Meet our RVing family as we hit the road for the Rockies

 Meet our RVing family as we hit the road for the Rockies

And the Great Wendland Family Roadtreking RV Vacation is off and westbound, headed to Colorado and the American southwest in a caravan of two Roadtreks, a travel trailer and an SUV.

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Heading west on I-80

You can follow the trip and see where we are in real time through a little map widget down on the right hand sidebar of this blog. We’ll be posting daily reports, photos and videos right here. And, of course, we’ll be updating via Twitter and Facebook as we go.

Meet the Family

Since you’ll be seeing and hearing about the six adults, two kids and three big dogs we have traveling in two Roadtrek Class B motorhomes, one Gulf Stream Travel Trailer and an SUV, I thought it might be good to introduce them to you. I should also point out that my third child, Scott, with his wife, Lauri and my four grandsons, live in Georgia and are not on this trip with us. Jennifer and I will be heading down to visit them next month.

This trip to Colorado and the Four Corners area is made up of:

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Mike, Jennifer and Tai

Mike and Jennifer Wendland, and Tai, our 70-pound Norwegian Elkhound. You already know us. We’re on our second year of traveling North America in our Roadtrek and all our travel so far have been just us. We’ve wanted to share some of the adventures with our family but were stumped on how it could happen until Jim Hammill, president of Roadtrek, suggested to me a few months ago that all I had to do was tow a travel trailer with our Roadtrek eTrek. I had never thought of that. When I later shared Hammill’s suggestion with Jennifer, she immediately invited our our Michigan children and their families. It made no difference that we didn’t happen to have a travel trailer at the time. The fact that a travel trailer was the breakthrough solution was all Jennifer needed to hear. Now we could do a family vacation. Well, as of this week, now not only have a travel trailer, we bought one from American RV in Grand Rapids. Why did we buy one? Because with such short notice, all the decent rentals were unavailable from nearby dealers and American RV gave us such a great deal that we figured, hey, once the trip was over, we can always sell it and end up having it cost us out of pocket not much more than it would have had we rented one. So, we are now the proud owners of a brand new and very cool  2014 Gulf Stream Amerlite Super Lite 19BHC  which we will tow with our 2012 Roadtrek eTrek motorhome.

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Dan, Hua Hua, Rachel, Wendy Bower and Charley the Goldendoodle

Wendy, Dan, Hua Hua and Rachel Bowyer, and Charley, their 60-pound Goldendoodle –  Wendy is our firstborn. She is also a journalist by training, having worked and won reporting awards at the Flint Journal and the Detroit Free Press. She is now a fulltime stay-at-home Mom, homeschooling Hua Hua, 10, and Rachel, 7, who she and Dan adopted from China. Dan is a music teacher in suburban Detroit. Wendy grew up camping. As a family, we had a pop up camper, a 13 foot travel trailer and tents. This trip to Colorado and the southwest is all her planning. She has long wanted to visit the region and has mapped out a route that will take us first to Colorado Springs, then Mesa Verde and the Four Corners region of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the Black Canyon at Gunnison and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Wendy and her family will be driving our 2009 Honda Pilot SUV.

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Aimee and Jeff Wendland and Sequoia in front of the Roadtrek SS Ideal

Jeff and Aimee Wendland and their 125-pound dog, Sequoia – Jeff is our youngest child. He is  the SEO Project Manager at Market Pipeline, a web design and development company in Kalamazoo, MI. Aimee is a teacher. Jeff also helps me with this blog and runs the Roadtreking Store website that sells Roadtreking-themed clothing and Class B motorhome accessories. He and Aimee love camping and the outdoors. Most of their experience has been in tents. Jeff has been curious about Class B motorhomes and Roadtreks in particular. So he and Aimee and Sequoia will be traveling in our caravan in a borrowed 2010 Roadtrek SS Ideal that we are privileged to use thanks to some friends at Roadtrek. This will be the first time they have traveled and camped in a motorhome and I’m betting he is going to be hooked.

Trying to keep together as we head out promises to be a challenge. We all have GPS. I’ve brought along some walkie-talkies and we have mobile phones. Saturday night’s destination was the Amana Colonies and an RV park on the edge of town. The park had no shade but was pancake flat. We had a wide open area all around us and the camground even provided free hardood for campfires.

amanaThe Amana Colonies are pretty fascinating places. They were basically religious communes, founded by German immigrants. The leaders chose the name Amana from the Song of Solomon 4:8. Amana means to “remain true.” Six villages were established, a mile or two apart, across a river valley tract of some 25,000 acres – Amana, East Amana, West Amana, South Amana, High Amana and Middle Amana. The village of Homestead was added in 1861, giving the Colonies access to the railroad.

Farming and the production of wool and calico supported the community, but village enterprises, everything from clock making to brewing, were vital, and well-crafted products became a hallmark of the Amanas. Craftsmen took special pride in their work as a testament of both their faith and their community spirit. The Amana villages became well known for their high quality goods.

Today the seven villages of the Amana Colonies represent an American dream come true; a thriving community founded by religious faith and community spirit. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965, the Amana Colonies attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, all of whom come to see and enjoy a place where the past is cherished and where hospitality is a way of life.

Evocative of another age, the streets of the Amana Colonies with brick, stone and clapboard homes, flower and vegetable gardens, lanterns and walkways, recall Amana yesterday.

When we checked into the RV park, they gave us tokens good for a pound of homemade German bratwurst at a local meat shop… our first stop before hitting the road this morning.

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Our first family campfire
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Me with Hua Hua and Rachel around the campfire

We drove a tad over 500 miles to get there and enjoyed our first campfire  of the vacation and a gorgeous, starry night in the midst of the vast cornfields surrounding the community. We had a communal dinner of salad, grilled chicken, pasta salad and some hot dogs and, naturally, S’Mores after dark.

We’re booked at the KOA in Gothenburg, NE for Sunday and then the Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs, CO for a couple of days.

After that, it’s down through the mountains to the southwest, doing  boondocking as we can. Hiking, photography and as much wilderness deep-breathing as possible are on my agenda.

If you are anywhere near us, we’d love to meet in person. And please pass along your suggestions here as to what we should see.

Here we go…

 

Mike Wendland

Mike 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. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, kayaking, video editing, and all things dealing with technology and the outdoors. See and subscribe to his RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube, where he has hundreds of RV and travel related videos. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations.

52 Comments

  • Sounds like a fun and informative trip. I am looking forward to following along as you blog the details. Enjoy!!

  • Howdy,
    We are selling the home (under contract) and headed southwest in early November in out 2004 Fout Winds 5000 26Q (modified) and 2003 Jeep in tow. We have with us our 110 pound Shepherd. Our venture is to include finding a new home somewhere unknown for now and to roam the United States until we do.

  • What wonderful memories and family time tog

  • Opps! Together! Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your adventure! Safe travels!

  • well, that’s a nice balance – each family travels together during the day, and you all get together every evening. i think i could tolerate that 😉 without the Roadtreks, a group this big couldn’t go on a camping trip together, except in a huge class A, which isn’t really camping – more like a mobile hotel room.

  • Iowa is a great state,,I hope you and you family have a good time there and enjoy all the fine people there,,
    Yours R. Fethkenher

  • Have a wonderful time, you will be talking about this trip years from now.

  • Be sure and take the cog railway up to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. Breathtaking views!!!

    • With the RT camper (trailer unattached) you are allowed to drive to the top of Pikes Peak. And I hear that it is paved all the way up now! We have enjoyed the drive up there twice, and spent a relaxing afternoon enjoying the view.

  • We are going to love following your adventures

  • Hi Jennifer have a fun filled family trip ,Joe and Ginny Farrug from your swim class

    • Thanks Joe and Ginny for the kind words. I’m glad you are following us.

  • Looking forward to reading and watching your family adventure. You may decide to keep the trailer 🙂

  • Have fun. LOXI and I are in Lacrosse wi on our Mississippi river adventure Have seen several RT’a and camped next to a MB class b not rt but nice looking rig. Folks are headed east from CA have fun enjoy your posts.
    Hoppy

  • I think camping is great with the family. I tried to get my boyfriends family and some were talking about bugs, snaks, wolves and bears. That change a lot of peoples minds. I never been camping. I hope one day I will, in a Rodetrek.

  • Sounds like a fun time! My sisters and I are trying to plan a similar trip with our parents and families in the near future!
    If you have a chance while in Colorado Springs, the Flying W Ranch chuck wagon supper and old western show is a lot of fun for all ages. Look forward to reading about your adventures in the days to come.

    • Just read on the Flying W Ranch website that it was destroyed by the wildfires last year so they are not currently up and running.
      Safe travels!

  • Hey Wendland family the trip sounds great so far!!!!! I am so glad you are doing this blog so we can enjoy your trip too! A bit cheaper for us though:) Enjoy, stay safe and I love you Jeff & Aimee:)

    Love, Beth

  • I would love to treck. Problem is I am poor. If you want to guide me to the least expensive treking place…..it would be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind I have an 80 year old mpther and 14 year old Bichon dog.

    • Pop-up?

    • Love Paul Cobb’s comment above and feel I’m in the same boat w/o the dog!! lol

    • Build your own. You don’t need all the fancy stuff these have for $85-100k. Buy a cheapish used van. Rebuild it. Outfit it. Take a couple years if you have to. You’ll like it better than one of these that are all plastic and pre-fab.

    • we paid 8500.00 for our 97 coachmen class b and love it we are the road about 2 to 3 weeks out of the mouth and have a great time . And we are on a fixit income.

    • Ditto

  • I have a 2008 big 5th wheel I would love to sale can anybody help me. Quad slide flat screen tv. Washer and dryer

  • This may seem odd….I was thinking of buying a UPS truck and outfitting it.

  • Enjoy the trip and be safe.

  • I so want to do this!!!!!!!

  • I would like to know how well the rig did going over passes and The Divide in the Rockies. I didn’t know there was that much torque in those engines to pull that much straight up.

  • Paul, step vans have low resale value so no problem there if you get one with low miles. I would look else where than UPS. Be sure to insulate the “entire” inside with insulation. Besides temp control, you do not want to put up with that road noise for long distances. I’ve seen thin paneling screwed to the inside braces over the insulation, fiberglass type, including ceiling. A roof vent really helps. You can add toys as your budget allows. They are not speed demons; average cruising speed 50-60. Hope this helps.

  • I would love to do this!

  • no license plate ??

  • Some states don’t require license plates on single axle trailers. I know Wisconsin doesn’t require them on single axle trailers under 3,000lbs gvw.

  • Can’t wait to get on the road with our truck and trailer!

  • Mike – if your entourage is going near Rocky Mountain NP – Sprague Lake is breathtaking – especially at sunrise. One of the greatest places for sunrise we’ve ever found. Rivals or surpasses Oxbow Bend in the Tetons – which says a lot. You can always count on including Elk, and often Moose, in your sunrise shots – along with “pink mountains” on many mornings.

  • I wish I could afford it, would never live in one spot!

  • Rhonda Kirkley and Ken Kirkley you need to like this website. very interesting and good tidbits.

  • Best of both worlds ☺

  • On my wish
    List

  • Tnx. Will do so.

  • Nice setup. The caravan doesn’t have a license plate.

    • You can see a temporary plate in the lower right corner of the rear window on the left side of the trailer.

  • Using a Roadtrek to pull a trailer is an awesome way to go. The privacy of being in your own separate vehicle at night is something you can never achieve in one trailer.

  • To me it defeats the purpose of the advantage of owning a Class B

  • I so want a camper .tally ho

  • Avoid the beetle areas…so disappointing.

  • I’m happy with my Jayco camper van and 2-horse trailer for now…. 🙂

  • Looks like ours, can’t wait for Friday and I’m off to Palm Springs!!

  • Heading to the Smokies next Thursday!

  • be safe and return safely home

  • Looks good with a van huh?

  • We are taking Scarlet, our 2003 200 Versatile camping along with Gray, our 2011 Jayco Hybrid for the first time. We sold our class C and converted to the B and the hybrid. Scarlet towed Gray quite easily on the way home from picking her up (4,200 lbs).

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