RV Podcast #336: Cicadas, the Canadian border and Rootless Living

 RV Podcast #336: Cicadas, the Canadian border and Rootless Living

We have a lot for you in this report: We talk about the coming cicada invasion, the Canadian border, and Rootless Living.

After being closed for more than a year, disturbing new reports are surfacing that have many wondering when will the U.S. Canada border reopen for RVers. 

That's one of many topics we explore in Episode 336 of the RV Podcast.

We also have a fascinating report about a coming invasion of billions – yes, you read right, billions – of bugs that will soon be evident to RVers who travel through 15 Mideastern States. After 17 years of dormancy, Cicada Brood X is about to reemerge and fill the air with noisy buzzing as they perch in trees, on utility poles, shrubs, or any other structure they can find. 

And we meet Demian Ross, whose Rootless Living podcast and magazine chronicle life on the road for the millions of RV nomads who taken to the RV Lifestyle.

Plus, we answer your RV questions, hear another off-the-beaten-path report from our friends the Burketts and we look at the RV calendar of coming events.

You can listen to the entire RV Podcast in the player below or via your favorite podcast app. Scroll down for notes and links and more resources.

When will the Canadian border reopen?

photo about when will Canadian border open

That is the question as Canada's Prime Minister said late last week that he could see the border with the U.S. remaining closed until September or later if necessary.

His comments were in response to some U.S. politicians in states that border Canada pushing the Biden Administration to open the border as soon as Memorial Day.

Justin Trudeau said he would not open the border until the number of new daily COVID cases in the U.S. drops even more. The current number of new COVID cases in the U.S. is about 50,000, while in Canada, it is about 3,000. The U.S. population is about 328.2 million, Canada's is about 37.6 million.

The border with Canada has been closed to non-essential travel (like RVing and camping) for over a year. The current closure is set to expire on March 21, but everyone expects it to be extended longer.

The Invasion of the Cicadas

For 17 years, they have been underground in the nymph stage, munching unseen on tree roots. But sometime soon – when the soil warms to 64 degrees – billions will emerge at the exact same time across 15 U.S. states and cover trees, shrubs, utility poles, flowers, and any structure they can find, hatching into ugly red-eyed bugs that many mistake for grasshoppers or locusts.

But these periodical cicadas are not grasshoppers. And they are mostly harmless, except for tender shoots on shrubs and flowers. They don't bite. But they are extremely noisy, making their buzzing mating calls for a few weeks at most before they die off.

They are one of the most fascinating mysteries of nature. Watch this short YouTube video done by the BBC:

Expect the periodical cicadas to emerge from mid-May through June. The cicadas, about 2 1/2 inches long with a 3-inch wingspan, will emerge in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.

Unlike the common green cicadas you see every year, this 17-year cycle Brood X as it is called, has bright red eyes and black bodies. Birds, frogs, snakes, raccoons, opossums, and all sorts of other creatures will gorge on them.

It's the males who make all the noise, trying to attract females. After they mate and the female lays eggs, they die off. And when the eggs hatch the nymphs all burrow beneath the surface, to stay there for another 17 years.

So don't worry about the invasion. They make a lot of noise but they aren't drawn indoors. Other than the racket they make and the piles of their bodies after they die off, they are at most a nuisance.

Marvel at them instead. The periodic cicadas are one of the great wonders of nature.

Insight into the Digital Nomad and Rootless Living Craze

Seemingly everywhere you go, all you hear about in the RV world is the Rootless Living and Digital Nomad craze.

Our guest in the interview of the week segment of the podcast is Demian Ross, the publisher of Rootless Living Magazine and the Podcast of the same name. Demian is a lifelong traveler and an expert in the lifestyle behind the craze.

He is a former skateboard fanatic and now a fulltime RVer.

He has interviewed dozens of those living such a lifestyle, even as he recently did a video on his own RV experiences for 1,000 days in a row!

photo of ike and demian of rootless living

Here's an edited transcript of the interview:

Mike Wendland:
Demian, how important is it, when you talk to all of these other RVers out there who are living full-time on the road, some of them blogging, and doing YouTubes, and podcasts, others, finding other ways to earn a living. How important is it for them to have a challenge like your 1,000 videos in 1,000 days project? Is there a common theme there that you see that any of these people have?

Demian Ross:
I think there are times where people will find some sort of niche, we're going to visit every national park, we're going to try to go to all 50 states, whatever that is. I think what most people don't realize is that most podcasts quit after seven episodes, most YouTubers quit after about four videos. If you can set yourself up to say, “I'm going to do 30 videos in 90 days, or 30 podcasts in 90 days,” you're going to get into the habit of it.

Demian Ross:
When I stopped doing my 1,000 videos in 1,000 days, December 15th was my last 1000th video, I took two months off of not creating any videos. It was really nice, but I'm also really jonesing to get back to it. I think people need to focus on that. Don't focus on the subscribers, don't focus on the numbers, don't focus on the views, just do something on a regular basis, be consistent, and you'll learn your craft. My voice, 1000 days ago compared to what it is today when I'm doing videos and what I'm talking about, is completely different. There was no plan, day one was the day I thought of it. Literally, there was no planning into it.

The challenges of the full-time RVer and rootless living

Mike Wendland:
When it comes to all RVers, do you think that there is this rush to get into full-time life? And pretty soon, some people call it decision fatigue sets in. Maybe you may want to talk a little bit about that, too. When do you see people dropping out of the full-time lifestyle?

Demian Ross:
Yeah, I think really it's expectations. I think they set false expectations.

Demian Ross:
My dad used to say, “No matter where you go, there you are.” It really reminded me that you can try to take on a unique lifestyle, it's just not going to make you unique. I think people forget that sometimes, and they get kind of burned out. Or, all they're seeing is the positive, and then maybe on Instagram or in videos, and then when they're out there in real life, there's a lot of negatives that are in every other life. If you're living bricks and sticks, you'll have the same problem. This toilet wasn't the first toilet that ever got clogged in my 50 years of life, but for some reason when an RVer's toilet gets clogged you would think it's the end of the world.

Demian Ross:
When I started the lifestyle … I'll go back to my own story. I wasn't influenced by anybody, I didn't know that anybody did this. I thought this was what retired people did. I wanted to get out of California and I wanted to move to Texas, but I didn't know where in Texas. So the idea hit me, get an RV, travel around Texas, figure out where I wanted to live. I immediately found out that people do live full-time, obviously, in an RV, while still working, it's not just for people that are retired.

How he started Rootless Living Magazine

Demian Ross:

RV Podcast #336: Cicadas, the Canadian border and Rootless Living 2
Demian also publishes a print edition of his Rootless Living publication

Immediately, in 2016 I was like, “Well, if a million people do it, there's probably a magazine about it,” and there wasn't. There were lots of YouTube channels and blogs. But, that's one person's perspective. You have to really relate to them. If you're watching my videos, maybe at the time you had to be 40-something, maybe your kids didn't live with you, you weren't married, and you were just doing something different and that would drive you in. Where most people are, “Oh, he's so much older than me, or he's so much younger than me, that doesn't fit my niche.”

Demian Ross:
I think where I noticed a difference is when I started really working in and around the industry, now my life became my job, my job became my life, it's much different. Where when I hear people saying, “I want to get on the road and start a YouTube channel,” I'm like… don't. Either start a YouTube channel where you're at or get on the road. But, you don't have to do both. It doesn't mean you have to buy an RV and buy a camera, you don't. 

Demian Ross:
But honestly, the people that have been on my podcast, I would say I'm close to 60% that have never done a podcast, 60% don't have 500 followers if they added all of their social channels, because I don't believe in social proof, I don't believe that really makes you someone. They're really great, unique stories that everyone else can relate to because maybe they're not creating content but they want the lifestyle. It's a hard pendulum of where you need to be with that.

Demian Ross:
I would say, to your advice, I'd be creating content before I hit the road, because learning how to RV and trying to create content at the same time, probably not very safe, and really probably mentally draining.

Mike Wendland:
It's insane. People always say, “The market's too saturated,” and it seems sometimes that it is, there are so many. But, why do people do this? If they're going into it to make money, and that's how we're going to live our life on the RV, my advice is don't even try because there are so many other people who are out there doing it. Or, understand that it's going to take you many years before you actually make enough money to consider this a job.

Mike Wendland:
But, the satisfaction part of it, doing it for friends and family, and your own creativity, that's what I think, I love to encourage that in people because you see all the different perspectives that they can bring to it without having it be profit-driven.

Mike Wendland:
I want to get back to the magazine, Rootless Living. Talk about that. It is a really nice-looking magazine.

Demian Ross:
I appreciate it.

Mike Wendland:
You've talked to just about everybody, you do a really nice job on it. Is that your background? And, walk us through that.

How he became a Rootless Living Nomad

Demian Ross:
Yeah. In the early '90s, I did a skate magazine in and around Southern California. I felt we needed a regional publication, I was a skater surfer jock. I was getting into my older years, in a sense, in '93 I was already a dad of two. But still, 23 years old at max, so still very active in skating and surfing. In 2002, I start a publication for the community I lived in. It was probably more newspaper, but it came out every month just because there wasn't social media and that kind of stuff at the time. I did that for about eight years, crashed in 2008, everyone pulled their advertising. I've always loved it. I enjoy being what I consider a content DJ, where I'm bringing in other people's stories and helping get it out there. Whether it was for skating or surfing that I was passionate about, or the community that I lived in, or the lifestyle I'm living, it's just something I was really excited about.

Demian Ross:
So when I lost my job in 2018 with no notice, no nothing, just cut off, the second time in five years, I just said, “I just need to take the reins and just do my own thing. I can't be letting let go because they make choices and decide to go a different direction.” I wasn't a bad employee, it wasn't pulling in good numbers, just they wanted to go in a different direction. And, then also my lifestyle, I was on vacation all the time, which whatever. People can think that because I live in an RV. I know my friends that live in Hawaii are not on vacation all the time.

Demian Ross:
Originally, it was just going to be a digital publication. I started putting the feelers out in November 2019 saying, “Hey, I'm going to start this January 2020.” And immediately, I was overwhelmed by the people that wanted to see it in print. It was a digital nomad publication, really, it's really geared towards full-time RVers. It was really surprising to me. So we did a Kickstarter campaign for the print, it got fully funded. We just wrapped up issue number eight, which was our adventure issue. It's a real magazine. People sometimes are like, “It's a real magazine?” Yeah, it's a real magazine.

Demian Ross:
We called it Rootless because at first, I was thinking full-time RVer and stuff like that, but there are a couple of things here. One is I didn't want to exclude anyone, the vanners, the schoolies. If you put the term RV in something or even full-time, people check out. For me, Rootless, it's a word I've always really liked and no one was using it. I thought if I ever had to talk to someone I could say, “Search the hashtag #Rootlessliving.” Nobody was using that hashtag before 2019, zero. It gets used 20,000 times a month now, with people trying to connect to each other.

Demian Ross:
It was a terrible name in a way, because it doesn't explain what the magazine is, but it's great for marketing and a community. I've enjoyed it. It's blowing up, I can't believe how many people actually pay for the print subscription. Obviously, the digital is still free and you can grab it free six times a year publication if you want to, plus all the back issues. It's been great, it's been a ton of fun. I've really enjoyed it.

Common denominators of today's RV Nomads

Mike Wendland:
What are some of the common denominators that you have found in your own life, and with those people you interview, who are out living, basically, the full-time RV life? What makes them successful in the lifestyle? Not so much maybe the business end, but the lifestyle.

Demian Ross:
Yeah, you know what's funny is the majority of my guests, even on my podcasts that I interview, had no RV experience whatsoever. They had never done it before. Literally, the RV they're in is their first RV. Even some had never really done camping, and I mean camping like tents, and that kind of stuff. You bring it in, you've got to pack it out kind of stuff. And, I had never owned an RV before, I had never been RVing. The only RV I'd ever been in before was a Hollywood trailer-type RV, it had nothing to do with camping or living in, so I think there's that.

Demian Ross:
I think, two, it's people are just tired of where they are but they don't know where to go, I think is what happens for a lot of people. This lifestyle does seem really different, in that sense. I'm the same guy, I wanted to do it for one year, figure out Texas, buy 100 acres, build an 8000 square foot home, probably with a 25,000 square foot barn, and be content. Four years later, I still want 100 acres, I'll probably never build anything over a 600 square foot home. I still want the big barn and shop, for sure. But, I think RV or some sort of wheels up in 30 minutes will always be part of my life, as long as I'm physically able to do it just because it's so great getting up and going. And, seeing people and meeting people in a way that's just so different than living in a community forever kind of thing. I think I'm noticing that when I talk to people.

Mike Wendland:
You know, it's so funny how it all comes back to that first cliché that … I remember seeing older campers wearing their T-shirts that said, “Home is where I park it.” But that is so true, it is always with you, you always feel at home. I never feel oh man, this is so weird wherever I am, but I always feel at home. I wonder if it's the same with you now.

Mike Wendland:
Tell us a little bit more about your platforms. You also have a podcast, you have your YouTube channel. I'll put links to all of these in our show notes for this episode. But, I wanted our audience to get a chance to meet you a little bit. Tell us how they can find you and follow you.

Demian Ross:
Yeah. Real quick, too. I always say I was born in Seattle, I learned to talk in New York, I learned to walk in Boston, I learned to run in Los Angeles. I'd lived in Los Angeles for 40 of my 50 years, and I didn't realize that I was stuck. When I was living in Los Angeles, I didn't know how just stressed I was about just how crowded the lifestyle was. It's weird when you get out of here … You didn't even know you were dealing with that. It's literally like having a mental-physical problem that you didn't know you have, and then someone comes along and fixes it, and now life is completely different. That was what happened to me.

Demian Ross:
I also feel like I've got an idea for a book, where it's the American dream was a scam. I really do feel like we tricked people into thinking they need that house, they need these things, that Europe is where they need to go for a vacation, and all this stuff. That you have to have one job for 40 years, you've got to live in one town for 40 years, you've got to be within eight miles of your family, all this stuff that's just a scam. I don't know why we buy into it, why we believe it. Because I've got to say, I'm probably further away from my family than I've ever been, but I'm closer to my family than I've ever been. Outside of what's happened, obviously, with the pandemic. But, even before that, we would see each other in ways we never would. It was real quality time rather than quantity that you just took advantage of. It wasn't based on holidays, it was based on wanting to see each other. So a little rant there, just in what's happened to me.

Demian Ross:
I'm at @DemianRoss everywhere. I had hippy Irish parents so it's spelled D-E-M-I-A-N-R-O-S-S. Instagram and YouTube is where I hang out the most. And then Rootless Living, rootlessliving.com. Or on Instagram, it's @RootlessLivingMag. We're there, just hanging out, just trying to be that platform so people can find someone they can see and relate to.

Demian Ross:
It really goes back to, Mike, I got sober when I was about 25 years old so I'm coming up on 25 years of sobriety. Nobody gets sober at 25. When I was walking into AA meetings, I'm not seeing anyone under 50, that's when they finally decide that it's ruined their life and they try to make a change. The same thing with this magazine was I wanted people, no matter anything, religion, sexual orientation, the color of their skin, economical backgrounds, anything, that they could see themselves in people that are living this lifestyle, because sometimes that's really important. You have to see yourself and someone else doing it, and then you're willing to give it a try. Nobody thought you could break the four-minute mile until the guy broke the four-minute mile, and now it's been broken a million times since then, it's that kind of mentality.

His RV Lifestyle predictions for the future

Mike Wendland:
Last question is as you travel about, as you talk to others and you hear this last year was quite the year with COVID, and this big RV boom, and so many newcomers coming, what's it going to be like this year? You're not in California anymore so you've gotten away from that state's restrictions. COVID's getting a lot better, I don't think anybody's disputing that. It's still going to be a strange year. I wonder what you're seeing in your predictions before we let you go?

Demian Ross:
Yeah, I think you're going to see a lot of very gently used RVs for sale in about 18 months, for sure. Look, I talk to RV industry people all the time, and there's a time where they'll tell me, “Well Demian, full-time RVing is not a big enough market for us so we're not really going to target it and go after it,” it makes me laugh. Because their biggest together is people that buy an RV and never use an RV, they just put it in storage or they have it on the side of their house. Legitimately, that is probably the biggest user. It's sad to say, but that's just what people do. It's an impulse buy, they think they're going to use it all the time and they don't, so I think we will see that.

Demian Ross:
The other thing is, I know there's a big panic that campgrounds are going to be really, really crowded because of this big boom. A lot of people buy them and don't use them, like I said, a lot of people buy them and keep them stationary, a lot of people have downsized, a lot of people purchase them and put them on the side of their house for in-laws. It's not just all that people are going to get on the road and use them. What I'm excited about is that more people are going to be doing this lifestyle. I've been hit up with, “Demian, don't publish a magazine about it, don't do a podcast, we don't want people to know that this is an option for their lifestyle.” I just don't think that's fair or right. I think people will get out there and enjoy it. And hopefully, it's the weekends, or the sometimers, the part-timers, the hybrids, you don't have to do it full-time. I hope people realize that.

Demian Ross:
And, I will say this. Probably the biggest aha moment that I had interviewing people was meeting people that live in their motor home, or RV, or fifth wheel, whatever, Monday through Friday because they have a Monday through Friday job. But on Friday at five PM, their wheels up and they're going somewhere for the weekend. If it's a three-day weekend, they get that much out. There isn't that pressure of going from your house to your RV for some sort of weekend, and how you forgot the wine opener, or the can of beans, or your favorite swimsuit. You're just living it and going, and that's a great lifestyle, too. You don't have to wait until you have a remote job or you're retired. You can live this lifestyle and it'll change you. It'll definitely change your idea of … Remember, I said I wanted an 8000 square foot home. Now, I want 600 and I want 100 of that to be a shower just because I want a big shower and that's it. It changes your mentality, the things I own. Do I need 15 shirts? I don't anymore.

Demian Ross:
It's the small size and the weight the changed me in that, and I just wish it was something I learned 30 years ago. Not at 50, I wish I learned it at 20. I'd have been much more successful.

Mike Wendland:
Demian Ross has been our guest, and Rootless Living is his magazine. Thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast today.

Demian Ross:
Thank you, Mike, for having me. It was a blast being able to chat with you, man.

RV Shows and Calendar of Events

Here's a list of upcoming RV shows and events as the RV season starts to slow down until fall. 

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Off the Beaten Path with the Burketts

Tom and Pattti Burkett share an off-the-beaten-path report on the podcast every week. The print version appears on the blog every Sunday

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RV Podcast #336: Cicadas, the Canadian border and Rootless Living 3

 

 

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

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