This week in Episode 250 of the RV Podcast, you’ll meet our friend Joe Raetano, a computer scientist and a new kind of workcamper, who shares with us how commuting to his high tech North Carolina job in his RV and then staying in it during the week saves him lots of money and yet still provides all the comforts of home.
He calls it his “mobile condo”
Joe is our featured guest in the interview of the week segment… but we also have lots of RV News, tips, answers to your questions and a great off the beaten path report from the Burketts.
But first, my lifelong traveling companion and my bride…Jennifer
Show Notes for Episode #250 July 10, 2019 of The RV Podcast;
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
JENNIFER – We hit the road this week, headed south through Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, exploring our way across the heartland in our RV as we eventually hit the Nashville area, where we will meet up with our three grown kids and all eight grandkids for a weeklong family vacation.
We also want to give a shoutout to our reviewer of the week…Trish-Northeast who left us this wonderful five-star review on iTunes, which she headlined as “Don’t Leave Home Without it!
“I’m hooked on this podcast no doubt about it. Listen to Mike & Jennifer as I walk my laps around the outdoor high school track and enjoy every minute of it. Have learned so much with the many guests and shared experiences. Thank you both. We’re buying our first RV this summer and can’t wait to get out there. Keep doing all you do, Mike & Jen”
Thank you, Trish. We so appreciated those kind words and your review. And we invite you dear listener, to do the same. Please leave us a review and a rating on iTunes or Sticher or whatever app you listen to us on. We so appreciate the feedback and we read every one!
RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK
One killed, several injured in two different lightning related incidents last July 4th
Lightning injured several people enjoying outside activities in at least two different parts of the country on July 4th. In two incidences lightning hit a tree and the people who were standing nearby were either killed or seriously injured by the electrical field created by the hit. One incident happened in a state park in Maryland and the other in South Carolina. Last year we interviewed a lightning expert who described how campers and hikers are two of the most at risk groups for lightning strikes, and he provided tips on how to stay safe when lightning is in your area. To learn more click here.
BLM considers overnight restrictions as boondockers tear up fragile landscape, leave human waste behind
We love to boondock, and one of the best places to do it is on federally owned Bureau of Land Management lands near national parks. The landscape is beautiful, there are little to no people around and it is free. But, as camping off the grid becomes more popular problems are arising, and the BLM iwill likely start getting more involved in some areas. A story out last week highlighted issues of boondockers killing rare wildflowers by driving over and uprooting them, and leaving behind human waste improperly disposed near Moab in Utah.
America’s new national park, Indiana Dunes, experiencing increase in visitors and many saying it is worth the trip
Indiana Dunes National Park on the shores of Lake Michigan is seeing an increase in visitors this season as more people come to see America’s newest national park. The park became the nation’s 61st national park earlier this year, and while we have written about it before, wanted to share this story because it does a great job of describing what is there. We’ll link to the story in the shownotes for this episode at rvlifestyle.com/250 and if you haven’t yet visited the Dunes…put it on your bucket list.
So how did Utah’s gorgeous Dead Horse State Park get its name?
Sometimes when Jen and I are traveling across the country, we run into a spot with such an unusual name you know there is a story there, but sometimes that story has been lost. So it was with Dead Horse State Park, which we visited earlier this year in Utah. (click here to see the report). The park is incredibly beautiful, some say the most beautiful in the country, and this story we found explores three legends in how the park received its most unusual name.
Couple hiking in park call 911 and climb tree to escape what they thought was a feral pig
Anyone who enjoys the outdoors can probably relate to hearing a sound out in the middle of no where, and letting your imagination get the best of you. Apparently that is what happened to a man and woman hiking after dark in a park in Texas when the couple thought they heard the grunting of a feral pig. The couple, in a panic, climbed a tree, called 911, and when officers arrived learned the couple learned the grunting feral pig they feared was actually …. cars passing on rumble strips on a road just outside their view.
RV News Shorts, Tips, and Reviews
- Yellowstone National Park’s Steamboat Geyser on track to set record in eruptions
- Several national parks are battling dry summer conditions and extra protections going into place to prevent wild fires
- South Carolina news report shares tips on how to avoid being scammed when buying a used RV off of Craig’s list
This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping
LISTENER RV LIFESTYLE QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
Q: Loved your videos on YouTube and are going to add your Adirondack trips to our bucket list. Can you please tell us the device and app that you use that monitors the temperature of your RV for Bo? We are purchasing a B and will need to monitor the temp in our RV for our two babies. Thanks! – Jules
Using a temperature monitor that’s connected to an app on our phone is a huge relief if we have to leave Bo in the rig for a short time period. Even with fans going and the AC on, we all know that those things can heat up FAST. The RV Pet Safety Temperature Monitor uses cell service and can notify you by text and email alert if the internal temp of your RV starts to get dangerously high.
While on the spendy side, this device delivers on consistency with battery backup and real-time temp reporting. All-in-all, the peace of mind that Bo will be alright if we leave him for a bit is what really makes this for us.
Now the pricing on this is a little tricky but bear with me. The device is one price and on-going support is another. You can pay the on-going support monthly or yearly. Just for you, we arranged a major discount on these monitors.
Monthly – $249/ device + $15/month (pay as you go)
Yearly – $369 ($249+$120 for subscription)
With the discount codes for RV Lifestyle viewers:
Monthly – $199/ device + $15/month (pay as you go)
Yearly – $299 ($179+$120 for subscription)
RV Lifestyle Discount Codes:
Use RVLS50 for the monthly subscription ($50 discount)
Use RVLS70 for the yearly subscription ($70 discount)
Go to https://rvpetsafety.com/pricing/ for more info and don’t forget to use our affiliate link coupon codes for the discounts
Here’s a video that shows the RC Pet Safety device in action. The RV Pet Safety device is demonstrated about 7:10 into the video.
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer, or a comment on the things we’re discussing. If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Battle Born Batteries, maker of quality, safe and reliable lithium batteries that can be installed in just about every RV. Get in touch with Battle Born to find out what lithium batteries and an upgraded energy management system can add to your RV Lifestyle. Check them out at https://rvlifestyle.com/lithium
RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
This week in Episode 250 of the RV Podcast, you meet our friend Joe Raetano, a computer scientist and a new kind of workcamper, who shares with us this week how commuting to his high tech North Carolina job in his RV and then staying in it during the week saves him lots of money and ye still provides all the comforts of home.
Here’s a transcript of the interview:
Mike Wendland: Well, driving around right now in his RV is our friend Joe Raetano. Joe, how are you?
Joe Raetano: Great, Mike. How are you?
Mike Wendland: I’m doing great. You’re out on the road, I can hear the road noise behind you. It’s kind of fun to help you break the monotony of the road as you share all about being this new kind of work camper. I mentioned earlier in the podcast about how many people are living in RVs, and working in places like Silicon Valley and the high tech regions of San Francisco in California. But it’s kind of a trend across the country. Work camping is not, as we said, a job where people are cleaning out fire pits or doing temporary work at Amazon. Joe, why don’t you tell everybody what you do, and where you’re working? And then we’ll get into the questions on how your RV plays into all of that.
Joe Raetano: Okay. So I’m a computer scientist. I’m currently working on my PhD from the University of Tennessee. I’ve completed all my classroom and residency requirements, and I’m really in dissertation research mode. And I was recruited to Duke Energy. They have a new Innovation Center, and they’re doing some research in my area that I’m currently working on. My home is currently in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and I travel back and forth to Charlotte, North Carolina, to Duke Energy’s Innovation Center. Which is really their new crown jewel of innovation for their power grid and different applications thereof.
Mike Wendland: Now, you are living in your van for most of the time, then, during the week. Right?
Joe Raetano: That’s right. I’m using the van to travel and get there, and there’s a RV park about four miles away, and it’s perfect. Especially in the hot summer months. I can park there and plug in and run the AC. So right now during the summer, that’s perfect.
Mike Wendland: Tell us a little bit about your RV. What are you in, and you’ve actually done some work on that as well. So tell us how you’ve made it your own and how it works out as your home away from home when you’re work camping.
Joe Raetano: Excellent. So I’ve got a 2017 CS Adventurous by Roadtrek. And the vehicle’s worked out really well. I’ve made a number of different modifications. It’s a four wheel drive model. I’ve worked on the bedding system, and used the Axel Bloom adjustable bed system. I just actually finished those, put cushions in the middle, and make it into sort of a California king. So I got a nice full-size bed in there. So basically it’s a mobile condo, and it’s my own space. And I’m saving a lot of money on any apartment costs or hotel costs. So that’s what I like about it.
Mike Wendland: Yeah, I like that phrase. It’s your mobile condo. Tell us how it works, in terms of … you said that this RV park is four miles from the research center where you are doing your work. So you go back to the RV park at night? How do you spend your nights, your days, and how does the RV enhance all of this for you?
Joe Raetano: Well, I start my work days just like anybody else, real early in the morning. And I actually love coming out to my van for lunch. They have food trucks there right now, and I’m thinking as everyone’s lining up for the food truck at lunch, I walk over to the van, open it up, and I cook a really nice dinner. Or I make myself a shake real quick, and I’m on my way in minutes versus waiting 20 minutes for something that’s, a line on a food truck. And I don’t have to go anywhere. And I go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and I fill up my refrigerator with really good food. And I eat well. So I’m on this diet kick as well, much like you are. I’m trying to lose some weight as well, so I’m really watching what I eat. And having the van right there helps me not make bad choices.
And then after work I’ll exercise a bit, and then I’ll shower up. Then I’ll drive back to the RV park, plug in. Because it’s a little hot in North Carolina right now, so … it’s going to get worse … but I plug in because the batteries won’t last all night, so I don’t want the engine to run. At first when I got here, I didn’t know where to stay. So I just pulled in at work, basically, and I was boondocking at work for the first week. But the train that was going by at work was just too loud. And every 15 minutes or so. So I knew I needed to find a better place to stay, and an opening popped up at the RV park, moved, and it was easy breezy.
Mike Wendland: Now in most cases, the people we hear doing this are millennials, young people. You’re not … you’ve had a pretty busy career in the Navy, I know that. US Navy, and then in the tech industry. So you’re … I’m trying to tactfully say, you’re not a kid. You’re not a millennial. Otherwise, you would be living in that thing full time, but what would have been the option if you didn’t have that RV?
Joe Raetano: Some of the guys that I’m working with that are on my team are from Atlanta, and Wilmington, North Carolina, and they drive in on the weekends. And they have an apartment, or they stay in a hotel and expense it. So they’re driving in, but they’re staying in another place. And they’re deciding on whether they’re going to buy something or something like that. So if they really like the job, maybe they will, and they’ll move the family here. But with a Class B RV, if it doesn’t work out, or a new opportunity pops that’s even better than this one, I can move very quickly. I just unplug and I’m gone. And so-
Mike Wendland: And in this case, you’re-
Joe Raetano: I have my house … go ahead.
Mike Wendland: I was going to say, in this case, you don’t have to disrupt your family. They don’t have to pick up stakes and move to a different state. You’re pretty well settled in your house, I know you have two kids in college. This RV has become a godsend to you in this case.
Joe Raetano: Oh, yeah. For sure. We have a beautiful house that we built in Virginia Beach, and we just love it. And we don’t want to move. The reason why I chose this position is it’s so directly aligned with my dissertation research, and I didn’t want to pass it up. So it was a great opportunity for me. But I didn’t want to disrupt the family and move everybody to do this. So the RV gives me the opportunity to make a decision very quickly, to take advantage of those options that are laid before me.
And I didn’t have to disrupt Joanne and the kids. The kids are in college too, and they wouldn’t be disrupted that much, but they’re home for the summer right now. We’ve got pets, and like I said, after 25 years in the Navy, we built that home. So we made it our own, and we love it. We love the location. We’ve got a lot of friends now there, and we don’t want to just up and leave. So we like our surroundings, we love that, but this van allows us to be a little bit more adventurous.
Joanne loves to come visit me when I’m traveling. In about three weeks from now, we’re going to head out to Asheville. She’s going to fly into Charlotte and I’ll pick her up, and we’ll go to Asheville for the weekend. Then she’ll fly back. It’s easy that way. So when I’m working different places, she’ll come up, fly and meet with me, and we’ll tour the town, basically. Or the outlying area. So we fit little mini vacations in along with this type of lifestyle. We don’t know how long this is going to last, but the key is, we can pick up and move and change and do what we need to do because we’re completely mobile.
Mike Wendland: And for professionals, for computer scientists, for highly trained folks who used to think that they were stuck in one community, there are now so many opportunities out there in this booming economy, that having an RV makes a lot of sense. So you don’t have to, as you say, disrupt your roots. You can take that job, you can experiment, find out what you like. Do you see this as a long term solution for yourself, having this … And your van is more than just a van. I think we need to explain your mobile lab part of it too. You’ve also done a lot of research with this van in computer science, right?
Joe Raetano: Oh, right. If people search back and they see the trip to Puerto Rico, providing communications to FEMA, and how that worked out really well, then they know that this van is a very tricked-out, computer scientist’s dream, basically. I have a whole communications stack. And then I’m measuring the power system really well, and understanding the power flow of the system. so I’m collecting data on it. As a matter of fact, it’s my dissertation platform, so-
Mike Wendland: We should go back and explain this thing in Puerto Rico that you just brought up, because when one of the hurricanes went through Puerto Rico a couple of years ago, devastated it, your mobile lab was picked up, transported to Puerto Rico, and you actually helped provide communications in the wake of that devastating hurricane. So I want to just give you a shout out for that a little more than just in passing. It was a pretty cool thing. And that’s the van that you’re living in right now.
Joe Raetano: Oh yeah, I loved doing that. That was a great opportunity to go ahead and do that, help out a lot of folks. I enjoy doing that kind of stuff, and I’d like to do more. I’ve talked … the folks at Duke Energy really love this van, because it’s basically a mobile micro grid. I’ve got the solar, it’s got batteries, lithium ion, it’s got the solar controllers, battery [inaudible 00:10:45] system, and it’s got power generation with the under hood generator. So it’s a little micro grid, and you should see the electrical engineers just climbing all over this van at Duke Energy. They love it. My boss there has even said, “We might want to use this for any assistance for the power company, if they get hit with another hurricane.” So you could see me again, creating communications and helping out with knocked-out power lines or things like that. But most likely, I’ll be just using this for research as a part of what I’m doing there at the Innovation Center.
Mike Wendland: And your mobile condo. I really like that description. So Joe Raetano-
Joe Raetano: Yeah, it’s a two-fer, right? It’s my mobile lab and it’s my mobile condo, right? And it’s my regular [inaudible 00:11:33]
Mike Wendland: So you are a new kind of work camper. And before I let you go, just, your thoughts. You’ve been close enough now to the RV industry and the whole RV lifestyle. Do you see this as a trend that more people will be embracing?
Joe Raetano: Oh, I’m, for sure. The Class B sales just keep going up, right? And the van life. Van life, you see people just buying used vans and starting to turn them into some type of camping vehicle. And you see some really creative ideas that people are just getting more and more creative, and it’s really taking the country by storm. So Class B RVs are the luxury van life equivalent. And I love it. I love every aspect of it. It’s my hobby, as well. it’s not only my research, it’s what I do to live in and work out of, but it’s my hobby too. When I have a spare moment, I’m adding a new antenna or I’m doing something new. It’s great. And I watch you all the time, with new gadgets, and I’m like, “Oh, I got to try that.” So thank you for that. I appreciate it.
Mike Wendland: Well, I look forward to seeing you and Joanne down the road. Give her our best, and thanks for sharing with our audience a little bit about having a mobile condo. I kind of like that. Joe Raetano, a new kind of work camper. Thank you, Joe, for being on the podcast.
Joe Raetano: All right. Talk to you soon.
The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country
OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT
By Tom and Patti Burkett
We were making a swing through the upper Midwest, visiting with friends and family, and taking in the wild rice harvest and looking for Lake Wobegon. A Minneapolis friend invited us to park in his driveway for a few days while we explored the city, and suggested we start with Minnehaha Falls. A generation ago this would not have been a off the beaten path destination, but as we’ve mentioned it to friends and traveling acquaintances, it seems to have fallen off the tourist radar. On a sunny summer day it’s a pretty spectacular sight, set in the middle of a city park, right next to a walk-up seafood pavilion. What makes it really interesting, though, is one particular day in June of 1964. President Lyndon B. Johnson was coming to visit that day, and a shortage of rainfall had reduced the flow to a trickle. Not to be shorted in their big moment, the Park Board ordered hundreds of water hydrants to be opened upstream of the falls in order to create a respectable flow. It worked. You can see a photo online or at the site.
Minneapolis sits on the Mississippi River at Saint Anthony Falls, the northern limit for navigation on the Great River. Through the twentieth century it was the transportation hub for agricultural produce from the norther Great Plains, especially grain. You won’t be surprised to see massive grain elevators though many of them are being replaced with loft apartments these days. Among the storage towers were several big mills, where flour was produced. One of these has been turned into a fascinating museum. One of the best experiences at the museum is the elevator ride, which moves from floor to floor. At each stop, a scene is revealed from the factory—the milling floor, the shipping dock, the office—and animatronic figures talk about their day at the mill. The demonstration kitchen and observation deck are also not to be missed.
We were happy to discover these sites as we poked around the city and visited with our friends who live there, but Tom’s list had only one thing on it for Minneapolis, and that was the Jucy Lucy. Was it invented at the 5-8 Club, or at Matt’s Bar? Devotees will argue you up and down the street about that, but who really cares? We mat some friends at Matt’s and settled in for the experience. “Sorry we’re running a bit behind,” our waitress said. “Here’s some fries for while you wait.” She dropped a heaping basket of steaming fries on the table. Thirty minutes later we were looking at the real deal—a hamburger with cheese inside! That’s the way they do it in Minneapolis. The meat is wrapped around a big hunk of cheddar cheese. When you bite into it, the cheese oozes out. You’ve never had anything like it.
We’ll give you three more things to search out if you’re in Minneapolis. Along a downtown sidewalk is a stainless steel wave called the sidewalk harp. If you pass your hand beneath it as you walk by, it plays music. The Guthrie Theater is just down the street from the milling museum. Ride the elevator to the ninth floor and you can take in some spectacular views of the city and the river. There’s a special surprise there we’ll let you discover for yourselves. And just a bit north of downtown is Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge, a vintage tiki bar and restaurant where you can sip a tropical cocktail from an Easter Island head.
Big cities can be annoying, and we often pass them by, but as we’ve discovered on recent visits to Saint Louis, Atlanta, and Minneapolis, there are treasures there, too, hidden among the overpasses and traffic tie-ups, that make the effort worthwhile. So, we’ll keep visiting the occasional major metropolis and looking for the things that we know are there, little nuggets of pleasure scattered just off the very beaten path.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by Harvest Hosts – https://rvlifestyle.com/harvesthosts a network of farms, wineries, museums and attractions where RVers can stay overnight, for free.