Episode 198: Top 5 must-visit RV places you never heard of

A fun and helpful podcast episode is in store for you this week as we look at Five Top Must-Visit RV Places that you have never heard of. As Jennifer and I have traveled the country this summer, we’ve been asking RVers to give us a report on their absolute favorite places. We expected them to be the standard bucketlist destinations, like Alaska, or Yellowstone or the Maritimes.

Instead, they were much more obscure, places not in the major RV guidebooks, places unique and very appealing. You’ll hear them all coming up in a few minutes in our interview of the week segment.

Also this week, lots of RV news you need to know, a very handy clean up tip from Jennifer, the best on the road apps in our traveling technology segment and much more.

Click the player below to Listen Now or scroll down through the show note details. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.

Show Notes for Episode #198 June 27, 2018 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast:

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK [2:31]

Mike and Jennifer at Glacier National Park last week

MIKE

Well here it is the 4th of July Holiday is almost here and June has sped right by!

JENNIFER

It sure has. We just pulled into our driveway for a brief stop at our sticks and bricks home in Michigan after being on the road pretty much the entire month. In all we covered 4,384.7 miles from the time we left the driveway until last night when we pulled back in. We traveled through nine states making our way to Montana and Glacier National Park, where we just finished an awesome Roadtreking gathering attended by more than 130 people from all across North America

MIKE

There’s a post on the roadtreking.com travel blog with a full report and lots of photos from the gathering. And we’ll also have a video on it…. Just as soon as I have time to edit it. We came back with 9 videos in the can ready to be edited. But since each one takes about 20 hours to complete, I have my work cut out for me.

JENNIFER

As we reported last week, we did great going out and keeping to our “330 Rule” of driving no more than 330 miles in a single day, or stopping by 3:30 pm local time so we can still be refreshed and not too tired from the road. That gives us lots of time to explore… and shoot those videos! Coming back…. Well, let’s just say it was hammer time, pedal to the metal all the way, though we did stop by [3:30] one time.

MIKE

Except it was [3:30] AM! That was Sunday night. We stopped on the way back in the Wisconsin Dells and did our regular 9 PM Sunday night You Tube Live report on our RV Lifestyle Channel. But then we made the tactical decision that because we didn’t want to drive through Monday morning traffic in Chicago – which even during no rush hour time is horrific – we would drive through the night and avoid the traffic jams.

JENNIFER

But there was still lots of traffic… even at 1 in the morning. We debated taking the ferry across Lake Michigan. They have ferry service from a couple places in Wisconsin. But we couldn’t justify spending $400 to get us and the RV across. So we drive around, spent what was left of the night in a rest area just inside the Michigan border, and then made our way home.

MIKE

So we’re back in our sticks and bricks house. There’s lots of laundry to do and some house and yard chores but we take off in just a few days for our next Roadtreking gathering, this one to Bryson City, North Carolina on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We’ll be camped on the Natahala River there, a beautiful white water river and we will have calm river float tours, raging rapid runs in a raft for those willing to brave it, zip line rides and, of course, lots of good socializing.

JENNIFER

And we still have openings. We’ll put a link on the shownotes for this episode where you can get details and sign up. But it’s July 9-13 and we’d love to see you there. We have an interview with Yan and Kiki who will be our guides for the event coming up a little later in the podcast.

MIKE

Hey, I am really excited about the response we have had from listeners to this podcast about the extra features we have added because of popular demand. We now have a full and detailed transcript that will accompany our interview of the week AND we also have a video version, too, which we post on our RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube. I have found an awesome service to do the transcriptions of the interview for me and I am now recording the interviews in video as well as audio. You can see all this on the shownotes page for each episode. In the case of this episode, it is at http://roadtreking.com/198.

JENNIFER

I just noticed. Episode 198. We are almost at our 200th episode! Who would have thought we would be able to do this for 200 weeks in a row, never missing a single one. We should have a party! Figure out a way to celebrate! That really is quite an accomplishment. I’m proud of us!

MIKE

Yup. And in that time, besides social media and our blog, we have added a free weekly email newsletter that we send out to 24,000 people each week and our YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel, which has two or three new videos released every week. We did a tally of how many people we reach on all those platforms each week and it is a community of over 550,000 people. Who’d have thought this would take off like that? Allright, enough about us… here is the RV News you need to know about this week:

JENNIFER

Search and rescues up in national parks, costing millions

As record numbers of people visit the national parks, apparently the number needing to be rescued is also climbing. Nearly 3,000 people needed to be rescued last year from national parks, with search and rescues costing the park system more than $3 million in 2017 alone. About 10 percent of the search and rescues were at the Grand Canyon and 8 percent at Yosemite. Utah saw a jump of 68 percent between 2014 and 2017, but the problem exists throughout the country. The story got me thinking of a podcast interview we did a year ago with a hiking safety expert.  For a link to it go here – it is full of valuable tips on how to stay safe on the trails. To read some of the national stories, click here or here.

MIKE

Colorado launches pilot reservation program at 6 campgrounds

If you're looking to stay at a Colorado State Campground this summer better check to see if it is a reservation only campground first. Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced last week that it is launching a pilot program at six campgrounds July 1 that requires reservations to stay. Reservations, however, will no longer need to be made 3 days in advance. But, if you try to stay without a reservation you could be fined $50. To read more, click here.

JENNIFER

Grandmother, granddaughter die when tree falls on camper

Ohio police reported a grandmother and 2-year-old granddaughter died in a tragic accident last week after a tree fell on their camper while they were sleeping. Apparently a grandfather and grandmother had taken their grandchildren – twin 2-year-olds – camping outside Cincinnati when, in the middle of the night, a 70-90 foot tree fell on them. The family was stuck in the camper until rescuers arrived. The grandfather and other twin survived. To read more click here.

MIKE

Vermont State Parks offers free camping raffle to newbies

First it was New York state, now it is Vermont, as Vermont State Parks announced last week its new program to provide free camping to families who have never camped. Those interested must enter their names in a drawing, and the winners will get use of a free campsite, firewood, tent, camp stove, lantern and sleeping pads. Guides will be available to help the chosen families all weekend with the goal of spreading the love of camping. To read more click here.

JENNIFER

Report examines impact of critical RV technician shortage 

Our friends at the RV Daily News published a special report on the RV technician shortage. We've been talking about that a lot for the past year as it's become a major issue for the industry. With about 8.9 million households RV owners, and only about 13,520 RV repair technicians to service them, the report noted there is about one technician for every 658 RVs. To read their special report, and learn more about this important, click here.

This portion of the Podcast is brought to you by Campers Inn, the RVer’s trusted resource for over 50 years, the nation’s largest family-operated RV dealership with 19 locations and growing

 JENNIFER'S TIP OF THE WEEK [18:40]

We have been on the road now for the past several weeks and one thing that is starting to get a little dirty is my kitchen screen. Mostly there are seeds, those fuzzy kinds, that seemed to be everywhere in certain parts of the country, but also some small bugs.

Taking out the screens to clean them is too much when I'm traveling and having fun, but still I do not like to look out the dirty screens.

So, that is why I was so excited to read a tip listener Connie emailed to me this week. Connie's solution for dirty screens? A lint roller – one of those round giant tape rolls on a stick that can be rolled over clothes to get lint off.

Connie's email was short and sweet. She wrote:  “Dear Mike and Jennifer, thank you so much for all you do. We enjoy your webpage and podcast very much. I have a tip for Jennifer. If your screens get dirty when you are out on a trip, try using a lint roller. They also come in handy getting dog hair off the cushions. Hope that helps someone. Connie from KY”

Well thank you, Connie, for taking the time to send me an email to share this tip with other RVers. That is what this section of the podcast is all about – sharing little things we pick up to make the RV lifestyle all that much more enjoyable.

I usually have a lint roller already with me to help control Bo's hair, but i had never thought of using one on the screens. I tried it, after reading Connie's tip, and it worked great! Thank you again.

Lint rollers can be purchased just about anywhere for as little as about $2-3. Here’s a link to a roller and a bunch of refills on Amazon – https://amzn.to/2KiDim7

And be sure to send me your tips and suggestions for the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Roadtreking.com. Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.

I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week 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  To see our Rad Power Bikes in action, just click here.

LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK [23:19]

Paul is looking for an app that will let him communicate one on one with his family. He saw it demonstrated on an LA to Chicago flight but forgot the name. He thought it used satellites and not wifi or cellular.

There are satellite messaging programs but they are VERY costly.

The only free apps that can send long distance messengers need wifi or cellular with an Internet connection. There are some that work within a 200 foot radius using Bluetooth but for longer distances, you need the Internet

We suggest WhatsApp or Signal, two of the best apps out there.

WhatsApp uses your phone's Internet connection (4G/3G/2G/EDGE or Wi-Fi, as available) to let you message and call friends and family. Switch from SMS to WhatsApp to send and receive messages, calls, photos, videos, and Voice Messages.

Signal does the same thing but uses advanced end-to-end encryption protocol that provides privacy for every message every time.Sheila has an older RV and is looking for parts. We explain that she should call the manufacturer of her 1994 Roadtrek. She also wants to attend our Roadtreking gathering on the Natahala River in North Carolina July 9-13 for a day. We talk about the gathering. Details and reservations are handled by Eventbrite on this page. Hurry, though, as time is limited and our few remaining spaces will go fast.

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.

INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK [33:55]

As Jennifer and I have traveled the country this summer, we’ve been asking RVers to give us a report on their absolute favorite places. We expected them to be the standard bucketlist destinations, like Alaska, or Yellowstone or the Maritimes.

Instead, they were much more obscure, places not in the major RV guidebooks, places unique and very appealing.

Here’s the video version:

 

Here’s the full transcript:

Mike Wendland:         So, what is your favorite place that you've been to and camped in so far?

John Mills:                  One of the favorite places, especially if you like beach camping, we camped when our children were younger, we had a little pop-up camper, we camped on Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks. You take a ferry to Hatteras-

Jennifer Mills:             From Hatteras.

John Mills:                  … or from Hatteras to Ocracoke. It's the only way you can get there is by Ferry. Most of the island is national seashore, just beautiful, and then a little village there. Beautiful place.

Mike Wendland:         What did you like most about it?

Jennifer Mills:             Oh, gosh. I don't know.

John Mills:                  The solitude, I think. It was very quiet.

Jennifer Mills:             Yeah, it was. It was quiet. You're just camping. You walk over the dune. You're right on the ocean and then you can … it's about a mile to town and there's coffee shops, little-

John Mills:                  Book stores.

Jennifer Mills:             … restaurants, just home-town feeling. There's a lot of history involved and it's just a really relaxing place to be.

John Mills:                  Supposedly, it's one of the places where Blackbeard would hide out.

Mike Wendland:         A-ha. And what do you guys camp in now?

John Mills:                  We've got a little 16-foot Airstream Bambi. We've had it for about three years now. We love it. We love the national parks. We love the national park campgrounds, the quiet, the nice people we meet.

Jim Blair:                     Hi. My name is Jim Blair and I travel in a 2016 Roadtrek 210. One of our most favorite spots that we discovered by accident is in southern New Mexico, about 15 miles north of Interstate 10, over by Deming. It's actually in New Mexico State Park, called City of Rocks, which is an interesting name, which caught our attention, and as you drive off Interstate 10 and go north towards City of Rocks, all of a sudden you come over a rise and there are these boulders the size of houses and this massive set of boulders. There are campsites in amongst the boulders, where you get to boondock, and it's in the middle of nowhere, so at night the stars come out. They're awesome. You get to see the Milky Way and you're parked in this spot that is just absolutely magical. There are some great hikes out of there, up to Table Mountain. It's about a three-hour hike. There are some places to bike ride. You can take a mountain bike and go mountain biking around here. It is the south of New Mexico, so it's the Mexico kind of desert, but out of nowhere are these massive rocks and there must be, maybe 100 of these massive rocks, and they've built roads in between them and camping spots and picnic tables and it's in the middle of nowhere and it is absolutely stunningly beautiful and peaceful and quiet.

Jim Blair:                     Most of it is boondocking. They do have a few electrical sites set off on the side that are more … have facilities. There's a great visitor's center down there and we just go down there whenever we get a chance to get away, because it's absolutely beautiful.

Gary Wormus:            Hi, my name's Gary, this is Caril. We've got a Sprinter Conversion made by Gulf Stream, who no longer does that. One of the unique places we've traveled in our rig was from Carson City, Nevada across Highway 50 to the east, and it's called the loneliest highway in America. It's unique and we enjoyed it.

Mike Wendland:         How is it unique?

Caril Wormus:             Well, it's the little small mining towns that you go through on a two-lane highway, not a major, you know, mega highway. They have a passport system. You pick it up either, if you're going east or west, and then each little mining town you go through stamps your passport and then they give you a certificate of completion. It was fun.

Gary Wormus:            It's the loneliest highway in America because it's-

Caril Wormus:             Because you're untraveled-

Gary Wormus:            It's not very well traveled. There's some hot springs along there and we didn't have to worry about a crowd anywhere.

Caril Wormus:             Right. Hot springs. State park camping, forest. What was that, National Forest, through there, so it was-

Gary Wormus:            Oh, yeah, we went through the Great Basin National Forest, which was-

Caril Wormus:             National Park, there.

Gary Wormus:            … National Park and it was interesting.

Mike Wendland:         How long should somebody allot to do that drive and to explore that area?

Gary Wormus:            We were traveling from Carson City back to Colorado, but we usually only go three or four hours a day because it's comfortable.

Caril Wormus:             Right, so I'd say three or four days.

Mike Wendland:         Yeah.

Caril Wormus:             Take your time. Enjoy each little community that you go through.

Mike Wendland:         The loneliest highway in America.

Caril Wormus:             Yes it is.

Gary Wormus:            [crosstalk [00:04:53].

Mike Wendland:         Highway 50 in Nevada.

Dinah Davis:                Hi, I'm Dinah Davis from Sisters, Oregon. We did a wonderful trip where we stopped at hot springs every night for five nights running. We stopped first in southeast Oregon at Summer Lake Hot Springs. This is about, I'm going to say, an hour, hour and a half, southeast of Bend, Oregon. Next, we stopped at Surprise Valley Hot Springs, which is not an RV park. It is a motel, but each motel room has its own spring-fed hot tub, which is a really nice break. Then, we found ourselves at Sierra Hot Springs, near the town of Sierra in north California. We worked our way further on down the Sierras on the eastern side, staying at Grover Hot Springs, which is a state park and beautiful, big campground, very inexpensive and a big bathhouse with a huge, heated swimming pool and then the warmer hot springs available.

Dinah Davis:                Our next, and final, stop at the hot springs was at Keough Hot Springs, which was a commercial place, but they have a lovely campground and a very nostalgic bathhouse. I think was probably built in the '30s, so you can be out of the wind and enjoying, not only, their very hot pool, but again, another full-size swimming pool. So, this is a great way to enjoy the amazing scenery along 395, US 395, and have a fabulous, relaxing hot spring every night on the trip.

Debbie Cook:               I'm Debbie Cook.

John Fisher:                I'm John Fisher.

Debbie Cook:               And we're from Huntington Beach, California. We are driving a 2018 Pleasure-Way Ascent that we love. One of our favorite places to camp has turned out to be a place that's locally called The Pads. It's right outside of Death Valley when you're coming in from the Pahrump side of Death Valley and it's just before you get to the park. If you look off to the left, there're these flat, concrete pads that used to be the concrete slabs for mobile homes that the miners used, one of the local mining companies there. It's perfectly flat. You just drive right up on top of the pads. No leveling, no nothing, but it's quiet. It's peaceful. It's gorgeous.

John Fisher:                It's dark.

Debbie Cook:               Obviously, it's very hot in the summer and it can be very dark. It's a great place to see dark sky.

John Fisher:                It's really quiet. It's really dark. At night when you want to sleep, and we go to bed early, it's glorious. Very much so.

Debbie Cook:               And we love Death Valley and just being so close to Death Valley, not having to stay in the campgrounds there that can be crowded.

John Fisher:                And noisy.

Debbie Cook:               Yeah.

John Fisher:                Everyone runs their generator till midnight.

Debbie Cook:               Right, so, it's just a great spot. You might find a few people camped out there, but everybody spaces out and there's probably, I think we counted, like 50 pads-

John Fisher:                50 pads.

Debbie Cook:               … so, you have a lot of space.

Mike Wendland:         What was it originally for?

Debbie Cook:               It was, so they had-

John Fisher:                The town, mining, wasn't it?

Debbie Cook:               No. There's still mining going on in Death Valley and at one point they had mobile homes where the miners were housed and when they moved the mobile homes, then the pads were left. And actually, we explored a little bit around there and if you walk down a few, I don't know, a hundred yards or so, you'll see the old septic system and there's an old warehouse and things [crosstalk [00:08:20] like that. Where they had dumped some of the mattresses and things like that.

Mike Wendland:         And do they charge you to just stay there?

Debbie Cook:               No, it's free. It's totally free.

John Fisher:                You Google the pads and you'll see in an aerial shot from the map, and it just lays itself out. You're going, this is interesting.

Debbie Cook:               And it's the eastern approach to Death Valley, coming in from Las Vegas through Pahrump and it's on that road.

Mike Wendland:         I just have to go to Pahrump just to say, I was in Pahrump.

The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

TRAVELING TECH TIP: Best Summer Road Trip Apps [47:31]

Steve Van Dinter

By Steve Van Dinter
Verizon Wireless

Back when I was a kid, my parents would load us up in the car and have us stare out the window on summer roadtrips for entertainment. But when the terrain was smooth and flat and without trees, inevitably my sister and I would start to pick at each other and small fights would break out.

Fortunately, today there are a plethora of ways to keep the family entertained and in harmony while traveling.

First up a classic…Roadtrip bingo. Once loaded up on your iPad, simply turn it into landscape mode to display two gameboards side by side. Now, just look for the items on your gameboard and click them to turn them red. First one to get five in a row yells bingo and wins!

Sometimes the open road is the best time for creativity to strike. That’s why I recommend you load up the family smartphone or tablet with SketchBook by Autodesk. This fully featured app allows you or your kids to doodle away anytime using just their thoughts and a finger.

Maybe someone in your family is destined for YouTube stardom? See how they stack up against their favorite stars by singing karaoke in the Smule app. Sing side by side with your favorite artist or challenge a friend. You can also add fun filters and even enhance your audio with special effects.

And lastly, when you get to your destination a great game to play with the whole family is Heads Up created by Ellen DeGeneres. You’ll split off into teams and one person holds the phone at their forehead to display a word. Their teammate has to give them clues to guess the word before time runs out. In addition to the adult version there’s a kid’s only version

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT –   the Natahala River in North Carolina [52:00]

In our off the beaten path report this week, a special look at our upcoming Roadtreking Whitewater adventure to the Natahala River in North Carolina. We will be there July 9-13 and you are invited. We still have some extra room available and if you have never attended one of our Roadtreking gatherings before, there is a special discount you can get by using the code “welcome.”

To tell us about the river and the area and the things awaiting a visitor, we bring on our and exploring guides for this gathering, Yan Seiner and Kiki Dunigan.

They explain that at the event you can spend a day in a river raft, either cruising down the guided and mild Class I-III rapids, or for the more adventurous, taking on Class IV-V white water while your guide gives you an unforgettable experience! Or go for a drive on the Road to Nowhere in the Great Smoky Mountains that was supposed to assuage a displaced community, but ended up a $58 million dead end. Walk the ¼ tunnel at the end of the road to find easy trails and stunning views.

Ziplining is on the schedule too, for those who want to soar through the trees like a bird of prey. Expect spontaneous laughter, and maybe a few screams of delight.

We will camp at Smoky Mountain Meadows campground, with a group area for boondocking. A few sites with full hook-ups are available for those who need them. Water and dump station will be accessible. Hot showers and flush toilets are on site. As promised on the campground’s website, “You will find yourself in a beautiful valley with quiet green meadows and a bubbling brook encompassing your surroundings. When you rise in the morning with dew on the grass, the birds singing, and the aroma of coffee brewing, you will feel a quiet peacefulness beyond your imagination.”

Within 30 miles you will find Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Deep Creek Entrance, Great Smoky Mountain Scenic Railway, Bicycling at Tsali, Antique stores and flea markets, Cherokee Indian Reservation, including “Unto These Hills” Indian Drama, Oconaluftee Indian Village, Harrah's Cherokee Casino, Museum of the Cherokee Indians, Dillsboro – a village of craft and speciality shops, Blue Ridge Parkway, Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, and Gem Mining. Grow your retirement account with rubies, sapphires, and more.

After all that, relax at the end of the day with dinner at Nantahala Outdoor Center, or one of the many local restaurants in Bryson City. Then sit by a fire under the stars and hear Kiki tell stories which may or may not be true.

There is something for everyone here.

Here’s a link where you can get details and sign up. Again, it’s July 9-13 and we’d love to see you there.

This part of the program is brought to you by AllStays Pro, the best app for RVers looking for places to camp, boondock or stay free overnight. Go to http://roadtreking.com/allstays for more info.

RV CALENDAR OF EVENTS [58:47]

JULY
9-13
Roadtreking Natahala River Wildwater Adventure
Smoky Mountains Meadows Campground
Bryson City, NC
JULY
18-21
FMCA International Convention and RV Expo
Cam-Plex Multi-Event Facilities
Gillette, WY
JULY
20-22
Green Country RV Show
River Spirit Expo at Expo Square

Tulsa, OK

 

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