The story of Roadtreking.com: Serendipity RVing

Written by on June 1, 2013 in How We Roll, People & Places with 37 Comments

“How’d you end up doing this?”

If I could have had a quarter for every time we’ve been asked that about our roadtreking.com RV blog we could buy another motorhome.

But since enough people seem to be interested….Here’s how:

This Roadtreking RV blog is a dream come true for me. Decades in the making, but now being lived out like one giant movie, seen through the wide expanse of my motorhome’s windshield as North America rolls on by. We can stop anytime, explore anywhere.

And we do, sharing it with you.

It’s all very much serendipity. Serendipity means  a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise,”   something fun and useful and enjoyable that was discovered by happenstance along the way. That’s a perfect description of what we find every day in this new wandering life in a motorhome.

licenseplateThis blog is entirely the work of me, Mike Wendland, who, with wife, Jennifer, bought a Roadtrek Class B motor home in early 2012 after years of dreaming. This blog is about seeing North America, enjoying our compact little motor home and then reporting the interesting stories about the people and places we come across.

The goal is to share our Roadtreking life. I have to admit right at the start, I am not very mechanical. It took me an orientation session with my RV dealer to find out where the gas, ah, make that, diesel fueling point was on the vehicle. So this is not a blog aimed at tinkerers and mechanics.

It’s about the RV lifestyle our motorhome allows and the great things to see and do out there on the open road.

mikeinrtBy background, I’m a journalist. I have to tell stories. I love meeting people, learning and seeing new things, enjoying God’s awesome creation. Taking pictures. Making videos. I’ve been doing this for more than three decades, for major newspapers, TV networks, radio stations and magazines. I’ve written six books. I’ve won 18 EMMY awards, honors from the Associated Press, Ohio State University and Wayne State University. I’ve reported from all over Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Central America.

advI used to travel so much as a journalist that one of my employers, the Detroit News, once took an ad out in a journalism trade magazine referring to me as “one of America’s most well-traveled reporters.”

Much of that traveling was what we call “parachute journalism.” I’d fly in, cover the story and fly out, sometimes the same day, often using scenery and skylines as backdrops for my stand-up TV bits. I remembered so many times looking out at a mountain range or across some valley or in some small town or metropolis and longing to spend time, walk the streets, hike the trails, climb the hills, experience the sights and sounds and smells of a place. And, of course, meet the people. It seldom happened. There was always another story in another place on another deadline.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved those journalism days. I had a front row, window seat to history. I covered Presidents and movie stars, CEOs and government leaders and even the Queen of England and a Pope. Those were heady days.

emmyBut as I approached retirement age, I knew I missed a lot of stories out there over the years, stories about people, places and the things that make the U.S. and Canada such wonderful countries. The kind of good news and general interest stories hard-nosed editors and news directors tend to skip over in favor of the sensational and controversial. The world of big media today concentrates on strife and tragedy and bad news. It has little time for good news.

In retirement, as my own boss, I decided I wanted to go back and actually see and experience the country and tell those good news stories that I am convinced people are really hungry for.

A motorhome was my solution.

So I got one and, with wife, and dog, we set out to meet people, discover places and take to the the road in a world of $4 plus a gallon and climbing fuel costs.PicsV

The one work obligation I still have every week is with NBC-TV, where, since 1994, I report on personal technology. I’m known there as

mikejentai

“PC Mike” and my reports are sent weekly to the NBC Newschannel service which distributes my “PC Mike” report to all 215 stations each week.

That’s all possible because of a 4g mobile connection from Verizon Wireless.  I use that connection to report, write and file my Roadtreking stories, post my videos and photos, update this blog and even send my edited “PC Mike” story to NBC each week, all from my motorhome as I travel North America discovering all the interesting people and places I didn’t have time to meet when I was a news reporter working for newspapers or TV stations. But technology, like the motorhome, is a big part of my life and being able to try out new tech toys and stay connected while on the road makes every day an adventure. You can read about my tech gear here.

Right now, we’re traveling in a 2013 Roadtrek eTrek, an eco-friendly, solar-powered Class B motorhome built on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis. We chose the eTrek because we love to “boondock,” to stay in remote places, off the commercial power grid, typically in natonal or state forests, National Parks or wilderness areas. The eTrek allows us to be self contained for long periods of time. rtetThere is no propane system or conventional generator. Heat comes from an industry-leading Webasto diesel powered combination water heater and furnace. Electrical power generation is provided by a 3500 watt generator mounted to the van’s diesel engine that can charge eight dead auxiliary batteries in only 40 minutes. Supplemental power comes from a 240 watt solar charging system. All this reserve power is stored in eight 6 volt AGM batteries (1600 amp. hours) and distributed directly to 12 volt lights and appliances and through a 5000 watt inverter to 110 volt appliances like the air conditioner, inductive stove, instant drinking water heater and convection/microwave oven. The system features surge protection, power monitoring, battery minder/balancer, and solar charge controller.

We began this blog in March 2012. Our first year we covered 11,000 miles. Typically, we mark out a route, identify a few spots we want to be sure to visit and then take off, stopping when we want or find something that interests us. An old editor of mine once told me that “every person has a story to tell.” My journalism career has shown me that to be very true. It’s the same with most places. Places have stories, too. So we like to wander, chat up the people we meet, and start taking photos and videos. Usually, we return with more stories than we can do.

We try to travel year round. This past winter, we drove the  eTrek in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where we found a winter winter wonderland that most people never see. There was 28 inches of snow on the level ground and onc night, deep in the wilderness, it got down to four degrees below zero. It was an awesome experience. We slept snug and warm inside our eTrek and realized winter is no excuse to put the RV in storage. In the first six months of 2013, we racked up more than 16,000 miles of travel.

mikjenTypically, we’re on the road two to three weeks every month. We’re not fulltimers. We need grandkid fixes. So we return to our Michigan home for at least a week or so every month.

We also like to visit RV rallies and events. A highlight for us is the Family Motor Home Association reunion. In 2013, it will be in Gillette, WY. I am the official on-the-road reporter for the FMCA and author the Open Mike column each month in Family Motor Coach Magazine.

Some people have looked at our schedule and the amount of material we produce and laugh. “I thought you retired,” they’ll say.

As a matter of fact, I’m probably writing and reporting more now than I did when I was a fulltime employee of the various news outfits I’ve worked for over the years. But the difference is I’m my own boss and telling the stories I want to tell. That makes it not like a job at all.

Truth is, though, that if I’m not careful, Roadtreking.com could become all-consuming. The blog has been growing so fast that we also started a weekly RV newsletter. We opened an online store for RV related clothing and accessories. Our Facebook Page is approaching 20,000 “Likes.” Slowly, we have picked up RV industry-related sponsors for all this and my son, Jeff, has pitched in to help run the “enterprise” so I can concentrate on traveling, content and reporting.

I should point out that while Roadtrek Motorhomes is an advertiser on this blog and my newsletter and we have a warm and close relationship that has given me frequent access to company executives and the Roadtrek factory in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, I am not an employee of Roadtrek. I am an independent journalist that happens to love the Class B motorhome lifestyle. The blog is a labor of love. It is all my own work, and even if I didn’t have any advertisers, I’d still be publishing it.

Like I said, I have to tell stories. It’s in my DNA, I guess.

For the record, Jennifer and I have been married for more than 40 years. Our brick and mortar home is in Oakland, MI. We have three grown children and six grandchildren. Our son, Scott, lives in southwest Georgia with his wife, Lauri, and four sons. Our daughter, Wendy, lives in suburban Detroit with husband, Dan, and two daughters; and son Jeff lives with wife, Aimee, in Kalamazoo, MI.

Jennifer is a certified fitness instructor by occupation, specializing is water exercise. Besides journalism, we’ve both been very active at our church and have led in-depth Bible studies for many years. In addition to RVing, I  enjoy bicycling, SCUBA diving, kayaking  and fishing.

roadOne of the joys of doing all this is working with my wife, who now appears regularly with me in reporting our Roadtreking stories in the “How We Roll in our RV” series of reports that anser reader questions.. That’s not to say that there sometimes isn’t conflict.  Jennifer insists on working out and exercising while on the road. We’re not talking campground strolls, bike rides and hikes – all of which we do. We’re talking hard core workouts. In a gym. A constant challenge for me in our travels is finding a health club or workout facility for Jennifer. I’ve learned that unless she gets in a workout three or four times a week, things in the confined space of our motorhome can get a bit strained.

For her part, Jennifer has had to adjust to the unpredictability of my serendipity style. “Where are we going to spend the night,” she’ll ask? I seldom know. I am not one for making reservations. There are too many variables out there, places and people that make me spontaneously pull off the road and strike up conversations that could lead us to a totally unexpected delight of a story just around the bend.

You can read and watch many of them here on the blog.

I welcome your comments and feedback and thank you for visiting this blog. You can reach me at http://roadtreking.com/contact.


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About the Author

About the Author: Mike is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, and Norweigian Elkhound, Tai, travels North America in a Type B motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and frustrations of RV life on the road. He is the official on-the-road reporter for the Family Motor Coach Association. a columnist with Family Motor Coaching Magazine and his Roadtreking reports appear in numerous newspapers and publications. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, video editing and all things dealing with technology. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations. .

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37 Reader Comments

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  1. campskunk says:

    who’s that handsome young guy in the newspaper photo? now mike, you know you’re edging toward fulltiming – look at the slippage in the last year alone. soon you’ll join us ;-)

  2. Pam Hicks says:

    Mike – Thank you so much for filling in all the details. I have come to rely on & enjoy you & Jen in my Roadtreking “family.” This was a great read!

  3. Betty Weite says:

    Mike, what a great story. I love following you & Jennifer, but its really great to know more about you and your background. It was a lot of fun in Branson. Safe travels.
    Betty – Florida

  4. Harold porter says:

    Some of your video’s on you tube says not available on mobile and all I have is a smart phone. Please fix it if you can.. I also would like more detail about the new roadtrek 190 4 season motorhome. I went to the roadtrek web site and there’s nothing there about it. Thanks Harold Porter.

  5. If I can get myself shrunk down to my rv trsiler and storage trailer, the next step is a smaller driving kind with a hitch for little one maybe, or the boat.

  6. Nancy Avery Nancy Avery says:

    My dream RV to travel the country. Got to win the lottery first though.

  7. I have a 21 ft Sunstar by Winnebago on the VW Eurovan chassis! The most awesome small motorhome and it gets 17mpg!

  8. I enjoy your blog and those who also report. You said you are a scuba diver, I started and developed Gilboa Quarry in NW Ohio, I sold it in 2000, but I wondered if you have ever dove my old quarry?

  9. It is wonderful to roam around the USA. There is great sites and experiences to be appreciated.

  10. Enjoy your reports very much, we still consider ourselves newbies and your articles have been very helpful. I feel so honored, because one of the pics in your report is one I took on our first trip thru Idaho. Thank you so much, as I am a very simple photographer, thanks for using that pic.

  11. That interior is the same as ours, (except we have the seat behind your right arm packed up and a full closet in that spot), so assuming it’s a 2007 Sprinter?

  12. Norman Licht Norman Licht says:

    One of the best’s little unit on the road

  13. Rich says:

    What a great life story – thanks for sharing it, Mike!

  14. Ya all, consider camp hosting to pay for your full time RV lifestyle. Gets you on the road much sooner.

  15. Kim Bourne Kim Bourne says:

    We love to read your stores we also travel in a small motorhome and love it. We are anyway from home about 2 to3 weeks a mouth and thinking of full time.

  16. Ray Harwood Ray Harwood says:

    thank you for your post , and wanted to tell you how much I enjoy some one sharing their dream

  17. Want one so bad, Someday!!!!????

  18. Lauren Laub says:

    You all are living my dream. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Karen B Bell Karen B Bell says:

    What you think Vandy?

  20. LOVE Roadtrek!! I want to travel again…..I miss it so much!

  21. Donna Roller Donna Roller says:

    how much do they cost? would like a used one

  22. I would love do this too it would be nice to go on the road i have always wanted to drive route 66 that would be a wild trip.

  23. Bethann Duff Bethann Duff says:

    I sure would love to live on one of these.

  24. Donna Study Donna Study says:

    Love traveling with a motor home. It,s so convenient and fun.

  25. A dream job thats fanatastic.!!!!!

  26. Ann Acevedo Ann Acevedo says:

    Mike, you are such a happy camper! We love our B RV too!

  27. Nancy Manns Nancy Manns says:

    Been there done that ! Now have the best of both worlds 70 degrees here back in Marion April 1

  28. Nancy Manns Nancy Manns says:

    Been there done that ! Now have the best of both worlds 70 degrees here back in Marion April 1

  29. Pourquoi il y a plus de hotte au dessus de la cuisiniere car juste de faire bouillir de l’eau cela fait beaucoup d’ humidite pour cette raison que j’ai change pour le concurrent le vendeur m’a dit on ne peut en posre merde car c’etait le roadteck a tout point de vue les vieux il y en a une

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