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Episode 130: Before you visit this year, take the “Yellowstone Pledge”

| Updated Jun 19, 2023

On everyone’s bucket list is Yellowstone National Park. But after record crowds and a series of unfortunate incidents last year, this year, before you go, park officials are asking you to take the “Yellowstone Pledge.”

What is it? Listen to our interview of the week, as we learn about the pledge and what else is new for 2017 at Yellowstone.

Plus, an important update to our recent report on Ticks and Lyme disease that shows a just released report predicting an epidemic of tick infestations, particularly on the eastern seaboard. And we have RV questions, tips and a great off the beaten path report.

Click the player below to Listen Now or scroll down through the show note details. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.


Show Notes for Episode #130 March 8, 2017 of Roadtreking – The RV Lifestyle Podcast:


I've written before about the dangers of truck tire retreads and the shredded parts left on the road when they blow out and how the tire remnants cause damage and sometimes injuries. [spp-timestamp time=”2:31 “]

It happened to us on I-75 just north of Chattanooga over the weekend. A part of a truck tire was hit by a vehicle in front of us and flew up and took out my side mirror. We are very glad it wasn't the window it hit as that would have injured Jennifer in the passenger seat. Nasty.

Truck retreads and the “gators” they leave are real hazard on the roads! They cause over 25,000 accidents and at least 100 deaths each year in the United States and Canada.

JENNIFER’S TIP OF THE WEEK – Tick Prediction Update

Episode 130: Before you visit this year, take the “Yellowstone Pledge” 1We’ve talked on this podcast before about how bad Lyme Disease has become. As we reported in Episode 128 a couple of weeks ago, Lyme Disease s contracted in humans primarily through ticks. Officially, the Centers for Disease Control report 30,000 cases are diagnosed every year. [spp-timestamp time=”7:20″]

They actually suspect the real number is 10 times that!

That means 300,000 people come down with this very serious illness every year in the U.S. alone.

The reason we’re revisiting this as a tip this week is because officials have come up with a way to estimate how bad tick infestations and Lyme disease will be in any given year.

And the prognosis for 2017 is grim.

They are predicting an epidemic.

Episode 130: Before you visit this year, take the “Yellowstone Pledge” 2

NPR recently did a major story on this. We will link to it on the podcast. but, essentially, scientists who have studied Lyme for more than 20 years, have come up with an early warning system for the disease. They can predict how many cases there will be a year in advance by looking at one key measurement: Count the mice the year before.

The explanation is simple: Mice are highly efficient transmitters of Lyme. They infect up to 95 percent of ticks that feed on them. Mice are responsible for infecting the majority of ticks carrying Lyme in the Northeast. And ticks love mice. An individual mouse might have 50, 60, even 100 ticks covering its ears and face.

The warm winter has led to an explosion of mice, killed off much fewer ticks than usual and, as a result, 2017 is predicted to be the worse year yet. The disease shows up in Maine, swoops down the East Coast into Washington, D.C., and southern Virginia. Then it hops to the Midwest into northern Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. There are also small pockets of Lyme on the West Coast.

So what can you do to keep from getting infected? The experts say you should do a tick check to your daily routine, When you're in the shower check your body for tiny ticks, especially the places they like to hide. That's the scalp, behind the ears, the armpits and in the groin area.

If you do find a tick, get it off as quickly as possible. The longer an infected tick stays on your skin, the greater the chance it will pass the Lyme bacteria on to you. EDIT   Generally, it takes about 24 hours for the tick to infect a person after it starts biting.

Then be on the lookout for Lyme symptoms — like a red rash or a fever. It anything crops up, go see a doctor immediately. Don't wait: The earlier you get treated, the better chance you'll have for a full recovery.

That’s this week’s tip. I invite you to send me your tips and suggestions for the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.

I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes (www.RadPowerBikes.com_… an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping!


Deborah is a regular listener of the podcast. She has a 40 foot fifth wheel towed by a bug truck She says she’s always stayed away from state and federal parks because she didn’t think her RV would fit. But will it, she asks? And if so, how does she make sure before making a reservation? [spp-timestamp time=”12:48″]

Mike answers. He notes RVs up to 40’ in length fit in 53% of all National park Campgrounds. National Forest Service dispersed and organized camping sites also have can take rigs that big, though not all.

Some of the resources to check that he mentions include:, . He also says to call or visit the district headquarters office for U.S. Forest Service lands. They have maps available, and can give you the latest road and campground status report for the area you wish to visit. They can also provide little known information about the area you intend to visit such as old ranch and railroad buildings, mines, and other points of interest nearby and road conditions. Many boondocking spots can easily handle big rigs.

Sponsoring this part of the podcast is Van City RV in St. Louis, and their Partner Dealerships Creston RV in Kalispell, Montana, and Wagon Trail RV in Las Vegas. Bringing You the largest Inventory of class B’s from three locations.


People ask us how we find places to take Bo for exercise while we’re traveling. We love off leash parks where he can run and play with other dogs. We also are big believers in doggy day care. To find them, we have a couple of apps that we use. [spp-timestamp time=”19:38″]

For doggy day care – places that let you drop off your dog for supervised play with other dogs during daytime hours – and for occasional overnight stays in the homes of trusted pet sitters, we use the DogVacay app and website. It automatically finds your location and returns a list of boarding and day care facilities in areas you will be visiting. You can read all about them and contact them right from the app.

When it comes to finding off leash parks and other pe friendly places like restaurants, hotels and even doggy beaches where Bo can swim, we use the website GoPetFriendly. As we plan our route for the day, we open up the site and find places where we can stop along the way and get Bo some exercise or places we may want to visit where we can bring him. Some time back, Mike interviewed the owners of GoPetFriendly.

Hope this helps!

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Dozers Dental Chews, an all natural and healthy treat your dog will love. Available direct through Amazon  and sold at Home Goods Stores across their 600 store chain.


Episode 130: Before you visit this year, take the “Yellowstone Pledge” 3
Take the “Yellowstone Pledge” this year!

Our guest in this episode is Morgan Warthin, a Public Affairs Specialist with Yellowstone National Park. And we talk about the 2017 season at Yellowstone and what’s new and expected for the coming season. [spp-timestamp time=”23:54″]

Spring plowing is underway now. Roads to wheeled vehicles and RVs are expected to open, weather permitting, around April 21.

For one thing, Morgan shares how attendance at Yellowstone is expected to keep rising. In 2015, the park set a record with 4 million visitors. Last year, the centennial year for the National Parks Service, Yellowstone had 4.2 million visitors. Even more are expected in 2017.

After a series of unfortunate incidents involving people who risk their lives getting too close to wildlife or intentionally walk all the boardwalks in the thermal areas, this year Yellowstone is asking visitors to take the “Yellowstone Pledge,” a series of behavioral promises that will help them be a steward of the park and protect themselves and others.

Here are some other resources that will help RVers plan their visit:

Yellowstone webcams

Yellowstone Traffic and Road updates

Resources and Issues

Camping Reservations

The interview of the week is brought to you by, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country


Three stories this week… [spp-timestamp time=”48:40″]

  • RV Industry Publication cites Roadtreking Facebook Group as example of effective social media… Read More
  • Need a Job? RV Industry desperate for workers in Elkhart Read More
  • Sandhill crane migration underway at Nebraska's Platte River valley. Read more

This portion of the podcast is brought to you by Alde  the only name in heat that you need to know for your RV

TRAVELING TECH TIP: Spring Cleaning Your Tech

By Steve Van Dinter

Verizon Wireless

Episode 130: Before you visit this year, take the “Yellowstone Pledge” 4
Steve Van Dinter

Just like our closets get overrun with clothes and other things over the course of the year, phones, too can become slower and low on space. But unlike when you clean out the closet at your house, spring cleaning your electronics won’t cause you to break a sweat and is more satisfying that you may think. [spp-timestamp time=”53:49″]

So a few questions you want to ask yourself. First, are you using all the apps on your phone? To be sure, open the app tray and take a look…a real look. If you’re not using them, go ahead and delete.

Second, is your system up to date? Most phones will update their software automatically. But just to be sure, go to settings and system update and make sure you have the latest.

Next…are photos taking up lots of phone space? No need to delete them, instead take advantage of the cloud. Google Photos will back up unlimited amounts of your photos and videos. Once the backup happens, hit “free up space” and the copies will be deleted from your phone but stay in the cloud for you to access anytime, anywhere.

Remember downloading that PDF of your gym schedule or a local restaurant menu? PDFs and other downloads are easily forgotten and take up space in a download folder. Open up your apps menu, select downloads and delete.

Finally, when it’s out with the old and in with the new, put your old phone to work helping others in the community. Consider donating it to HopeLine from Verizon – a national program that recycles old phones for cash grants to local nonprofits. HopeLine dedicates its resources to agencies that help survivors of domestic violence.

Happy spring!

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT –  Tower of the Four Winds in Blair, Nebraska

By Tom Burkett

Episode 130: Before you visit this year, take the “Yellowstone Pledge” 5
Patti and Tom Burkett

If you’re familiar with historical Native American figures beyond Crazy Horse and Osceola, you’ve likely heard of Black Elk. He was born to the Oglala Sioux on Wyoming’s Powder River in 1863.  As a young man, already a distinguished warrior, he fought in the Battle of Greasy Grass (we call it Little Bighorn), in which Custer’s forces were defeated.  After that battle, pressure from the Army increased and many of the Oglala Sioux fled to Canada rather than be forced onto reservations.  Black Elk was among them. [spp-timestamp time=”56:19″]

After several years in Canada, he returned to the reservation and settled near Wounded Knee Creek, where became known widely as a skilled healer.  In 1886, he joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and toured North America and Europe for three years before coming back to the Dakota Territory to help lead the Ghost Dance movement.  Ghost Dancers believed that traditional rituals could end the European dominance of the West and bring back the bison.

The Ghost Dance movement became more and more threatening to the Army, and in 1890 the Wounded Knee massacre ended the hopes of the Sioux.  Black Elk continued to live on the reservation, where he maintained his practice of traditional healing and his position as a respected elder.  In 1930, he met John Neihardt of Dana College, who recorded his biography and memoirs.  Black Elk Speaks became the best selling book ever written by a Native American.

In the final chapter of the book, Black Elk reflects on the moment Chief Red Cloud convinced him and others to surrender in the wake of Wounded Knee: “I did not know then how much was ended….I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.”  Black Elk’s complex vision of the transformation and healing of the world is memorialized at the Tower of the Four Winds in Blair, Nebraska.  The tower is covered with intricate mosaics, and more are inlaid in the walkways that crisscross the park.

Episode 130: Before you visit this year, take the “Yellowstone Pledge” 6Just down the road, Dana College, where John Niehardt was a professor, sits shuttered amid the growing weeds, a victim of declining enrollment and rural location.  It’s striking, and unusual, to see an abandoned college campus.  The Sioux are gone, Niehardt and Black Elk are gone, Dana College is gone, but the vision remains of a transformed Earth.  Blair is on the Lincoln Highway, just a bit north of Omaha.  It’s worth a visit.

When you’re in Blair, stop by a sports bar called Runza and get yourself a runza.  This local chain began in Lincoln in 1949.  What’s a runza? Well, it’s a lot like a bierock, if you’ve ever had one of those.  Here, they’re hot, tasty, and Nebraska perfect.  We’re Patti & Tom Burkett, and if it’s not eating hubcaps and runzas among the cornhuskers, we’ll hope to see you somewhere else out there, off the beaten path.

Tower Of The Four Winds

Black Elk Speaks


The RV season is winding down. Here;s what's happening: [spp-timestamp time=”1:00:08″]

Rally in the Valley
Family Motorcoach Association gathering
March 7-10
Rawhide Western Town and Event Center in Chandler, Ariz.

Virginia RV Show 
March 10-12
Hampton Roads Convention Center
Hampton Roads, VA

Rockford RV, Camping & Travel Show
March 10-12
Indoor Sports Center
Loves Park, IL

For a complete list of RV shows this weekend and for the rest of the year, click here.

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Thanks to all for the kind reviews we’ve received so far. That got us noticed by Apple/iTunes as “New and Noteworthy.” I appreciate every review!

And remember, you can appear in future episodes. Ask a question or voice your comments about RV topics by clicking the Leave Voicemail tab on the right side of this page here at You can then use the microphone on your computer to record your words.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2017-03-08

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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