How much time do you spend planning an RV route? Can you trust the campground reviews you find online? Could you use some practical help in not driving too far and coming up with a comprehensive map and route that will take all the hassle out of trip planning? And do you want to save money doing so?
If you could use some help in any of those areas, then stay tuned because in our interview of the week, we’ll talk about a tool Jennifer and I just used on a long trip that even allowed us to keep to our 330 Rule for RV travel.
Plus, lots of RV news, your RV Lifestyle questions, and off the beaten path report from the Burketts and much more.
Show Notes for Episode #248 June 26,2019 of The RV Podcast:
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
MIKE – We’re back now from a big trip out east, mostly in and around the Adirondack Park region of upstate New York, with a couple of days in the Finger Lakes district and then down to what has been voted the best state park in America – Letchworth State Park south of Buffalo (I was one of the travel writer judges for the USA contest that so designated Letchworth, by the way). Much of our travels and discoveries will be fully detailed in a soon-coming Seven Day Adventure Guide to the Adirondacks. And we’ll also have a couple of YouTube videos coming, too.
JENNIFER – The park itself is immense, bigger in size than greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined. It was created in 1892 by the State of New York to protect the land from too much lumbering and clear cutting. It is a constitutionally protected “Forever Wild” area. Of the Adirondack Park’s 6 million acres, 2.6 million acres are owned by New York State. The remaining 3.4 million acres are privately owned.
MIKE – As such, the Adirondack Region is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States. It is also home to 105 towns and villages. There is often a misperception that the Adirondack Park is a national or state park, yet the region’s mix of public and private land allows for conservation and civilization to thrive.
JENNIFER – We were out in the Adirondacks to get lots of photos and information for one of our Seven Day Adventure Guide books. We hope to have it finished in several weeks and it will join a growing library of these guides that will eventually cover every region we can think of that will be of interest to RVers in North America.
MIKE – We have four of our Seven Day Adventure Guides already published with many more planned. Also we want to point out that our Beginner's Guide to Boondockingand our How to Buy an RV books are very helpful for newbies and those looking to get a new RV. We now have a special page with information on all our guides and books at https://rvlifestyle.com/books Please check them out and share the link on social media with your friends.
JENNIFER – But besides the upcoming book, the best way to tell you about this area is with video and Mike is putting together an epic one of all the sights and sounds we experienced in this magnificent state. Look for it Thursday on the RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube. In fact, there’s so much to see and do there that we think it will take two videos to adequately tell the story, one this week and one next.
MIKE – We also want to give a shout out to a listener named Lily who left us this great review of the podcast on iTunes. Says Lili: “Love this RV podcast! One of a handful I listen to regularly and the only RV podcast I listen to regularly. The information is great for all kinds of RV'ers. So many helpful tips, links, and information. And best of all, it's FREE! Thanks Mike and Jennifer, for all your efforts! I travel for work a lot and look forward to each episode!”
Please remember to rate and review the show on iTunes or your favorite app. It really helps new listeners find us.
RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK
The calendar may officially say summer, but in many parts of the country, temperatures are uncharacteristically cold. So cold, in fact, that snow caused road closures last week in Yellowstone National Park's Beartooth Pass and Rocky Mountain National Park's Trail Ridge Road. It is so cold, in fact, that some of Colorado's mountain areas typically filled with campers received 10 inches of snow by the end of the weekend.
Speaking of the weather, while much of the higher altitudes of the west dealt with snow, in the midwest and eastern parts of the country the issue was rain, lots of rain, sometimes causing flooding. We certainly experienced lots of rain in upper New York these past few weeks. Numerous state parks in Ohio, Missouri and elsewhere were under water, according to numerous news reports, causing campers with first of summer plans to make other arrangements.
If you're heading to Washington's Olympic National Park this summer be sure to check road closures for flying goats. Yep, you heard that right. The national park is planning to continue to catch mountain goats, drug and blindfold them, before helicoptering them out of the park and moving them to the their native habitat in the North Cascades. As they continue their plan to remove 700 of the non-indigenous creatures, several roads will be closed.
High water levels out west have made many rivers there particularly dangerous this spring, even taking several lives. When water levels get high, the currents, even if only knee level, can knock a person down, and sometimes these rivers even make waterfalls. Apparently that is what happened last week at Utah's Gunlock Reservoir. A man and his 7-year-old son were walking on a trail when the son slipped, fell into the water, and then was taken away. His dad dived in, broke a vertebra, but saved his son. A witness who helped the father and son described the dad as a hero.
Every year at this time we see start seeing stories of people who head off to hike a trail in a beautiful place and either get lost, or much worse, become injured in some way and die. A sad story out of Idaho last week about a man who apparently fell and died while hiking alone at Owl Creek hot springs got me thinking of an interview we did for the podcast some time back with an expert hiker. The expert shared several important tips on what every camper needs to know before hitting the trails that we wanted to share with all of you here.
This part of the podcast 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 RV QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
From Benoit LeClerc via the RV Lifestyle RV travel blog– How are you going to manage your battery to be able to use it in your winter camping, I think that in freezing temperature it is not good to charge lithium battery.
From Sean Pedlar ,via RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube – What ever happened to that satellite internet system you had? I heard you talk about it on a podcast a while ago. Also how did you find the wifi throughout your trip through Canada?
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.
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 INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
We’ve never been big on planning.
Then we signed up for a tool called RV Trip Wizard. I just used it to plan our trip from Michigan to Lake Ontario, to Montreal and down through the Adirondacks and the Finger lakes area. You can see a map of the route from my trip as the featured image at the top of this page..
But I have so enjoyed using this tool that I had to get someone from the company to come on the podcast and talk about it. It costs just $39 and it works on any device. I like to use it on our iPad or laptop but it also works on smartphones, whether iOS or Android.
I am blown away by this. You can check it out yourself at RVLifestyle.com/rvtripwizard
Our guest this week is Pat Buchanan of RV Trip Wizard, who will tell us how this great RV trip planning tool works.
Here’s a transcript of the interview:
Mike Wendland: Pat Buchanan from RV Trip Wizard joins us to talk about this great planning thing. Pat, first of all welcome to the program.
Pat Buchanan: Thank you sir. It's a pleasure being on. I've listened to you multiple times before and it's great to be on the other side this time.
Mike Wendland: Well I'm glad to have you on the other side. I have fallen in love with RV Trip Wizard. I'm not so much of a planner as I am a serendipity traveler, but with your Trip Wizard it's like being able to take the journey before I even leave home. There's so many features on it that I didn't want to explain them to our listeners. I thought that I would get you to do it.
Mike Wendland: Let's start with one of the ones that I find really, really great. If you listen to us regularly, you know that we're always talking about our 330 rule, which is don't go any more than 330 in terms of mileage for a day-
Pat Buchanan: Absolutely.
Mike Wendland: … or stop by 3:30. Then you can enjoy the area. Well, one of the things that I love about RV Trip Wizard is I can set my 330 mileage from wherever I'm starting off the day and it will draw this awesome circle and show me, you know, where's a good place to stop. Tell me a little bit about how that actually works.
Pat Buchanan: Well, that's probably the single most important feature to me, and the one that really drew me to the product and the company here as well. It's based on your average driving speed. For you… That 330 miles, that's a little robust for me. I'm driving a 43 foot pusher and that's just a little over the top, so I tend to use the hours per day, but it accomplishes the same thing.
Pat Buchanan: We're going to use that average driving speed that you declare in the setting and we'll determine where you're going to be at the end of the day. You set that miles per hour that you're going to choose or the hours you're going to choose, however you decide to go about it. Some of that is from experience. Some of that is going to be by a little trial and error.
Pat Buchanan: Obviously for you that 330 miles is a great rule. I know that's a big push out there and a big number a lot of folks follow, and that's an easy one. You plug it in there and it will show you a ring, a distance ring we're officially calling driving radii, that will say hey, I'm going to be right there at the end of the day. Let me find a campground around that spot.
Mike Wendland: I just did a trip to the Adirondacks and I have used that, and it's pretty good. I've estimated my driving time and I've missed a couple of big slowdowns, but it's been right on and it's really helped me. But not only do you get that ring, you also get all of these campgrounds that you can see in that area. Describe how that shows up and how you actually can check out those campgrounds.
Pat Buchanan: Yeah. Terrific. We draw all of our campground information from the infamous Campground Reviews. Listeners may be familiar with that as RV Park Reviews, but we've changed that name to make it a little more inclusive of all types of campgrounds.
Pat Buchanan: So we've got a plethora of data to pull from and we populate that map. Now you can control that. You can filter that. If you're a… Maybe you only want to stay or you only want to see some Thousand Trails locations perhaps, you can filter that down and it'll only show you those.
Pat Buchanan: You may only be interested in state parks, or you may be driving a big pusher and want wifi and 50 amp, and you can filter those criteria on the map and let it show you more or less, you know, depending on what you need.
Mike Wendland: Now you mentioned the RV Reviews, and that's the other feature that I have found incredibly helpful. You click on one of these little icons, the little camping icons that show up on your map, and it gives you a whole bunch of access to information, usually photos. But talk about the reviews. How many people are… How current are these reviews and who's filing these reviews? How much can we take these as gospel truth?
Pat Buchanan: Very much in fact. These reviews… Of course, like I say, come from campgroundreviews.com. This sites been around for many, many years. Again, we formerly known it as RV Park Reviews. Currently we're featuring… We're showing 18,000 campgrounds and over 350,000 reviews.
Pat Buchanan: It's kind of when you Google campgrounds or campground reviews you're going to go there. You're going to land there and you're going to sign up. You can look for those reviews, and folks are not just plugging in two lines of Yelp data or something like that. These are in-depth reviews, talking about the electricity, the pet area, the sewer hookup, the fresh water, what to do around the location, what roads to avoid coming in. They really go in-depth, and that's all user driven.
Pat Buchanan: That's all from folks and campers like you and me pulling in at a campsite, getting their book and brochure from the counter and taking it easy in the RV and plugging in those reviews and that data. It's the definitive source for campground data without a doubt.
Mike Wendland: I don't think a lot of people realize how many of the so-called review publications are really commercially driven. They are set up and many of the reviews come from, you know, the people being reviewed in the first place. What I like about these is these are other RV'ers who like me have subscribed to RV Trip Wizard. You can read the genuineness of them because even sometimes, you know, you'll see the criticisms, you'll see the pluses, you'll see the cons, and I have found this to be really good.
Mike Wendland: Talk about how this works, what platforms once you subscribe. This isn't really so much of an app as it is a website that you go to, right?
Pat Buchanan: This is true, and it's changing. So right now it is a fully web based application. You can pull it up on any browser. We like Chrome and Firefox quite a bit. Certainly Microsoft has gone through some changes with Internet Explorer and Edge and it's already being phased out, and I try to avoid those if I can.
Pat Buchanan: Safari will usually get the job done, but we certainly lean toward those two most popular browsers, Chrome and Firefox. What's neat though is you can use those browsers on any device you have. So if you're got a tablet, if you've got a phone, you log in the website. It's always up-to-date. It never needs to be downloaded or updated or new versions installed because your on a live system. Your trips are all saved there. If you happen to log in from a different device later on you can continue your trip right from there.
Pat Buchanan: We are certainly recognizing the need for an app and as RV Trip Wizard is part of the RV Life family and the RV Life network, we do have a new RV Life app out there that we are working, and I believe we have pushed the new version, now that there is a way to view your Trip Wizard trip right on the phone, right on that app, apply turn-by-turn directions to it, and even view that data offline, so that trip that you're taking across three states, you can download those three states and your trip is already there to your phone. You have the data and you can take it offline, even when you get out in the sticks there and there's no internet. That's all part of the RV Life app right now.
Pat Buchanan: There is costs to that. It's very reasonable pricing. You should be able to download that from the app store and check that out. But the primary platform is on the computer screen when you're creating those trips.
Mike Wendland: I mean I use… Frankly, I go to RV Trip Wizard and I'm able to access it on my iPhone, on my android phone. Some of the other things that it has that's interesting, it's always nice to see your route sketched out on a map. One of the things that has always frustrated me as we've traveled is how dependent I am on apps and devices, but I miss that paper feel. This kind of comes close because you call up a map of the route you're taking and it'll even draw a line, and you can filter that line. That's pretty neat.
Mike Wendland: It will also let you plan things like gas stops, right, and points of interest. So tell me about the points of interest. What are those?
Pat Buchanan: Yeah. You can literally plan your entire trip on the tool, and just to jump ahead, you can print those out either to paper or to like a PDF that you can open up on a device later, and you can even dump it to say an Excel spreadsheet if you like to follow on that way, and even print out turn-by-turn instructions. So there's quite a bit behind the scenes if you're still… You know, if you're a paper person, as we often are, so that capability is still there.
Pat Buchanan: So with points of interest, fuel stops… My typical scenario is… Or anyone's perhaps, is to build out the trip, add in your campgrounds, and then sit back and think that looks great, but I'm going to need fuel, and add that point of interest or a fuel stop, add that restocking stop perhaps at a Walmart or a Costco or whatever you're into there.
Pat Buchanan: Perhaps there's a museum along the way you're interested in, even rest stops along the highway. All of these items can be added and included to your trip, Cracker Barrels, hospitals, veterinarians, things like… Anything you might run across or might need or might want to plan ahead.
Pat Buchanan: You know, we get a lot of folks that do some boondocking, or free boondocking we'll call it perhaps, in say a Bass Pro Shop or a Cabela's or a Walmart, and those are on there as well.
Pat Buchanan: You can plan… And if you're going to visit an individual at a home, you simply right click on their location, plug in their name, and you've got their stop now as a map and a custom icon that you can have right on your map.
Mike Wendland: We'll put some screen grabs of how it works in the show notes with this interview, and we'll also point out one other thing I like about it, and that's the… You can estimate the cost of your trip. You can kind of plug in your campgrounds and your gas, what you spend for gallons of gas, and it'll literally give you a rough idea for budgeting, which is really a nice little feature.
Mike Wendland: So it's all in one thing. I think you've made a great service and we will again link to this. A lot of people are listening to us as they're driving and they can't really take a note or anything, so all they got to do is go to the episode show notes and we'll put that in as well.
Mike Wendland: I want to thank you Pat Buchanan for coming by and helping me share the enthusiasm I have for the RV Trip Wizard.
Pat Buchanan: Thank you so much for having us on. We really believe in the product as a team behind the scenes of developers and folks working very hard to keep the product running smoothly and adding features constantly to make it better. We think it's the best out there and we really appreciate you giving us the time today.
Mike Wendland: Appreciate it ourselves. Thank you Pat. Bye-bye.
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
By Tom and Patty Burett
In north central Tennessee, a bit west of I-75, you can find the tiny town of Rugby. When we asked the shopkeeper at the general store how many people live in town, he thought for a minute. “When everyone's home, maybe eighty or so. More often it’s forty or fifty.” The village is a tight cluster of historic homes built a round a core that includes the school, the library, the church, a café, and two commercial businesses.
There’s a historical practice in Europe called primogeniture. It required that an inheritance be passed down intact to the oldest male child. The other male children, if they were lucky, got a bit of money or a house. Female children, forget it. As a result, second and third children often joined the clergy, the military, or academia. Thomas Hughes, a British author, believed these young men could become successful farmers in post-Revolutionary America.
Hughes founded Rugby, with the help of investors, to provide this opportunity. The town was built on utopian principles. Each resident was a shareholder in the community enterprises, specially the town commissary, which bought and sold daily necessities, produce, and crops. As went the town fortunes, so went everyone's, or so it was planned. As it turned out, most of these young men were used to a life of leisure and didn't take to the hard work of farming, so the colony went belly-up a few years after it started.
Of course, they weren't all slackers, and the town itself didn't die. It hung on, as it does today, through the hard work of those who persevere. These days, too, it's helped out by a lucky aspect of its original planning. The town design included additional residential neighborhoods to accommodate growth. One of these has been opened up, and a number of new houses, built on historic designs, are now part of the community.
The Rugby school was originally a three story building, with classrooms on the first floor, church hall on the second, and meeting rooms up top. When it burned a century ago, it was rebuilt with two floors, since the church by then had its own building. The first floor is now a museum and the second houses village offices and the Historic Rugby Foundation.
The thing that drew us to Rugby on our first visit, years ago, is as much of a draw today. The town adjoins the Big South Fork River and Recreation Area, which we’ll report on another time. A trail from the Laurel Fork Cemetery leads quickly down into the gorge of the Clear Fork River and the Gentlemen’s swimming hole. Room-sized boulders are scattered along the river, and the pools and riffles create the perfect spot to spend a hot summer afternoon. Follow the trail a bit longer and you arrive at the traditional Ladies’ Bathing Place where the Clear Fork runs into White Oak Creek.
The loop trail, about three miles altogether, leads back to the cemetery and town. Stop in at the Commissary to shop for locally made crafts or for a meal at the newly-reopened Harrow Road café, where chef Mike Mahon offers a varied menu and daily tours of the historic building. All the public buildings in Rugby, including the still-in-service church are open to visitors only during tours, which are scheduled several times daily. Call ahead to check on the schedule, or consult their website. Rugby is managed by a private non-profit and is not part of the park, though there are rangers on duty here during the summer.
Sadly for Thomas Hughes, the second and third sons of British landed gentry much preferred spending their days at the swimming hole than on the farm. Still, the town has survived this long, and even added a few families. You can take a good long look at the utopian lifestyle if you slip away from US 27 in northern Tennessee and drive back in time along the Rugby Parkway, out here just off the beaten path.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by Harvest Hosts – https://rvlifestyle.com/harvesthosts a network of farms, wineries, museums and attractions where RVers can stay overnight, for free.