How did a couple who ‘live in a van’ change my family’s DNA?

Okay, they don’t exactly live in a van, it’s called a RoadTrek and actually, as Jennifer would say, it is an adventure-mobile. For those of you who aren’t aware of what a Roadtrek is, let me fill you in.

I have only seen a few of them; however, I probably spend too much time looking at pictures of these small class B motor-homes that allow travelers to adventure around the world meeting fabulous people.

So, big whoop, it is just a motor-home.   For those who own one, I would say they would beg to differ; however, about two years ago, I stumbled onto a new podcast called “RoadTreking: Celebrating the Small RV Lifestyle.”  This podcast, produced by Mike and Jennifer Wendland, is the most informative and professional podcast I listen to.   I look forward to it every single week.

So, how did this couple I have never met have such a big impact on my family?  To truly understand my statement, you need some background.  When I was a young boy, my family was not well off.  To ensure my siblings and I were well taken care of, my mother didn’t work and dad worked a good paying, union job with the railroad.  Now, when I say good paying, I mean, we made it month to month with a small cushion.  Much like most of my friends at the time, we were probably a single accident away from financial devastation.

One of the best memories of my young childhood is visiting the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup, Washington. If my memory doesn’t fail me, it is one of the largest fairs in the nation still today.   If you haven’t been there, you must visit.  Each year, our family was given a bunch of free tickets to attend the fair in exchange for our playing the organ for a music shop.  I am told that organs were very cool in the early 80’s; however, I have yet to find anyone who can verify what my parents told me at the time.  Regardless of that, we had the luxury performing for an hour or so and then wonder the grounds of the fair exploring all that was one of the World’s largest fairs.

My favorite thing to visit was the RV’s that were there for sale. I can still remember the smell of the new rigs when we would venture into them, the salesperson right on our tale.  Because they were so much nicer than the house my family was living in, I told myself at the age of 11 that I would ‘buy myself an RV’ when I ‘made it.’

For all of your podcast creating fathers and mothers out there, I highly recommend you listen to the quality of the podcast Mike and Jennifer produce each week. @roadtreking Click To Tweet

A few years ago, when I was dating Laurie, my wife, I told her that she should assume someday I would have an RV.   She politely laughed at me and said something like, ‘camping is to be done in tents.’  Every year she would accompany me on my yearly mecca to the local outdoor show.  She would patiently follow me around the rows of campers as I go on and on about how ‘some day’ we are going to own one of these.

About a two years ago, when Mike and Jennifer began their podcast (they are coming up on their 100th episode) I began to daydream again about the camping / traveling lifestyle.  In a glorious Google search, I came across their podcast, which began a marathon listening session where I listened to 20 episodes back to back.  Mostly because the content is so good but also because I felt like I was actually camping with them.  I loved every minute of it.

That same year, as we were romping through the RV show, my boys, at the time 1.5 and 3 did a number on my wife. Every single RV they climbed into, they said, “this is my bed” or “Ervin, you can sleep here.” I call it the ‘drip, drip, drip’ on my wife’s forehead until she calmly said, “let’s get one.” Stunned, we ended up purchasing a large tow behind trailer that day.

Of course, when we get home, I was gently reminded by my wife that over the past few years I had told my in-law’s that we would ‘buy them one’ if we ever got one.  Me, my big mouth and wine….  Suffice it to say, we ordered a second trailer for them and they have become campers with us.  Without question, the best investment I have ever made.

So, how did Mike and Jennifer have such a big impact on my family?

  1. I would have never had the confidence in the decision to buy the trailers if I had not heard from the RoadTreking community and their love for the lifestyle.  Mike and Jennifer bring the campfire conversations to the masses.
  2. The Wendland’s have a passion for the outdoors that is contagious and continues to fuel my love for getting outside when we can.  We are not able to get out as much as they do; however, when we are out camping, we rarely put in less than 5-10 miles of hiking in a weekend.
  3. The Wendland’s relationship, particularly their discussions around challenges around living in such a small area have given me some good perspective when camping. The need for some space, or as Jennifer says, ‘there isn’t enough room for both of us here right now.’  I love to listen to the love between the two of them and hope to be softer in my approach with my wife.
  4. Mike has taken me on a journey with him concerning his health and wellness.  I am not where he is regarding weight loss; however, his discussions around his choices helps me make some better decisions and I hope to improve in this area as time goes on.   I am 47 and have two young sons.  I need to be around as long as I can for them.  Early on, I remember he and Jennifer talking about stopping at a national fitness center and working out to stay in shape.  How much commitment does that take?  I will be better.
  5. The Wendland’s are role models for me (my wife doesn’t listen to the podcast, yet) on how to balance work and life.  I envy Mike’s ability to do work on the road and we have started to figure out how we can get out a little more frequently as I have some flexibility in that area of my career as well.
  6. The Wendland’s are not afraid to try something new.  Today, I am shocked by some of my friends who aren’t willing to try the new social media, gadgets, etc.  I almost ran off the road when Mike asked the audience if anyone in the audience was using Snapchat.  I am usually pretty trendy, but to hear Mike trying something new, makes me hopeful that I will continue to be curious as I age. (Not saying Mike is old)
  7. Finally, I have learned a lot from Mike and Jennifer about building an online community.  As a father who had a wild idea a few months ago, I set out to do something hopefully a bit unique in the world of father writers.  I have taken a ton of ideas from Mike and Jennifer make their community unique. They are available via their website, their Facebook page, their voice mail button (look on the right side of the screen) and a dozen other platforms for their community. Their content is good and diverse, their writers are talented, and they are genuine people who want to help others out.

Because of the Wendland’s, our family now gets upset when something is planned on one of our weekends; our boys yell “RV Rocks” in the mini-van at just the sight of an RV, and my family has shared laughs around the fire, hundreds of card games or and feel like the community of campers are there to support us, wherever we end up traveling.

Mike and Jennifer bring the campfire conversations to the masses. Click To Tweet

I hope to some day camp in the same campground with the Wendland’s. Until that time, I will continue to patiently await the weekly release of their podcast, look for more exciting places to camp with my family, and long for the open road with my family.

If you would like to check out what Mike and Jennifer have going on, there are a few ways you can find them.

Twitter:           @roadtreking.

Their website:          http://roadtreking.com/

Their podcast is available on all platforms and here: http://roadtreking.com/category/podcasts/

For all of your podcast creating fathers and mothers out there, I highly recommend you listen to the quality of the podcast Mike and Jennifer produce each week.

 

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About the Author

Julian Caldwell

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Julian Caldwell
Julian Ivey-Caldwell founded GetConnectDAD with one simple goal: Connect more families to their kids. Julian works a day job and spends his evenings (after the family retires) continuing to grow ... Read Full Profile
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2017-03-05T23:25:41-05:00