This week on the RV Podcast we meet a couple who tell us why every RVer should have a bucket list and how to make it come true.
Ari and Jessi Adler, collectively known as the Trekers.org, tell us how, even with 9 to 5 jobs, they are making their amazingly ambitious bucket list come true. I think you’ll find them very inspiring.
Also this week, RV news of the week including stories about:
- a very real murder mystery on the Alaskan Highway,
- more bad news for Roadtrek
- and how the tariff war is taking its toll on the RV industry.
Plus tips, your RV Lifestyle questions and an off the Beaten Path report. So… thanks for putting us in your ears this week.
Show Notes for Episode #252 July 24, 2019 of The RV Podcast;
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
We’re back from Nashville, TN and a great family vacation.
We have some RV projects we’ll be doing over the next couple weeks to tweak and upgrade some components and Internet systems on our RV. We’re also having a ladder installed on the back.
We’re working on or travel season for the rest of the year. We have trips planned to Ohio, Florida and Georgia (to take in some of our grandson’s high school football games). Plus in September we’ll be at the Hershey RV Show in Hershey, PA. In Ocober we’ll be in Elkhart, IN at RV Open House and later that month out to California where we’ll be attending the California RV Show in Pomona.
It’s time to give a shout out to our podcast reviewer of the week…Rickg5555 gave us a wonderful five star review and this wonderful five-star review on iTunes:
“Been listening for a long time. I have searched and tried all the other RV podcasts and this one is the only one I listen to every week. Mike and Jennifer cover a lot of topics for all types of RVers and campers with a focus on real world boondocking. Mike has a knack for the latest tech stuff to help inform his listeners on how to stay connected to the internet while cruising the country. One of the best parts of the podcast is his traveling reporters – they have the most creative stories from places ‘off the beaten path’.”
Thank you, Rick. We so appreciated those kind words and your review. Those reviews and five star ratings really help us in getting the word out to the RV Community about the RV Podcast. And we invite you dear listener, to do the same. Please leave us a review and a rating on iTunes or Stitcher or TuneIn or Spotify of whatever app you listen to us on. We so appreciate the feedback and we read every one!
RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK
Real-life murder mystery on the Alaskan Highway
In British Columbia and the Yukon, on parts of the Alaskan Highway very popular with RVers this time of year, Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigators are trying to solve the murders of a young Australian man and his American girlfriend last seen on the side of the highway next to their broken down camping van. Later, two teens on the same road were reported missing after their truck camper was found burning at a highway turnoff. A man’s body was later found nearby. No word yet on how that still unidentified man died, though the Mounties say he was murdered, too. But after first declaring the missing teens may have also met with foul play, the RCMP announced that the teens are now considered suspects in the murder of the couple. As you’d expect, the murders are causing lots of jitters among the RV community and tourists traveling the highway.
About 2,000 Roadtreks issued recall notices by U.S. and Canadian agencies over second row seat safety concerns
About 2,000 Erwin Hymer Group of North America Roadtreks, some dating as far back as 2013, are being recalled for safety concerns tied to the second row captain seat chair restrains, according to a Canadian story out last week. The four models affected are the CS Adventurous, RS Adventurous and E-Trek built between 2013-2019, and TS Adventurous built between 2013-2016. In the advent of a crash the second row seats may not provide adequate protection and owners are being urged not to use those seats until the issue is fixed. If owners want to make repairs to the seats so the vehicles are roadworthy, they may have to pay out of their own pocket. Rapido, the new owner of the Roadtrek brand, has indicated it will not honour any warranty claims for the recalled vehicles as part of its recent purchase agreement with the receiver. Hundreds of other Erwin Hymer Group North America RVs were recalled last fall. In November, Transport Canada issued a recall on eight 2018 models of the company’s motorhomes after it was discovered the internal voltage regulator could damage the electrical system by overcharging the batteries; 57 Canadian vehicles were impacted, along with 172 in the U.S.One month earlier, 70 Canadian Roadtrek Zion motorhomes from 2015 to 2018 were recalled by Transport Canada after it was discovered the bolts that secured the sofa to the chassis could damage the rear brake lines and increase the risk of a crash. About 290 U.S. vehicles were also recalled.
RV industry ties high tariffs from trade war with China to rising prices and slumping sales, article says
An interesting article came out last week that connects some of the recent slump in RV sales to tariffs. The article discussed how many components of an RV, be it steel and aluminum to air compressors and appliances or tire rims and axles come from overseas and have been hit with high tariffs, raising costs. The article interviews RV executives who tie the tariffs to higher prices and a slump in sales.
Dog lost for 11 days at Shenandoah National Park found by two hikers, reunited with family
Two hikers in Shenandoah National Park ventured off the path just a bit and found – a lost dog named Max. The dog went missing July 4, and was found by the hikers nearly two weeks later hiding under a wild blackberry bush near water. The dog was scared and started growling at first so the hikers called park rangers who quickly came and took him off on a stretcher. Max lost about 10 pounds from the ordeal and was reunited with his family, who had posted posters of him throughout the park.
Swarming bees force park officials to close popular overlook at Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park had to close its popular Keys View overlook last week because of swarming bees. Apparently when temperatures get extremely hot, as they did last week, the bees need water to cool their hive and will seek that from people carrying water bottles, condensation from car air conditioners, or even human sweat. By removing the people, the bees are forced to look elsewhere for moisture. The Keys View overlooks offers breathtaking views of the Coachella Valley and will remain closed until conditions change.
60-year-old woman camper found after four days lost in California national forest
A California woman who went missing for four days in a remote area near Montenegro Spring California was found safe last week by rescuers. The 60-year-old woman and her husband were camping at the Grandview Campground in the Inyo National Forest. The husband left his wife and their 4-pound Yorkie-poo all of about 7 minutes to move their vehicle but when he returned, his wife and dog were gone. The woman told police she fled because a man with a knife appeared, grabbed her wrist and threatened to rape her and kill the dog. She successfully escaped the would-be rapist’s wrist grab, and ran some 2 miles, escaping, but in flight became lost. She was found when rescuers heard the dog barking several days later. The woman, an experienced camper and hiker, lived off cactus and a water stream.
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LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
Here’s a question that was recently posed on our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group:
It comes from one of the regulars there, Helen, in Iowa, and she is selling her 2017 Zion to get a new RV a little bigger so she and husband Dave can take grandkids with them on their RV adventures. Here’s her post about a strange request from a would-be buyer:
We had a call from an interested party who wants us to drive 600 mi round trip to show her so she doesn’t have to drive all the way from Denver. She seems interested but has never driven one & does not have financing in place yet. She offered to pay gas. She also has extreme allergies & may be sensitive to any cleaners used etc. I’m not sure it’s a good idea. Would appreciate feedback.
- This post has received over 325 comments so far and the pretty much unanimous advice is… Don’t Do It! I answered it “NO this is not a good idea. You are the seller. She is just shopping. She’s going to be nothing but problems if that’s what she’s asking you. Don’t even think about it.”
Our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group is a very lively place for RVers of all times to share trip photos and details, ask questions, get advice and connect with others. You can join it by going to https://rvlifestyle.com/facebook
Here’s an email question we received from a listener named Don W:
Hi Mike and Jennifer. Thanks for all your great videos and information. I have a question about the Unity FX. I’m sure I could have found my answer by searching but I want to reach out to you. Simple question, Will the Murphy-bed fold out without the slide out? I’m just thinking of times that we’ll we parking for the night in places that prohibit slides from being extended, like most parking lots. Appreciate your opinion on this model
- No, the slide has to be extended for the Murphy Bed to be put down.
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
This week in our interview of the week, we talk about the bucket lists.
Most people when they hear that term think of places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Alaska, touring the Maritimes…. You know, really epic adventures.
And those are great.
But what about if you have a 9 to 5 job and can’t get. ED away for extended periods of time like retired people or RV fulltimers can.
That’s where our friends Ari and Jessi Adler come in. The Adlers have a blog and YouTube Channel called Trekers.org, all about traveling in a Class B RV and camping and hiking. And while they don’t have the time to do too many extended cross-country bucket list adventures, they nonetheless have… and are checking off… one of the most ambitious bucket lists I’ve ever heard of.
You get to meet them now in our RV Lifestyle Interview of the Week.
Mike Wendland: Well joining us now, Ari and Jessie, and why don’t you guys tell everybody what’s on your bucket list and what you are doing and what led you to this quest that you’re on?
Ari Adler: Our big project for 2019 is to visit all 103 state parks in Michigan, and what prompted it was we found out that it is the Centennial of the park system in Michigan. They started in 1919, this is the 100th anniversary, and we thought what a great time to celebrate all of the state parks that Michigan has to offer, because there are so many here compared to many of the other states.
Mike Wendland: That’s a pretty ambitious goal, 103. That’s like every third day you have to be in another park, and Michigan is a pretty big state. How are you guys doing this? Here we are recording this in July, how many of you visited and how many do you have to go?
Jessi Adler: So we just completed our 45th park yesterday actually with a trip to Belle Isle. But we’ve actually… it’s been challenging, but it’s been a lot of fun along the way. We started in January at Tahquamenon Falls. Yes, you can go camping in the winter as you know very well, and we’ve mostly been doing them on the weekend because I still have a full time job and so we’ve been fitting them in as we can. We’ve had a few weekends or long weekends where we’ve done three, four, five, six parks in one weekend. We did five in one day in fact, and we’ve got a couple of big trips coming up where we’re going to knock out quite a few of them.
So that’s how we’ve been fitting them in. We’ve done a couple on week nights at the parks that were close to our house and or anywhere maybe within an hour or so. But yeah, we’ve just been having a lot of fun seeing what Michigan has to offer and being places that we’d never been before.
Mike Wendland: Any surprises along the way? Are you finding this more challenging than you thought? Are you finding little nuggets along the… Give us an idea of what unfolds once you commit to something like this and start actually doing it.
Ari Adler: I think in terms of challenge, it’s just the matter of of work that builds up. I mean it’s… Because as you said, Michigan’s big so you have to work in travel time and you want to spend some time in each park. Now we’re not camping in each one, but we do when we can and as our schedule allows. But then just visiting the park, you’ve got to… we’re doing video for our YouTube channel, we’re doing blog posts for each park and it’s surprising how quickly that work adds up because you have to put the time in to make sure that you’re producing a good product and putting something out that people want to watch or people want to read about, and trying to do justice to some of these parks, especially the large ones that we have that are just huge and offer so many things to do.
Jessi Adler: And I want to echo that. I mean I do quite a bit of research at each park before we go there so we don’t miss anything, because I think actually with the biggest challenge that I’ve found is we get to the park and the interpretive signs or the information in brochures just isn’t there and there’s a lot of history behind these parks that nobody’s knowing because the DNR or the parks, the friends of the parks programs just haven’t had the resources and the money to put into making sure that information is known.
On a good surprise, I think, we have found that Henry Ford had his hand in a lot of parks in Michigan, whether that’s through mining operations or farming or he donated the land or his family donated the land, it’s just actually been really funny and sort of a running joke with us of how many state parks has Henry Ford touched?
Mike Wendland: You know, it strikes me that there is probably a story like this in every state. The state parks of almost every state in the union would have similar stories of fascinating places and people, and this isn’t a bad bucket list for everybody to have and it’s doable, taking one state and trying to visit as many as you can.
Jessi Adler: It is actually, and I just had a friend who lives in North Carolina and she just completed all 30… I want to say 31 parks in North Carolina. So it’s nowhere near as many as 103 but she has five children and so it’s been a pretty big feat to try to get them in. Now in their system, they actually, I think win prizes if you visit all of them in a year. So she’s sort of been on a quest to do this and just finished up her last one last weekend. So her and I have been going back and forth about kind of our bucket list challenges because we’re on the same quest.
Ari Adler: And Mike, I think you’re right that every state probably has these philanthropists and what we’re finding throughout the history of Michigan is either the auto company magnets or the lumber barons, these people that had the money and the means back in the late 1800s, early 1900s especially as the state park system was getting going, a lot of times they would have weekend getaways, hundreds and thousands of acres and a lodge and that kind of thing, and then after they died, their families would keep the land for a little bit, but many times they would then donate it to the state. There’s a huge park in southeast Michigan, the Highland Recreation Area, that was originally Edsel Ford’s sort of weekend get away property and it’s about 2400 acres I think, and now it belongs to the state and everybody gets to enjoy it.
Mike Wendland: And you mentioned your bucket list. The title of this whole theme that we’re kind of talking about is why it’s important to have a bucket list, a lot of [inaudible 00:05:33] they just kind of go and sit someplace and I guess that’s okay. But what led you, besides the fact that it’s the centennial year for Michigan, what led you to take this on? I mean it’s a pretty big undertaking, but you must be even starting to think what happens after we’ve done this? What are we going to do next? Walk us through that process of setting out a bucket list and then projecting it forward.
Jessi Adler: For me, I think we see everybody trying to do the challenges of visiting every national park or visiting all 50 states or things like that. And we have always been big proponents of what’s in your backyard. Be tourists in your own town. We knew that due to our life and our jobs and our children’s situations that we weren’t going to be able to just set off on the road right away. So we wanted to see what we could do in our hometown and in our backyard. And so that’s where kind of the state parks challenge came into play. It was, we have lived in this state for, you know, 30-some years and realized that we only hit a small fraction of what the state had to offer and so this has opened our eyes to all sorts of places and things and history and sites and places that we’d have never been. I think before we set off to go hit those 50 states and those national parks, because that is something that I want to do, but I kind of wanted to do it in my backyard first.
Ari Adler: It’s interesting, as Jessi said, you know, if you’d asked us before we started this project, have you been to most of the state parts? I think we would have said yeah, probably. And then when I started to put the list of 103 together, there were towns and places I’d never even heard of in Michigan, but now we’re visiting them and it’s not just about the state park, but we’re also looking at what is there to do in an area. As you know, Mike, I mean there’s a ton of stuff in this state in terms of nature, but also there’s the lighthouses, there’s the Great Lakes, there’s all these huge inland lakes. There’s just a lot of things to see and do across the state and we’re getting to experience that now. It’s been really great.
Jessi Adler: Hopefully we’re in a situation sometime soon where we can hit the road and go travel and see those other places. I don’t know if I’d specifically pick a next state and knock them off and that, but I think it kind of would be a fun challenge to see how many other parks and places that you could hit. So I recommend that for anybody to do.
I still have Alaska on my bucket list, so at some point we’re going to hit that, I hope. But I think we just kind of pick a small area. I mean we like to move, but we also like to kind of stay put and see what’s in an area so when we do get out on the road, I think you’ll likely find us kind of hanging out for a couple of weeks in a spot and seeing what there is to do.
Mike Wendland: What you’re doing is immensely doable for everybody, wherever they happen to be. To pick an area, I like this, that’s near you that you can reasonably explore and explore thoroughly. I think that’s what’s really exciting about it.
Tell us a little bit about the two of you. I know your story because we’ve camped together many times and we know each other well, but tell everybody else your backgrounds and where you see this all leaving, taking you guys. Another YouTube couple as I’ve started to call them. There are so many of us out there now, but introduce yourself to our audience a little bit.
Ari Adler: Well we both have a background in public relations and through our careers ended up working in the political public relations sector for awhile and then have gotten out of that. I am now doing consulting work on the side. I’m set up to do remote work, which is what we’d like to both do at some point. We’re trying to figure out what we can do online. As you say, there’s a lot of YouTube couples. Some of them are making money doing it. It’s a long road to go before you can get there and I don’t know if we’ll ever get there, but I’m enjoying just taking what we’re experiencing and sharing it with people and we’ve gotten a pretty good following. We’re getting a lot of good comments from people that are enjoying the videos and the blog posts so to me that’s a big part of doing it.
Mike Wendland: Yeah. I like to refer to ourselves as the grandparents now of all these YouTube couples out there, so we’re going to include you guys in that group to be your grandparents. Because it’s fun to watch where you’re going.
Jessi Adler: We enjoy watching other couples and I think everybody has a different style of travel and a different style of their channel in terms of are they talking about their day to day life? Are they talking about their travels? Are they doing more inspirational posts? We’re sort of doing this mix of history/what’s in my backyard? Not so much about our day to day life because we’re not… we’re still living in a sticks and bricks and I don’t know how exciting that would be to people right now. But, you know, we’ve really enjoyed just spreading the word and sharing that with everybody. I’m still working at Michigan State full time, but you know, spending my weekends and my vacations traveling as much as I can and hopefully we can move forward with that someday, but we’re always looking for more subscribers and people to follow along in our adventures just because we want to share that with people and we think it’s really exciting.
Ari Adler: That’s how we kind of got started before we actually did the state parks project is we were starting to do some YouTube videos and blog posts about travels that we had taken and adventures. We like to hike and camp and go mountain biking, but we’re not, I would say serious in any of those, right. I mean, we didn’t want it to be a real intense channel. It was more, I think we set it up as casual conversations about hiking, biking, camping, and it’s just we wanted to show people that you can get out there and do this stuff.
You can get out in Boondocks, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on equipment, go with what you have. You don’t have to make a big challenge to go across the country, you can just go across your own state, and I would say that we’re trying to knock out these 103 state parks in 2019 because of the centennial so we sort of put that deadline on ourselves. But maybe that’s too much for somebody. So just get your list of state parks and start working your way through them and take all the time you need, at least have a goal and start working through that list.
Mike Wendland: Do you guys have any sponsors? Have you been able to… I mean this sounds like it’s right up the line of what Pure Michigan, the big advertising campaign that the state does, I see their ads as we travel across the country. Have you just done this on your own?
Ari Adler: We have been doing this on our own. We have not gotten any sponsorships from the state. We had a company sponsorship lined up that that fell through and then we had to make a decision about whether we were going to proceed or not and we decided it was an important enough project and something we wanted to do for everybody, so we’ve been pressing on and doing it on our own.
We do coordinate a little bit… we’re trying to coordinate with the DNR to help promote what they’re doing and they occasionally will share some of the stuff that we’re doing, but it’s mostly a project of the Adlers and we’re recovering the cost and we’re out there trying to make it work.
Mike Wendland: Tell everybody how they can follow the Adlers. Give us your blog and your YouTube channel, and we’ll put a link in the show notes for it as well, but help people find you guys. Where do they find you?
Ari Adler: We are known online as the Trekers, T-R-E-K-E-R-S, so it’s just one K, sort of like with our road trek. So we are at trekers.org for our blog. And then on YouTube we’re just Trekers and Instagram we’re Trekersorg, all one word because someone had already stolen Trekers, even though they’re not actually using the account. But yeah, basically Trekers with one K is how you can find us on all of the social channels.
Mike Wendland: Well we’ll put links in the show notes for people as they’re listening to this, they’re driving down the road and they might not be able to write it down, but they can go to our RV lifestyle blog and they can find it. We’ll link to it.
Ari Adler: Yeah. Be safe, right. Safety first. But if they-
Mike Wendland: I always say, here it is, write this down. But wait a minute, people are driving and this is not a good idea unless you’ve got somebody in a passenger seat that can write it down.
Jessi Adler: Make your passenger write it down.
Mike Wendland: That’s right.
Ari Adler: Yeah, have the passenger do it. But yeah, if they go to the website, trekers.org, that’s got links to all of our other outlets that we’re on out there and we’re just trying to spread the word as best we can.
Jessi Adler: We’ve got a map up there of every place that we’ve visited so you can follow along. Our YouTube channel is a few weeks behind or so where we’ve actually been, so we’re trying to… the more we visit, the more we have to produce and get them out there. So that’s also… that’s been a challenge as well, fitting in the production time, let alone the actual visiting time, as you well know how much the production time takes.
Mike Wendland: Yeah. Tell me about it. Yes.
All right, last question. Give a challenge to those who are listening to this and they’re saying, “You know, we’d like to have some kind of a noble goal.” If it’s not state parks, encourage people how to start a bucket list and then how to start doing it.
Jessi Adler: My suggestion is pick something that you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s visiting lighthouses or waterfalls or every craft brewery in your state. Pick something that you already enjoy doing and then go hit all of them.
Mike Wendland: Perfect.
Ari Adler: Yeah, that’s a great one because if you have that interest, then you’re going to… that will keep it interesting for you. We like nature, so we’re out there seeing state parks, but we’re both history buffs and being able to be in the state parks and find out the history of some of these places has been fantastic. So it’s exciting for us and we’re always kind of looking forward to the next park to see what else we’re going to find out.
Mike Wendland: Well, we look forward to seeing you guys out there on the road and we look forward to hearing other people who’ve been inspired by what you’re doing and people who start their own bucket list. Ari and Jessi Adler, The Trekers. Thank you guys so much for being a guest on the podcast.
Jessi Adler: Thanks Mike.
Ari Adler: Thanks Mike.
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 Patti Burkett
The first time we pulled into the Blue Heron Visitor Center the place was buzzing. Food tents were up, children were chasing big metal and wooden hoops down the road, women were walking around in dresses from the early 1900s, and a bluegrass band was picking away to accompany it all. It turned out that this was Haunting In The Hills, an annual event celebrating the mining culture of the eastern coal belt, especially here in southern Kentucky.
Cut into the coal seams from a valley where Kentucky and Tennessee come together, Mine 18 was home to hundreds of families during its heyday. It operated until 1962. Everyone moved away when the mine shut down, and the town just disappeared into the woods. A dozen years later the Park Service purchased it and began work to make it a living history museum. Today, with autumn’s foliage marching down the steep mountainsides, it’s a town again, running along the narrow valley beside the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.
Many of the mine buildings have been reconstructed on their original sites, but as skeletons. A roof and floor and open walls enclose displays that chronicle life in a miner’s home, the company store, the washhouse, the office, the train station, and the church. In each location are artifacts and first-person recordings from Blue Heron residents about life in the camp. The coal tipple, used to load the trains that ran through almost constantly, dominates the community, and you can climb to the upper floors for great views and more interpretive exhibits.
The visitor center hosts several events each year, all focused on life in these remote valleys. They often feature live music and storytelling. The Big South Fork Scenic Railway runs into the town, and you can take a ride either one way or round trip to the nearby town of Stearns. Mine history isn’t the only thing to see here. The park contains one of the largest concentrations of natural rock arches in the eastern USA. One of our favorites is the Twin Arches, at the bottom of another valley. Near an abandoned homestead and a creek, you find the Charit Creek Lodge and, if you’re lucky, some lunch to break up the hike.
The park itself, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, abuts interstate 75 at the Kentucky-Tennessee border, and includes several modern campgrounds. It’s also a favorite of equestrians, with several horse camping areas, an extensive network of trails, and stables. If you like, you can rent a horse for an hour or two or even a whole day and travel the area as the early settlers did. There’s great river access, too, if you like to have a paddle or a float. Maybe you’ll find us there, in some little eddy, just out of the beaten current.
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.
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