RV Podcast #308: Overnight RV Parking at churches

 RV Podcast #308: Overnight RV Parking at churches

Tired of noisy Walmarts and crowded CrackerBarrels for your overnight stops? Now you can do Overnight RV Parking at churches where it’s quiet, secluded, and safe.

This week in the RV podcast interview of the week, we learn all about Faithful Parking, a website that helps RVers find overnight RV parking at churches. Often those spots come with electric hookups, too.

Plus we have RV News of the week, tips about getting rid of mice in an RV, and an off the beaten path report from the Burketts.

You can listen to this episode of the RV Podcast on your favorite app or right below in the audio player.  The interview about Faithful Parking and RV parking at churches is about 25.32 in:

Show Notes for Episode #308 Aug 19, 2020 of The RV Podcast:

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK

Photo of Mike & Jennifer Wendland, hosts of the RV Podcast
Mike & Jennifer Wendland, hosts of the RV Podcast. In Episode 308 we talk about RV parking at churches and a website called Faithful Parking, plus the RV news of the week, getting rid of mice in an RV and an off the beaten path travel report

We’re on the road, headed to Southwest Michigan to explore some out of the way campgrounds located on some great little inland lakes.

We’re also planning a visit to Elkhart, IN – the RV Capital of the World – to work on a little project based on one of Jennifer’s ideas.

And we’re planning an extended trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We’ll be leaving after Labor Day and the crowds head back to school and work. Fall is our favorite time of the year up there and we plan to stay until first frost in October.

CLICK HERE to read an article on 10 Spectacular Campgrounds in the UP

This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Camping World – America’s #1 RV Dealer  Listeners of the Podcast can get 10% off all purchases over $99 with the code RVLIFESTYLE10

RV PODCAST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Woman seriously injured by charging bison after getting too close to take a picture

A woman was seriously injured by a bison last week after she got off her motorcycle, and approached a bison herd to photograph a mama and her calf. The woman was at Fort Custer State Park in South Dakota taking the picture when a different bison decided she was too close. The animal charged her, catching her belt on its horn, and flung her around before her pants fell off and she fell to the ground. After the animal retreated people rushed to help. The woman was flown to a hospital and had serious injuries. State park officials are reminding visitors to stay at least 100 feet away from bison. Custer State Park is one of our favorite parks to visit in the fall and the bison are part of the draw. To see our list, click here.

Illegal boondockers near California’s Big Sur leaving behind big mess
With warm weather and totally booked campgrounds, officials near California’s Big Sur have experienced problems with people illegally camping along Highway 1 over the past several weekends. More than 150 people illegally camped along Highway 1 in Monterey County last weekend, generally in turnouts. And they leave behind human waste, toilet paper, beer cans and coals from fires. Officials are closing several roads through Oct. 19 to stop the illegal boondocking. We are big fans of boondocking, but ALWAYS clean up after yourself, and check to see if boondocking is allowed before settling in for the night. For more boondocking tips click here or here.

Colorado wild fire causing campground evacuations, road closures
Wildfires in Colorado have burned part of the popular Chambers Lake campground. The fire was about 62 miles west of Fort Collins over the weekend and was burning primarily on Roosevelt National Forest Land. Several campgrounds in the upper Poudre Canyon have been evacuated, and some roads in the area are closed. 

Federal land near some Utah national parks no longer available for lease for gas, oil exploration
The Bureau of Land Management decided to take 86,000 acres in Utah off the table as potential oil and gas development sites. The move was praised by conservationists who argued the land was too close to some of Utah’s national parks, such as Arches, Canyonlands, and Capital Reef. Some 27,000 acres of federal land in Utah is still available for possible oil and gas lease in September, which conservationists say they will now examine more closely as well. 

In this summer of pandemic camping, remember to check ahead
As always, we want to remind you that camping is far from normal this summer. Because of COVID-19 safety concerns, some places that opened their campgrounds, are now closing them again. Some roads, like the east entrance to Glacier National Park is closed, and the only thing that is definite is things are constantly changing. So as always, we recommend you check with Campendium, which is doing a good job of staying up to date. To see what things are like before you head out click here.

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.  

This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes, America’s #1 e-bike brand, offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping  

RV PODCAST QUESTION OF THE WEEK – Mice in an RV

photo of mice in an rv
They may look cute but mice in an RV can do major damage

Here’s a question posted on our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group this week from Frank who has mice in his RV

QUESTION: I’ve seen discussions on this before but we have a mouse crawling around the ceiling in our trailer and getting into the cupboards. What is the best deterrent for getting rid of mice in an RV? Are the electronic devices any good?

ANSWER: We received lots of responses to this question from our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group members. Here’s how they say to get rid of mice in an RV

Wes: Get a hungry cat

Billy says to use: The old standard mousetrap baited with cheese, peanut butter or potato chips

Kimberly says she has success with the covered traps

Jeff says Dryer sheets have an odor that rodents can’t stand and they’ll leave your RV

Bob warns “Don’t use poison cuz he could die in the ceiling and it’ll smell forever, and wherever he is he must have access to water.

To which someone else replied,  “My Mom did that!! Oh Lordy! Did it ever stink!!!”

Rita says she swears by the Ultrasonic traps

Christina also likes those ultrasonic repellant devices and says: “In our 5th wheel, we’d get 2-3 mice per night in 4 traps under the bathroom sink (the only place they seemed to come in)! Plugged in an ultrasonic device (Bell&Howell) into an extension cord and put under the sink. No mice for a week! Unplugged just to see, and back to 2-3 mice!! Back to the device and no mice! Now our class c, camp with them plugged into the inverter and no mice! The only mouse I did have, I forgot to plugin!! Always have traps set JUST IN CASE and it got that one mouse!! We keep our RV plugged in out by the garage when not in use, and plugin 4-5 devices throughout RV (along with backup traps) and no mice ever!! Truly believe in them!!!”

CLICK HERE for an Amazon affiliate link to those Ultrasonic Pest Repellant devices

Finally, Lissa says “steel wool stuffed into any openings around pipes, etc. is a good deterrent, BUT you have to be able to get at those places to put it there.”

Thanks to all the members of our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group for the help thay offered on this question. That’s why our group niw has 41,000 members. It’s the go-to place for good, reliable, and helpful RV related questions. You can join by going to rvlifestyle.com/facebook

And a big shoutout to our team of volunteer moderators who keep the spammers, the trolls and the nasty people off, making our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group a friendly, positive community, a true oasis of civility in the online world these days!

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 PODCAST INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK – RV parking at churches

We’re all familiar with places to overnight outside of expensive campgrounds. Big box stores like Walmart, Cabellas, and even Home Depots in some places allow RVers to spend the night. Restaurants like Cracker Barrell also welcome RV travelers.

And there are membership sites like Harvest Hosts, OvernightRVCamping and Boondockers Welcome.

But this week, we want to tell you about one you may not have heard about before. It’s a website called Faithful Parking and it allows RV parking at churches in quiet, often secluded church parking lots across the country.

There’s no membership subscription needed, just a very small fee charged by the churches to offset costs

Here’s a transcript of our interview:

Mike Wendland:           To learn more about Faithful Parking, we’re joined now by the founder and the chief guru, the tech genius behind it all, his name is Phil Pietrowski. Phil, welcome to the RV Podcast. Glad to have you on.

Phil Pietrowski:             Great, thanks. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Mike Wendland:           So, let’s talk a little bit about RV parking at churches. In this age, where everyone is finding campgrounds full, in need of reservations months, if not almost a year in advance in some areas, there is a great demand for places that people can overnight and find along their route. And I was really excited to see this. Makes so much sense. Explain what Faithful Parking is and then how RVers can take advantage of this.

Phil Pietrowski:             Well, Faithful Parking is a network of faith-based organizations located throughout the U.S. and they’ve come on board with us, at no cost to them. And in doing so, they have agreed to open up their parking lots to folks who make a reservation through our site, and in doing so, they get the majority of the nights fee to stay, and then the RVer has somewhere that’s a solid, known, reliable place to stay, that’s quieter.

                                    As you know, most Walmarts are now asking RVers not to spend the night. And so we saw an opportunity to say, well, these churches are sitting empty, at least the parking lots anyway, the majority of the time, why not give RVers the opportunity to stay somewhere quieter, a little safer, and certainly a lot less bright than a big old parking lot. And then the churches would get a little bit of support. I mean, no one’s going to be retiring on the money that the church is making from Faithful Parking, but it is a great opportunity to support their organization and let them do the good works that they’re doing.

photo illustrating rv parking at churches
The Faithful Parking website helps you find RV parking at churches

Mike Wendland:           Now, there is no fee to use the site. There’s no membership for Faithful Parking. Am I correct there?

Phil Pietrowski:             That is correct. Yeah. We have no membership fees. It’s use it as you need. We’ve toyed with the idea of doing a subscription model, but for now, to keep everything clean and simple, we’re doing just you pay as you use it.

Mike Wendland:           Yeah, and that’s what I wanted to get at. So there is a fee to use this site. What do they range from and are there any amenities on some of these sites or is it just a parking lot?

Phil Pietrowski:             Typically, it’s around $15 per night. There are many churches that will have a power hook up. Sometimes it’s just a basic 110. We have, top of my head, I think seven or eight churches now that have a full hookup with 50 amp and a dump station. So there are some that have a lot to offer and others is just a place to stop and rest your head.

Mike Wendland:           And let’s walk through the website, faithfulparking.com. So folks access that on a computer or on their tablet or on their phone. And how does that work? How do I find a spot as we’re traveling and you say, “Well, let’s try one of these.” How does somebody find one?

Phil Pietrowski:             Sure. So if you’re traveling throughout the U.S., we tend to be heavier focused on the East coast right now. It’s just, you’ve got to start somewhere and I’m located here in Lexington, Kentucky, and so go with what you know locally. But you go to our website and you just type in the state you wish to find somewhere and it’ll come up with all of your options. And then you can zoom in on the map and see where they are located. And you can then find out what amenities they would have, if they have, say, electric or a dump station available. Lot of our hosts churches have playgrounds for kids or they’re almost all pet friendly. Matter of fact, I’m pretty sure they are all pet friendly. And then you see exactly where you are going to be staying, some pictures of the location, and then you just book it with a credit card online. That’s it.

Mike Wendland:           And the average cost is about $15 a night. And what you end up with is a pretty quiet, secure church parking lot. I suppose Sunday morning you want to be out of there early Sunday morning at most of the churches. Is there any times when they’re filled up or they’re not taking reservations?

Phil Pietrowski:             If they do not want to host guests on a particular time, say they’re having a summer festival or something like that, the church can go online and book, or block out, those nights so that you don’t show up on our search map. So you don’t have to worry. If you see it on the site, it is available for the dates that you put in.

Mike Wendland:           That’s great. And again, the website, and we’ll put a link in the show notes description, is faithfulparking.com. How many churches, Phil Pietrowski, do you have signed up already for this service?

Phil Pietrowski:             We have 50 churches in process that have agreed to come on board. And so it was a pretty big number for us. We launched a soft launch last year to make sure this concept works. And we got to around 28 churches. And then in September of 2019, we had hurricane Dorian looming on Florida. And so we thought it would be great to open up our network to all RVers evacuating the hurricane. And in doing so, we realized that our systems need to be upgraded. So we spent the better part of the winter upgrading and switching everything from our old system to the new reservation system that we are using. And then COVID-19 hit. And we were not really sure how things were going to shake out. But come the spring, people really expressed an interest in traveling, as everyone has seen. And so we’ve decided to double down and really re-launch and grow this thing. And we’re at 50 churches now, and it’s been a great, great reception from the RVing community, and we’re deeply grateful.

Mike Wendland:           And for the churches themselves, they get a little fee from it, but do they see this as a ministry, as an outreach, or are they just being good neighbors?

Phil Pietrowski:             It’s a combination of everything. All of the churches are very excited to meet new people. Lot of them will come out and meet on RVer, when available, and just introduce themselves and see if there’s anything they can do. Everyone is welcome. If they’re there on Sunday, or whenever they’re having services, to come in and join them. It’s a great way to build a family as someone’s traveling around the country and really needs to connect with folks. We are open to all faiths. You don’t have to be… Say you’re staying at the Lutheran church of the Redeemer in Woburn, Massachusetts, you don’t have to be Lutheran to stay there. Everyone is welcome, which is a pretty key thing. A lot of people ask, “Well, if I’m not Catholic, can I stay at a Catholic church?” Of course you can. That’s part of the agreement. If somebody comes on board, they’re welcome and welcoming to everyone.

another photo illustrating RV parking at churches
RV parking at churches –

Mike Wendland:           It’s interesting that you came up with this concept. One of my secrets that we have kept as we have traveled often, and I kind of hinted at it, I say, “Well, we’ve got some boon docking seekers.” And one of them was, I will be up upfront now, is that when we would come into a town and we wanted to just get a good night’s sleep someplace, we would find a church parking lot. And usually if there was a car in the driveway, it was the pastor or the secretary, and a couple of times they’d say, “Well, let me call the pastor.” We never were turned away. Ever. And it was just this hospitality is there. Now I would suppose there are some cautions for RVers, like you don’t want to be drinking a lot of alcohol in the church parking lot, just to be polite to the church. Anything else like that people should be aware of?

Phil Pietrowski:             Just respect where you are. Make sure… One of the things we’ve heard is people need to be aware to clean up after their pets, not to leave trash. But we really haven’t had any negative reports. People have been very friendly. Use your landing gear, don’t damage the facility that you’re visiting. But other than that, we’ve been very fortunate to have a great group of people that have come through and used our services and helped support these churches.

Mike Wendland:           The website again is faithfulparking.com. About 50 churches on board now with more coming on all the time. We’re planning a couple of multi-state trips here in the next few weeks, and I’ve already got a couple of churches we’re going to try and overnight in. So we’ll probably end up doing a video on that, as well. Great idea. Great use of a parking lot that’s not often filled up and RVers have a nice and secure place. It’s so different. It’s not any of these big box places now where we’re used to staying. You mentioned Walmart, but Cracker Barrels are becoming harder to find spots. And they’re very noisy with more and more people staying there. So I think this is a great alternative for a lot of folks who are looking for places to stay. We will link to it on the website. Churches who are interested, I’m sure they can contact you through the website, as well. And RVers, check them out at faithfulparking.com. Phil Pietrowski has been our guest. Thank you so much, Phil, for being on the podcast and I’ll be at one of your churches soon.

Phil Pietrowski:             Well, thank you. I appreciate your support and helping to spread the word about Faithful Parking.

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  – The National Road

BY TOM & PATTI BURKETT

Tom & Patti Burkett of the Rv Podcast
The RV Podcast off the beaten path reporters Tom & Patti Burkett

We’re sure it would be possible to produce several year’s worth of reports solely about the National Road, so many stories are involved in its creation and use.  As many of you probably know, it was the first federally funded interstate highway.  

In 1811, Thomas Jefferson authorized the extension of an existing road between Baltimore and Cumberland all the way to Ohio.  The road made it as far as Wheeling by 1818, then stalled until 1824.  In that year, the federal government sold land it had acquired from Native Americans to fund the construction of the Ohio portion of the road.  As you might imagine, the way that land was acquired made the entire project controversial.

Until 1830, practically all major roads were made of costly brick.  This was replaced with the labor-intensive process called macadamization.  What makes this particular spot notable is that this is described as the first section of concrete highway laid in the country.  

photo of Eagle's Nest Rock on the National Road
Eagle’s Nest Rock on the National Road

In fact, a 24 mile stretch of concrete highway was laid a year earlier near Pine Bluff, Arkansas, but the selection of the material for a federally-funded project cemented its place as the material of choice for roadbuilding until it began to be replaced by asphalt a dozen years later.

Among the countless tales to tell about the road, we’re going to take you to a hillside just east of the little town of Brownsville and a monument called the Eagle’s Nest.  We can’t find any explanation for the name, but perhaps it’s called that simply because it’s the highest point on the National Road in Ohio, or maybe there was once an eagle’s nest on the hilltop.  

Regardless, the monument stands there, beside the road, a carved granite boulder atop a pedestal made of local stones. On the boulder are carved an early automobile, a Conestoga wagon, and the words “Old National Road, built 1825, rebuilt 1914 through the efforts of James M. Cox, governor of Ohio”  

Just for perspective, settlers headed to the West would have passed by here with their worldly goods for the first thirty years of the road’s existence, and Model T Fords would have been putt-putting slowly by on the rather uneven surface by 1910.

photo of original concrete on the National Road
Original concrete on the National Road near Gratiot, Ohio

A steady increase in automobile traffic was the impetus for the rebuilding and modernization commemorated by the marker.  Why was it concrete?  That’s another interesting story.  Producers of portland cement were among the business magnates of the time and hobnobbed with the Washington elite.  

Gambling that this application would substantially increase their business, they agreed to provide cement for the Federal projects at cost, making it a no-brainer to go with this experimental technology.  

That partnership resulted not only in the explosive growth of the industry but steady and significant improvement in the formulations and processes used to produce roadway grade product.  Some of the original road can still be seen west of Gratiot, Ohio, a few miles east of the monument.

As you travel the National Road, you’ll occasionally pass its unique markers.  One side shows the distance to the next city going west, one to the next city going east, and the top tells how far it is to Cumberland, Maryland, where the road originally began.  

Ohio has made an effort to restore these markers. so you’ll see many of them outside of the urban stretches of the road.  Head east through Zanesville, where you can drive across the Y bridge, one of only a few in the world.  Keep going a few more miles until you get to the National Road Museum, where there’s more to discover about this piece of history.

Just to add a bit of enigma to your visit, the museum also features the life and history of Zane Gray, best known as a writer of Westerns in the early 20th century.  Why does he show up here, you ask?  Well, he’s a native of nearby Zanesville and a biographer of its namesake Zane family.  

Ebenezer Zane blazed the first road into Ohio, called Zane’s Trace, and from Wheeling to Zanesville, it’s the route of the National Road.  Join us out here, won’t you, where the bridges aren’t straight and you can see the layers that make it possible for us to scoot around in our cars and campers, inches above what was once nothing more than a well-beaten path.

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.

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