When Eli and Kelly Pyke happily sold the used motorhome that ferried them through the creation of their family RV documentary “The Far Green Country,” their full-time RV life went on permanent hiatus. They had no idea that soon they would hold the keys to a brand new Winnebago Adventurer 29B.
But that’s exactly what happened when the Oregon couple was asked to become brand ambassadors on another epic road trip. And this time, things look much different for the family.
New Winnebago, new road life for the Pykes
When Winnebago offered the Pykes the opportunity to become brand representatives, it came as a delightful yet unexpected surprise. Just as their family life at home nailed down all new routines, everything was about to get turned upside down. They were excited to do another trip, but leaving didn’t come as easy this time around explains Eli.
“We had just made a great treehouse for the kids, and with them being even more connected with family and friends, there were mixed feelings about whether they wanted to do another year on the road. However, once we got into the national parks and started seeing bears, going fishing, and meeting friends along the way, they were excited – almost ecstatic – to be a part of another great adventure!”
As they travel coast-to-coast in the shiny new rig, Eli and Kelly’s RV life is much different this time. For starters, their son Dakota now has sister Isabelle along for the ride. When presented with the idea of a year-long road trip, their daughter was very keen on the idea, says Eli. “I think we’d watched The Far Green Country so many times as a family that little sister wanted to make a movie of her own.”
All the high tech comforts of a rolling home
And as the “hindsight is 20/20” saying goes, the couple is taking their hard-won lessons from the first road trip to tackle even greater challenges, such as homeschooling a 1st grader, working with the National Parks for commercial filming permits, and trying to represent a handful of sponsors along the way. The result is a cross-country adventure that’s more challenging and yet much smoother than the first, especially thanks to Winnebago’s sponsorship with the Adventurer 29B.
“It is an amazing piece of engineering, and my wife is SO thankful that this one has no history of previous inhabitants, including but not limited to mice, rodents, rats, mice, humans, or mice,” says Eli.
It is fresh, brand new, clean, and purrs like a kitten going 70 down the interstate.” The new rig is light years ahead of their last one, with tons of high tech motorhome features like:
- A generator control panel that automatically controls heating and cooling inside the rig
- A drop-down front bunk
- A full length slide out
- 300W Zamp Solar electric power system with 1000W inverter and and remote activation switch, and ultra light Obsidian panels
- Outdoor mini-kitchen with refrigerator, sink and storage
- Built-in desk/office feature in the bedroom
“All in all, we feel completely blessed to be in such an immaculate home/vehicle while we travel,” says Eli. In return for a sponsored one-year road trip, the couple represents Winnebago while driving full circle around the U.S.
Their next family RV documentary is in the works.
Winnebago is collaborating closely with the National Park Foundation to film with the Adventurer 29B in parks all around the country. As a result, Eli and Kelly are following a coordinated location filming schedule at popular, as well as least visited, national parks.
Following a strict timeline is challenging for the family but Eli says the rewards are worth the effort. “For instance, at Yellowstone recently, we had our very own ranger assigned to us at Old Faithful to capture the necessary images we needed of the motorhome in front of the geyser and the historic inn. He was a great guy and my son got a total kick out of having a personal ranger to talk to and ask questions of!”
They are also sharing their Harvest Hosts experiences. The Pykes enjoy how the membership program gives them access to wineries, farms, breweries, museums and other roadside attractions that allow self-contained RVers to visit and camp free overnight.
Rolling with the good days, accepting the rest.
In-between national park visits and Harvest Host filming, and visiting friends and family, Eli and Kelly work hard to build consistency in the kids’ lives. Each morning they rise to have breakfast and play a little to explore their surroundings. The it’s time to get down to routines that most other families experience.
Dakota gets road-schooled by Kelly, enjoys hands-on experience seeing the places he’s learning about, while Eli works and Isabelle plays. That’s the ideal scenario, but their days on the road don’t always go as planned.
Some road trip days are filled with more driving hours than they would like. Or the kids’ moods can suddenly turn grumpy, or they get sick. Securing a campsite can be a struggle, dump stations can be hard to find. Eli often struggles to get work done while the RV is rolling down the road. He comments that sometimes it’s so bumpy that his computer mouse is “literally bouncing off the desk.”
Their days can go from unbelievably easy to incredibly hard on everyone’s emotions and patience. Sometimes they may find themselves “rolling into a campsite late and exhausted, pulling down the blinds, making some quick dinner, putting the kids to sleep as we all melt down and wonder what the heck we are doing.”
But the Pykes know that the easy and not-so-easy times balance out. “There are good days and there are bad days. Probably not too different from most people living a typical suburban lifestyle.”
Connecting with simplicity is the goal.
As scenes for their next family RV documentary unfold through June 2020, they’ve got big plans on their itinerary. Exploring more national parks and places in the East Coast is high on their list. So is creating content for their sponsors and the sequel to The Far Green Country. But most importantly, Eli and Kelly say they want to “continue to pursue a life of simplicity, exposing our children to new places, adventuring in wilderness, and connecting with community as we travel.”
Their movie the Far Green Country is available on major streaming platforms including Amazon, Google Play, YouTube Movies, TubiTV, Comcast/Xfinity, Vudu, iTunes/AppleTV, and Xbox.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.