This week on the RV Podcast we learn one of the best kept secrets for finding free places to overnight, Boondockers Welcome, which offers some 2,000 locations across North America where RVers can stay for free!
Show Notes for Episode #267 Nov. 6, 2019 of The RV Podcast:
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
We share our travels, share a disturbing story about Bo after we picked him up at some pet sitters this past weekend, and update you on what’s happening in the RV world.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by Dish Outdoors, which lets RVers pay as they go and watch HD satellite television from wherever they are camped with easy to set up gear made with the RVer in mind. Just go to https://rvlifestyle.com/dish for details on the service and special deal just for listeners of this podcast.
RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK
Road construction coming to Yellowstone National Park beginning next summer
Yellowstone National Park is planning to do $75 million worth of road repairs and maintenance beginning next year. Next summer the park will replace the Pelican Creek bridge, and visitors can expect delays along the East Entrance Road between Fishing Bridge and Indian Pond. Another lane is going to be added to the North entrance and buildings there will be replaced. The whole project is expected to take two years.
Minnesota professor and students collect adult ticks in mobile lab at state park, analyzing within hours which carry diseases
All of us who love the outdoors, know the importance of using bug spray to protect yourself from ticks. So, it was with a keen interest that I read a story out last week from Minnesota about a professor and his students who spent some time collecting ticks from Ithaca State Park last August.. The professor and students bought a mobile lab with them, and after collecting the ticks were able to analyze them in just a few hours and discover if the ticks carried diseases. They learned 25-30 percent of the adult ticks they collected carried Lyme. That is a sobering reminder to all of us about how important it is to protect yourself when in the woods. Click here to see a story we did with an expert on what to do.
Woman lost in California national park found after spelling SOS with rocks
A Mississippi woman reported missing after telling family member she was visiting a national park in California, was found last week after she spelled SOS with rocks. The woman’s car was discovered in Sequoia National Park, and her SOS message was spotted by air three miles away. The woman had apparently gone on a hike and gotten lost. When she was found she was thirsty and hungry, but otherwise stable.
Parks Canada officials are seeking “poop fairies”
In one of the more … let’s say unusual … stories out last week, Parks Canada is asking the public to help them scoop wolf poop on Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Officials are calling the volunteers “poop fairies” and will provide training and safety items like gloves and eyeglasses and GPS trackers. Officials hope the wolf scat will help them understand more about what the wolves eat and where they go to help officials reduce their contact with humans.
RV catches fire in California, spreads to brush
An RV caught on fire in Oceanside, California, last weekend spreading to brush, and apparently one other vehicle before firefighters had it under control. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The RV fire was one of several I’ve seen in the news this past week, which got me thinking of the importance of fire safety. A while back we interviewed an expert on what you can do to reduce the likelihood of your RV accidentally catching ablaze. To learn more click here.
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LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
Hello Mike and Jennifer! Enjoy the videos and different points of view . Currently have a Winnebago Trend ’17 23D (twin bed ) . Wife retired 3 years ago and decided she didn’t want to put up with northern Illinois winters anymore ! Interested in the Wonder RTB , which you did a video on, and have a couple questions . 1- are the coach seats in front comfortable and 2- did you have any problems with leveling at campsites ? Leveling is our biggest pain . No major issues with unit , do most all maintenance myself too. Happy and safe motoring to you both ! Thank you, Wally T
Hi Mike and Jennifer, I own a Roadtrek Adventurous RS. Do you have any updates as to when the Roadtrek factory will be up and running again? Thanks. Gary
UPDATE – Although I had not heard back from Roadtrek when we recorded this episode, after the podcast was already edited I received a reply from Roadtrek Marketing Director Karyn Torcoletti who said: “You can tell Roadtrek owners that Roadtrek Inc is up and running. We are manufacturing motor homes, however we are rolling things out very slowly and taking our time to make sure all quality checks are in place so we can offer Roadtrek customers the top quality campervan they remember. For any retail service support for parts or warranty they can contact the office at 519-745-1160 or email email@example.com”
Dear Mike and Jen We happened upon one of your YouTube videos and got hooked. Great information and a terrific resource for us. Our biggest problem is deciding on a manufacturer that produces a quality product. We have decided on a “C” class but who builds a good one? We have heard of the poorly engineered and manufactured ones and really want a well built and engineered motor home. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you, Lloyd
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
Our guest this week is Marianne Edwards of Boondockers Welcome, which is one of the best resources available for RVers to find free places to overnight. There are more than 2,000 spots listed throughout North America and staying just once or twice a year with one of their hosts can save you much more than the cost of membership.
We thought this would be a great time to introduce this awesome service to our listeners because as of NOV 15, 2019, the price of membership will increase to $50 per year, from the current $30 per year.
But current subscribers will be grandfathered into the new rate and new subscribers who join before the 15th will also get that same $30 rate per year, and they to will be grandfathered in.
The best way to join is through our special affiliate link…just go to https://RVLifestyle.com/boondockerswelcome and you can lock in that special rate.
We love Boondockers Welcome and we think you’ll find our interview with Marianne very interesting.
Here’s a transcript of the interview:
Marianne Edwards. Thank you so much for joining us and welcome back to the podcast, it’s been a while.
Great. Thanks for having me, Mike.
Let’s talk about Boondockers Welcome. It’s been a couple, three years at least, since we’ve had you on and there are a lot of new listeners to the podcast. And a lot of RVers who started off in campgrounds and are growing increasingly disenchanted with that, and are attracted to the idea of getting out of those, I call them “tinaminium” complexes, that surrounded by all these monster RVs, 10 feet away from them. And why boondocking appeals and let’s talk about Boondockers Welcome. First of all, exactly what is Boondockers Welcome?
Okay. It’s a free overnight parking online service that matches up RVers with private property owners. Essentially we’ve been dubbed driveway surfing for RVers. So we have almost 2000 hosts across North America now who are able to open up a spot on their private property to allow traveling RVers to spend a night or two. It’s not meant to be a destination place, but a night or two or three, up to five nights. Many of them, aside from boondocking, which is of course how we got the name, which just means dry camping and a free place to park. It’s always free, they don’t charge. But many of them also are able to extend electricity if they have it or water, about 75% of them are able to offer that as well. We do ask guests to offer to compensate a host for the cost to stay if they use those type of hookups. But otherwise, aside from joining the website and using it to find hosts, guests really are not paying anything for camping when they stay with those hosts.
But other than the free aspect … Sorry, may I say, the best part is meeting the local people.
Sure. Being friends, making new friends. Yeah.
Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. And they know the area. They can tell you where to go, what restaurant, lend you a tool maybe.
Sure. What things to see. I’ve never heard of anybody that has stayed at a Boondockers Welcome place that hasn’t come away with a new set of friends. But talk about what kind of places these are. This is private property, and where are they located and what do they range between? I’m sure you have all different types in there with over 2000, almost 2000 plus hosts now so and more every day. So what are those sites like?
Well, it all depends on the individual who is able to offer somewhere to park. So many of them are rural, equally many are in urban areas. Some places that you would never be able to find any other option for parking for free. So, it’s as wide ranging as the people who own the properties. They’re across North America, Canada, and United States predominantly. But we also have some hosts who discovered us by traveling in North America usually, and have gone back to Europe or Australia or New Zealand or wherever they’re from, and they decided that they can host as well. So we’re building that host space a little bit more internationally now as well.
I should point out, I’m in an area of Florida where it’s almost impossible to get a spot to camp or spend the night, unless you book months or years, over a year in advance in some cases. I just did a search a little bit ago on Boondockers Welcome, on your website, and we’ll put a link in the show notes for everybody to find. I put a link there and, lo and behold, there are three places right around me in this very popular resort area in the Emerald Coast of Florida where there are Boondocker Welcome hosts to invite you to stay free on their property. And it’s like that across North America.
Now it’s free to stay there. What about joining Boondockers Welcome? And there’s an incentive over the next couple of weeks for people to join right away. Would you explain that to us?
Sure. Yes, it’s free to stay with the host. It’s also free to look at the website and see every detail of every host location we have and everything that they offer. But in order to be able to contact a host and send them a stay request, you will need a guest privileges subscription. So hosts, they sign up for free, there’s no cost at all to offer to host. And by doing so they actually can avoid paying altogether, if for even for when they’re on their own travels, by actually accumulating credits. So for every guest that visits them, we give them three months of free guest privileges, and they don’t have to use those up right away. If, if they are planning to travel in the future, we have quite a few hosts of don’t even have their RV yet who are just getting ready to travel in a year or two. They can save those up and use those credits three months at a time when they’re ready to travel.
But if you don’t have a location where you can offer parking for an RV, and it be just for a small B Class RV. It doesn’t have to be a space that will fit one of those monster ones. If you can’t offer to all, and we totally understand not everyone can, then there is an annual subscription fee and that’s how we fund this project. So the fee up until November 15th, so within three weeks here, is $30 per year US. Hosts who haven’t accumulated enough credits yet or they want to travel, but they have listed an active host location, they pay only half that, so they get a 50% discount right away. So the incentive is to join up before the 15th if you haven’t already got an active guest privileges subscription.
And then after the 15th, it goes to how much?
It goes to $50 US.
So from right now for 30 bucks a year.
Yeah, that’s right.
And that 30 bucks a year is good as I understand it every year, right?
Yes. If yes, once you to have an active guest privileges subscription, or you have a host location, an active host location, listed on the website. Then your grandfather [inaudible 00:07:20] to our old rate of $30, or [crosstalk 00:07:23].
So you will not have to pay that $50 that it’s going to be for new members after the 15th?
That is, that’s a-
That’s right. As long as you maintain an active subscription, if you’re going to keep paying the 30 going forward forever. Or you can also stop paying and then join again in a few years, but it will be 50 after that.
Marianne Edwards, how did you and your husband get started? Your husband is your partner in this I know, Randy, and how did you guys start in this?
Randy and I have been traveling for almost 20 years in our RV, and predominantly boondocking. I know you and Jennifer do a lot of boondocking as well, and that has been sort of our go-to. We don’t really make a lot of reservations. We do stay in campgrounds, but we really enjoy the real freedom and just being able to go at the spur-of-the-moment with boondocking. However we realize that there’s not a lot of that in the more populated areas. We do a lot of travel in the Southwest where there’s a lot of public land that we could do that. And we’d met a lot of people on our travels who we then often, we’ll get an invitation from them to come and visit them and just park on their property. We’ve done the same over the years, invited people to come and stay, because we’ve got a nice little spot here and there in Ontario, a nice little tourist town where we live. And we’ve got extra space for any size of RV to park.
So, that’s kind of how we came about the idea, and I also happened to have a niece who was couch-surfing at the time. And if you heard of couch-surfing, it’s where people actually, usually young people that use mostly. They can travel all over the world and stay in people’s homes. With Boondockers Welcome, we call it a driveway surfing, and we realized, yeah, it should be something that would be a lot easier because RVers don’t really need to get into your home. They have everything they need with them. So that’s how the idea started. And yes, Randy is my partner for traveling, he’s my husband, but my partner in Boondockers Welcome is actually another relative. It’s my daughter, she’s the brains behind the websites. She created the website, she’s a computer engineer. If it wasn’t for her it wouldn’t exist because it’s a pretty complicated website.
It is, but it’s a very easy to use website. I mean, you just plug in where you want to go or the dates and it’ll return all sorts of information. Do you have plans to make an app out of it? Right now it is a website, but how about an app?
Exactly. A lot of people have been asking for that and we realize in our own travels, how much handier would be to be able to have an app. It’s right now, the website is totally mobile-friendly, so you can use it on your phone or your tablet, but you do need to be on data to be able to use it. So, we are developing an app, that is not Anna’s forte. She’s developed the website, but we will be, with this part of this increase in pricing, will go towards that and a few other ventures we have in mind.
Oh that is, it’s great. The site is Boondockers Welcome. We’ve been members for years, it is handy. I think the thing we said right at the very top, besides being able to find a free place to stay, often delightful places, far removed from civilization. But also in right in the middle of urban areas where you want to be, if you’re in an area, you’re visiting an area and you want to see the city. But I think the best benefit is every host at a Boondockers Welcome has just been a delight that we have encountered. And we just hear so many stories of people and friendships that are formed, and that’s part of the joy of RVing, is being is being connected with that community, isn’t it?
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think I may have mentioned, anyone that can go online even before they pay us anything at all and see all the hosts, what they offer. But you can also see the reviews left by previous guests. And, we’re hearing these stories all the time, even aside from the reviews, about how wonderful the connections are that people are making.
Well, Boondockers Welcome is the website, and there’s some incentive there.
We’ll have a link in the show notes for our audience to click. We are one of your affiliates, your many affiliates. That means we get a small little percentage of whatever they end up signing up. It doesn’t change the price to them, but it kind of helps us and we always appreciate that. So, we will put links on our show notes for this. And next step for me is.
next time we’re in Ontario, we’re going to see if we can get a Boondockers Welcome site with the Edwards, so we look forward to meeting you in person.
We’d love to have you.
We’d love to meet you in person, that’d be great. Marianne, thank you so much for telling our audience about Boondockers Welcome.
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 & Patti Burkett
All along the Rocky Mountains, from Canada to Mexico, you can find hot springs. Some are famous and marked by gracious resorts, like Banff, Alberta and Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Some are utilitarian, like Radium Springs and Jackson Springs, Montana, and some, lesser known and less developed, are mostly at the service of their local communities. We came across one of these in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. It’s now the Spa Hot Springs Motel and Clinic, with a couple of swimming pools and an indoor soaking tub.
The springs have been in use since antiquity. Native Americans agreed among themselves that, even though their tribes might be at war, there would be no fighting at the springs so all could make use of their healing waters. Eventually a traveling fur trader set up a cabin here, charging for the use of a pool he built, and offering medical whiskey to supplement the healthful properties of the springs. The land and business were later purchased by a doctor who promoted the same virtues to his patients.
Enter John Ringling, of circus fame. With his entertainment empire blooming, John came to Montana looking to extend his reach into ranching and railroads. He was taken with the commercial potential of the hot springs and bought the property in 1903. After building a grand house in White Sulphur Springs, he encouraged his nephew Richard to move west and begin a cattle and sheep ranch outside the little town of Leader. When John finished building the White Sulphur Springs and Yellowstone Park Railway in 1910, Leader was renamed Ringling. John’s empire came crashing down with the financial collapse of 1929 and the ensuing depression, but Richard made a success of the ranch business, passing it on to his sons. Just this year the ranch went up for sale, about 9000 acres of beautiful Montana bottomland. It can be yours for just under 10 million dollars.
Back in White Sulphur Springs, you can drive by the Ringling Mansion on Main Street and, for a few dollars, spend as long as you like soaking in the pools at the hot springs. You’ll be surrounded by life-sized murals created by Montana artist Michael Mahoney. Patti was changing after her soak, chatting with a local woman who suggested we should stick around for the evening because a really good band was going to be playing tonight at Bar 47. “The hunters are in town,” she said, “so there’s a lot of live music on the weekends. It gets pretty wild sometimes!”
In that same conversation, I found out about Sarah Calhoun. Sarah was an Outward Bound instructor and a crew leader for SCA (the Student Conservation Association). She settled in town and determined to start a business making quality work pants for women. It was a lack she’d felt for all her years working in the outdoors. With the help of a production designer who used to work for Patagonia, she started Red Ants Pants. Made in the USA, these pants are customizable and have become steadily more popular among women who work in outdoor jobs.
We love a good soak, especially on a cold day, and even though some folks might like to spend the chilly months along the Gulf Coast or in the sunny Southwest, there’s nothing like sitting, up to your neck, in hundred degree water while the snowflakes drift down around you. Come to think of it, a hot tub might be just the thing up there at Tahquamenon Falls in January at the winter freezeout get-together. Maybe we’ll see you there. If not, we’ll look for you somewhere else, out here of the beaten path.
RV CALENDAR OF EVENTS
- November 7-10, Portland Metro Dealers RV Show, Portland Expo Center, Portland, OR
- November 14-17, West Palm Beach RV Show, South Florida Fairgrounds, West Palm Beach, FL
- November 15-17, Great American RV Show-Conyers, Georgia International Horse Park, Conyers, GA
- November 16-17, Sand, Water & RV Expo, Lake Havasu State Park, Lake Havasu, AZ
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