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About Roadtrekingmike

  • Birthday 02/08/1946

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Oakland, Michigan
  • Interests
    cycling, fitness, fishing, photography
  • I travel
    With Pets

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  1. The Florida Caverns State Park is one of those perfect half-a-day side trips, offering a guided tour of a fascinating geologic wonder, some nice hikes and an opportunity to kayak and explore a wilderness river that offers up a blue hole as a bonus. And at the end of the exploring, there’s a nice campground available, too, if you’re in need of a place to overnight. Located near the town of Marianna in Florida’s panhandle just off I-10, the underground tour offers inspiring vews of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies. Formed about 38 million years ago when sea levels were much higher and the southeastern coastal plain of the United States was submerged. Shells, coral and sediments gradually accumulated on the sea floor. As sea levels fell, these materials hardened into limestone. During the last million years, acidic groundwater dissolved crevices just below the surface creating cave passages large enough to walk through. You can still see some of those fossilized shells, as well as fish skeletons embedded in the limestone throughout the subterranean system . On the ceiling of one of the underground rooms our guide used his flashlight to show off what he says is an ancient shark’s tooth. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and reminded us a lot of the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Developed in 1935 during the height of the depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Projects Administration. Both groups emerged from President Roosevelt’s New Deal, established in 1933 to provide jobs to men during the Great Depression. Using not much more than pickaxes, shovels, wheelbarrows and a flatbed pickup truck, it took nearly a decade to carve out an underground path that wanders between “rooms” of the caverns. Most of the tunnels and caverns are about 25 feet beneath the surface, Subdued lighting runs throughout the system and, like any good cave tour, there will come a moment when the guide will turn off all lighting to show how totally dark it is underground. Although the tour is not strenuous, there are places where the passages are very narrow and low, meaning you need to be flexible enough to be able to duck down and walk under spots that are no higher than four feet or so. A welcome bonus in visiting the caverns during the hot and steamy Florida summer is the constant year-round temperature of 65 degrees in the caverns. Hiking trails run throughout the 1,319-acre park and kayaks can be rented to paddle the Chipola River, which has a deep blue spring – named the Jackson Blue Spring to differentiate between the Florida’s Blue Springs State Park near Orlando – flows at an average rate of 76 million gallons of water a day. With five other smaller springs, it feeds Merritts Mill Pond, a major scenic and recreation area. Click the image to enlarge: You enter the caverns through a door that takes you 25 feet beneath the surface. Some of the rooms are quite large. A statue out front honors the nearly 10 years it took for CCC workers to excavate the path through the caverns. They call this the “Wedding Cake.” It requires you to stoop to navigate through some of the spots. A ranger explains how caverns and caves are made. More beautiful formations
  2. "How lucky I am to have known someone who was so hard to say goodbye to.” – Anonymous I write this with tears steaming down my face. Our noble friend and companion, Tai, has crossed the Rainbow Bridge – that sappy, mythical but nevertheless comforting place where much-loved pets go to await their masters. He would have been 12 this December. I debated whether I should do a blog post about this. But Tai was so well known by the Roadtreking community that he was a celebrity in and of himself, often being recognized as we camped across North America. People would come up to meet him and get that awesome Elkhound wag of the tail in return. He even got regular fan mail. So it’s fitting that I tell the Roadtreking community. We first learned that Tai had serious health issues about two weeks ago when he was found panting and having great difficulty breathing one morning. Rushed to an emergency vet clinic, a huge tumor was found around his aortic valve. It was inoperable. His heart sac was filling with blood and he was very near death. The fluid was drained, the tumor measured and a terminal diagnosis was given. We haven’t shared that publicly but our hope was for a few more months. That wasn’t to be. He began having seizures last night and, though he seemed to rally, they continued today. It was obvious his heart sac was again filling up. Tai took his last ride in the Roadtrek about 1:50 pm today (July 23, 2015). Jennifer and I were both by his side as he peacefully drifted off. Now, we are in a house that seems so empty. I drove home in the Roadtrek without him, a few tufts of his thick beautiful grey and black coat on the floor still between the two front seats where he loved to sit and be petted as we drove across the country. Unashamedly, I admit to crying the whole way home. His spirit and our Roadtreking lifestyle are so intertwined it’s absolutely gut-wrenching to realize he wont be with us anymore. To those who never had a dog, I’m sure all this grief seems misplaced. But to those who have been blessed to have a dog, you know how we feel. Tai loved Roadtreking. When we were home, he’d sit next to it in the driveway, anxiously awaiting the next adventure. And adventure he had. I have hundreds of photos of him. Hiking riverbanks and forests, mountain tops and canyons, beaches and meadows. He barked at bison, sniffed bears, chased elk and deer, mixed it up with raccoons, got sprayed by a skunk and made friends across the country. He had a good, full life. But now ours is so empty. Like our house. Like the Roadtrek. This will pass. Tai was our third dog, all of them Elkhounds. We’ve been through this before. Some say the only way to get over the loss of a dog is to get a new one. That may happen. But not for a while. That new one wouldn’t be Tai. I thought you should know. I want to end this with another quote, sent me by a reader: “It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” – Anonymous
  3. Seven minutes is all it took for our RV to be burglarized, to lose $12,000 and counting worth of equipment – just about everything of value inside the motorhome except the dog. Yes, just seven minutes. That’s all it took for the bad guys to come into our space, take our stuff. We know it was only seven minutes, too, from our dash cam recording most of it. But as Jennifer points out, what they physically took are only things. The stuff is just that – stuff. And, yes, it isn’t fun, but it is life and when things like this happen, you have two choices: bury your head in the sand or learn from it and move on. So we move on. We WILL continue with our trip out west along Route 66. We WILL continue with our Roadtreking podcasts. First Things First: Roadtreking RV Burglarized in Illinois It happened just across the Mississippi River – from St. Louis in Collinsville, Ill. – when we stopped for dinner about 6:15 p.m. at a restaurant in a busy shopping mall off Interstate-55. It was a pretty upscale mall too, with lots of well known stores and restaurants and traffic. While we were inside eating, at least two thieves somehow gained entry to our Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL and, in about seven minutes took more than $12,000 worth of electronic gear from our rig – including all of the video and still cameras and most of the mobile podcasting studio gear I had taken for the trip. Police blamed gangs from nearby East St. Louis. A guy towing a U-Haul who also stopped for dinner and parked a few spaces down was also hit. They smashed a window out to gain entry to his vehicle and also took a computer. It turns out, though, that my dash cam may have captured an image of one of the thieves who looked to be casing our RV. A “person of interest” can be clearly seen on the dash cam peering in the front. Seconds before he walked out of sight, someone entered from the side and was joined by an accomplice. I’ve given the evidence over to police. They would like to identify and talk to the person seen here. The video showed this man walking back and forth, peering inside and then disappearing off to the left, seconds after someone entered the vehicle from that direction. Under his left arm he is carrying what appears to be a hammer or some sort of burglary tool. Alas, because the dash cam pointed outward, we did not get an image of the thieves who were inside. The dash cam did record some of their audio. They can be heard talking nicely to Tai, who, knowing him, was probably delighted by the company. The inside was totally ransacked. Every cupboard was opened and all the contents strewn about. You can hear the thieves delighting over the laptops. “What’s this,” one of them asked, followed by the sounds of things falling to the floor. I can’t begin to describe how incredibly sad it is to hear these lowlifes talking so casually about the things they were finding and stealing. They laughed and sounded totally at ease. In Jennifer’s tote bag were some personal items, things of absolutely no value or meaning to the thieves, but things that were meaningful to her. Both of our laptops, an iPad, chargers, my professional video camera, my high end Canon 5D Mark III DSLR camera with a memory card full of Route 66 photos, my multichannel podcast mixing board, a Rand McNally GPS, a portable printer and all sorts of cables and stuff like a backpack, Jennifer’s tote bag and even my shower soap, shampoo and deodorant were taken. When we came back out from the restaurant about 7:03 PM, the thieves were gone and Tai looked stressed. He knew stuff wasn’t supposed to be tossed all over the RV. Fortunately, the thieves did not hurt him. As I mentioned, they can be heard talking soothingly to him as they stole our stuff. After police took our report, I went to a nearby Best Buy and bought a replacement computer. I stayed up all night, first configuring it and then, account by account, changing passwords on my email accounts, my credit card companies, my bank and other personally sensitive information. Then I did it all for Jennifer. Then we called our accountant and bank to alert them to be on the alert for suspicious activity. Fortunately, all my computer info was encrypted and backed up with strong security measures. But it’s better to take no chances, hence an all-nighter. I am too old to pull an all-nighter. I also am glad I have a Mac. I used Apple’s”Find My Mac” service to first see if I could locate the stolen laptop. It didn’t show but I clicked the “notify me if found” box, which, as soon as it goes online, will send me a map of its location. I also send an erase command which will wipe the had disk and lock the machine so it can not be used. This is a great service and well worth the cost of buying Apple. Tips: Lessons Learned from the Roadtreking RV Break-In We suspect that thieves are using technology to transmit radio signals that mimic the unlock signals transmitted by key fobs. If so, that would explain why there was no sign of forced entry. Because as we left the vehicle, as normal, Jennifer asked if I had locked it. I distinctly remember walking to the side passenger window, pushing the lock button on the key fob, and seeing and hearing the inside locks depress. Almost as frustrating an experience of being robbed is the runaround I’m now getting from my insurance carrier. The claims investigator who called me back said because there was no forced entry evidence, they probably won’t pay. The company I used specializes in insuring recreational vehicles. But if they deny my claim, they are going to literally have a very unhappy camper on their case. The rationale suggested by the claims agent is simply unacceptable. These thieves illegally entered our home. The RV is our home. They violated that home and stole from us. Now, the insurance agency is hinting it will do the same thing by not paying. We’ll see what happens as the claim works its way up, but I urge all of you to carefully check your policies. Inventory the items you take with you and make sure you are adequately covered by a reputable agency.
  4. No matter where or how you roll, the one thing all RVers have in common is the way the RV lifestyle seems to bring people together - literally and figuratively. For snowbirds, full-timers, near full-timers like Jennifer and me or weekend campers, it's the sheer joy of getting out and meeting new people or simply spending quality time with your spouse or friends. For families with younger children or grandchildren, it means bonding time away from the distractions of day-to-day living, TV, video games, and iPods. Take Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi, for example. Together with their three children, the Puglisis spend almost 50 nights a year RVing with their children and say they have it down to a science by now. They document their adventures on the RV Family Travel Atlas blog and podcast and join us for episode 23 of the Roadtreking RV Lifestyle podcast with great lessons for parents and grandchildren who RV with childern. In this conversation we learn: How to have a balance between scheduled activities and “down time” Kids never get bored once they are out there, just introduce them to the outdoors Families/grandparents should splurge for kid-friendly campsites, with swimming pools, playgrounds and games Take your kids/grandkids on hikes, challenge them, use it to teach them about the nature and geography You are building amazing memories for your kids and grandkids that they will treasure their entire lives Have a campfire every night. It’s a great family bonding time Kids naturally will gravitate to outdoor activities over screen time in front of a TV or computer Recognize that things will go wrong but “we will get through this.” Learning that when things go wrong, we will solve the problem and then we’ll have great stories to tell makes for a well-adjusted kid. Each night at an RV park, a neighborhood springs up and kids need all of about five minutes to make friends with a pack of kids. Besides the interview with the Puglisis, we take questions and comments from listeners about: Recommended RV-related audiobooks The Roadtreking Song of the Week submitted by the band Swift Creek Talk about getting all of that salt - regardless of source - off of your RV Plus we have tech tips, a bucket list destination of the week and a whole lot more. First Things First: Prayers for Living the RV Dream's Kathy Huggins We kick off the show with a special call to action - pray for Kathy Huggins from Living the RV Dream. Kathy and John Huggins were on the show last week. Kathy began complaining about severe abdominal pain Friday night, and she was transported to Thomas Hospital in Fairhope, Ala. Doctors there discovered a hernia which impeded blood flow to her upper intestines. Surgeons removed 95 percent of her small intestines. John Huggins told our friend Greg Gerber of RV Daily Report that Kathy is in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Thomas Hospital, and on ventilator support. When she is awake, she can recognize those around her and squeeze their hands, which he said is encouraging. Although she is expected to recover, the road ahead will require major adjustment on her part, John explained. “I don’t think either Kathy or I realized just how many lives we have touched,” said John. “The outpouring of support has been humbling and highly encouraging. We really, really appreciate everyone’s prayers and concern.” Check-in of the Week: Roadtreking Fan Jose from Spain A listener named Jose calls from Spain to check-in and let us that our fans definitely are not limited to the United States and Canada. Any other international fans out there? Record a quick message by clicking the tab on the right. We would love to hear from you! Roadtreking Song of the Week: "Wake Me Up to Drive" by Swift Creek Listener and Musician Kevin Brown, of Raleigh, N.C., leaves us a message in response to our recent and ongoing discussion over best songs to listen to while RVing. You can hear it on the podcast. He sent us a solo acoustic version of the song "Wake Me Up To Drive," which is performed by Kevin and the rest of his band, Swift Creek, in live shows. More information about Swift Creek can be found at http://www.swiftcreekmusic.com Question: How to Remove Salt from My RV? David asks about keeping salt off rigs when camping on oceanfront - or driving in the northern parts of the country where salt seems to be extremely common these days. We have some suggestions. Listener Comment: I Love the Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL! Listener Wendy calls in to show some love for our new Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL and asks how - and if - we are doing any kind of modifications to our new ride. Jennifer and I give an update. Book Recommendations: Great RV Books We've been talking a lot about audibooks lately. A listener calls in to suggest the following books for RVers: Living the Simple RV Life - by Sunny Skye about her adventures as a campground host Blue Highways - By William Least Heat-Moon about a journey into America along the blue two lane highways A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt is about a 2,100-mile walk along the Appalchian Trail We also have news on how you can get a FREE audiobook download and 30-day free trial at www.audibletrial.com/roadtreking. Audible offers over 150,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player. For listeners of the Roadtreking podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service. To download your free audiobook today, go to audibletrial.com/roadtreking. RV News of the Week: Trucker Rescues Girl in RV Trucker rescues girl in RV from sex slavery (Read more) Park Model Camping in Arizona –Roadtreking Reporter JG Van’s tells us about park model RV resort living (Read more) RV Tech Tip of the Week: How to Get to Inbox Zero E-mail is the bane of our existence. We all get too much and it is too easy to get too bogged down in it. That’s where we can help. Let me show you a couple of helpful ways to cut through the clutter and make your inbox an efficient thing of beauty. A service called Sanebox does some pretty amazing things with your email. It filters it and arranges it in folders making it easy to unsubscribe to unwanted mail and even easier to organize, defer and categorize your mail based on how important it is. It works on all platforms and devices and gives you a free two week trial. After that, it’s $59 a year. If too many subscription emails and updates and group mailings are clogging your inbox, try Unroll, a really handy tool for any email account that lets you unsubscribe from all of that group mail with a single click. Or you can combine all your favorite subscriptions into one single email sent weekly or monthly. I was amazed at how many junk mailing I got and Unroll helped me zap dozens of them. It’s free, but they make you share on social media after five unsubscribes. You can learn about other cool ways to use mobile tech at http://roadtreking.com/vzw RV Bucket Destination List: Lake Superior Shoreline I talk about one of my favorite destinations - the Lake Superior Shoreline (Read more) Interview: Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi from RV Travel Family Atlas. Our conversation with Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi, who publish the RV Travel Family Atlas blog and podcast that deals with traveling with children. And, of course, many listeners are asking how they can subscribe, review and rate the Roadtreking Podcast on iTunes. With a new podcast like this, those reviews and ratings are really important to be able to show well in the iTunes listings. So if you can, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d subscribe and leave me your review. Here’s how: First, open the iTunes app on your computer or mobile device. Click on Podcasts up on the top > From the iTunes Podcasts page, use the “Search Store” field up at the top right corner of the page. Type in Mike Wendland or Roadtreking RV Podcast. > Click on the logo image of the Roadtreking RV Podcast on the search return page > From there (see photo above), you can… 1) Subscribe 2) Choose and Click on a star (1-5) that reflects your rating. Five stars means you really like it, one star not so much. 3) Leave a written review. Thanks to all for the kind reviews we’ve received so far. That got us noticed by Apple/iTunes as “New and Noteworthy.” I appreciate every review! And remember, you can appear in future episodes. Ask a question or voice your comments about RV topics by clicking the Leave Voicemail tab on the right side of this page here at Roadtreking.com. You can then use the microphone on your computer to record your words.
  5. Dolly Towing With Our Roadtrek We had no problems driving our 2015 Roadtrek CS Adventurous E-Trek while towing our Prius 1,900 miles to Arizona. End of story, right? Well, not exactly. Getting to that decision... Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome Source
  6. The Making of a Roadtrek: The Movie If any of you have been to the Roadtrek factory in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada for a tour, you would have an idea of what it takes to build a Roadtrek,... Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome Source
  7. Another reason to RV: It saves money I knew RVing made a lot of sense for us as we travel about North America. It gives us freedom, mobility and we get to bring most of the comforts... Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome Source
  8. 006 RV Podcast: The Migration of the Snowbirds It’s underway – the annual migration of the Snowbirds , with an estimated 2-5 million RVers heading to the South and Southwest. That’s the featured topic in Episode 006 of... Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome Source
  9. Travels with the eTrek: A photo montage Like a lot of RVers, I’ve been reviewing memories and photographs over the past couple of years. That’s what we do during the down time: Go back and look at... Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome Source
  10. Protecting your digital assets In this information age, gathering up and securing the most important information – the critical passwords, user names, insurance, savings and important documents we have – is a vital task... Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome Source
  11. My RV as a Sag Wagon After my massage on Tuesday I drove out of San Diego in my cute little Roadtrek, due east towards Yuma, Arizona. It was a beautiful afternoon drive through the mountains... Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome Source
  12. Climbing Pikes Peak in an RV I’m often asked about the favorite things we’ve done in our Roadtrek eTrek. At the top of my list is mountain climbing. We used it to drive to the top of Pikes Peak, some... Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome Source
  13. I Hate it when RVers use construction generators Now I have to admit that I’ve been one of the main encouragers as far as this boondocking movement goes – I have been telling folks to get out of... Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome Source
  14. Roadtreking RV Podcast 005 – Boondocking and Satellite Internet If you like getting away from it all, this episode of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast is going to be especially interesting to you. Along with a bunch of RV... Roadtreking : The RV Lifestyle Blog - Traveling North America in a small motorhome Source
  15. It sounds like it’s raining. But it’s not. It’s the sound of acorns dropping from the oak trees all around us as we boondock in the middle of the woods overlooking the Rifle River in northern Michigan’s Ogemaw County. This is not a particularly pretty time of the year. The beautiful fall leaves have turned brown and now cover the ground. Only the oaks, with their shriveled up leaves and their dropping acorns, still have a covering. Squirrels are running all over gathering the bounty. Deer, too. The animals seem to know winter is coming and the heavy acorn crop and their early drop across the upper Midwest appears to verify the Farmer’s Almanac prediction of another really rough winter. Jennifer and I came up Thursday night. We’ll stay through Sunday. This is one of our favorite boondocking spots. It’s on a 200-acre hunk of privately owned land surrounded by thousands of acres of state forest. The property is owned by my brother-in-law and is totally undeveloped.If we were in anything larger than a Class B motorhome, there’s no way we’d get to our boondocking spot, accessible only by dirt two-track located a mile off a paved country road. We need no electrical or water hookups. Our Roadtrek carries its own fresh water supply. The eight house batteries, always supplemented by 250-watt by solar panels, gives us enough power to last four or five days out here before we have to tun the engine and have those eight batteries recharged in about 20 minutes to a half hour. Our Webasto heater – and we needed it last night as the temperature dropped to the lower thirties Fahrenheit – runs on diesel, off the vehicle’s fuel tank. It uses so little that I can’t even see a drop in the fuel gauge after a weekend’s heater use. We’ve been coming here for two decades, long before we got an RV. Now, with our Roadtrek Etrek, we use this land as a place to retreat from the world. Friends have asked if they can join us on one of our boondocking weekends. We politely say no. This is our special hideaway, a place not to be shared. We truly can get away from it all up here. I’m sitting in a chair on what the locals call the “High Banks,” a spot abut 150 feet above where the Rifle makes one of ts snake-turning bends. I frequently see white tail deer just upstream coming down to drink. I hear no traffic. No noise at all but the dropping acorns. Jennifer and I and Tai took an hour long hike last night and another one just a few minutes ago. We’ll spend the day reading. I’ll build a campfire late afternoon and we’ll sit around it tonight, shoulder to shoulder, watching the flames, saying not very much, but very much enjoying each other's company. At some point before we turn in, we’ll walk away from the fire and look up at the night sky. If there’s no cloud cover, the whole Milky Way can be seen like a dust across the black sky. During the day, we usually take an afternoon nap. I like to sit in my chair overlooking the river and write. Not very exciting, is it? Not for Jen and I, anyway. Tai finds it very exciting. He’s chasing squirrels right now. He’s learned not to bark. To hunt like a coyote. Sneaky and quiet. And, yes, he occasionally does get one. No. It’s not exciting at all for Jennifer and me. What it is, though, is a total change of pace. It’s decompressing. Restoring. Refreshing. Total escape from the stress and demands of everyday life. That’s why we boondock. Because we can get away. Completely. There’s a bumper crop of acorns this fall. Our spot deep in the woods My view atop the High Banks
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