This week finds us camped just a few dozen feet from the Atlantic Ocean, where the waves right now are pounding in with that delicious sound of the surf. Best sound in the world to fall asleep to!
That’s our campsite in the featured image above.
We were extremely lucky to snag a beachside camping spot at the beautiful Gamble Rogers Memorial Recreation Area, about half way between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. Their highly desirable beachfront sites are usually booked a year in advance. But cancellations and early departures sometimes free up a spot and that’s what we were lucky to grab for a few days.
We’ve been traveling up and down both coasts of Florida these past few weeks, researching and taking photos for our next two 7-Day Adventure Guide ebooks. We will have two of them on Florida, one for the Gulf Coast and one for the Atlantic Coast. And we hope to get them both out in time for the tens of thousands of winter snowbird RVers who will be making their way the Sunshine State after the holidays.
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Meantime, we’re posting updates and photos of our travels on Instagram.
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RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK
Committee that recommended bringing food trucks to national parks, ending some senior discounts disbanded
Remember how we told you about a federal advisory committee to the Department of Interior that recommended bringing food trucks to national parks, privatizing campgrounds, adding extensive WiFi, cutting senior discounts and more? Well, that committee has been disbanded. The committee was heavily criticized for its recommendations and for being stacked with members of the recreation industry that could potentially stand to profit. What will happen with those recommendations, however, is still not clear.
Mexican cartels growing marijuana illegally in national forests causing severe damage to environment
NPR in California had an interesting story last week on Mexican cartels using federal owned land in national forests to illegally grow marijuana – in huge quantities – using powerful insecticides and other chemicals, causing significant damage to the environment. One campsite recently discovered in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest had 3,000 pounds of trash that included discarded propane tanks, plastic irrigation pipes and an incredibly potent rodent poison. A law enforcement group is now forming to tackle this problem.
Couple facing jail time and fines for temporarily living in an RV in their driveway after a house fire
A Mississippi couple could be facing fines and jail time for living in their driveway in an RV while fighting with their insurance company over a claim. The couple had an electrical fire last Christmas eve in their home, and were going back and forth with their insurance company to get funding to make repairs. The couple temporarily moved into an RV in their own driveway since their house wasn’t ready for them to live in. But the couple’s neighborhood association apparently does not permit RVs, and after someone complained, the couple is now facing jail time and fines if they don’t move the RV.
Woman buys old trailers and gives them a facelift worthy of the HGTV series “Fixer Upper”
Have you ever seen those do-it-yourself camper rehabs on YouTube or Pinterest? A story out last week featured a woman who buys old camping trailers, guts, refurbishes and then sells them for a profit. The woman shares her secrets, and says she saves her profits for her kids future college costs or family trips. It is an interesting way to earn a little money, and Jennifer says the fresh look she puts on the camper renovations reminds her of Joanna Gaines from Waco, TX. (To see a video of a trip we made to Waco, click here.)
Wealthy entrepreneur buying up land to create new, privately funded national park in Montana
There was an interesting story out of Montana last week about a super wealthy ex-Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is creating a 3.2 MILLION acre privately-funded wildlife reserve called American Prairie Reserve in eastern Montana. The park will be free to the public and has the goal of rebuilding the Great Plains to the way it was before white settlers arrived. To do this the entrepreneur and other rich donors are buying up ranches and replacing cattle with bison, bringing the land back to the way it once was. The whole project has its fans and detractors. Many ranch owners, who have ranched the land for generations, see the preserve as a threat to their way of life. EDIT EDIT. EDIT EDIT
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LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
Via our Voicemail number at 586-372-6990:
QUESTION: Hi, Mike, and Jennifer. We’ve been our RVing for a couple of years. We camped in a pop up when the kids were young, but we have never winter camped and I hear you talking about it a lot, but I’ve learned about camping and winterizing the RV in the winter and camping, but I wondered what kind of activities you do while you’re camping in the winter. I’m more of an indoor person in the winter, but I’m open to new ideas, especially since we’ve been RVing and would love to hear some ideas about winter camping. Thanks.
ANSWER: We hike, explore, take photos, snowshoe, cross country ski and have raging campfires. We love winter camping. Want to try? Come join our annual winter campground this January in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where there’s usually two and a half feet of snow on the ground. Don’t worry, there’s electric hookups at each site. You can get details from our special Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1697339513886451/
Our friends travel with their fresh water tank full and we never do.. I want to fill our tank but am leery of what it will do to our mileage. Plus I worry about roadside water sources or even campground water sources even though we currently use campground sources for water for showers only we don’t even like our own household water.
ANSWER: We take bottled drinking water/ Fir the fresh water fill, we use a filter for the water. Bring your own drinking water. Remember, a gallon of water weighs 8>34 pounds. So, say you have a 30 gallon fresh water tank. That means traveling with a full tank of water adds 250 pounds to your Grpss Vehicle Weight rating, or the actual weight of the fully loaded vehicle or trailer, including all cargo, fluids, passengers, and optional equipment
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. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
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RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
RVers share the lifestyle benefits…
RVer: My name is Arielle and a lot of it is just seeing the country and we’ve I’ve cross country in a car and it’s not the same as actually seeing it and experiencing it. We’ve got so many beautiful national parks throughout this country that I want to see it in person.
Mike Wendland: And why an RV?
RVer: You can go into the park and spend several days as opposed to staying at a Marriott or a Hilton outside of the park and having to go in and fight the crowds for parking when you’re already inside the national parks. It’s actually experiencing it when people, I’ve already gone home and going into the park and experiencing the evening and early hours in the morning when the animals are coming out and possibly a bear or a deer coming through the campground. That would be fascinating to see.
Jen Wendland: You spend the night there like you say, and you wake up in the morning with the first light and the fog and the animals and everything or the evening. That’s I think when the animals, cause you haven’t done this yet.
RVer: I haven’t done this yet.
Jen Wendland: In the evening. That’s when you’re more apt to have the bison come to your campground and that is so much fun. That is so exciting.
RVer: See that’s what I want to experience because right now I’m in a car. I go in, I go in with the crowds and then I have to leave before sunset with the crowds and I don’t get to stay in the park and experience what it’s really like inside the park.
Jen Wendland: You’re going to love it.
RVer: I certainly hope so.
Jen Wendland: You will.
RVer Barbara Ken and Barbara Longeway can visit relatives that are located all over the country and not have to be in a camp ground because several of them live in places that are nowhere near a camp ground. Take the cat with us and not have to leave her with a sitter and just have total freedom of, Hey, let’s go somewhere this weekend and do it.
RVer Ken: And with a RV lifestyle. We’ve learned how to take Baths like a Navy shower. We know how to learn how to minimize use of water. Now we can heat things, heat water without needing a lot of electricity and stuff. So when we have problems at the home, we can revert to our RV, the lifestyle learning and not lose a beat.
RVer Paul Hi, I’m Paul Erickson, a RV lifestyle. Gosh, well, we enjoy getting out when we can. We’ve never spent any time boon docking per say, but we enjoy traveling the country. Earlier this year we took off from our home in Vancouver, Washington, visited family in Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, great grandkids, in Montana before he went on to crazy horse in order to Nebraska to visit my wife’s aunt. Then we swung home through Jackson, Wyoming, where another sister lives and on it, Idaho falls where Idaho, where we’re originally from. And back home. This trip we’re out to go and we went to Mesa, Arizona to visit a grandson. We’re headed out later today for Vancouver and home.
Mike Wendland: So what are you doing when you’re all these places? What do you like about it?
RVer Paul: Gosh. Well, we’re all on this trip. We actually stopped and hiked through South rim of the grand Canyon, which is a lot of fun.
And of course when we were like in Montana, with the great grandsons. They’re a hoot. Just to get, go to those five little boys. They never stop moving and just trying to keep up with them. And then of course my sisters and brothers, it’s just laughing, joking, kid each other and eat a lot of course when you’re traveling like that. But yeah.
Mike Wendland: Do you wish you’d started earlier?
RVer Paul: Well, actually we started with a tent when our kids were really young. Then we went to a tent trailer and then a Toyota chassis, a RV, little Coachmen. And then we went to a class, C Jayco and that’s when the grandkids traveled with us a lot to Disneyland, Yellowstone park.
Mike Wendland: Yeah.
RVer Paul : So yeah, just get out and do anything and everything we can. We did take the one hour RV to Orlando one time to go to Disney world.
Mike Wendland: So you use it for transportation or we did live in it. What do you like about it?
RVer Paul: I don’t know that we’re ready to live in it, so we’d just like to use it to get from point A to point B does do stuff. Most of that stuff was, was a family.
Mike Wendland: but you can in it, right?
RVer Paul: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. We just haven’t boon docked much. They end up in some RV park or where you plug into the power and let her go.
Mike Wendland: Well, you got to get our boon docking book.
RVer Paul: That’s why we yes we do because we want to try some of that.
Mike Wendland: It’s a great way to go.
RVer Paul: Yeah, I believe that. I believe that.
Mike Wendland: Some people were thinking about the lifestyle. What do you say?
RVer Paul: Oh, go for it. I mean, you’re never too early to start. I mean, goodness gracious. I retired from full time work nine years or eight, nine years ago now, and. so we get out at least once a month and go somewhere for three days.
RVer Gail My name is Gail Geiger. I retired six years ago. Within two months I went out and bought off an RV and I’ve tried three of them in the last six years. We like to do back country and death Valley or Borrego Springs or there’s always some dirt roads back there and so we thought going four by four. So.
Mike Wendland: You got a four by four.
RVer Gail : Yes.
Mike Wendland: Well you do go back country then.
RVer Gail : Well, I don’t know about the RV, but at least we know it can go there.
Mike Wendland: Yeah what do you like about the back country.
RVer Gail: Oh my gosh. Since we were little kids, we would go, our father and parents would take us out in, in Jeeps and things out back, you know, away away kind of thing too. But now we go with a couple of vehicles together, you know, with the water and the, the tow in the satellite phone and you know, all the safety things. But death, valleys exquisite.
RVer Gail: You have to get back.
Mike Wendland: Really?
RVer Gail : Yes.
Mike Wendland: Its so hot there isn’t it.
RVer Gail: Very. Yeah. About November is about the time to start thinking of going.
Mike Wendland: Really Yeah, to go in the winter time and the summers.
Jen Wendland: And what about the flowers? What about the snakes and scorpions like that?
RVer Gail : Well, the snakes come out in the spring when it gets warm. That’s anywhere in the desert and, but it’s, the springtime in the desert is probably the prettiest place in the world. And you, you’ll be a little road somewhere in the middle of nowhere. And all of a sudden you see this gorgeous cactus in bloom all by itself. You’re 23 miles off the main highway and you just, you know, you’re just sitting there staring at it. So pretty.
Mike Wendland: People hear you talk about that and they say, Oh, aren’t you ever worried about your safety out there?
RVer Gail: Yes, it’s a number one thing is water, water and never less than two vehicles. We have winches, extra fuel, and we have satellite phones and so that if you, I would urge your listeners, if they, some of the ones that you know, you’ve had stories where they got stranded because they didn’t have a cell signal, a satellite phone, you will pick up a signal anywhere and we carry one that we carry two of them like as a backup so that you can be in the middle of nowhere and you could still dial out and call somebody.
Mike Wendland: Are satellite phones very expensive?
RVer Gail : Yes. Well we have I-phones now are now, there’s still a thousand, $1,200 or whatever, so satellite phone would be in that range. The thing that’s most expensive about it is you’re paying almost $60 a month not to use it, just to have it. So if it’s not a, hi honey. Hello, how are you? Phone. You want to talk for five hours cause they charge you by the minute. So the whole idea is just to have it and then if he ever did get in a situation, you’ll always have a signal where you can call out.
Mike Wendland: That’s great.
RVer Jim: My name is Jim Hands, that’s my name. It’s nice to be able to have that freedom to go where you’d like to go and to go off the beaten path and, and it’s, it’s just been really nice to be together in going seeing family and things like that and being able to get away from family in a quick kind of, sometimes we just leave the motor running and we’d come back out when it gets a little crazy. But we really enjoy it and we’re looking forward to putting many more miles on it.
RVer Mary Lou: My name is Mary Lou Young and the RV lifestyle, which I’ve been doing for years means freedom, freedom to go where I want, see who I want, visit friends and family and just how the, the openness of the road and we take the blue roads instead of the freeways so that we can go in the back roads and we’ve been all over even into Canada and just absolutely love it.
Mike Wendland: Can’t begin to tell you how much fun it is to meet other folks who share your law of the RV lifestyle.
You know, sometimes we, we kind of think we’re just doing this in a vacuum because we’re basically talking to a camera or on a computer and we forget that there are really people out there. Sometimes we say, Oh, nobody is listening to this. And it’s really fun to meet these people and.
Jen Wendland: It was it was great.
Mike Wendland: And what I really enjoyed about it is the many different ways people are enjoying the RV lifestyle. It’s not just, you know, go camp someplace and go home for the weekend and there’s so many different ways that Hey, we hope you enjoy it. All of this, and we’d love to hear your story someday and what the RV lifestyle means to you.
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OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT
By Tom & Patti Burkett
It was early fall, and we were headed to Algonquin Provincial Park to meet some friends for a few days of exploring this immense Canadian park. We’d been staying at Harvest Host locations the past few nights—an apple orchard, a winery, and a maple sugaring house. Tonight it was a microbrewery, a favorite stop for rafters along one of those wild Canadian rivers. We called ahead, as is the custom, and were told that yes, we were welcome to stay, but the riverside location had closed for the season, so there would be no delicious craft beer for us to enjoy. We opted to drive a few miles farther to their other location for dinner and some entertainment before returning to the riverside to spend the night.
Along the way we passed through the town of Renfrew and noticed signs for the Renfrew Fair. Since we’ve rarely been disappointed by a fair, we decided to spend a day or two checking it out, and arrived the next morning at the gate. “Pull on through and park anywhere you like,” said the gatekeeper, so we did, slipping into a spot just below the grandstand and next to the arena. As we walked the fairgrounds, I stopped into the office to say hello. When I told them we were from the States and might like to spend the night, we were told we could stay right where we were parked and given a pass for the rest of the fair so we wouldn’t have to pay again. You do have to love that Canadian hospitality.
The arena, on this day, was featuring wagon races. Teams of up to six draft horses, each weighing about a ton, pulled colorful wagons in a timed race around the track. The thunder produced by those teams was truly Earth-shaking, and we marveled as team after team rumbled by. After the six horse teams came four horse teams, then two horse teams, then pony teams pulling smaller wagons. Friends and family hooted and cheered from the stands, downing Cokes and Icees and countless plates of poutine. The afternoon wore on and we retired to the camper for a nap, right there in the middle of the fair. The evening was cool and just a bit breezy, and we sat in our front seats with the windows down to enjoy a full view of the evening concert on the grandstand.
The next morning we were up early to wander through the livestock barns and visit with the young farmers, mostly 4H members preparing for the day’s dairy cattle judging. The only food stand open was the Rotary’s bacon on a bun operation, so I got in line. “How many?” the man at the counter asked. I told him just one, and the woman in line behind me piped up with a knowing smile, “You’ll be back for more.” Back at the camper, Patti and I shared it. The she looked a the empty plate and allowed as how she could eat another one of those, and not just a half this time. Back I went, hoping for a no judgement transaction.
This day we visited the fruit and vegetable displays, the quilting and sewing and woodworking shows, and watched an auction of prizewinning hogs. At the arena the draft horses were having a pulling contest, easily outstripping the best any John Deere could do. In the early afternoon we saw folks beginning to stake out spots on the grandstand. In complete ignorance, but being no dummies, we set up our chairs in a prime spot and sat down to wait. An hour passed a several semi trucks arrived and began unloading horses and people in uniform. As it turned out, this was one of the few annual appearances of the musical ride, a show performed by the Canadian Mounted Police. It was spectacular. The people sitting around us, seemingly all locals, commented on the the fact that it had been years since the ride came to Renfrew.
See a sign, take the time: it’s a little mantra that runs through my head when we’re out on the road. We had no plans to spend two days and nights in Renfrew, Ontario, but we did have the time to do it. And boy are we glad we did. We hope you will, too, and that we’ll run into you out here, somewhere, off the beaten path.
RV CALENDAR OF EVENTS
- November 22-24, Tiny Living Festival Florida, Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake, Orlando, FL
- December 6-8, Fall Clean Sweep RV Show, Century Link- Lee County Sports Complex, Ft. Myers, FL
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