The RV Lifestyle is wonderful, no doubt about it. So wonderful that seemingly wherever you turn these days, people are saying to really experience it you should be a fulltimer. That may be great for many… but it is not so great for many more. This week, we talk about what they DON’T tell you about fulltiming.

Coming up in the interview of the week, you’ll meet our friends Marc and Julie Bennett, known as RV Love… and we’ll have a candid conversation about just why the fulltime RV life is NOT for everyone.

Show Notes for Episode #253 July 31, 2019 of The RV Podcast;

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK

This has been a special week for us as we’ve just released the fifth in our series of Seven Day Adventure Guides for RVers.

This one is our Seven Day Adventure Guide to the Adirondacks, and it is 96 pages long and jammed packed with places to go and things to see in this amazing park. The Adirondacks is a truly special place. It is greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined. Created by New York in 1892, it is a constitutionally protected “Forever Wild” area and contains 85% of all wilderness in the eastern United States.We provide a suggested route and itinerary, links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, and the best spots to see along the way. You can get more info on it at https://rvlifestyle.com/adk

It’s been a busy week of RV mods and adding some accessories and gadgets. We’re headed to Holland MI to even do some more at an RV dealer there.

After Holland we’re headed to Lake Erie and Lakeside Chatauqua, an awesome resort and summer gathering place. Then we’re heading to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, south of Cleveland.

We also want to give a shoutout to our reviewer of the week…Elf1 who left us this wonderful five-star review on iTunes:

“Love this podcast. Mike and Jennifer provide a lot of entertainment and information. Don’t know how I missed finding this podcast earlier. Very useful information no matter what type of RV you have or like me are thinking of buying. Thanks so much for taking the time to produce such a fine podcast.”

Thank you, Elf1. We so appreciate those kind words and your review. And we invite you dear listener, to do the same. Please leave us a review and a rating on iTunes or Sticker or whatever app you listen to us on. We so appreciate the feedback and we read every one! 

RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK

JENNIFER
National Park Rangers spend most of their time managing traffic, making speeding stops, story says 
Another interesting story on America’s National Parks came out in USA Today last week, this one showing park rangers spend more time managing traffic and specifically making speeding stops than any other activity. The reason they do this is speeding kills wildlife, and many tourists in the national parks speed, putting wildlife at risk. Also car crashes are one of the leading causes of human death in the parks. So if you try to speed this summer in a national park, don’t be surprised if you get a ticket! 
MIKE
High water levels leading to increase in drownings this summer in Lake Michigan
In the past week-plus I’ve seen news stories of at least five drownings in Lake Michigan, often visitors to state parks, enjoying time outdoors with their families, when a dip in the water turns tragic. This weekend there was a story of a man who drowned near Michigan’s Holland State Park, another in Indiana Dunes State Park, another at Michigan’s Ludington State Park, and a man and a 14 year old girl also drowned near Ludington State park in separate incidents a week before that. I don’t know if I can recall hearing about so many drownings in such a short period of time. Water levels are reported to be high, creating hazardous conditions. Lake Michigan touts some of the country’s most gorgeous fresh water beaches. If you are out camping this summer along Lake Michigan, please be sure to check water conditions before wading in.
JENNIFER
Soft-sided camping prohibited at Blackfeet Indian Reservation outside Glacier National Park because of bear activity 
If you’re heading to Montana, and planning to stay at the Blackfeet Indian Reservation Chewing Blackbones campground while visiting Glacier National Park, be sure to leave that tent or canvas sided camper home. Because of bear activity there, soft sided camping is prohibited until further notice. Mike and I camped at this spot twice while at gatherings. It is an amazing campground and just last year we were there when we visited Glacier and saw bear – and moose. It was one of those moments we’ll never forget. To see our video click here
MIKE
Another National Park bison incident – second in week
There’s been another bison attack at a US national park, according to officials.The latest incident involved a 17-year-old boy from Colorado who was walking along a trail in North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park on Saturday. A witness said that the visitor was walking along the trail; a herd of bison was nearby and two bull bison had been fighting moments prior and were on either side of the trail. When the teen walked between them one bull charged from behind, striking him in the back and goring the back of the right thigh, tossing him about six feet into the air. The teenager, who was not identified by officials, spoke to NBC News about the attack — which unfolded while he was preparing to go backpacking with a friend.   NBC News got  ahold of the teen in a hospital.Wildlife experts say you should stay AT LEAST 75 feet away from bison as they are wild animals and thus unpredictable. Bison can reach up to 2,000 pounds and run 30 miles per hour.
JENNIFER.
Illegal campfire believed the cause of a raging wildfire in southwestern Oregon 
An illegal campfire is blamed for starting a wildfire in southwest Oregon. The fire, which likely started on remote wilderness owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, is in a difficult location for firefighters to reach. By Sunday the fire had spread to 9,000 acres and communities were being encouraging to evacuate as about 900 firefighters battled the blaze.

 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 QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

Q: We have been half time RVing for the last 20 yrs.  we have owned class a during that time.   We have on order a Leisure Travel van unity twin bed and supposed to get it in November.  All is good except one question.   I’ve sat in two 2019 MB and can’t recline the front seats.   Any suggestions. Roy, via email

             A: They don’t recline. They swivel.

Q: As usual, you posted another great video (our Nashville trip). And what a beautiful family ! I have a question: Is there parking available for RV in Downtown Nashville and Opryland ? I travel without a tow, and parking availability is an intimidating factor when visiting “urban” areas. Are there any apps that help with that issue that you know of ?  Felix, via our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel
           A: We share our tips for urban parking and visiting place

Q: I am a caterer based out of Colorado with plans of becoming a full-time nomad. I have a 6 foot rotisserie grill that will accommodate a 100 pound pig or 40 chickens at one time. I have a decision to make before I hit the road. Do I sell this beautiful grill or do I take it on the road with me in hopes that it will help me earn a living selling rotisserie chicken dinners to fellow campers? What are your thoughts? Katherine, via our RV Lifestyle Group on Facebook
        A; Need permission from campgrounds, licenses for food prep, sales, etc.

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

Marc and Julie Bennett – RV Love

Marc and Julie Bennett are fulltime RVers known to their tens of thousands of fans as RV Love. They have a blog, a YouTube Channel and they’ve written an awesome book on fulltime RV travel, Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road. They have traveled to all 50 USA states over the past 4 years, sharing their journey and learnings along the way.

And one of the things I like the best about Mark and Julie and their various RV Love platforms, is they tell it as it really is, sharing the good and the bad and always being up front about just what the fulltime RV Life is…. And isn’t.

This is Marc and Julie’s Living the RV Life book

They are our special guests this week in the podcast in an episode we’re calling…. What you really need to know about RV fulltiming!

Here’s a transcript of the interview:

Mike Wendland:           Well I’m really excited that Marc and Julie can join us right now. They are in Maine as we speak, enjoying the summertime. Hi guys. Welcome to the program.

Julie Bennett:                Hi.

Marc Bennett:              Hi Mike. Thanks for having us on.

Mike Wendland:           Oh, I am honored to be on as followers of you guys. I’ve long been watching your adventures, and I’m a big fan of Living the RV Life, the ultimate guide to life on the road. We will put links to your book and your website and YouTube and all that stuff in our show notes.

Mike Wendland:           But let’s get right to this topic that we want to talk about. You know everybody is a would-be RVer full-timer now it seems like, and we keep hearing all… And it is… It’s a wonderful lifestyle, but there’s a lot about the lifestyle that they don’t tell you, and I thought we could start with that.

Mike Wendland:           You guys were kind of a reality check. It is an emotional journey as well as a physical journey. Let’s talk about that. What don’t they tell you that Marc and Julie Bennett, RV Love, would tell folks?

Julie Bennett:                Well, it’s funny Mike, like you say, when people are going to hit the road they’re excited about the RV that they’re buying and the places they’re going to go, and talk about that and their plans and their itinerary.

Julie Bennett:                When we were ready to hit the road they’re going, “Well where are you going first?” I remember our first thought was my gosh, we’re about to completely turn our life upside down and change everything as we know it, and that was the bigger consideration for us then–

Marc Bennett:              Then where we’re going.

Julie Bennett:                Then where we’re going. Obviously that was important and exciting and fun and we were excited about it, but I think we were pretty overwhelmed with the amount of things that we had to do to even make the lifestyle a reality, practical things you know.

Julie Bennett:                So with that comes a lot of emotions and reactions, and I think one of the things that people don’t talk about is… You don’t know that you’re going to have those reactions, because you can’t predict emotions, right?

Julie Bennett:                I think a lot of people that have done any RV’ing or even researching have a good safe bet. Well, you’re probably going to break down and have to fix things. You know that. You know you’ll have to take it in for repair and those kinds of things. But people don’t talk about… Give yourself some time to adjust emotionally into how you are going to deal with living your significant other in 300 square foot of space when you’re used to 3000 square foot of space. Lots and lots of things.

Mike Wendland:           It would–

Marc Bennett:              I think that’s compounded too by… Mike, like… Because a lot of people that get into this lifestyle are doing it at a time when they’re retiring from their careers and so they’re actually doing multiple major changes in their life at the same time.

Marc Bennett:              The couple may be used to spending significant time apart while one’s at work or one’s out doing other activities, and so not only are they in a smaller space, they’re actually drastically increasing the amount of time together and they’re trying to adjust to multiple transitions at the same time.

Mike Wendland:           It is, and they say that for every change like that it takes a physical and emotional toll. It’s almost like a death in terms of impact when you make these kind of changes of losing a job. Even though you’ve worked to retire for a long time… People say “oh I can’t wait”. It’s a big adjustment. Or even if you’re going to be working from the road, it’s so different working from the road.

Mike Wendland:           Give some folks some of the things that they can expect to have to work through once they get out there. Besides the breakdowns as we said, besides getting along and not grating on each other’s nerves. What are some of the other things that we don’t necessarily hear about when we think about going full time?

Marc Bennett:              You just mentioned working from the road and that was something that was big for Julie and I. I was taking my regular job that I was able to do from home out on the road with me and so one of the top priorities for me was being connected to the internet because I needed to be reliable because I wanted to be very seamless to my employer when I was out on the road. That dictates a lot of how you travel because some people think “oh, well this campground has WiFi”… We just never depend on campground WiFi. One, because it’s a public system that doesn’t have the privacy or security, but also because it’s usually not very fast. We want much faster and more reliable connectivity when it’s for my work.

Julie Bennett:                I think to add to that, is the strength of the internet. Because when we’re at home or working in a regular office, we just take it for granted these days that the internet works and it’s fast and it does what it’s supposed to do. Anyone that spends any amount of time in an RV knows that it can vary as you travel, depending on what provider you have, the speeds… Even last week up here with the Fourth of July weekend, while the internet was good there were so many people overloading the tower because this is a popular vacation destination, that our internet pretty much went to a snail’s pace and we… it just really changed our plans, we had to do things that weren’t related to online.

Julie Bennett:                I think we’re so used to being connected these days, with social media and our friends and our family and our work, that when that gets interrupted… And that doesn’t usually happen at home when you have a landline. We’re all so addicted to our technology these days, aren’t we? Living without it can be stressful.

Mike Wendland:           We get a lot of people that ask us “are you full timers” and we’re not, we’re probably three-quarters timers, but one of the big reasons we keep coming back to our sticks and bricks house is just because of that. Because I have real reliable internet here, and when I’m doing these YouTube videos, as you guys know, they take up a tremendous amount of bandwidth and when you have to share it… Even on a cellular connection, which is what I often use when we’re on the road, the towers are overloaded, there’s so much traffic that it takes me forever to upload the videos. So I come home and I edit a few of them and send them up and get them in a queue.

Mike Wendland:           In chapter five of your book, I was just looking through your book before we talked, you give some really great tips to people about the emptiness that you feel suddenly ungrounding yourself from your home and being away from family and away from friends. So many people think they have to make a clean break of it because they think gotta look to the fore… Would you give some tips about that? This is some stuff that folks need to take into consideration even before they set off, about the importance of family and friends back home, wherever home may be.

Julie Bennett:                Yeah and that, Mike, is a really important consideration for everybody… For the people that are heading out on the road of course, because you’re leaving behind your family, your friends, your network, your community, but also think about the people that you love that you’re leaving.

Julie Bennett:                We’ve spoken to a lot of other RV’ers that have said “for the people that are left behind, when we make the choice to leave it’s almost like we’re abandoning them or we’re divorcing them in a way.” And that’s not the case, we’re going off to explore and live our lives the way we want, but it doesn’t always feel like that to the people that are left behind. That can really strain some relationships.

Julie Bennett:                Some of the tips that we like to share with people.. To give you, as the RV’ers a chance to ease into the life and not, as you say, just take off and make that clean break. Maybe for the first few weeks or month or even the first few months, plan to stay local. Find a local RV park or campground where you can situate yourself, on a monthly rate is more affordable, and just ease into your RV life while you’re still close to home and your loved ones. Invite them over to see your new life. It’s not such a shock for everybody and it just gives everyone a chance to settle in.

Marc Bennett:              Letting them see your new home also helps them more quickly visualize you when you’re out on the road so that they feel more connected to you when you’re out there. I actually did increase my efforts to stay connected by.. I increased the phone calls.

Marc Bennett:              Here’s something interesting that I have found, is that even when I lived locally I still found it hard to find time to connect with family. I had time in my schedule, but they often didn’t with their families, their kids, and what not. What’s interesting for me now is that when we come back to the area, whether we’re driving the RV or sometimes if the weather doesn’t permit we fly into the area, but when we come back people make a much higher priority on connecting with us and so we actually have probably more quality time with friends and family than we used to even when we lived in the local area.

Mike Wendland:           You know, what–

Julie Bennett:                I think yes, sorry–

Mike Wendland:           One of the things that you guys say in the book, and I really like this, is you say “don’t overshare”. I remember back when I was a journalist and I traveled for work as a journalist, I would often call home and I would get Jennifer and I would say “this is the greatest place, we just had the best meal, you wouldn’t believe the sunset, the water’s gorgeous” and it would get icy on the end of the phone.

Mike Wendland:           I realized that… I learned real quick not to do that anymore, but the same thing applies to RV’ers because we’re out, we’re all excited about what we’re seeing. You write, and I think really wise wisdom, that you may not.. it may be a challenge to hold back a little bit and not let everybody know that you’re having such a wonderful time because it makes them feel, “well how come I’m not having such a wonderful time?” Talk about that.

Julie Bennett:                Right. One of the tips we share on that is most of us use social media, Facebook for example is really one of the most common ones, and we’re used to sharing so much of our personal lives on Facebook, but when you hit the road… And I used to share a lot on my personal Facebook and I don’t do it very much at all anymore because I realized “well, I’m just going to be sharing cool pictures and places and people are going to think I’m boasting or showing off” and that was certainly not what I was doing, but that’s how other people may feel… Like, “hey, look at my life” and they’re at their desk or their job or in their commute or dealing with other things that they might not be as excited about.

Julie Bennett:                We suggest starting up a separate Facebook page. Or a blog, but we say a Facebook page because it’s less work than a blog. Because you know, Mike, how much work it is. You don’t want to unnecessarily make your sharing feel like a job if you want to just get out of [crosstalk 00:10:43] joy. Facebook makes it easy to do that and it can be a separate page, or even a closed group if you want it to be private, because that way you can just share your travels there and those that want to can opt in and follow that page so you’re not… So you don’t have to feel like you’re holding back on your sharing, but then the people in your life can opt in and see if they’re really genuinely interested, and then those who aren’t don’t feel like you’re rubbing–

Marc Bennett:              Right, so that’s why when you’re on a phone call with, and you can just be that much more conservative in your approaches. Because I’ve definitely had that in our family, that I didn’t want them to feel like I was showing off. I make sure to ask them a lot of questions about what’s going on in their life, and let them ask me if they’re interested in hearing about those updates.

Mike Wendland:           That’s a great tip, to ask about them and then answer about you. Another thing that I think gets overlooked a lot when people think about the full time RV life, and that is.. This is a touchy one too, how do I say this… It’s not a perpetual vacation. You know in terms of health, too much alcohol consumption, a 24/7 party mode, so many people that I have watched go into heavy duty RV’ing, full time or very close to it… At the minimum they’ve gained a lot of weight. Talk about how to organize your life, and certainly have a good time but realize that you can’t vacation and you can’t party 24 hours.

Marc Bennett:              For me, I’m being the lever and I guess it’s all about balance for me. I love to be able to balance the good and the bad–

Julie Bennett:                The life and the work–

Marc Bennett:              The indulgence and the conservatism I guess, but I think that that’s a really great point and I see a lot of people that do that. It’s also a travel pace, people get out there and do too much too soon, they think it’s a vacation. I think for us, with us working full-time, that I guess helps us a little bit in staying more grounded because we can’t be in a permanent vacation mode.

Julie Bennett:                I definitely noticed that because we’re always in new places and we like to go out to dinner, and that’s one of the things we enjoy doing… We’re trying new places, trying new restaurants, trying new foods and cuisines of the particular area, and so we were eating out a lot more. We were spending more eating out as well, and I definitely noticed, I’m small, like when we meet in person you’ll see I’m less than five feet tall, so I really can’t carry weight very well. So just a couple of glasses of wine here and there, a happy hour in the campground…

Julie Bennett:                And that happens a lot too, we noticed. Happy hour will kick off at four, you’re sitting around having cheese and wine and crackers and salami and all sorts of yumminess and then you realize you haven’t had dinner and then you’ve just been eating snacks. I noticed that a lot actually.

Marc Bennett:              I think part of the temptation too, Mike, is that a lot of the people around you are on vacation, so even though we’re doing this full time, this is our home, this is where we live, a lot of the people that are near us in the campground or around us, they really are on vacation. That creates that party atmosphere, I guess, that encourages it. It is definitely, take a little bit more discipline in this lifestyle.

Mike Wendland:           It does.

Julie Bennett:                I think one of the great things about the RV life is that we are almost always in good weather, so for example in the winter we love that we get to spend winters in Florida and and Arizone and Texas and we’re warm and we’re not hunkered down inside in Colorado when it’s cold outside like we used to be. We get to be outside and.. More opportunities to be outdoorsy and be active and get out for walks whereas we wouldn’t normally do that. But again, as much as it’s the discipline of doing it… I think just finding a… There’s all kinds of diets and fads and plans and things out there, and everyone’s… It’s like finding the RV that’s right for you, it’s all such an individual, no one size fits all solution in finding what works for you.

Julie Bennett:                So one thing that I found that works really well for me, because I liked eating out and socializing on weekends, there’s a… I don’t want to get too much in detail on this, but there’s a program that I found that works for me. I think it’s called the five-two, where five days a week you eat normally, and then two days you don’t eat much at all and so your calories are way lower. I would do that on a Monday and a Thursday, and it was really easy to stick to, and then I didn’t have to… I hate calorie counting, to me that’s not fun. We could go out on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, whatever and that just worked for me. It didn’t feel like I was on a diet but I was just balancing out that consumption and again, everyone’s different, your body’s different, and what you resonate with. It takes a bit of experimenting but you can find walking partners around camp grounds.

Mike Wendland:           Let me ask you one last question here before we run out of time on this segment. You also, in your book, interview a lot of other full-time RV’ers and some of them are no longer full time RV’ers. What have you found to be the main reason it does not work out for many people?

Julie Bennett:                Some actually made a conscious choice that it wasn’t going to be long term. I’m thinking of a couple of examples that spring to mind, is a family who lived in DC and their lives had gotten off track and they became disconnected as a family and they weren’t happy where they were living. They sold everything and just started to hit the road in an RV for a year to re-connect as a family and to travel the country and explore where we’re going to out down roots again. So that was very intentional, it was full time but it was a limited period full time. They didn’t know what the period was, it was a year… I think it ended up being a year and a half and they ended up settling in Colorado.

Julie Bennett:                And another couple in Chapter Nine, one of them was really having some health concerns and she was 60 and not at retirement age, but her job was killing her and she was miserable and they were really concerned that if she kept at that pace that she wasn’t going to make retirement. They made a choice to rent their house out in Oregon, they bought an RV, hit the road, did an adventure for about 15 months and then really were able to heal and recharge the batteries, get her health back, and then came back, got another job. Now she’s got a whole other career, and they’re aiming to RV again in retirement but they’re really enjoying being in their home and they’ve got their health back. Just hitting that reset button for them was really healthy because if they just kept going trying to wait until they got to retirement age, Kate may never have made it.

Marc Bennett:              I think to your point though, asking what sets people back, I think some people that don’t succeed in the lifestyle are those that maybe didn’t do enough research ahead of time and made some decisions that–

Julie Bennett:                Were not sustainable–

Marc Bennett:              Were not sustainable. Whether it be financial or just lifestyle, or just as Julie mentioned the health things. It can go the other way, sometimes a health concern pulls people back off the road. There’s support to be able to be on the road, but that is a common one that pulls people back out.

Mike Wendland:           I think the thing that we want to leave people with is the understanding that it does not have to be a permanent to be full time. It can be a sabbatical, it can be a change in location, and the worst thing that can happen is that you decide that it doesn’t work out for you but you’ve had some great adventures along the way.

Julie Bennett:                Absolutely.

Marc Bennett:              That’s a great… That is, that’s the worst thing. People say “well, what if, what if you don’t like this” and I say “if it’s worse than not doing it at all, I’ll never know unless I do it.” And then like you said, I’ll have all those amazing times and experiences to share and to do it while you have your health is the time to do it. It just [inaudible 00:18:55] to no one.

Mike Wendland:           And we should also encourage people to.. If you decide not to do it, you can sell that RV. It’s not the end of the world. You will be richer because of the experience.

Mike Wendland:           There’s a lot to learn about full time life on the road and again we will recommend Living the RV Life. You guys have updated this book, have you? This is a pretty powerful book.

Julie Bennett:                This was published in November and it’s about to go into its third printing.

Mike Wendland:           That’s what I meant, the third printing. Some of the favorite YouTubers are on there, our friends Nathan and Marissa, the Less Junk more Journey people are in there, and lots of folks are on there that I think are… The Mortons are there in your book, and of course..

Julie Bennett:                Mark and Maddie are.

Mike Wendland:           Mark and Julie’s story itself is throughout it so.

Mike Wendland:           Hey, I am delighted to have you guys on and I’ll continue to follow you and I look forward to seeing you out on the road when we can actually sit around and we’ll do it on one of those two days, not the five days, and we’ll have a glass of wine around the campfire.

Julie Bennett:                That sounds great.

Mike Wendland:           I continue to bless you guys and I really appreciate having you on the program. Thank you so much.

Marc Bennett:              Thank you.

Julie Bennett:                We appreciate you having us. 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 continental U.S.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT   

Patti and Tom Burkett

By Tom and Patti Burkett
Occasionally we report from one of the most popular and highly-visited parks in the country.  That might seem strange for a series that focuses on off the beaten path experiences, but it’s simply the case that many of our crown jewel parks have things in them that most visitors never see.  Would it surprise you to know that Yellowstone National Park, with more than four million visitors last year, is home to the most remote spot in the contiguous United States.  The only place you can get more than twenty miles from a road in the lower 48 is in Wyoming, in the southwestern corner of Yellowstone.  If you’re intrepid enough to brave a healthy population of grizzly bears and mountain lions, you can backpack to it in about a week.

I don’t suspect we’ll ever take that challenge, but there are many more accessible sites.  We’ll bet even if you’ve been to Yellowstone you haven’t heard of Black Pool, the Lone Star Geyser, Fairy Falls, or Uncle Tom’s Trail.  These are striking (and sometimes deserted) alternatives to the crowded boardwalks on the Grand Loop.  Even there, though, among the crowds, are things easily missed.  Just north of the turnoff for the Norris Geyser Basin and Old Faithful is the Museum of the National Park Ranger.  Housed in the rebuilt Norris Soldier Station, this little gem tells the history of rangering and, to a lesser extent, the park system itself.

It’s fitting that the museum is here, as this is the first of our national parks, and here is where Harry Yount began his work as gamekeeper of the park in 1880 and became the father of the ranger service.  Years later, Steven Mather, the second US Parks superintendent said of them “They are a fine, earnest, intelligent, and public-spirited body of men, these rangers. Though small in number, their influence is large. Many and long are the duties heaped upon their shoulders. If a trail is to be blazed, it is “send a ranger.” If an animal is floundering in the snow, a ranger is sent to pull him out; if a bear is in the hotel, if a fire threatens a forest, if someone is to be saved, it is “send a ranger.” If a Dude wants to know the why, if a Sagebrusher is puzzled about a road, it is “ask the ranger.” Everything the ranger knows, he will tell you, except about himself.”

Himself was the operative word until Cal Peck, a ranger at Yellowstone, met a tourist with whom he fell in love.  They were married and, in 1922, moved to the Grand Canyon, where she was the ranger for the North Rim.  Claire Hodges was hired at Yosemite Park in 1918.  We’re proud of our park ranger daughter, Maggie, currently working in the Missouri Ozarks.  Uniforms for female rangers were another thing altogether.  The earliest ones were modeled after military dress, but in the 1970s, the park service looked to airline hostesses for inspiration.  You can see examples and photos of many of these at the museum. 

One of the best things about visiting here is that the docents who staff it are all retired park rangers from across the USA.  On our last visit we had a chance to talk with a man who spent more than 20 years at the National Mall.  He had some great stories to tell, including one about a man who wanted to take his pet ocelot up the elevator in the Washington Monument.  “Well,” he said, “if I can’t take him up will you at least watch him while I go up and have a look?”  Only in America.  So if you’re in Yellowstone this summer and want to get a break from the crowds, it’s available, just a few hundred yards 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.