered. It is all a very happy labor of love. I handle it all from the road. I have a podcast studio at home and in the RV.
So, about half to 3/4 of the year, we travel North America discovering the interesting people and places I didn’t have time to meet when I was a news reporter working for newspapers or TV stations. Technology, like the motorhome, is a big part of my life, and being able to try out new tech toys and stay connected while on the road makes every day an adventure. You can read about my tech gear here.
Right now, we’re traveling in a 2021 Leisure Travel Vans Wonder, RTB (Rear Twin Bed) model, a Class C motorhome built on the 2020 Ford Transit chassis. We frequently “boondock,” or stay in remote places, off the commercial power grid, typically in national or state forests, National Parks, or wilderness areas. The Wonder allows us to be self-contained for long periods of time.
We began this blog in March 2012. Since then, we have traveled over 250,000 miles. Typically, we mark out a route, identify a few spots we want to be sure to visit, and then take off, stopping when we want or find something that interests us. An old editor of mine once told me that “every person has a story to tell.” My journalism career has shown me that to be very true. It’s the same with most places. Places have stories, too. So we like to wander, chat up the people we meet, and start taking photos and videos. Usually, we return with more stories than we can do.
We travel year-round, even to cold, snowy places in the winter. We have driven the motorhome to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the North Lake Superior shore of Minnesota in the month of January, where we found a winter wonderland that most people never see. I remember one night when there were 28 inches of snow on the level ground and deep in the wilderness, it got down to -21 degrees F. It was an awesome experience. We slept snug and warm inside our RV and realized winter is no excuse to put the RV in storage.
Typically, we’re on the road two to three weeks every month. We’re not fulltimers. We need grandkid fixes. So we return to our Michigan home for at least a week or so every couple of months.
We also like to visit RV rallies and events.
Some people have looked at our schedule and the amount of material we produce and laugh. “I thought you retired,” they’ll say.
As a matter of fact, I’m probably writing and reporting more now than I did when I was a fulltime employee of the various news outfits I’ve worked for over the years. But the difference is I’m my own boss and telling the stories I want to tell. That makes it not like a job at all.
Truth is, though, that if I’m not careful, RVLifestyle.com could become all-consuming. The blog has been growing so fast that we also started a weekly RV newsletter. Our Facebook Page is approaching 520,000 “Likes.” My son, Jeff, has pitched in to help run the “enterprise” so I can concentrate on traveling, content development, and reporting. Daughter Wendy helps with the newsletter.
I want to point out that while we have various sponsors who advertise here (see their banner ads on the sidebar of the main blog). I am an independent content creator who loves the RV lifestyle. The blog is a labor of love. It is all our own work and. No one “tells” us what to say or what not to say.
As I said, I have to tell stories. It’s in my DNA, I guess.
For the record, Jennifer and I have a brick and mortar home is in Oakland, MI. We have three grown children and eight grandchildren.
Jennifer is a certified fitness instructor by occupation, specializing in water exercise. Besides journalism, we’ve both been very active at our church and have led in-depth Bible studies for many years. In addition to RVing, I enjoy photography, bicycling, SCUBA diving, kayaking, and fishing.
One of the joys of doing all this is working with my wife, who now appears regularly with me on the podcast and our YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. She gets more fan mail than I do. And Bo, our Norwegian Elkhound animal companion, has become a canine celebrity in his own right!
That’s not to say that there sometimes isn’t conflict. Jennifer insists on working out and exercising while on the road. We’re not talking about campground strolls, bike rides, and hikes – all of which we do. We’re talking about hardcore workouts. In a gym. A constant challenge for me in our travels is finding a health club or workout facility for Jennifer. I’ve learned that unless she gets in a workout three or four times a week, things in the confined space of our motorhome can get a bit strained. We belong to the Anytime Fitness chain of health clubs, which has some 6,000 locations across the world, so we can pretty much always find a place to work out.
For her part, Jennifer has had to adjust to the unpredictability of my serendipity style. “Where are we going to spend the night?” she’ll ask. I seldom know. I am not one for making reservations. There are too many variables out there, places, and people that make me spontaneously pull off the road and strike up conversations that could lead us to a totally unexpected delight of a story just around the bend.
You can read and watch many of them here on the blog and on our YouTube channel.
I welcome your comments and feedback and thank you for visiting this blog.
Thanks for reading this.