Jim Hammill: The Cowboy Way and RVs

jimteamAs I write this, the trickling Sunday morning sun is coming up over the horizon, in the beautiful province of Saskatchewan.  We are just outside of Saskatoon, a booming town here is the middle of Canada's huge west.  We are getting up, sliding out for a quick churching, and then back to the grind.   It rained hard yesterday, but today looks like the dream day for our purposes.

It is time for the Saskatoon Rodeo, where Roadtreks are seen by thousands of rodeo fans, and the people are really excited to see the new products that Roadtrek brings to market.  These folks are starved for great products in this town.

My week in the world of RV manufacturing has ranged from two days in historic Washington, D.C. at the Mayflower Renaissance hotel, for a series of Recreational Vehicle Industry Association meetings, to being out here in rural Saskatchewan, working a rodeo show with Roadtrek staff, among the fantastic folks of Canada's west.  I have worn out a couple of  airplane seats  this week.   Quite  the contrast in things to do, but such is the life in this business.   Its great, really.

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Cheryl, Barry, and Roadtrek's Jim Bottomley and Billy Cochrane

chuckwagonOur Roadtrek chuckwagon team is racing this weekend, with driver Barry Hodgson racing hard for all of us Roadtrekkers, for glory and for pure sporting fun. This is the NASCAR of the rodeo world, with the drivers hitching and racing four huge beautiful thoroughbreds and two outrider horses for time, in nine heats per night. Thirty-six teams race. If this event is not on your bucket list, you are really missing out. Old time rodeo cowboying, mixed with modern safety and care standards for horses, produces one of the most exciting events on earth.

jimhorsesa

Some of the horses on the Roadtrek Chuckwagon Team resting before their next race

These are cowboys, pure and simple, who love their horses, and love to race. The horses are rescued from meat markets, and saved by healing, and outstanding care by drivers like Barry and his partner Cheryl, who really is the brains (and does the real work), of course. Most horses have long fantastic careers in wagon racing, and they love to run. When we get a horse, it gets plenty of time to heal its racetrack battle scars. It is fed oats and boiled beet mash, and gains a couple hundred lbs, while it lives in the pasture, sometimes for a couple years. And of course, he was going to the canners, so this is a fantastic life. Running, these horses love to run. They were born to it.   I love to see them so excited to run, when they are picked to be harnessed.

Thousands of Rvers follow the races from rodeo to rodeo, all boondocking at each location, as there are no formal campgrounds. They are purely self sufficient. Everybody boondocks. Thousands and thousands of RVs of every type. These rodeos make FMCA shows and Good Sam rallies look tiny.

Roadtreks are truly the modern chuckwagon, allowing owners to travel to where they need to go, under maximum horsepower, with the ability to cook, live and explore the west.

Here in Saskatoon, yesterday afternoon, I had a meeting with Betty and Mike, who are downsizing into a Roadtrek after 36 years of pulling a large fifth wheel. Mike is a retiring CPA, who has the numbers worked out on how much Roadtreking really costs. He showed me the bottom line costs comparing the Roadtrek to hauling his fifth wheel, including the cost of his Ford one ton truck to pull it, and the seven mph he gets when pulling it.

He did his numbers, which included his $72,000 one-ton truck bill and the large costs of maintenance, and then his $68,000  fifth wheel, and then the cost of fuel and maintenance. He was staggered to show me that his current RVing cost was $40,000 per year, when he counted depreciation on the truck, and the RV and fuel costs.

Betty wanted to understand the engine generator, and the solar package offered on Roadtreks. So I decided showing her was better. Mike, of course takes second place to his lovely wife, on anything technical. He says, “I do the cooking and she does the RVing.” Betty could not believe how much more functionality the unit has, compared to any other RV (even luxury fith wheels) they previously owned.  She was skeptical, and now she is blown away.  She got to use the product, and now she is a believer.

Mike is saving $30,000 per year on his Roadtrek CS purchase and use. He is sure: $30,000 a year, less cost of running the RV, compared with his huge fifth wheel.   He has a big cost list he showed me.  Not to mention the stress levels they are saving. They are so excited to have the ease of use in the CS. And MORE freedom than they used to have.

Downsizing is going to pay off for these folks, as they spend four months a year following the rodeo circuit. And now, they are going to head south, and west, and east, and north, and they will have nobody telling them where they can go. No truck.    No Limits, No fences.  No cords.

Folks like Betty and Mike are another reason I do this.

They are the quintessential modern couple.  And they live the cowboy way.   It was truly a pleasure to spend time with them in this western environment, where the western way of life is normal.  Everybody else is, well………easterners like me.

As promised, I am working this week on another story of a great Roadtrekker, and you will see it shortly.

Keep on trekking……..





  • Lisa

    Great article, Jim!

  • Kristi

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a Rodeo, but these guys are serious! Roadtreks are perfect for rodeo cowboys! They’re also perfect for music festivals! They’re also perfect for family visits, and friend visits, and trips into the city …
    Thanks for the cowboy update, Jim!

  • Stu Kratz

    I never knew anything about this before reading your post, It is well written and very entertaining , thanks for this story I now know more about the real cowboys and wagon racing.

  • shari groendyk

    What a great read. This is something I knew nothing about, following the rodeos, but I love that these horses are rescued from an early demise at the cannery and given the chance to fatten up and have a restful and joyous life in their ‘golden’ years. Kinda what I would want for my golden years, I guess!
    Also it’s cool that a cpa would push the pencil and figure out the bennies of Roadtrekking on paper – that totally then justifies the purchase :).

  • Cheryl Gregorie

    Great blog! Always enjoy learning about new ways people use their RTs. Another place to visit for the bucket list……

  • Laura Robinson

    I LOVE rodeos! Especially bull riding which I followed for years. If you ever need a volunteer…..Canada is famous for them and is definitely high on my list!

  • William ” Bill” Browne

    Jim, is there a schedule of when the Chuck Wagon crew will be an when?

  • Hi folks, the schedule for the World professional Chuckwagon Tour is at http://halfmileofhell.com/schedule.aspx

    Roadtreks Barry Hodgson is racing in every show.

    Laura, generally, Bull Riders call Chuckwagon drivers “nuts”. I think they are both nuts. 😉

  • Campskunk

    i always wondered how much it cost to run one of those big fifth wheelers. just eyeballing it and looking at the cross-sectional area that generates the wind resistance, i figured it was a bunch, and the real numbers in this article are scary. riding the rodeo circuit is major miles – much more than i drive each year, even fulltiming. they’ll save major money, plus a Roadtrek is easier to handle.

  • That is an impressive cost savings! My bucket list just grew with the rodeo circuit. Thanks for another great story, Jim.