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Off Grid RV Living in the Desert

| Updated Jun 25, 2024

This week on the RV Podcast:

  • Off Grid RV Living in the Desert – We’ll learn how one RVer has found paradise in Arizona
  • The latest on the brutal knife attack on an elderly RVing couple at a Nebraska Rest Area that left the husband dead and the wide fighting for her life.
  • There are a lot of people who are disappointed about the rising Internet costs for on-the-go RVers.
  • All this plus the RV News of the Week and your questions coming up in Episode #503 of the RV Podcast

You can watch the video version on our RV Lifestyle YouTube channel by clicking the player below.

If you prefer an audio-only podcast, you can listen to us through your favorite podcast app or the player below.

This is another very busy week for us, starting with the announcement of our latest RV Lifestyle Travel Guide eBook, number 23: The Ultimate RV Guide to Yosemite National Park.

yosemite

We are so excited about this book, now available for immediate download at https://RVLifestyle.com/Yosemite

This is a meticulously curated 99-page ebook (NOT a PRINT book) that offers everything you need for an incredible RV experience, from a custom interactive map and camping recommendations to thoughtfully curated daily itineraries. Whether you're a seasoned RV enthusiast or a first-time traveler, our guide ensures you make the most of your visit to this breathtaking national park.

Starting Saturday…

Off Grid RV Living in the Desert 1

Starting Saturday, we'll release our latest RV review series, this time looking at one of the fastest-growing segments of the motorhome industry: The small Class A. These have been incredibly popular in recent years with RVers wanting more room, just not too much room. Small RVs are under 30 feet long, and we just finished testing three representative models. Starting Saturday, June 29, we'll release them back to back. 

  • We'll review the Thor Axis on Saturday, June 29
  • The Winnebago Vista National Parks edition Sunday, June 30
  • The Coachmen Euro Monday, July 1
  • and our choice for the best of the three on Tuesday, July 2

Please ensure you have subscribed to our RV Lifestyle YouTube channel and click the bell icon to get a notice when new videos are released.

CLICK HERE to hit the subscribe button and bell.

What will we review next?

Well, as you read this, we're testing three new Class C models. We camp in the same spot in the same campground so the reviews are done in similar surroundings.

We do our reviews differently than most YouTubers you see reviewing RVs. Instead of spending 15 minutes on a dealer lot or at an RV show, Jen and I drive them, actually camp overnight in them, and then share our thoughts based on personal experience and real use.

We have a bunch more RV reviews in the planning stage. One of the benefits of having our home base in Southwest Michigan is that we are just a short drive from Elkhart, Indiana, the RV Capital of the World. We will be checking out a lot of new models in the weeks ahead as we visit the various manufacturers to give you an early peek at what's coming for 2025.

Besides Class Cs, we have some more Class Bs to show you and some slightly larger campervans known as B+ models. So stay tuned..

SOCIAL MEDIA BUZZ – Wendy Bowyer

Off Grid RV Living in the Desert 2

Wendy Bowyer reports on the hot issues most talked about this past week on social media and our RV Lifestyle Community group.

In our RVLifestyle Community‘s General Discussion Space, we recently had a post from Christi and Gary who were picking up their first RV. They were so excited to get on the road but a little nervous as well. They had stumbled upon a few horror stories online and were flip-flopping between being super excited and wondering, What have we done?  So they asked the group what is one piece of advice that you truly wish someone had given you before you chose this lifestyle? 

Bob and Roxy said to make sure you keep your sense of humor – and patience. The beginning is a learning process.

Suzanne suggested they take a shake down trip very close to home or even in their driveway. She also suggested making a checklist for hooking and unhooking, for setting up and taking down.

And  Brenda and Marc said remember there will be good days and bad, but the bad can be fixed. They suggested Christi and Gary keep their rig maintained, have those checklists, pack some tools and never be afraid to ask for help. That's good advice for us all!

Also in the Community's General Discussion Space, Greg asked, “With the very hot weather the RV air conditioning system seldom keeps up. Has anyone used a portable AC unit to supplement? If so, which one?”

It sure HAS been hot in much of the country, hasn't it? This was a great discussion. 

Mark said there are things you can do to make your system more efficient. He suggested removing the inside cover and using ducting tape to seal all seams, because manufacturers can be notoriously sloppy. He did this to his RV and said he saw great improvements. He also suggested using foil insulation on windows.

Richard installed the WackO Silencer on his two ACs and not only is the inside cooler, but it is quieter inside, too.

And Randall found in a previous travel trailer that a portable dehumidifier really helped bring the temperature down.

Then over in our RVLifestyle Facebook Group, Kaylee wrote: Getting ready to stock the camper, what are some must-haves AND tips, tricks & hacks?

Some suggested the things you need while camping but may forget, like a can opener, flashlight, fly swatter, bug spray and matches or a lighter.

Others mentioned things that are  really good ideas to have for safety like a fire extinguisher, some basic tools and a first aid kit.

Others mentioned helpful things like a rug for outside your door to reduce the dirt you bring in, rechargeable vacuum cleaner, or an ice maker (if you have room).

Then there were some hacks that were helpful such as a shower cap to put over her smoke alarm when cooking – Ginny said the alarm goes off when she cooks if she doesn't have one.

And Lisa suggested Kaylee bring a pizza stone for her oven if she plans to use it to keep the temperature consistent and prevent things from burning.

So many good things in this post. It is definitely worth checking out.

RV Discussion of the week – Off Grid RV Living in the Desert

Eric Pozniak, off grid RV living
Discussion with Eric Pozniak

Not long ago, during a trip to Arizona, we visited an RVer named Eric Pozniak, who is transforming a five-acre parcel of land he bought in the Arizona desert into an off-grid paradise. 

He showed us how he is doing it, drawing power from the sun, making a garden, turning two old shipping containers into an office, all while living in his travel trailer. 

Eric is a city person. He grew up in Detroit, lived in New York City for a long time, then took a job as a salesman for a land development company based in Las Vegas, a little over an hour from his off-grid desert homestead,

He says he’s learning as he goes and if he can do it, anyone can. He gave us a tour and we share that with you in the RV Discussion of the Week. Watch the video or listen to the podcast in the players above.

RV NEWS OF THE WEEK

RV couple stabbed and one dies in early morning robbery attempt at Nebraska rest area

A couple just two days into an RV trip to visit their son on the West Coast were stabbed – and one died – in a failed robbery at a Nebraska rest area along westbound I-80 near Grand Island.

The Missouri couple, who had been married for 46 years, were on their first RV trip since the pandemic. They were expecting the drive to Portland, Oregon, to take three days, and on day two, around 7 am last Wednesday, they were attacked.

Gary Weaver, 72, died from the stab wounds and his wife, Mary Weaver, 71, is hospitalized in stable condition.

Witnesses heard their attacker demand the keys to the Weavers' Jeep, which they were towing, and then this 22-year-old man went into the RV and stabbed Gary and then Mary. A trucker's dash cam caught much of it. 

It was not clear if the Weavers spent the night at the rest area, as many of us do on long drive days. But since this attack happened at 7 am, I wouldn't be surprised if they did. 

The 22-year-old fled after stabbing them and led police on a chase before being caught some 20 miles away with the help of a police dog.

The Weavers had traveled all over the country in their RV, according to their daughter. Our hearts go out to the Weaver family.

Wisconsin DNR tells visitors to STOP harvesting cicadas

Now, this is something I thought I would never see.

Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources is telling people NOT to harvest cicadas at state parks in a press release after receiving numerous reports of people collecting these rather gross-looking red-eyed insects at Big Foot Beach State Park.

You may remember that this is the year of the cicada apocalypse, with record broods emerging in parts of the country with as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre in places.

Brood XIII – which emerges once every 17 years – is the cicada brood in Wisconsin. But why would people harvest them?

Cicadas do have a high nutritional value, so maybe people are gathering these bugs for pet birds or reptiles? But the Wisconsin DNR used the word harvest, and I'd really like to think people are NOT eating them – though they are safe for human consumption.

Either way, it should be common knowledge that you can't take plants or wildlife out of state parks – and wildlife does include insects.

We interviewed a cicada expert earlier this year and learned a lot of interesting things about this unusual bug. If you'd like to take a listen, click here. The conversation starts about 13 minutes in.

Wildfires and their aftermath hit parts of the Southwest

It's that time when wildfires start to rage in parts of the Southwest, and we just want to remind everyone to make sure you are closely following warnings and weather reports as you are out there camping.

The Needles Fire burned at least 200 acres in southern California along the Arizona border, causing evacuations. Fire restrictions are now in place for the Grand Canyon National Park.

And a fire north of Sacramento, in Colusa County, burned about 20,000 acres, and was near the East Park Reservoir Campground.

In New Mexico, the FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for information about whoever was responsible for starting two wildfires – the South Fork fire and Salt Fire – in the southern part of the state that killed two people and destroyed hundreds of homes.

A New Mexico campground, the River Ranch RV Park, escaped the fire, but then suffered a flash flood caused in part by the fire destroying vegetation followed by heavy rains.

RVers said the water came into the campground so fast and powerfully it moved propane tanks, turned heavy 15,000-pound RVs around, and left 3 inches of mud in the campground's laundry room and bathhouse.

Do you know about 87 percent of all wildfires are caused by people, many of whom were camping at the time? 

About a year ago we interviewed an expert to provide tips on what all of us can do to reduce the chance of accidentally causing a wildfire. The interview here starts about 21 minutes and 40 seconds.

Firefighters rescue cat stuck in a tree at Grand Canyon National Park near campground

Did you see the picture of Archie, the cat, stuck in a tree at Grand Canyon National Park making the rounds over the weekend?

The black and white spotted cat was discovered stuck in a tree near the Mather Campground in the South Rim, his front and back paws dangling over a pine tree limb 15 feet in the air with a sad and resigned expression on his face.

Firefighters came to his rescue. With the help of a ladder, they rescued the poor critter (you really need to check out the photo here), and his owners were found.

While it turned out the 2-year-old cat lived in a residential near the campground – not in an RV – it was still a great reminder for RVers to make sure you have the tools you need to make camping with a cat successful. 

You can see our suggestions in a story here.

RV QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

QUESTION: We have been using T-Mobile’s unlimited $50 a month home plan in our RV as we travel. I just heard that they are stopping this plan and that it will now cost us $160 a month. Is this true and what can we do about it? – Mikala

ANSWER: Yes it is true and there is nothing you can do about it. T-Mobile never meant its $50 plan – some people paid $60 a month – to be used by Rvers or Nomads. It was supposed to be only for stationary use at home.

But many RVers found they could take along the hotspot in the RV and get unlimited data on the road. That’s all being done away with now. The home plan will only work at home, and if you want to take it with you, you will have to enroll in the Away plan, which…like you say, is $160 a month.

This was announced back in April and is supposed to take effect in May. It didn't. Now, T-Mobile only says it’s “coming soon.” The bottom line is: Any day now, your mobile use of the old plan will be blocked. There will be many very disappointed RVers like you, Mikala, but such is the nature of Internet access for RVers. It’s expensive and getting more so.

I should also point out that Starlink is disappointing a lot of RVers, too. They have a new program using a mini dish antenna small enough to fit in a backpack. It is supposed to start this summer. 

A lot of people got really excited because, at $30 a month, the new Mini Roam plan was the best deal to date. But as details have been announced, disappointment has followed. The mini dish equipment itself will cost $599 – that $100 more than the standard dish antenna – and the $30 a month service has limited data, speed caps and lots of restrictions.

In fact, the $30 per month “Mini Roam” data plan is only available as an add-on for existing $120 per month Starlink Residential customers who pay $120 a month. To get the Mini Roam, they have to pay $30 more, so the total costs end up being $150 a month. 

Elon Musk has said he wants Starlink to be more affordable. This new plan sure doesn't seem to fit that goal, does it? Someone at Starlink isn't listening to the boss. Or the boss is just blowing smoke.

STORYTIME WITH MIKE AND JEN

Off Grid RV Living in the Desert 3

We were at Glacier National Park holding one of our gatherings, camped at the Chewing Blackbones RV Park on the Blackfeet Reservation at the western end of the park.

On the last evening of our gathering, the tribe came to visit us. The chief welcomed us personally. And then the tribe treated us to an evening of music and tribal dancing.

It was awesome.

At the end of their dancing and drumming demonstration, the performers, all in native dress complete and headdresses, grabbed us all of us campers by the hand and brought us into a huge circle to participate in the final dance.

But as the dance reached its end, at the height of drumming and music, we all started to move around in a circle, and then move forward and back, together, holding hands.

That’s when it happened. As we started to move forward, Jennifer suddenly fell. One of her feet stepped into a very deep gopher hole.

Then everything stopped. A loud gasp was heard as the drums and chanting went suddenly silent. Every eye was on Jennifer. One leg was knee-deep in the gopher hole.

You could have heard a pin drop as one second passed, then two, then three. Her face was puzzled. Was she in pain? Had she broken a bone, suffered a sprain?

But then, up she sprang… almost like the hand of God reached down and pulled her up.

Jen was aware that suddenly she had become the focus of everyone. She flashed a big grin and shrugged.

And then drumming and chanting resumed, almost as if nothing happened.

So what’s the lesson we learned from this embarrassing moment? Watch where you step and, if you stumble and fall, get right back up and keep smiling. The show always goes on.

Happy Trails, everyone!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-06-26

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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