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Episode 144: Dark Sky Places for your RV Bucket List

| Updated Jun 19, 2023

If you’ve ever looked up at the night sky while on a camping or RV trip and marveled at the beauty of the universe, you know how hard it is to find places where light pollution hasn’t limited night sky visibility. This week, we learn about special places you can visit across North America that are designated as Dark Sky Preserves and Places. These are spots that belong on your bucket list.

Also this week, listener questions, RV tips, news of the week and a great off the beaten path destination.

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 #144 June 14, 2017 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast:


Mike and Jennifer update everyone on:

  • Mike's emergency surgery that caused a detour in their current RV trip west – to the Mayo Clinic for gallbladder removal
  • Mike's current health status
  • How they are back on the road headed to Glacier National Park, following I-94
  • Lessons learned about times when RVers face unexpected health issues


Episode 144: Dark Sky Places for your RV Bucket List 1

Some RVers are not able to keep their motorhomes at their home. So they need to have their vehicle left in a storage yard. That makes for a lot of work, having to take the things you can’t or don’t want to leave unattended. [spp-timestamp time=”12:04″]

You have to take it home when you put the RV away, and then bring it back when it’s time for another RV adventure.

A listener named Lynne has that dilemma… and she’s come up with a nifty way to minimize the extra work.

You can listen to Lynne at [spp-timestamp time=”12:47″]

And be sure 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!


Listener Jeffrey heard our report last week about RV technology and wondered if one of the innovations we featured would make it easy for thieves to steal an RV. The short and long answer is… no. You can hear the discussion and the opinion of an expert we consulted at [spp-timestamp time=”16:14″]

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.


Lots of RVers like to take their pets with them while traveling, but that creates a lot of opportunity for our animals to get lost, one way or another. [spp-timestamp time=”21:24″]

That’s a big deal. It can be like losing a member of our family.

But there are steps we can take to prevent lost pets and find them if they do get separated from us.

That’s according to someone we interviewed not long ago for the RV Podcast back in Episode 117: Texas-based Pet Detective Cindy Gordon. Gordon is one of several dozen trained through an organization called the Missing Animal Response Group. She says there are two things every pet owner needs to do to make sure that if their pet runs off, they can be found.

  • One…Microchip your pets, and immediately register the microchip with your personal information. A great tip is to keep all of the microchip information for each pet as a contact on your own phone. Keep the chip number, and the phone number for the chip company. Immediately report as lost if they escape, and call them and be sure the chip info is up to date.
  • And two…Get them an identification collar embroidered with your phone number: We bought one for Bo from a woman who has an Etsy store. We’ll put a link to her in the shownotes for this episode at Roadtreking-dot-com-slash-144.

Good advice for us all…from a real pet detective.

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 , Retailers and Pet Shops across the USA


There’s nothing like camping and RVing to get you to appreciate nature and few sights are more breathtaking than a dark night sky filled with stars. Across the world, communities and local governments are designating dark sky places and preserves. An organization known as the International Dark Sky Association is dedicated to protecting those dark night skies for a variety of important reasons, not the least is your health. [spp-timestamp time=”25:17″]

Our guests this week are:

Dr. John Barentine  International Dark Sky Association Program Director. John received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. He is the author of The Lost Constellations and Uncharted Constellations

Chrystal White is leader of the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative, which has been instrumental in assisting 13 Dark Sky Places obtain certifications from. The Her group also trains star guides to lead stargazing trips, and hosts education and outreach events in schools, parks and planetariums. You can read more about the Cooperative's accomplishments here:

You can learn more about Dark Skies and find a Dark Sky Place or Preserve near you at:

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=”43:18″]

Officials close Montana's Lake Como campground because of bear activity. Read more 

Man gets stuck inside RV when trying to steal it. Read more

RV Capital of the World has record low unemployment 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


By Steve Van Dinter
Verizon Wireless

Episode 144: Dark Sky Places for your RV Bucket List 2
Steve Van Dinter

Dads have long had to endure Father's Day gifts like ties, “World’s Greatest Dad” mugs and even wristwatches. I'm sure dad said he liked it, but did he REALLY need another tie? [spp-timestamp time=”49:33″]

The good news is technology has revolutionized what dads wear around their neck, use at home and wear on their wrists.

So grab a pen and paper…or who am I kidding…your tablet or smartphone and let's talk about what dad really wants this year.

First up: wearable personal speakers

The LG TONE Platinum Bluetooth wearable speaker sports a contoured, around-the-neck design that's lightweight and easy to wear. But what'll really knock his socks off is the truly exceptional audio these headphones reproduce using the full audio bandwidth over Bluetooth. It's perfect for watching videos, gaming and even virtual reality.

Next: smartwatches and fitness wearables

Dad's had his analog watch since the 80s, right? Help him keep up with the times with the new Wear24 smartwatch. With it he'll never miss a moment…including sports scores, calls and texts and other notifications. And no need for him to always have his phone along. This watch packs a 4G LTE chip…meaning he'll have connectivity anywhere there's a Verizon signal. And if he likes to run, pair the watch to a Bluetooth headset and now he can steam on the go wire free and phone free!

Finally: we have smart home accessories 

Dad works hard, so when he's resting he really shouldn't have to lift a finger – not even to turn off the lights or adjust the temperature. And with devices like the Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation or Hue Motion Sensor, paired with any of the Phillips Hue light bulbs, he can do just that. Both are very easy to install and connect to your home's wifi system allowing them to be controlled via an app or via voice using a smart assistant like Google Home.

And with all these ideas, you're going to be set for the holiday season as well!

Come see our Traveling Tech Demo July 27!

Mike and Steve have been talking about  cool traveling tech gadgets and gizmos week after week on the RV Podcast. We thought it would be fun to arrange a time and place to show and demonstrate these gadgets. So we will! On Thursday, July 27, we will be in Grand Rapids, Michigan at American RV. You're invited to come for an in person demo. Grand Rapids is not far Lake Michigan and there are lots of camping opportunities in the area. Come meet us!

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.


In 1959, a young pharmacist in India gave up his family, his business, and his professional life for the sake of a religious vision.  Over the next decade he studied scriptures and began writing commentaries.  His work became the foundation for the international Society for Krishna Consciousness, known here in the US as the Hare Krishna movement.  Swami Prabhupada traveled and taught all over the world, but when he was here in this country, he often spent his time in the hills of West Virginia.  That’s where his followers founded a town called New Vrindiban, near Moundsville. [spp-timestamp time=”53:24″]

Episode 144: Dark Sky Places for your RV Bucket List 3Visitors are welcome at the complex, which includes an elaborate home, a worship center and conference space, motel style dormitories, pleasant walking paths, a lake with swans, a gift shop, and a restaurant.  Scattered throughout the grounds are large statues of animals and people, often with benches to allow the visitor time to sit and contemplate.  The residence is elaborately painted with gold and jade, and furnished with whimsical and fantastically carved furniture.  The faithful still gather here on a regular basis for retreats and study, and you may have the opportunity, when visiting, to sit in awn a session.  It’s free to wander the grounds and to visit all the buildings but the palace.  The palace, when not in use, can be toured for a fee.

You can easily spend two or three hours enjoying the palace complex.  Arrive early in the morning, and take golden hour photos.  When you’re ready to leave, head down the road toward Fairmont.  There are two good reasons to visit this little berg.  If your rig has an Onan generator, you’ll find one of the best Onan service centers in the country here.  Call ahead for an appointment.  Even if you have no generator troubles, it’s still worth making a stop here.  Giuseppi Arjiro left his pregnant wife behind in Italy and came here to work in the coal mines in 1920.  Within a few years, he’d made enough money to return for her, and the family settled down to work in his soda pop bottling factory.

Episode 144: Dark Sky Places for your RV Bucket List 4In 1927 Giuseppi had a brainstorm and sold the bottling plant to open a bakery.  He knew, from his years working in the mine, that miners needed the right kind of meal for long days underground, and he had realized what it was.  Start with a good piece of meat, he thought, one that won’t go bad after hours in a lunchbox.  Wrap it in bread, both for necessary carbs and to keep the meat contained.  After some experimentation with dough recipes and baking methods,  the pepperoni roll was born.  It was instantly successful, and the bakery sold little else for several years.  At first, he sold them to local bars for 45¢ a dozen.  Now you can buy them anywhere, and they’re even a regular part of military MREs.  Visit the Country Club Bakery for the real deal, baked in these ovens for nearly 100 years.

Episode 144: Dark Sky Places for your RV Bucket List 5We suggest one more stop here in the corner of the Mountaineer State.  After the extravagance of the Palace of Gold, and with your belly full of pepperoni rolls, ease on down US 50 to Horseshoe Run and find Our Lady Of The Pines.  We’re big fans of tiny churches, and this one is a winner.  Made of stone, with a steeple and stained glass windows, it even features a period set of stations of the cross.  Feel free to sit and contemplate the beauty of this secluded spot and the lovely grounds, which include a pond and picnic area.  Before you go, you can pick up a postcard in the two square foot gift shop just inside the door.

Next time you’re headed through Wheeling, turn south on US 250 and wander into the heart of the West Virginia mountains.  You’re guaranteed to see things you didn’t expect and things you’ve never seen before.  You might even see us, Patti & Tom Burkett, somewhere out there, off the beaten path.

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in suburban Minneapolis built on quality motohomes and excellent pricing and service.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2017-06-14

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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