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The company that started the Van Life Movement 50 years ago!

| Updated Feb 1, 2024

Greetings from sunny Florida, where we're spending a couple of weeks decompressing from the Florida RV Supershow and editing the videos we shot of all the new RVs.

It's sunny this week, albeit a bit cool (60 degrees F). Last week was warmer – in the 70s – but foggy and cloudy. We'll take the sun any day.

This week in Episode 482 of the RV Podcast:

  • Inside info on a new development in the Southwest where RVers can buy their own multi-acre RV property. 
  • A look at the RV company that started the whole van life movement – half a century ago!
  • News about an RV company that instituted a very successful 4-day work week for its employees with no change in productivity or their pay.
  • All this, plus the Social Media Buzz, the RV News of the Week, and your questions coming up in Episode #482 of the RV Podcast.

You can watch the video version from our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel by clicking the player below.

If you prefer an audio-only podcast, you can hear us through your favorite podcast app or listen now through the player below.


Update: Growth continues in our new RV Community!

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It's been a month and a half or so since we launched our new RV Lifestyle Community, and the growth has continued, averaging almost 200 new members every day!

We've added new Spaces to talk about all the various RV Lifestyle interests and have been doing wonderfully interactive live stream videos for our members, often bringing in special guests to share their unique expertise.

Most importantly, a real sense of community has developed, with members making friends, using the instant chat feature, and sharing trip ideas, campground recommendations, travel routes, and troubleshooting tips. And all of this with none of the mean-spirited negativity that is found on Facebook.

We invite you to come check it all out. It's absolutely free and we're sure you will love it. It's very welcoming and unlike anything you've experienced in Big Tech Social Media.

Join us by going to:

Social Media Buzz – Wendy Bowyer

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Wendy Bowyer reports on the hot issues most talked about this past week on social media and our RV Lifestyle Community group.

In our RVLifestyle Community, in the space called Traveling with Pets, Bonnie had a great tip. She recommends buying booties for your dog if you are going to the Southwest because of goathead spurs. Goathead spurs look like little, well, goat heads, and they are nasty!

Bonnie said they are common in inland lakes in the Southwest and Bonnie's poor dog had these painful, spiny spurs cut into its paws and it was terrible. So her solution was doggie booties! She put these on her pup's paws and it made a huge difference. (Bonnie even shared a picture of her dog in the booties to demonstrate).

Kathi must have been in the same part of the country because she said recently her little dog hopped out of the truck, walked about two feet and laid down unable to keep going because these things had cut so badly into its paws. Kathi said she will be ordering some.

And Heidi, who is from Montana, thanked Bonnie because she is planning to travel to Arizona soon and said she will be ordering some booties now to take with her to protect her dog's paws, too.

Great suggestion!

Also in the community, Robin in the General Discussions space shared a picture of how she cleans the roughly 26-foot long floor of her RV. She gets dust mitts, the kind that normally go on your hands for dusting, and she puts them on her feet. Then she sprays the floor with a vinegar and water combo, and uses her feet to clean the ground. She even took a picture.

Doreen said all Robin needs is to put on some good music and go to it.

And Traci said Robin had an AWESOME idea.

In our RVLifestyle Facebook Group we had an inspiring post from Liz that got many people talking. Liz and her husband, who are from Texas, have an epic, 5,641 mile, more than 10-week adventure planned for this summer and fall of the West. It includes visiting national parks, viewing giant trees, and enjoying the beautiful coastline. So exciting!

Liz said she was putting the finishing touches on the trip, when she shared a map with planned stops with the group. Liz's shared that she and her husband are retired, so they take their time and none of their travel days are generally more than 200-250 miles. She shared a picture of a decal they put on their rig that says “Adventure before Dementia ” and the map of the planned adventure looked wonderful.

One member of the group said people have no idea how much planning goes into a trip like this, and Liz said she had a 3-inch binder full of information from her planning.

So many people thanked Liz for sharing this and inspiring them, and several gave some suggestions of things to see or places to stay along their trip. 

Thanks, Liz, for sharing this and inspiring so many of us!

RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK – The company that started the Van Life Movement 50 years ago!

The company that started the Van Life Movement 50 years ago! Mike "Canada Mike" Williams of Roadtrek and Nick Schmidt of Sunshine State RVs
Mike “Canada Mike” Williams of Roadtrek and Nick Schmidt of Sunshine State RVs

If you have followed us for a long time, you may know that we began our RV Lifestyle journey back in 2012 when we bought a Roadtrek campervan known for its versatility and recognized by the three little windows upfront.

The Canadian company making those vans was called Roadtrek and this year, that company – with new owners now based in France – is still very much in business and still building sharp, distinctive Class B RVs in Ontario. 

This year it celebrates its 50th anniversary, and at the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa, I ran into two old friends – Mike “Canada Mike” Williams of Roadtrek and Nick Schmidt of Sunshine State RVs (one of the largest Class B dealerships in the country).

As they showed me their newest van commemorating the half-century mark, we had a wide-ranging conversation about the importance of the Class B segment of the industry and how Roadtrek singlehandedly began the whole vanlife movement.

Check it out in either player above.


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Texas RV resort evacuated after flooding

More than 60 people camping at a Texas resort had to evacuate after a nearby river rose and flooded the area after heavy rains.

The East Fork RV Resort near Cleveland is on the San Jacinto River, and when it flooded last week, some campers had to get out quickly.

RVers were temporarily staying at a local VFW parking lot as resort owners waited for the river to subside and the campground to open back up.

It is a good idea to think through different situations you may encounter while RVing and to read steps you can take to prepare for emergencies. See our story here.

Record number of manatees counted at popular Florida state park

If you are a fan of manatees, like we are, you might want to head over to Florida's Blue Springs State Park where a record number of the gentle giants were recently counted.

The state park reported 932 manatees were recently counted in a single day at the state park – that is nearly 200 more than the previous record of 736 recorded on New Year's Day this year.

Manatees are sensitive to cold water and are attracted to the state park because a hot spring there keeps the water at a steady 72 degrees F.

Manatees are dying in large numbers – 550 last year alone – alarming wildlife groups. The fragility of the mammals makes the large numbers congregating at the state park particularly welcome news.

Jen and I have camped at the Blue Springs State Park many times, and this IS the time of year to see manatees. To see our report clickhere.

Man bit by bobcat at Saguaro National Park; NPS issues warning to visitors

If you are headed to Arizona's Saguaro National Park any time soon, the National Park Service wants you to be alert to unusual animal behavior.

Recently a 66-year-old man was bit by a bobcat, sending him to the hospital. And the NPS has received reports of abnormal animal behavior in foxes and raccoons.

Rabies is the suspected cause of odd animal behavior, but no animal carcasses have been tested for this yet. When an animal has rabies, it may lose its fear of humans and act unusual, like it is sleepy, confused, or it could become aggressive.

Rabies is almost always fatal if left untreated and is generally spread thru salvia, such as through a bite.

Advanced RV gets Network TV News Coverage on its 4-day Work week

Hats off to our good friend Mike Neudorfer, the owner of Advanced RV in Willoughby, Ohio, for some national coverage by VBS News and PBS, among other outlets, for the successful implementation of a 4 day work week at his suburban Cleveland factory.

Advanced RV builds very high-end, highly-customized vans on the Class B Mercedes Sprinter chassis. They cost between $300,000 and a half million dollars, and last year, Mike instituted a 4-day work week for his 50 employees. They work four 8-hour days and get three days off and the same pay as when they worked 40 hours.. There was one hitch when Mike offered this: They had to maintain their same productivity.

And it worked. Employees stagger their days off, so all production schedules are maintained. They found ways to be more productive in less time, but cutting back meetings, streamlining procedures and adding efficiencies. 

Mike did it because he wanted to do something extra for his employees. Everyone is happy and Adanced RV is getting some well-deserved publicity.

If you want to see a story we did on the company and the RVs they build, CLICK HERE.


dogs hiking

QUESTION: Hi there.  Newbie here.  Will pick up my Class C on Wednesday. 2 questions:
1) My plan is to go to (Pet Friendly) National Parks and such.  I will have an e-bike, but without a car, how easy is it to get to the places I would like to visit?
2) I could have sworn that Mike said yesterday to NOT get the extended warranty from the dealership?  Do we get any kind of warranty from somewhere else? Thanks.
~ Deby

ANSWER:  First, Many National Parks are NOT very dog friendly. And they have a lot of restrictions on where you can operate eBikes.

Second, about the extended warranty. We do NOT recommend buying one from a dealer. Recommend you shop for the best deal on an extended warranty using Wholesale Warranties.

We know RV are complex machines with many parts, and high repair costs can be an unfortunate twist in your RV journey. Having an RV Extended Warranty can help to erase those undesirable and unexpected costs. The truth is, RV’s have a very high chance of breakdown and there’s no more stressful situation than having your vacation or road trip interrupted by mechanical repairs.

More than that, an Extended Warranty offers peace of mind for what is usually the second most expensive purchase you'll ever make, outside of your home.

Here is what it is going to cover:

  • Pretty much every electrical working component on the RV. That ranges from engine or transmission failure down to all of your coach components.
  • Your heating and cooling, air conditioning, slide-outs, leveling systems, refrigerators, microwaves, and TVs.

The typical RV Extended Warranty is not a monthly expense like insurance, they are usually a one-time purchase that covers you for 2-7 years. And once you have the warranty, you are locked into that policy – no matter how many claims you make.

Click Here to get a free, no-strings-attached quote from Wholesale Warranties.  

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Mike and Jennifer Wendland

Curious about the gear, gadgets, accessories, and RV products Mike & Jennifer use and recommend?

On this RV Lifestyle Travel blog, our RV Podcast and our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, we mention all sorts of RV-related products and gear that we use, So we created a special page that links to them. We update this all the time.  CLICK HERE to go to it directly. Have you caught one of our Amazon LIVE events yet? Just go here and Follow us – to be notified every time we go live.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-01-31

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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