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RV Podcast 187 – Lost in the Wilderness: An RV Survivor’s Story

| Updated Apr 11, 2018

In this episode, a spring break RV trip that turned into a nightmare. A solo female RVer, on her way from California to Washington, made a wrong turn in a National forest, got turned around lost in the wilderness. She and her Golden Retriever, Walter, were stuck on a steep and rocky mountain road and ended up spending four night and five days far from civilization just as local bears were hungrily waking up from hibernation.

You’ll hear this harrowing tale from the lost RVer herself, 63-year-old Penelope Bax, whose strong spirit and calm actions kept her safe until a California Highway Patrol helicopter spotted her RV and airlifted her and Walter to safety. You’ll love meeting Penelope and hearing the lessons she learned from being lost in the wilderness. Plus, RV tips, questions and answers and a fascinating off the beaten path report… all coming up for you in episode 187 of the RV Podcast.

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 #187 April 11, 2018 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”2:26″]

RV Podcast 187 - Lost in the Wilderness: An RV Survivor’s Story 1As this episode is being released, we are scheduled to arrive in Phoenix, Arizona, where we’ll be attending the big Super B RV Show put on each year at this time by the folks at LaMesa RV.

We will be at the University of Phoenix Stadium, on the playing field as a matter of fact, meeting and greeting folks from all over the southwest. I think we’re even going to present a seminar or two about our experience traveling and exploring in a Class B motorhome

We’ll also have a Facebook Live report on our Roadtreking Facebook Page that we’ll do sometime Friday or Saturday and, of course, we’ll be shooting a video for our RV Lifestyle You Tube Channel on everything that is new in the Class B world.

Well, we’re back in Michigan for a few days, recording this episode from our sticks and bricks house just before we head to Arizona. We’re flying out there because we ran out of time to drive there. We did drive our RV up from Florida and watched springtime disappear. We have a video on that trip that will be published Thursday April 12 on our RV Lifestyle You Tube Channel but needless to say, we had to re-winterize again as we came back from the cold.

We watched spring come down south but it sure disappeared as we headed north. Jennifer likes to say that coming back to the cold will let us experience spring again. That’s the good news

But the bad news, as Mike likes to say, we also get to experience winter twice.

Besides the rescue of that stranded RVer in California that we’ll soon hear about in our interview of the week, there’s a lot of RV news you need to now about this weekend.

The first story is: that the government issued a report last week linking faulty Goodyear motor home tires to as many as 95 deaths or injuries over the past two decades. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started investigating last year.  The investigation centers on tires made between 1996 and 2003, alleging they were made for delivery trucks not motor homes which travel at high speeds on freeways. To read more click here or here.

We RVers love to travel with our pets. But have you heard about Henry and Baloo? The dog and cat are best friends whose owners photograph them camping and hiking in Colorado, clearly enjoying every minute of it. The cat likes to sit on the dog as he walks or swims, and the two cuddle, making quite a photogenic pair, gaining a large and ever growing social media following. To read more click here or check out their Instagram here.

And Speaking of dogs and cats, pets are no longer allowed on Canada's Prince Edward Island's National Park beaches under a new law. From April 1 – October 15 domestic animals are banned from the beach, and violators face a $125 fine. To learn more, click 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=”13:19″]

We talked a couple of episodes back about making photobooks out of the pictures we take on our RV adventures. But listener Tom from Ottawa, Canada has another way you can relive all those great memories… right on your television.

The app Tom suggests is called PhotoCloud. It’s for Android devices. A similar app for the iPhone is TV Assist. We’ll put links to them in the shownotes for this episode at Roadtreking-dot-com-slash-187

Meanwhile, 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=”19:37″]

Phil tows a long trailer with his Sprinter-based Roadtrek eTrek RV. He recently replaced the stock Continental tires with Michelins but now notices a lot more sway when he tows the trailer. He wonders what he can do about it.

We note the best defense against trailer sway in all conditions is proper trailer loading. You will need to check your trailer tongue weight and gross trailer weight and get the weight distributed properly. Most times sway is induced by too little tongue weight on the trailer ball. Experts say your trailer’s tongue weight should be 10 to 15 percent of the total trailer weight, loaded and ready to tow. Most of the time redistributing weight in the trailer will solve sway issues especially if a weight distribution system with sway control is used..

Email question:

Hi…would love to subscribe to your weekly newsletter.  What are the procedures to do so?
Carol Campbell

Here is how to subscribe…go to You can see past issues there and, if you want to subscribe, use the form on the lower left.

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=”28:16″]

RV Podcast 187 - Lost in the Wilderness: An RV Survivor’s Story 2
Penelope Bax and Walter

It was supposed to be a spring break getaway in her RV for Penelope Bax, a 63-year-old flower shop owner fro. San Diego. She was heading up to Washington State to visit relatives over the Easter holiday in her brand new Class C RV. She would camp her way north and enjoy northern California’s beautiful wilderness.

RV Podcast 187 - Lost in the Wilderness: An RV Survivor’s Story 3
Penelope Bax and Walter safely back home

But she made a wrong turn in a mountainous area of Shasta County and, with her Golden Retriever, Walter, became stranded in the wilderness for four nights and five days.

The featured image at the top of this page shows her Winnebago Class C stuck at the end of a steep mountain road in Shasta County, CA.

As frantic relatives posted missing person alerts on RV websites and social media, dozens of search and rescue volunteers combed the rough terrain. Many feared the worst.

Meanwhile, with no cell service and knowing her best chance to survive was to stay by her vehicle, she started a fire, all the while keeping a wary eye out for bears just waking up from their hibernation.

RV Podcast 187 - Lost in the Wilderness: An RV Survivor’s Story 4
Moments after leaving this campground to get wood for her campfire, Penelope Bax and Walter became hopelessly lost

Finally, she was spotted by a California Highway Patrol Helicopter.

Penelope Bax is our interview of the week. We caught up with her not long after she returned to her San Diego home, in remarkably good health and with an optimistic can-do attitude that will soon have her out RVing again.

Her story could happen to anyone and she has learned some powerful lessons from the experience that just might keep the same thing from happening to you.

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=”53:26″]

By Steve Van Dinter
Verizon Wireless

RV Podcast 187 - Lost in the Wilderness: An RV Survivor’s Story 5
Steve Van Dinter

Spring is the time many families start to plan their summer travel. While the main point is to kick back and relax, travel also brings about an increased risk of damaging or losing your smartphone. That’s why protecting your device is important – I’m talking more than just a case here.  If you didn’t take advantage of protecting your phone when you got it, Verizon is offering an open enrollment period from now through May 31 to sign up for Total Mobile Protection or any of our other protection options.

It’s more than just peace of mind if an unexpected drop, break or loss happens here or abroad, it can also help you save time and money.

Here are five ways:

Save money on cracked screens – Cracked screens happen, but with Total Mobile Protection, you have access to our coast-to-coast cracked screen repair network. Repairs are cost-effective, just a $29 deductible for select smartphones.

Save time getting your screen fixed. Did you know you can get many smartphone screens replaced on site in more than 360 markets nationwide? Or you can send in your damaged device and it’ll be repaired and shipped back to you.

Save time with replacement devices, even while traveling internationally. Time is of the essence when something happens to your phone or tablet. If your cracked screen can’t be repaired or your device is lost, stolen or damaged, only Verizon will send you a replacement – even internationally – as soon as the next day. Or, in many international destinations you can also get your cracked smartphone screen repaired by a local shop and Verizon will reimburse you.
Get time-saving help with Tech Coach. Tap the Tech Coach app to connect with a live expert in seconds. Get more from your phone or tablet with unlimited access to experts who can help transfer content, explain error messages and manage connected devices.

Save money with multiple lines. If you’ve got three or more lines on your account, Total Mobile Protection Multi-Device provides flexible account coverage for $39 per month. You can also add Additional Coverage for up to 7 more lines at $9 per month, per line.

You can learn more at

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.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT   [spp-timestamp time=”56:15″]

We were standing at the top of a very large, very deep hole, looking down at a pool of water. And we were inside. It was an odd feeling. When we entered the Big Well Museum in Greensburg, Kansas on US 400, we were greeted by two women. They asked us to sign the guest book and then if we knew much about the history of the town. Hearing that we did not, one said, “Did you know our town was completely destroyed by a tornado ten years ago? You can see it on that screen.” We turned around and watched in fascination as news reports and video showed a scene of utter destruction with people wandering aimlessly among the rubble. “We were here then,” the other said, “my son and I made it through by holding onto the toilet in the bathroom. Everything else blew away.”RV Podcast 187 - Lost in the Wilderness: An RV Survivor’s Story 6

With this to whet our appetites, we went on along into the museum. The Big Well takes up the center of the building. More than 30 feet in diameter and over a hundred deep, it's imposing. Dug entirely by hand and completed in 1888, it isn't quite the largest hand dug well in the world, but it's close. We walked the spiral staircase that lines the wall down to near the surface of the water.

Originally ten feet deep, the pool sits now at less than four feet, a stark indicator of just how much water has been pumped out of the Oglalla aquifer that feeds it. The water supplied the needs of the town, surrounding farms, and as many as three railroad lines during the town's boom years around the turn of the twentieth century. Then the railroad line moved, taking much of the population with it.

RV Podcast 187 - Lost in the Wilderness: An RV Survivor’s Story 7In 1937 the well was covered and advertised as a tourist attraction for the growing number of motorists exploring the USA. As traveling tourists became fewer, the well was boarded over and left idle. On May 4, 2007, the EF5 tornado ripped through the town. leaving only three buildings standing. Facing a daunting rebuilding challenge and the prospect of few local jobs, many of the remaining residents moved away. Those who remained were determined that Greensburg should not fade off the map.

Enter FEMA and the state of Kansas, who collaborated with the residents to help reimagine the town as a showplace of green energy. The circular museum displays surrounding the Big Well tell the story of the town's beginnings, the tornado, and its new beginnings. Climb down into the Big Well in the middle of its new museum.

Climb up from the well and you can look through 360 degrees of windows accompanied by explanatory displays. There are many things to see around town, too. Reimagined Greensburg has public art and free self-guided bicycle tours and a rebuilt historic theater. US 400 is the main street, and there are still only a few businesses, so come help support this scrappy little town in the flat lands of Kansas, far 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 [spp-timestamp time=”1:01:48″]

Super B RV Show

April 12-15

University of Phoenix Stadium

Phoenix, AZ


Acadiana RV, Sport & Boat Show

April 13-15

Cajun Field

Lafayette, LA


Washington State Evergreen Spring RV Show

April 13-15

Evergreen State Fairgrounds

Monroe, WA​​​​​​​



Mike Wendland

Published on 2018-04-11

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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