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RV Podcast #182: Our National Parks are in Crisis

| Updated Mar 7, 2018

There’s a good news/bad news story about our U.S National Parks that you need to know about.

The good news is the parks have never been more popular and attendance continues at all-time high.

Unfortunately, though, the bad news is so bad that it is jeopardizing our much-loved National Parks. Devastating budget cutbacks, staff reductions, inadequate roads, backlogged maintenance and indifferent Congressional inaction have created a crisis that could result in partial shutdowns at many parks.

We’ll talk to an expert and explain the problem as well as what you can do to help.

Also this week, lots of travel advice, RV and tech tips and another great off the beaten path report about a place you will want to visit.

Click the player below to Listen Now or scroll down through the show note details. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.


Show Notes for Episode #182 March 7, 2018 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”2:24″]

RV Podcast #182: Our National Parks are in Crisis 1We’re planning a trip to Texas, hugging the Gulf Shore through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, before entering Texas and eventually up towards Waco and the wide open spaces south of San Antonio. We’re calling it our “Barbecue and Bluebonnets Tour” as we’ll be scouring the area for good Texas barbecue, maybe a little Tex Mex and then to take in the magnificent display of the blooming bluebonnet wild flowers that turn the hill country into carpets of blue each spring.

We are considering an impromptu meet-up for Sunday March 18, somewhere near Waco. If we hear from enough people interested, we’ll let you know in next week’s podcast and on our Facebook Group.

We’re still on the Emerald Coast, our winter travel base. We’ve spent the week catching up on video editing for our RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube and planning out our spring and summer travel schedule. So many places to go, so little time!

Here’s what is in the news this week

 National Parks Release Attendance Numbers

The National Parks System visitation numbers are in and the number of visitors in 2017 was almost identical to the record setting visitor count in 2016 (330,882,751 verses 330,971,689).

Some of the parks broke attendance records because of the solar eclipse. Overall national records show, visitors are staying in the parks longer.

And the most Visited National Parks in 2017 are …

Speaking of national parks, ever wondered what the top ten most visited national parks are? Here's your official list, with recreational visitors recorded for 2017.

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 11.39 million
  2. Grand Canyon National Park – 6.25 million
  3. Zion National Park – 4.5 million
  4. Rocky Mountain National Park – 4.44 million
  5. Yosemite National Park – 4.34 million
  6. Yellowstone National Park – 4.12 million
  7. Acadia National Park – 3.51 million
  8. Olympic National Park – 3.4 million
  9. Grand Teton National Park – 3.32 million
  10. Glacier National Park – 3.31 million

RV Industry reports record setting January

The latest survey of manufacturers tracked by the Recreation Vehicle  Industry Association show January 2018 was the best on record. The survey of manufacturers found RV wholesale shipments were up 25.3 percent with 42,441 wholesale shipments in January 2018 verses 33,859 in January 2017. Towable RVs were also up, reporting an increase of 26.6 percent with 28,931 in January 2017 and 36,322 in January 2018.

Sandhill Cranes arriving in Nebraska en masse

Planning to be anywhere near central Nebraska this month? If so, be sure to not to miss the great Sandhill Crane migration. Each year about 500,000 – 600,000 of the beautiful birds, standing roughly 4-feet tall with 6-foot wingspans, pass through Nebraska's Platte River Valley region on their way north. Some estimate 80 percent of the bird's population passes through this area this month, attracting thousands of visitors. The migration typically runs all of March, peeking mid-to late month, and into early April. To read more click here or here.

This portion of the Podcast is brought to you by Campers Inn, the RVer’s trusted resource for over 50 years, the nation’s largest family-operated RV dealership with 19 locations and growing

 JENNIFER'S TIP OF THE WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”17:44″]

One of the things about having a house on wheels is – well, it's on wheels! That means your home is constantly moving from one great camping location to another, causing the items in your refrigerator to move, too. I can't tell you how many times I have opened the door of our RV refrigerator, after settling into a new spot for the night, and a cup of yogurt, or carton of some other item slides out, having shifted during our time on the road.

Recently I came across something I am anxious to try. It is a spring-loaded suspension bar that is designed to hold your food items in place when you travel. The bars remind me of the suspension curtain rods many people use over their bathtub showers, only these are a double rod, designed to fit across an RV refrigerator and hold everything on its shelf.

Manufactured by Camco, their price is $5.15. I found them at Home Depot, Amazon, and several other retailers.. I am planning to order some myself to see how they work.

Here’s the direct link on Amazon –

And be sure to send me your tips and suggestions for the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.

I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week 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 QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”21:53″]


Chuck is planning to head to Glacier National Park this summer heading out from Indiana and wants to know about the best routes and what to see along the way. 


There are two main routes:

The first is interstate 90, from Chicago all the way through to Montana, from where you’d make your way north and east. On the way there, you’ll travel through South Dakota. We did a video on five of our favorite spots to stop in South Dakota along I-90.

The other route is also fast. It’s I-94. You can take that from Chicago, too, heading a more northerly route before turning west. This takes you through North Dakota. Again, you follow 94 to the Montana border and then, right after you cross over, you head north again, picking up US 2, a two lane highway that is just south of the Canadian border. They call this the Hi Line country. It will take you right into Glacier. There’s lots to see here, too. In North Dakota, a great sidetrip is along the Enchanted Highway. We did a video on it at . In Montana, make sure you stop and see the Underground City in Havre. Yes, we did a video on it, too. You can find it at

LISTENER COMMENTARY [spp-timestamp time=”27:51″]

Listener Kevin sent us a short little commentary that delivers a very powerful message we all need to hear. It has a happy ending but you need to hear it yourself.

Sponsoring this part of the podcast is Van City RV  Bringing You the largest Inventory of class B’ RVs with locations St. Louis, Missouri; Las Vegas, Nevada; Kalispell, Montana and now… Colorado Springs, Colorado..

INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”35:18″]

There’s a good news/bad news story about our National Parks that you need to know about.

The good news is the parks have never been more popular and attendance continues at all time high.

Unfortunately, though, the bad news is so bad that it is jeopardizing our much-loved National Parks. Devastating budget cutbacks, staff reductions, backlogged maintenance and indifferent Congressional inaction have created a crisis that could result in partial shutdowns at many parks.

Our guest in this podcast is Emily Douce, the Director of Budget & Appropriations for the Government Affairs team of the National Parks Conservation Association  In that role, she advocates for additional funding for the national parks, both through appropriations and supplementary sources.

She leads the National Parks Second Century Action Coalition comprised of travel and tourism, outdoor industry, and historic preservation groups to advocate for additional park funding with Congress and the Administration. She has a M.S. in Environmental Resource Policy from The George Washington University and a B.S. from Texas A&M University. Prior to working at NPCA, she worked at Marine Conservation Institute on ocean conservation issues.

For more information, read this news release from the National Parks Conservation  Association.

The interview of the week is brought to you by, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

TRAVELING TECH TIP [spp-timestamp time=”52:17″]

RV Podcast #182: Our National Parks are in Crisis 2
Steve Van Dinter

By Steve Van Dinter
Verizon Wireless

Congrats everyone, we made it through the worst of winter!

And as those spring plants start to peek out for the first time this year, we’re also getting a sneak peek at some next generation smartphones as well.

Samsung recently announced it’s latest flagships – the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. With a quick glance you may think you recognize these devices, but the truth is there’s much more than meets the eye.

What is back is that incredibly beautiful and immersive infinity display stretching from side to side. Now, you can add immersive virtual sound in there as well with speakers than are 40 percent louder! And if you’re looking to keep your music to yourself, just plug in a pair of headphones – yes a headphone jack is still included!

One of the biggest innovations in this next generation device comes in its cameras. Dual aperture on both devices means amazing low light photos with even the smallest amount of light. And on the Galaxy S9+ you get a dual camera on the back allowing you to zoom in and also preview background blurring with its live focus.

And when you’re ready to express yourself, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ have upped the emoji game – with AR emojis. Simply let the phone take a picture of yourself and it’ll create an avatar that looks like you and expresses itself in real time the same as you. And when you’re ready to message others, you can use your own emoji set to let the world know how you feel!

Lastly all of the conveniences you’ve known and loved over the years are still there as well – water resistance, wireless charging and Samsung Pay – to name a few.

Preorders are going on right now and you can reserve yours at The phones launch on March 16.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.

If you’re stuck on the wrong network, head over to Verizon and get unstuck.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT [spp-timestamp time=”55:11″]

RV Podcast #182: Our National Parks are in Crisis 3
Patti and Tom Burkett

By Tom and Patti Burkett

We were in Franklin, Indiana, and Rob Shilts was waiting for us, out of the rain, beneath a marquee that dazzled with a half-mile of neon and a thousand chasing lamps.  SHREK, it proclaimed, today at 2 and 7:30 PM.

Shilts has been involved in Franklin Heritage, the local historic preservation group, for more than twenty years.

“When the Artcraft Theater came up for sale,” he told us, “I told the board that if we didn’t buy it, we might as well pack our tent and go home.”

With the ceiling falling in and the front wall falling toward the street under the weight of the rusting marquee, it was a much bigger challenge than the group had ever taken on.  Now, more than a decade later, more than two million dollars have been poured into the building, with plans for a million more.

Kirk the ticket booth man, who daylights in the career office at Franklin College, sits in front of a bustling concession counter where a half dozen volunteers serve patrons from the vintage popcorn machine and candy counter.

RV Podcast #182: Our National Parks are in Crisis 4

More neon graces the ceiling above them, as do mirrors that set off the hand painted period signage for entrances, exits, and amenities.  While I’m waiting in line for my popcorn, I’m greeted by a young woman.

“Hi, I’m Ashlee.  I’m one of the A-Teens, and we have a souvenir booth over there.  I bet you’d really like the Christmas tree ornaments we made from shredded tickets.  I hope you’ll come over and see them when you’re done!”

While I’m standing at the counter juggling popcorn, water, lemonade, coat, camera, and a Shrek cookie, the concessionaire asks,  “Do you need help getting all this to your seat?”   “Take out,” she calls, and immediately a young man with a tray appears to assist me to my seat in the theater.

Like Ashlee, everyone in the theater seems to be a volunteer, which contributes to the very reasonable admission and concession prices.

Bolstering that are numerous show sponsors.  The film this weekend is sponsored by Dr. John Shafer and his dogs Josey and Jaden.  There’s a concession sponsor (who gets to choose the candy of the week), program sponsor, a sponsor for the short feature, and a prize sponsor, who personally donated the prizes for the preshow drawing.

Yes, there’s a preshow prize drawing, but not before two high school actors appear onstage to provide a 30 second dramatic synopsis of the show for those with short attention spans.  Out comes the prize hopper, full of ticket stubs—blue (our revered elders), yellow (our fragile youth), white (VIPs), and red (the rest of y’all out there).

The donor volunteers beam from the aisle as winners receive prizes (a crown, a dragon, a Red Riding Hood book) clearly themed on tonight’s show.

Mary, queen of the backstage, banters with Rob, the emcee, about the prize drawing while the two actors wheel out an old-school blackboard with a map of the USA.

“Now,” says Rob, “a special prize for our visitors from farthest away.”  We’re feeling pretty confident, being from far away Ohio, until we hear “What? Italy? Come on down!”

A student from Franklin College abashedly makes his way forward while the actors quickly spin the blackboard to show a map of the world.  And the prize? A certificate, a candle made out of earwax, and a jumbo tub of popcorn.

“Locally grown,” reports the emcee, “and internationally known,” chants back the audience.  Before the curtain rises, the volunteers onstage and in the aisles take on a flight attendant pose as they point one by one to the exits, and each exit gets catcalls or applause.  Exit number five is clearly the most popular.

Families and couples stream out of the theater toward the cafes, coffee shops, and boutiques that have gathered around the skirts of this grand old lady.

After a quick visit to the gift shop we stand again below the glorious marquee and we appreciate the chance to spend time with some of the people across this country who believe in their home towns and work hard to build communities that nurture hope, joy, and welcome. The neon casts its glow for blocks in every direction.  If you look hard you can just see it, over there, off the beaten path.

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.

RV Shows this weekend 

Here's the RV shows across North America happening this coming weekend: [spp-timestamp time=”1:01:34″]

Manitoba RV Show and Sale  

March 8-11

RBC Convention Centre

Winnipeg, MB (Canada)


Port Huron Camper & RV Show

March 8-11

​​​​​​​Blue Water Convention Center

Port Huron, MI


The Real RV Show

March 8-11

Cal Expo

Sacramento, CA


Sioux Empire Sportsmen's Boat, Camping & Vacation Show

March 8-11

Sioux Falls Arena

Sioux Falls, SD



Atlantic Outdoor Sports & RV Show

March 9-11

Exhibition Park

Halifax, NS (Canada)


Eastern Iowa Sportshow

March 9-11


Cedar Falls, IA


KX Sports Show

March 9-11

North Dakota State Fair Center

Minot, ND


Moncton RV Show

March 9-11

Moncton Coliseum Complex

Moncton, NB (Canada)


Quinte Sportsman Boat & RV Show

March 9-11

Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre

Belleville, ON (Canada)


Rockford RV, Camping & Travel Show

March 9-11

Indoor Sports Center

Loves Park, IL


Virginia RV Show – Hampton

March 9-11

Hampton Roads Convention Center

Hampton, VA


Central Wisconsin RV & Camping Show

March 9-11

Central Wisconsin Convention & Expo Center

Wausau, WI


York RV Show

March 9-11

York Expo Center

York, PA

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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…

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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 2018-03-07

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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