Skip to Content

RT93: Hey Ranger! True Tales from the National Parks

| Updated Jun 22, 2016

In this episode of the Roadtreking RV Podcast we share some great stories from a veteran ranger who has served in National Parks across the country.

Jim Burnett is my guest [spp-timestamp time=”50:28″] and he shares some fascinating stories about life in the parks and gives us a first hand look at what being a ranger is like. He’s also the author of two great books –  “Hey Ranger!,” True Tales of Humor & Misadventure from the Great Outdoors and “Hey Ranger!, 2,”  with lots more fun stories.

Plus we have reader and listener questions and comments, RV news, tech tips and much more. Scroll down for show note details and resources and click the player below to start listening. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.


Show Notes for Episode #93 June 22, 2016 of Roadtreking – The RV Lifestyle Podcast:

This episode is recorded from our Roadtreking Great Smoky Nountains National park Photo Safaris. With about 65 Roadtrekers, Jennifer and Mike are here for lots of hiking and exploring in a park that covers 522,427 acres, divided almost evenly between the states of North Carolina and Tennessee.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most popular national park. It gets over 10 million visitors a year. Second most popular is Grand Canyon, which doesn’t even get half that much.

We are all staying at the Flaming Arrow Campground near Cherokee, NC

In the national park itself, there are 10 campgrounds, with 1,000 total spots. They are booked up months in advance, though, and every year they record more than a quarter of a million camper nights.

JENNIFER'S TIP OF THE WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”7:21″]

This week’s tip has to do with hydration and outdoor exertion. Down here in the Smoky Mountains, lots of our Roadtreking photo safaris campers are doing lots of hiking this week. But this tip applies to everyone, especially those doing fairly strenuous exercise in the warm summer months.

Here in North Carolina in the Smokies, the daytime temperatures this week are in the nineties.

That means dehydration can hit very fast.

Never hike, even for short distances, without carrying water.

Everyone is different, but a general guideline is while hiking and doing prolonged exercise outside, you need to take in about 4 to 6 ounces every 20 minutes or so. Better to sip a little frequently than a lot every few hours.

We usually add a couple of water bottles into the mesh pockets on the outside of our backpack. For shorter hikes, we may just carry a water bottle.

A lot of serious hikers like to invest in a hydration bladder like a Camelback or one of those backpack-style water packs.

Water bottles are quicker to fill and clean, but can be more awkward to grab while hiking – depending on how they carried. So those hydration bladders are a good investment if you do a lot of hiking.

Generally, you want to be sipping water all during the hike. It’s easy to become dehydrated, especially if its hot and humid or you are at altitude. Watch out for the symptoms of dehydration – Dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea and cramps.

Be sure and take breaks. Always wear a hat while hiking and take your time. Especially when the weather is hot.

Bottom line – drink early and often. Dehydration can have very serious consequences and lead to medical emergencies.

Drink up everyone!

The tip of the week is brought to you by Good Sam, the world's most popular RV organization, now celebrating its 50th year.

LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK: [spp-timestamp time=”13:27″]

Listener Judy asks about how to find a manual for the used 1997 Roadtrek she just purchased. Mike refers her to on the Roadtrek corporate site, where she can download the manual she wants. Manuals for every year since 1987 can be found there.

A listener asks if it okay to run the television in the back for children while traveling? Absolutely, Mike answers, for as long as you want.

And listener Barbara passes a thank you to our RV Recipes editor Mary Jane Curry, who recently posted a recipe on the blog for making crab enchiladas in the convection oven

In our email this week, we received this letter from a reader:

I am curious if you had the same experience with your RV that I do. I have need of a repair and call around the Rv places to have repairs done but nobody wants to work on it. I had a few Rv places do some work on mine but wasn't very good and ripped me off when it came to the bill.

Mike notes this is the little discussed scandal, the big problem few talk about in the RV industry: The lack of RV service. Dealers have massive problems finding and retraining quality service techs. Thus, their service shops are way overbooked and scheduled, sometimes for well over a month out. Mike shares other feedback he’s had on this, as well as his own experience and challenges the industry to step up and begin a campaign to train and hire more service techs.

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.

RV BASIC TRAINING [spp-timestamp time=”23:28″]

As summer heats up, many are looking to buy a recreational vehicle (RV) to enjoy time with friends and family. For first time buyers, the options and considerations can be overwhelming.

Motorhome or trailer? Gas or diesel? What size would be best for me and my family and friends? The options are endless, so time should be spent doing homework before a purchase.

The Better Business Bureau offers a list of tips to make the buying experience and RV experience enjoyable as possible.This part of the podcast is brought to you by Campers Inn, the nation’s largest family-operated RV dealership with 15 locations on the East Coast 

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Campers Inn, the nation’s largest family-operated RV dealership with 15 locations on the East Coast Campers Inn RV is giving away The Ultimate Camping Package! The camping package includes a: propane grill, large cooler, 2 camping chairs, a two-person lazy river tube and more. A $500 value! Go for your chance to win.  Promo code: camping. Winner will be announced Aug 1, 2016.

RV NEWS OF THE WEEK: [spp-timestamp time=”30:33″]

A National Park worker who asked to remain anonymous sent Mike the following note:

Please remind your readers how important it is to drive slowly through Teton park. Bear 399's new cub of year was killed by hit and run car. Illegal to not report. Within 12 hrs a female black bear was also killed and unreported. 399 cub was such an emotional impact some rangers and public where all crying. Truly a very sad day. Also a pregnant deer a few days prior was hit expelling her baby who was alive but they could not keep it alive. This is very hard on the employees in the park. Not to mention damage to vehicles.

Amazon is looking for temporary workers. Here’s a note sent us via the Family Motor Coach Association:

My name is Michael Cross and I want to tell you about a great opportunity!

Thanks for taking a moment to look at Amazon’s CamperForce program. I won’t take too much of your time.

Even if you have never been a work camper, you may find yourself thinking, “Hmmm … maybe.” I say this because I have known many people who have done just that. Amazon’s Camperforce is the only work camping they do and they do it because CamperForce is the best work camping opportunity out there. Pay starts at $10.75/hour plus time and 1/2 for overtime, plus a full-hookup site, a season completion bonus, and referral bonuses. With this level of compensation, you do the math: That is a lot of extra fuel, or Christmas presents, new satellite receiver … you know the list: it’s your list!

I was a work camper myself at one time, (still am at heart), and I took advantage of this opportunity. Now I am the Program Manager for the CamperForce Program working for Amazon full time. That’s how much I like the program!  For questions, you can reach us at

 Camper leaves road in Vermont, flies 130 feet -– More proof on home wearing your seat belt can save your lfe. And an illustration on why you shouldn’t drive too long without taking a break.

This portion of the podcast is brought to you by Alde  the only name in heat that you need to know for your RV

TRAVELING TECH TIP: Hum  [spp-timestamp time=”37:32″]

Verizon's Steve Van Dinter reports on a very handy device for your RV or family far called Hum. Aimed at teen drivers initially, it has great application for all of us, offering under the hood analysis and reports on our vehicle’s system performance and operating conditions.

And Mike has some apps to help with packing for your RV trips and other types of travel.

With summer officially here, chances are you will be travelling at some point.

Forgetting something or some things you need, however, can ruin a trip.

These apps can help manage and take the stress out of packing.

Packpoint is much more than a list app. Users input details such as length of stay along with planned activities – everything from working out and eating to going to the beach. The app then generates a list of what you should pack based on yout variables. And don’t worry, the list is fully customizable so it can be changed as needed. Packpoint is free and available for iOS and Android with premium services available for small charge.

Packing Pro might just be the most comprehensive packing app around. The app allows you to plan for multiple trips and people at the same time. It starts with a to-do list and continues with an essentials list, and has reminders for anything users might have to take care of during their trip – even stuff to do after it’s over. Packing Pro is $2.99 for iOS.

Travel List is a great choice for those who want a minimalist approach to packing. You create lists and check items off after packing– leaving a list only of what’s left to pack. Travel List also has customizable alerts, such as the one that can remind users to recharge camera batteries nightly. It can help manage multiple trips in the works. Travel List is $1.99 for iOS.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT –  Symmes Chapel [spp-timestamp time=”44:47″]

By Tom Burkett

pretty placeWe know some of our fellow Roadtrekers are in North Carolina round about now.  We’d like to clue you in to one of our favorite mountain sights that you’re unlikely to find on a map.  Near Cleveland, South Carolina you’ll find YMCA Camp Greenville within the bounds of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area.  The camp occupies 1600 mountain acres at 3200 feet, and has hiking trails and a spectacular waterfall.  What makes it especially worth a visit, though, is Symmes Chapel.  The chapel was originally built by Fred Symmes in 1941.  The open air structure sits on a cliff overlooking the mountains.

Last time we were there it was just after sunrise on an April morning, and all the valleys below us were filled with morning fog.  Only the tops of the ridges were visible and the entire vista was a monochromatic gray.  As the sun peeked up above the horizon the ridges began to show their actual green color and the fog slowly lifted.  Valleys were exposed as the fog dissipated, and the blue-green ridges rolled off to the east as far as the eye could see.

pretty place 2About fifty people were there by the time we left; some were yMCA campers, others were coming for an early morning church service.  The large, simple wooden cross at the front of the chapel lent a sacred air to the view and the experience.  The chapel was surrounded with vibrant azaleas, and spring wildflowers crowded the roadside as we drove down the hill and back to our campground in the Pisgah National Forest.

If you’re going, call first to be sure the chapel isn’t reserved for a wedding or some other event.  Most fall weekends are booked because of the spectacular color display, but even then it’s possible to find a time to stop by.  Sunrise is particularly spectacular, as the chapel faces east.pretty place 3

Nearby, the town of Brevard hosts a first-rate weekly farmers market and is full of fun and interesting shops, restaurants, and special events.  There’s ample camping (mostly campgrounds) in the nearby national forests.  US 276 through the Pisgah Forest is named the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway.  It passes by a very good visitor cente and a number of interesting sites, but we’ll save those for another report.

The mountains of the Carolinas are chockablock with things to do and see.  Meet interesting people, hear mountain music, get to know the inspiring and sometimes sad stories of the lives lived here in the last century.  Take your time and don’t miss a bit of it.  Happy travels!

This part of the podcast is brought to you by AllStays – the Internets #1 RV and camping app since 2010

INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK – Jim Burnett [spp-timestamp time=”50:28″]

jim_at_home_2_low_res_2Jim Burnett, retired ranger with the National Parks Service and author of two great books about his 30 years of service in parks across the country.

We met Jim and his wonderful wife Viola at our Roadtreking gathering in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The couple, now retired, lives nearby and Jm came over to share some of his stories wth our group.

heyrangerJim has written “Hey Ranger!,” True Tales of Humor & Misadventure from the Great Outdoors and “Hey Ranger!, 2” More True Tales of Humor & Misadventure from the Great Outdoors. These books teach as they entertain, with tales of boat ramp misadventures, lost Afghani campers, encounters with wild animals, dumb crooks, and more. One chapter, “Tales from the Wild Side,” brings together unusual incidents from National Park Service reports, and the concluding essay, “Don't Be a Victim of Your Vacation,” advises visitors on how to avoid being a story on the evening news.

They really give us behind-the-scenes look. Many people envy the lives of rangers who live and work in national parks. Through insights into what that job can really entail, the book will appeal both to ranger “wannabees” and rangers alike, as well as to their families and friends and everyone who loves America's National Parks.

Please Subscribe and Give Us a Rating and Review!

Many listeners are asking how they can subscribe, review and rate the Roadtreking Podcast on iTunes. With a new podcast like this, those reviews and ratings are really important to be able to show well in the iTunes listings. So if you can, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d subscribe and leave me your review.

Here’s how:

How to subscribe, rate and review a podcast

First, open up the iTunes app on your computer or mobile device. Click on Podcasts up on the top
> From the iTunes Podcasts page, use the “Search Store” field up at the top right corner of the page. Type in Mike Wendland or Roadtreking RV Podcast.
> Click on the logo image of the Roadtreking RV Podcast on the search return page
> From there (see photo above), you can…

1) Subscribe

2) Choose and Click on a star (1-5) that reflects your rating. Five stars means you really like it, one star not so much.

3) Leave a written review.

Thanks to all for the kind reviews we’ve received so far. That got us noticed by Apple/iTunes as “New and Noteworthy.” I appreciate every review!

And remember, you can appear in future episodes. Ask a question or voice your comments about RV topics by clicking the Leave Voicemail tab on the right side of this page here at You can then use the microphone on your computer to record your words.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2016-06-22

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.

Comments are closed.

Back to top