If you are a regular listener, you know Jennifer and I love to boondock. We love to get away from the crowds and enjoy the peace and quiet. So do many RVers, of course, but this week we want to talk to the substantial segment of the boondocking community who are solo travelers. Being alone in the middle of nowhere is equally enjoyable as it is for couples or those who travel with a friend. But what happens if you are alone and an accident or emergency happens?
If you’re traveling solo, you need to take some extra precautions. We’ll talk about that and get some advice in this week’s RV Lifestyle interview segment.
Our friends at the Camp Addict website, Marshall Wendler and Kelly Beasley, will share their expertise and a harrowing story that illustrates just how bad things can go and how much worse they could be…if you are all alone.
Plus, RV news, tips, your questions and an off the beaten path report from the Burketts.
But first, my lifelong traveling companion and my bride…Jennifer.
Show Notes for Episode #245 June 5, 2019 of The RV Podcast:
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
Can you believe it’s June? Camping season is in full swing, The roads are filled with RVs crisscrossing the country and summer fun is on everyone’s schedule.
We are heading north into Canada, camping our way through parts of Ontario, and then on to Montreal, Quebec, where we’ll spend the weekend before turning south and visiting parts of New England and then New York for some exploration of the Adirondacks.
We usually start the summer by heading to the Rockies and the west. This year, its the east and the Adirondacks for a few weeks. Then we’ll see. We’re trying to pick regions of the country that we haven’t extensively toured yet
We plan to resume our “Ask Us Anything” live stream on the RV Lifestyle Channel next Sunday at 7PM eastern time, from wherever we happen to be.
We’ve taken the past couple of weeks off to catch up on some projects but we’ve missed our weekly visits and the excitement of a live audience so we’re planning to be back this coming Sunday night.
RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK
New York State Health Department warns all heading outside to protect themselves from ticks
The New York State Department of Health warned residents and visitors to protect themselves and their pets from ticks and the diseases they carry as the number of tick caused illnesses has been steadily rising. New York is averaging about 5,500 new cases of Lyme Disease each year. Mike and I are noticing more and more ticks as we travel the country making it more important than ever to wear protection and educate yourself on safety tips. To see a report we did on this subject not too long ago click here.
Four-year-old boy attacked by mountain lion expected to recover
A mountain lion that attacked a 4-year-old boy walking with his family in California’s Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve was shot and killed. DNA samples confirmed that last weekend. The boy was with about a dozen people in the area called Carson’s Crossing on Memorial Day when the mountain lion attacked him. His father kicked and threw rocks at the animal to free his son who was flown to a nearby hospital for treatment and is expected to recover. Mountain lion attacks are rare, but it is important to watch young children when walking trails in mountain lion country.
Millennial writer urges manufacturers to make smaller, more interesting RVs
A writer published an interesting read last week urging RV manufacturers to listen to what millennials want in an RV, as that age demographic becomes a bigger and bigger share of the RV market. Many of her suggestions Mike and I agree with, even though we are not in the millennial generation. Making smaller RVs, focus on quality and technology and improving designs are things we have been talking about for a long time.
Woman injured by female elk protecting her baby at Yellowstone National Park
Remember the warning we shared with you recently about the need to stay away from mother elk at Yellowstone National Park (or anywhere for that matter)? Well, last week a concessions worker at Yellowstone apparently got too close a baby and the mother elk attacked. The woman was taken to an area hospital and no further information was available about her injuries. The woman was in the Mammoth Hot Springs area of the park, and officials are again warning all visitors to be alert and stay at least 25 feet away from the elk and their babies.
Dog walking on Arizona trail bit by rattlesnake after sniffing bush
A sad story out of Arizona last week is a good reminder for all of us who walk trails with dogs in rattlesnake country. A dog walking on a trail with its owner at in the Superstition Mountains sniffed a bush and was bit in the eye by a rattlesnake. The woman and her friend were able to rush the dog to the vet in time for life-saving anti-venom medication, but the dog will lose its eye.
Here are some short RV News headlines we found interesting this week:
- Have you heard about camping in see-through tents? Apparently it is a trend in the UK
- American Fastbacks, a company once owned by Erwin Hymer Group North America (previous owners of Roadtrek), recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
- Most Nebraska state parks now open though high water levels still issue at few
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LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
e-mail questions we answer this week:
Call 1-586-2990 and leave your question of comment on our special Voicemail number:
Hello, we do long trips, this past trip we were running an electric space heater in our camper and for some reason the cord & The plug got really hot and we lost the electricity in the back half of the camper and it did not trip the power switch so I was just wanting if you have any suggestions- Karen
Hi! Is there any chance you will be having a meet-up while in New York? I follow your channel and watch your videos and would love the opportunity to meet you and Jennifer in person, Safe travels! Nita (from Upstate NY)
Got a question or comment? Call our special Voicemail number at 1-586-2990
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INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
What happens if you are RVing alone in the middle of nowehere and an accident or emergency happens?
If you’re traveling solo, you need to take some extra precautions. We’ll talk about that and get some advice in this week’s RV Lifestyle interview segment.
Our friends at the Camp Addict website, Marshall Wendler and Kelly Beasley, share their expertise and a harrowing story that illustrates just how bad things can go and how much worse they could be…if you are all alone.
Here’s the transcript:
Mike: Well, Kelly and Marshall join us right now. Where are you guys, by the way, as we talk?
Marshall: We are moochdocking just north of Taos, New Mexico.
Mike: Something happened to you guys that illustrates, I think, a really important part of the RV lifestyle, and that is using your head and not being all alone in a place where if you need help you can’t get it. Why don’t you set this up by explaining what happened to you guys just a few weeks ago.
Kelly: Okay, well we were boondocking out in the Valley of the Gods, Utah. We were with a big group of friends and little by little people had taken off. It was down to one of the last days and it was myself, Marshall, and three other friends of ours. Well, Marshall and I were leaving that day so we went through our usual routine of hooking up our trucks and trailers. I was inside this rig and I heard him call me, and I heard him call me pretty urgent sounding but you know, you don’t want to freak out right away. I started walking out of my rig and as I probably stepped out, I heard him call it again and this time it was serious. At that point, I knew something was wrong. So, I ran over to his rig and he’s squatting down next to his tires. I’m like what’s the matter? What’s going on? I don’t remember exactly what he said, because you got adrenaline going and you’re kind of freaking out, but in essence, his fingers had gotten stuck in between the levelers he was trying to pull out from under his tires. I think it was just the one finger got stuck.
Marshall: Yeah, my pointy finger on my right hand.
Kelly: He could not get it out. So, he’s freaking out. He’s like get in the truck and pull it forward. Pull it forward. But, he was hitched up already too. I’m just reactive and I’m thinking how much? How much do I pull forward? Just a little. So, I go and I jump in the truck, and this is a new truck to him so I haven’t even used it much, so now I’m like freaking out. Am I putting it in drive? Is that really drive? Okay, is that good? Okay, now … I probably tried to go forward like an inch and I immediately hear back up, back up. I mean, this was like horrifying. So, I back it up. I put it in park and I get back out, then I go and I look, try to assess. This happened three times. I ran back and jumped in that truck again and went forward again. I hear back up, back up. It wasn’t freeing him. In fact, it might have been doing him more harm than good. I didn’t know what was going on under there, I couldn’t see. Second time I jumped out, I think, then I hollered for our friends, who were already looking. They were like I’m not sure if something was wrong. they, thank God, came running over.
Kelly: To me, it was kind of a blur after that point. I don’t remember if I moved it forward and back again or not. I just crawled under the rig and looked and tried to see what was going on under there. It looked terrible. It was bad. Finally, eventually, our friend Mark said I wish we could just lift the trailer up. Marshall goes get a jack, get a jack. So, he came up with the brilliant duh idea. I fumbled in the back of my truck, grabbed the jack. Thank God I did successfully find mine because Mark’s was way buried in his place. I didn’t know how to use the stupid thing though, so he would’ve had to walk me through it, and I mean, he was on the verge of panic at times you could tell, and then other times he was a little more logical. Oh, it was awful. It was horrifying. Eventually, we did jack the trailer up off of his finger, which was pretty mangled looking. I mean, it looked flat from the side. If you had seen it from the side, I wish we had that photo, I wasn’t sure it was going to be usable ever again.
Mike: You were in a lot of pain Marshall, right?
Marshall: Well, yeah.
Mike: Yeah, adrenaline.
Marshall: I was doing pretty well until I told her to move the truck, and then that made things worse. Well, my idea was, what happened was I was grabbing the Anderson leveler and trying to pull it out between my two trailers. I’ve got a Lance travel trailer and the tires are fairly close together and the one Anderson leveler gets wedged between the two because I haven’t trimmed it enough, or I hadn’t trimmed it enough at that point.
Kelly: You also have a Lynx leveler.
Marshall: I also had Lynx levelers under there. I was using a combination of Anderson levelers and Lynx levelers. I had wrapped my hand around the Anderson to pull it out and when I did that, the trailer shifted back ever so slightly even though it was already hooked up to the truck. It was in park. I don’t think I had the break on-
Kelly: It wasn’t on.
Marshall: … so it could shift a little bit. It moved just enough where my finger got caught between the Anderson leveler and the Lynx leveler. My idea was well, the trailer shifted back, so if I have Kelly shift it forward it’ll free it.
Mike: Oh, dear.
Marshall: Yeah, not so much. That just made it worse, and then the back/forth, back/forth bit sort of caused more squeezing on my finger. At that point, my finger was really starting to hurt. Kelly said I was on the verge of panicking a couple of times. Fortunately, I kept it semi together. I didn’t go into full blown panic mode. And then we were able to lift the trailer off, which is what we should’ve done to start with, is just lift the trailer straight up.
Mike: Now, here’s the part. I mean, this was just kind of a freak accident.
Mike: But it happened. It could happen to anybody out there. What would’ve happened, Marshall, had you been solo, all by yourself out there?
Marshall: That’s a good one. We were in the Valley of the Gods, three and a half miles down the dirt road. I did not have my phone on me, so I couldn’t have called for help. If I was by myself, there would’ve been nobody around to yell to. I may have been able to eventually flag down a car driving by, but that’s only [inaudible 00:06:24] because I was on the side of the trailer that had the view of the road. If I was hidden from the road then I would’ve totally been in trouble. I don’t know, I would’ve had to gnaw my arm off or something.
Kelly: Well, and that’s what dawned on us just as soon as it was over and we were nursing his finger. I think all of us, it just kind of dawned on us. It was like what if we hadn’t been here? You could’ve died. I mean, if his trailer had been turned the other way. People are flying down that road. I think even if he had been yelling, I don’t think anybody would’ve heard him. How many days could he have lasted literally stuck there, stuck to his trailer? I don’t think two, three, without water. If he couldn’t have gnawed his finger off or somehow cut his arm off and if he couldn’t have got himself free, he would’ve died. It slapped us all in the face. It was just a real learning experience that thank God for us it had a happy ending, but it’s made us very, very aware of the potential dangers, things that could happen that you just wouldn’t expect to happen out there.
Mike: Let’s give our listeners some take aways from all this. I point out to the audience that these guys are experienced pros. RVers. This is their life. They boondock all the time. They know all the ins and outs of camping, all the tricks. If this happened to them, it could happen to you. So, Kelly and Marshall, share with us the take aways from this. What’s some advice about being out there alone?
Kelly: I wouldn’t say to not go and do it by yourself, just take some certain precautions. I would one say try to be somewhere where you are within screaming distance of someone else, or at least they can see you.
Marshall: Yeah, I would say make sure, assuming you’ve got cell service, make sure you’ve got your cell phone on you at all times.
Kelly: As much as you possibly can. If you can’t do that, there’s that Garmin type of a device. What is that?
Marshall: Oh, the SPOT.
Marshall: The emergency locator.
Kelly: Yeah. If you’re really going to go out and be by your, then I would have one of those SPOT GPS locators with me, on my body, at all times. You just never know when you’re going to have a heart attack or get stuck under something. There’s numerous things that could happen.
Mike: Another tip is just try not to camp alone. I mean, if you can bring a buddy with you, have somebody in a RV near you or staying with you. Having somebody know where you are, where you’re supposed to be is pretty important too.
Kelly: But, if you are one of those solo people who just loves to get away, then at least have a buddy that you tell hey, I’m going to be here. Drop them some coordinates if you can and let them know when you’re going to be back. If you’re not back in that time, then have someone come and check on you. Otherwise-
Mike: … Well, let’s talk about fun stuff out there. Gear. You guys have one of the best gear sites for RVers out there. What’s on your plates these days? What’s on your to be seen, coolest new RV gear that you’ve been playing with?
Marshall: Well, I don’t know. We’re doing some upgrades to Kelly’s trailer. I don’t know if we would consider these to be cool. We’ve got a new toilet to install in her rig.
Mike: Oh, that is so cool.
Kelly: No, but I am very excited about my new sewage hose.
Marshall: Yeah, she’s got a new drain [inaudible 00:09:47] called Lippert.
Kelly: Well, because it doesn’t use that bayonet system. My outlet under my RV is really low and my back is not such a happy back. I have a 90 degree angle clear-
Kelly: … Yeah.
Marshall: Or connector.
Kelly: Connector to the end of my sewer hose currently, so when I’m down there, sometimes I have to really bend over and sometimes I can’t hardly even get it off. This one has a system where you just stick it on, there’s none of the bayonets, and you pull a lever. It just like squeezes it and tightens it. It’s the way every other single waste-
Marshall: Yeah, every other-
Kelly: … block or whatever.
Marshall: … fluid management system uses a cam lock.
Kelly: That’s what they use. So I am excited about that. Also, we just got a MarCELL system to review that is here. This will tell you what the temperature is in your rig, the humidity. It can also depict water leaks if you have the little pods for that. It actually already warned me, just got it yesterday, and it warned me yesterday that it was 82 in here. I was like what? You sent me a text. I was sitting on it, so I guess it works.
Mike: Between sewers [crosstalk 00:11:03] and sitting on products to review, that’s a pretty exciting life out there.
Marshall: We do lead the exciting life here, yes. Absolutely.
Kelly: Oh, yeah. Goodness. Hey, at least our views are fantastic.
Mike: Yeah, that’s right. I always like to say it’s a small house but we have a big yard out there.
Mike: Tell me, buddy, about Camp Addict and how you guys have evolved in the RV full timer circuit out there. You have really got a great site, filled with all sorts of stuff. What can they find on Camp Addict, as we start a new season of RV travel for many people?
Marshall: It is. Tis the season.
Kelly: Well, thank you very much, first of all. We do take pride in the site. I think most of it is pretty much attributed to Marshall. He has this expertise and this knowledge of all things RVing. Not all things electronic, but like from the start, he started replacing and fixing things in my rig and I was like how’d he just know that? How do you do that? It would take me hours of searching on the internet to figure anything out, and I wouldn’t want to do it anyway because I’m just not wired like that. There are a lot of good things out there. There’s a lot of good resources to find information, but typically there’s not one page where you can find everything that you want, so that’s what we decided to go ahead and try to build is a place where you can go where it’s like boom, there’s all the information on one page and you know you can trust it and it’s going to be correct. It’s not going to be a forum where Joe Schmo thinks he knows what’s right but he really doesn’t.
Mike: Marshall, maybe you should talk about that a little bit, what we call sometimes the armchair engineers who, on those forums, go on to some tact of their belief or their bias and it’s totally off the wall. How do people know what to trust when they read it online?
Marshall: Well, you know, first of all, we’re living the life. We’re actually living the life, using the products. I’m in my sixth year of full time RVing. Kelly is-
Kelly: [inaudible 00:13:03]
Marshall: … in her … Yeah. So, we’ve been doing this for a while. I have a technical background. I understand how things work. I think that if you read the pages on a particular … If you look at Camp Addict and you look up, since we’re on the subject, look up sewer hoses and you read the guide on sewer hoses, you get the idea that we might actually know what we’re talking about from the information that we provide, whereas go to a forum and you’ve just got all these guys with different opinions, and that’s just that. They’re opinions. They’re not out there using the products and aren’t living the life. We’re just trying to help use our experience and educate RVers and RV products. It’s really that simple.
Mike: All right. What are your guys’ plans for the rest of the year? Where are you headed? I know you’re a big part of the Xscapers group, and that’s a terrific offshoot of Escapees. Those are all the wild ones on the Xscapers. I think that’s where we fit. What are your plans these days?
Kelly: Well, plans are kind of always jello, but I tend to really love Colorado and a lot of our friends are going to Colorado for the summer, so probably we will both end up being in Colorado for the summer, as long as possible. But again, jello plans. Things can come up. Oh, like, there’s a convergence in Vegas going to be potentially coming up in October, so we’ll probably be there for that. It’s not necessarily summer, but yeah. That’s the kind of jello plan for now.
Mike: That’s a great way to term it. I always say it’s serendipity, but I like jello because it does change.
Mike: I ask everybody I interview what are your plans over the next couple of months and it’s interesting because those who are out there living the life, as you guys are, who knows. I mean, you know, I don’t know where I’m going to be next week and I bet you guys truly don’t even now. You might have a general direction.
Kelly: Well, and we don’t have to plan ahead with campgrounds and everything, you know. We just go and roost out on the land, so that’s another major benefit of boondocking.
Mike: That is exactly it. Again, circling full back to where we were a few minutes ago when we talked about the need to just be careful out there and realize that things can happen and have a backup plan, enjoy the boondocking. Live like Kelly and Marshall are doing out there, and like the stuff they write about made for folks who are camp addicts as well.
Mike: Be careful. Just use common sense. Because things can happen out there. It isn’t all idyllic scenes of perfect campfires and starry nights.
Kelly: I just never thought-
Mike: It does rain and thunder.
Kelly: … Yeah. I just never thought of death by camping, but, you know, it can happen.
Mike: Marshall, Kelly. Campaddict.com is the website. Thank you, guys. I’ll put links to it all in our show notes for this episode and we’ll see you out there on the road.
Kelly: All right. Thank you so much.
Marshall: Thank you so much.d
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OFF THE BEATEN PATH
By Tom & Patto Burkett
Driving across Nebraska on highway 4, it’s hard to miss the big building sitting at the top of the hill. From below, it looks like a plow blade cutting through the prairie soil. And, of course, that’s exactly what the architect intended. The visitor center at the Homestead National Monument brings together stories and artifacts from across the continent and across more than a hundred years of our national history to tell the story of those who settled the great American frontier.
In 1862, the Homestead Act made it possible for tens of thousands of Civil War veterans, freed slaves, and immigrants to claim a hundred and sixty acres of their own. To obtain title to the claim, each woman or man was required to plant crops, build a home, and live on the property for five years. That, and about $20 in filing fees, was all it took to become a land owner. More than 270 million acres were transferred from the government to private owners as each family “proved up” these claims.
While the process of staking a claim was fairly easy and within reach of most people people of that era, the work was anything but. There were few towns in the vast landscape that ran from the Canadian border to Mexico and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. Do you want a cookstove? You’ll need to bring it with you from Saint Louis or New Orleans. Need a mule or an ox because yours broke a leg or died from winter cold? Lets’ hope you have a neighbor who’s willing to trade one for what little bit you have to offer.
Even though the prairie soil is thick and rich and excellent for growing crops, it’s covered with grass and roots up to two feet thick. Planting even an acre of this by hand took weeks with a cast iron tool. John Deere’s invention of the steel moldboard plow made for a revolutionary change in this work, as it cut much more easily through the tough prairie sod. Remember, though, if you wanted one of these (and could afford one), you’d somehow have to get it from the factory in Moline, Illinois to your claim in eastern Colorado or the middle of North Dakota.
One of the most notable events of the era came when two million acres, much of it highly desirable, was opened for claim at high noon on April 22, 1889. This became known as the Oklahoma Land Rush, and spawned the terms boomer (those who promoted the opening of the lands) and sooner (those who sneaked onto the land early to claim some of the choicest parts). The musical ‘Oklahoma’ gives a romanticized version of life in the new territory, while the song ‘Little Old Sod Shanty’ paints a much more accurate picture of the experience.
When you arrive at the visitor center, the first thing you see is a line of state outlines mounted on a wall. Each has a hole in it, and each hole represents the proportion that state that was open to homesteading as part of the Homestead Act. We were surprised to see a number of populous states from east of the Mississippi on the wall—none with huge areas of homesteading, but more than we expected. Inside, the displays include typical household effects and tools, as well as many homesteading stories. They also include native American reflections on the movement.
Among the displays is an Allis-Chalmers Model C tractor. It’s notable because it belonged to Ken Deardorff, a young Vietnam War veteran who filed his homestead claim in 1974 for a piece of land on the Stony River, 200 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska. In 1988, he became the last person to earn a patent under the Homestead Act, which had been allowed to expire two years earlier. The tractor was recovered in 2017 by the Park Service and restored by the University of Nebraska Tractor Restoration Club.
The museum includes a pioneer cabin, an early school, and a nice collection of early farm equipment. You can walk the quilt discovery trail, take an audio tour using your cellphone, and record information about your own pioneer ancestors for the on-site archives. Walk the prairie for a while. Look at the flowers, listen to the birds, and maybe discover a little of your own personal history, out here off the beaten path.