April 2018 – A few weeks ago we had the extraordinary experience of creating a video with a professional video production crew for Camping World as part of their new YouTube campaign, “RVing is for Everyone.”
The casting call came out of the blue, and we weren’t sure what to expect.
It turned out to be three very thrilling, very long and very full days of quasi-acting and interviews that resulted in a beautiful and inspiring five and a half minute video that captures the spirit of our RV life perfectly. The video is included at the end of this article.
The video crew, Isaac Aaron Media, was a team of five who flew out from North Carolina to join us in Arizona. We suggested a few places where we could film in the Phoenix area, and they took it from there to decide on the camping locations and tourist attractions for filming.
Isaac Aaron and his wife Jessica Piche are the founders and owners of Isaac Aaron Media. Their skilled camera crew were videographers Justin, Byron and Ben.
These guys know quite a bit about the RVing life. Isaac and Jessica own a motorhome, and Justin renovated and lived in a vintage travel trailer for over a year.
Byron was seeing the West in depth for the first time and loving every minute of it. He handled all the mobile video work during the shoot, carrying a camera on a cool gimbal system and walking around (often backward!) to give the video movement.
They wanted to shoot some of the video at Canyon Lake Marina and RV Park. When we posted our article about staying there last month, some readers were surprised we had camped there, since — lovely as it is — it is not the kind of place we ever camp at.
But when the video crew arrived, it was clear that the scenery would work really well for the images they wanted of us enjoying the RV life.
As soon as the crew unloaded their gear at our campsite, Byron headed out to the big grassy area behind our trailer and on down to the lake to begin getting scenery shots.
The crew told us to just “do whatever you always do.” We had been playing with our new puppy, Buddy, in the grass, so we continued doing that. Suddenly, there were three cameras on us from different angles, and the video shoot had begun.
The entire video was unscripted. However, the director, Jessica, had a clear idea in her mind of what the team was creating. She asked us to walk over to a picnic table and sit down and admire the view as the crew filmed us.
She wanted the video to be authentic, and I had explained to her that we are photographers and that what we do in our RV life is take photos all day every day. She was fine with that. So, as the crew shot video of us, we took still images of everything around us!
I put Buddy up on a rock to get a photo of him with Canyon Lake in the background. As I clicked off a series of images, the video cameras rolled. Afterwards, when Jessica was going through the video footage, she emailed me with wonder, “How did you get Buddy to stay still on the rock like that?” I don’t know. I just put him there, said “Stay!” and he stared back at me while I took his portrait!
As we were goofing off by the shore, Mark got the idea to lure the resident flock of ducks over to us. These ducks know human actions well, so even though he didn’t have any bread for them, when he tossed a few pebbles in the water they came right over. And the video cameras rolled!
To show the nuts and bolts of the RV life, the crew wanted a few sequences of us breaking down and/or setting up camp. So, they asked us to pack up the trailer and do all the things involved in getting hitched up just like we normally do.
Cameras were on both of us as we folded up our camping chairs, and then cameras were on me as I washed the dishes and packed up the interior and cameras were on Mark as he mounted the bikes on the bike rack and put away the patio mat.
The Apache Trail (Route 88 from Apache Junction to Roosevelt Lake), is one of the most stunning scenic drives in Arizona, and the plan was to capture images of us towing the trailer on this incredible winding road between Canyon Lake and Lost Dutchman State Park.
Until Mark and I drove the Apache Trail out to Canyon Lake a few days prior to the camera crew’s arrival, none of us had realized that the entire road was under construction, complete with cones in the road and big machinery working. Much of the road had been stripped of asphalt and was dirt too!
We would never advise driving a big rig on the Apache Trail without scouting it first, even when it is paved and free of construction crews, because there are tight switchbacks and lots of 15 mph turns with sheer drop-offs and no guard rail. Fortunately, Mark and I both know the road very well because we used to race our bicycles on it years ago!
We hopped in the truck to begin towing our trailer and suddenly discovered there was a video camera hanging from our rearview mirror! Any swearing at the challenging road conditions or crazy drivers would be caught on film (ahem, some of it may have been!).
The video crew had hired a photography location scout, Alan Benoit, to help them with finding locations to shoot and to give them advice on where the best turnouts would be along the Apache Trail so they could to set up their cameras to capture our rig driving by. He gave them all kinds of pointers and also drove ahead of us in his own car so he could open up a gap in front of us and ensure there would be no cars ahead of us as the video cameras rolled.
The video team fanned out to different locations along the route to catch us at various bends and curves in the road, and we got a kick out of seeing them as we drove past.
The Apache Trail between Lost Dutchman and Canyon Lake is about 11 miles long, so we pulled over a few times to allow the video crew to drive ahead and get set up in new positions to wait for us. We had radios for communication between all the vehicles because there isn’t any cell service out there!
Once the video crew had captured a bunch of scenes of us driving, including going under one of the trestle bridges on the route, we unhitched and dropped the trailer off in a pullout so we could all drive back to Tortilla Flat for lunch. Tortilla Flat is a very popular restaurant offering both indoor and outdoor seating and live music most afternoons.
Tortilla Flat has a funky vibe and there’s an old toilet seat hanging up on the porch where you can get a framed selfie.
After lunch we went down to the docks to go on the Dolly Steamboat Cruise on Canyon Lake. This is a beautiful and peaceful excursion that takes you out onto Canyon Lake and into the Sonoran Desert by way of the dammed up Salt River.
Once all the passengers were aboard the boat, the video crew filmed us walking down the dock and giving our tickets to the captain. I’m not sure what the other passengers thought as they watched us do the ticket buying scene a couple of times. Fortunately, it was a quiet Sunday afternoon and no one was in a rush.
I suspect most folks thought it was a bit of a hoot to have a professional camera crew aboard, and there were smiles of recognition, probably from RVers camping in the area, when we explained it was a video shoot for Camping World.
The video team had brought a drone, and they flew it from the deck of the Dolly Steamboat. While everyone on the boat oohed and aahhed at the stunning desert canyon views around us, the drone flew higher and higher above us. Then, after having it zoom around the lake, the crew brought it back to the boat. Jessica reached out to grab it out of the air as it hovered above the deck.
We had had quite a day, and we were all totally pooped as we drove our trailer on the last stretch of the Apache Trail to Lost Dutchman Campground. We all hit the sack early.
Before sunrise the next morning, Buddy suddenly sat up and gave a muffled woof when he heard activity right outside our trailer. We opened the blinds to see the video crew moving around in the pitch dark with headlamps on their heads. They were setting up a timelapse video of our rig silhouetted against the sunrise that would soon begin.
We quickly got dressed and ran outside with our own cameras to capture the pretty pink sky as it slowly began to brighten.
We were all very fortunate that Mother Nature gave us such a beautiful light show and that no one had stayed in the campsite next to ours. This gave the crew plenty of room for their gear and an unobstructed view of our trailer. We stayed at Lost Dutchman for the next three nights after that, and not only was there never as nice a sunrise again but we had neighbors in that campsite every night!
After bolting some breakfast, we were off to the Superstition Mountain Museum for more filming. The museum docent gave the crew pointers on what the highlights were and where the best photo ops might be as we strolled the grounds to view the artifacts from the historic gold mining days.
Making a video involves a lot of waiting around while the crew sets up and breaks down their video gear, and there’s also a lot of repeated movements as each scene is shot a few times. It is trying for people, but is potentially even more challenging for puppies.
Buddy was only four months old and we had had him for only five weeks, but he had been amazing so far. No matter where we asked him to walk or sit, he went along with the flow. Best of all, the guys in the crew loved him, and he quickly became the star of the show.
The Superstition Mountain Museum is a treasure trove of history, and we walked and walked and walked all around the extensive grounds for several hours. Cameras were on us at all times.
As we’d gaze at something or pass through a doorway, we’d suddenly be asked, “Could you do that again?” Some scenes were set up more deliberately, and we had to wait for those classic commands: “Rolling… Action!” The first few times we started on “Rolling!” rather than “Action!” Such rookies!!
After a few hours, Jessica found a spot for us to sit for an interview. The crew used a reflective foil to get the lighting on our faces just right. In addition to answering questions about the tourist attractions. we also answered questions about why we had become full-time RVers, what life had been like for us before we began living this way, and what we loved most about the RV lifestyle.
We spoke from the heart, and she let us go on at length on some topics when we had a lot to say.
Of course, there was room for bloopers too, and we fell into the same funny trap that several other couples had.
The theme of the Camping World video series is “RVing is for Everyone,” but when asked about our RV experiences, we naturally talked about them in terms of being full-time RVers, not seasonal RVers or vacationers. So, at one point, after describing the wonders and thrills of downsizing out of our house and running away to live in an RV, Mark blurted out, “Of course, it’s not for everyone!”
Isaac chuckled and said, “We’ve heard that before, and what you probably mean is that full-time RVing isn’t for everyone!”
We had lunch all together at the western themed Mammoth Steakhouse & Saloon at Goldfield Ghost Town next door and then went back to our campsite at Lost Dutchman State Park where the video crew got set up for us to do some hiking.
There was a nice hiking trail that led towards the Superstition Mountains right from the back of our campsite, so once the camera gear was ready, off we went with Buddy bounding along while the video cameras rolled!
After our hike, when we came back to the campsite we suddenly noticed the Red Baron bi-plane soaring overhead doing somersaults in the sky. What a perfect photo op, and how typical of our lifestyle that something unexpected and fun zoomed into our lives at just the right moment. Mark and I simultaneously swung our cameras towards the sky.
Gradually the shadows got longer and then the sky began to get orange. Everyone lined up to get a photo of the sunset around a gangly saguaro cactus that was in a campsite across the street.
We had all been up since before dawn, and now it was dark again. The video crew left and we crashed in our camper, totally exhausted!
The next morning we all met at Goldfield Ghost Town about a mile away from Lost Dutchman State Park. This tourist attraction is very similar to the Superstition Mountain Museum with lots of paths that wander between antique buildings from the gold mining days.
There is a little train that circles the property that was definitely worth a quick video clip.
Goldfield Ghost Town is full of fabulous photo ops, and Mark and I had fun just roaming around taking photos. Shooting high or shooting low our creative juices flowed. And the camera crew was there to catch it all.
Mark got a photo of the front of the jail, and we laughed as we read the jailhouse rules posted out front, joking that they sounded a bit like the rules for video actors:
No Complaining, No Profanity, No Loud Talk, Two Visits to the Outhouse Daily, Meals—Beans, Bread and Water.
Well, our meals at the area restaurants had actually been quite delicious!!
Mark took a quick trip to the outhouse and Buddy peaked through the outhouse window. They didn’t know that the video cameras were on them even then!
Goldfield Ghost Town has a Bordello on the second floor of one building, and there’s a neat metal winding staircase leading up to it. The video crew loved that staircase, and we walked up and down it quite a few times as the cameras rolled. Buddy negotiated the stairs really well, and Mark and I got lots of great pics from the top.
It was hot and dry walking around Goldfield, and at one point we snuck Buddy off to a spigot on the side of a building to get a sip of water. He was such a little trooper though. A quick rest in the shade and he was as good as new again and ready for more filming by an antique tractor.
After quite a few hours of shooting we all took a break and then reconvened at our Lost Dutchman campsite once again. Soon, it was time for our main interview which became the voiceover narrative for most of the video.
The Superstition Mountains were lit up behind our campsite in glorious fashion, but getting our faces lit without us being blinded by the sun and without my head casting a shadow across Mark’s face proved tricky. We messed with the chairs and the foil reflector quite a bit and finally got everything set up just right.
The questions were excellent, and we had a chance to express a little of our philosophy of how important it is to pay attention to your dreams, to nurture them and to fulfill them. Mark signed off with a fantastic quote, and when we were finally silent, a hush fell on everyone.
Speaking about the importance of pursuing your dreams and making them come true had swept us all into a spell. We feel so fortunate to live this way, and I suspect the crew was lost in thought pondering their own dreams too.
Coming back to reality, they asked us for one more quickie shot. The sun was setting fast, but we hopped on our bikes for a final scene of us riding around the campground loop.
At last we all gathered at the back of our trailer so I could capture an image of us all together saying that famous Hollywood line: “That’s a wrap!”
DELETED SCENES – Oh yes, there were quite a few!
Of course, no movie would be complete with our a track of deleted scenes. After three full days of three or four cameras going most of the time, the video crew had hours and hours of video to sift through. Most of it had to end up on the editing room floor, of course, because the final video would be less than six minutes long.
One of the more unusual deleted scenes was at the Superstition Mountain Museum chapel where we discovered a statue of Elvis inside!
We spent several hours on the last day doing a detailed tour of our rig. We showed every corner of our little abode and explained how and why we set it up as we have and why we chose this particular floorplan as our rolling home ten years ago.
We’ve decorated the walls with post cards from some of the National Parks and National Monuments we’ve visited, and the only original piece of furniture we still have is the dining table. So, there was a lot to talk about and see.
The best part of this RV interior sequence was when one of the guys asked Mark offhand what he would normally be doing “right about now” when we started showing off the kitchen. “I’d be getting a beer!” He joked. They said he should go ahead and do just that!
So, they did a full sequence of him reaching into the fridge and pulling out a beer, then reaching into the freezer for a chilled pint glass, and then pouring himself an ice cold yummy beer. He hammed it up a bit and it was very cute.
At Goldfield Ghost town there are several souvenir shops, and we went to two of them and picked out and purchased some goodies. Jessica suggested we buy some salsa, so we set up a scene where we scanned the shelves for locally made salsas and then chose one. The idea was that we would take the salsa back to the trailer later and do a scene where we were eating chips with it.
We ran out of time before we could shoot the scene of us eating the salsa in the trailer, but we sure did enjoy it a few days later!
We also did a scene where we looked over some handmade soaps and picked out a bar of soap to purchase. Again, the whole sequence involved admiring and the picking out the soap and then, in a different scene, going to the register and paying for it.
The clerk was very cooperative, and the other tourists waited patiently outside the store for us to finish since there was barely enough room for us and a few cameras. In fact, for some of it the cameras were outside the store and shooting in.
During our interview later we talked about how in the full-time RV life you have to be selective about buying souvenirs and make sure they are consumable or else you’ll end up with a rig full of stuff!
There was also a scene where I showed some of the articles I’ve written in the RVing and sailing industry magazines and talked about how important writing and photography have become in our day-to-day lives. This has been a totally unexpected dream-come-true since we began traveling nearly 11 years ago.
But there were only so many seconds of footage that could be included!
After the whole video shoot was over, the crew went on to make some other videos in Arizona while we collapsed in our trailer and reflected with awe on what had just happened to us.
What a totally cool and special experience it was to be movie stars for three days!
Thank you, Camping World, for this unique opportunity, and kudos to Isaac Aaron Media for producing a beautifully crafted video.
Here’s the video — Enjoy!!
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More RV Videos from Camping World:
- Camping World YouTube Channel’s RV LIfe Videos – Includes all the videos in the “RVing is for Everyone” series
Related Blog Posts and Map:
- Canyon Lake Marina and RV Park – Includes camping at Lake Pleasant too
- Dolly Steamboat Cruise – Sailing through the Sonoran Desert
- Lost Dutchman State Park + Superstition Mountain Museum & Goldfield Ghost Town – Camping & Sightseeing
- Locations of places mentioned in this article – Interactive Google Maps
- Keep Your Daydream Podcast – An interview with old friends and new YouTube stars, Marc and Trish Leach
- Alice Cooper Sells Us A Truck – Another brush with fame that our RV life brought us!
- Isaac Aaron Media Website and YouTube Channel
- “YouTube is a Gold Mine for Marketing” – Appeared in RV Business the same week we shot this video…too funny!
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How fun, loved the video! You guys did great! 👍
Thanks, Patricia. It was a blast!
THRILLED to read how it all came to pass…blow by blow !
And so like all your adventures…out of the blue…
Will share it all, far and wide.
Thank you!! It was so unexpected and so exciting. Living by our whims and following our hearts in our travels has brought us such incredible experiences. We have been blessed!
What a great great great article!! We laughed and laughed. So happy that you guys have gotten the recognition that you so richly deserve. You always write so wonderfully about others. This is your time! I loved that no one camped next to you at Lost Dutchman for that day. You have been so blessed that you realize what you’ve been given and truly appreciate it and pass that wonder on. Love you guys! Give Buddy a hug too.
WOW!! Thank you so much, Annie!! You and Phil are great role models for everyone who dreams of trying a life of unexpected adventure, what with your 35 or so years of full-timing under your belt!! We are so grateful our path crossed yours.
We say to each other several times each day, “We are so lucky to live this way,” and “What a life!” We know just how precious every minute is, even as those minutes, days, weeks and months fly by faster than they ever should!
I was just corresponding with a fellow who cruised a sailboat for 30 years, and he, too, was expressing just how fortunate he was to decide to follow his heart and pursue his dreams, learning to rise to every challenge and discovering just how self-sufficient he could be.
It’s a great life! Happy day to you and Phil and thank you so much for your enthusiasm and for your Buddy hug too!!
Wonderful article, photos, and film, Em. Nice to get a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the video.
I understand Puppy Chow is the leading contender for a 2018 Oscar in the category, “Best Performance by a Dog in an RV documentary.” We’ll be pulling for him. 😉
Very funny! Indeed, he is a contender, and he’s picked out his best tux and tails for the occasion!
Fantastic! What a great video in a place that is so special to us. You all did a great job of capturing and conveying why we fulltimers do what we do!
Thank you, Debbie. It’s easy to be enthusiastic about a lifestyle we love, and it’s great to hear from folks like you who love it just as much!
It was great to see you in action, Emily and Mark! You did a great job, as did the video crew. A good example of how life brings unexpected surprises and adventures on the road.
Thank you, Terry, and thank you for following our travels for so many years! I’m a fervent believer that the best things in life come to us when we’re not looking for them, and this was one of those very cool things!!
Hey folks, I knew them before they were movie stars! I really enjoyed the the video! So much to look forward to. You guys are such talented artists. Your work paints a story that keeps this dreamer dreaming. It’s good to see that others have noticed as well. The video confirmed what I already knew, great folks sharing their great adventure. Those of us that enjoy your work really really really can’t thank you enough for letting us ride along. We WILL keep trying! Thank You
Thank you, Jeff, for being a part of our adventure! Our lives are enriched immeasurably by being able to share our happiness and our stories with readers like you who appreciate our various postings so much. We’ve been fortunate to have this time in our lives where we are free to do whatever seems like fun at the moment, and we hope our story helps others realize that this kind of lifestyle is both feasible and rewarding. Keeping dreaming, and keep making your dreams come true!
That looked really fun and interesting! If you guys ever become more famous than you already are, just don’t forget your ole cousin from the Northeast! Great video too…..if I wasn’t so spoiled it would almost get me RVing!
Very funny, Pete. We got 5:35 minutes of fame, and that’s it! And hey, RVing is for Everyone, and if you had one you’d be even more spoiled. Next time we see you we’ll get you down to the dealership to look at rigs!!
What a kick! Really enjoyed this blog and your adventures as You Tube stars. Be sure to sign Buddy up for the actors guild! Thanks for sharing.
We all joked that Buddy would be signing on with an agent before it was all said and done! I’m glad you enjoyed our little YouTube adventure, Liz. Thanks for watching!
I so much enjoyed reading this article and cannot tell you how much I admire you and what an inspiration you have been for me, since meeting you on the boats. You both have such a great spirit and I can only imagine all the people you have met, the thousands of things are have seen, and all the places you have been. And the newest addition of Buddy in your lives, one lucky dog for sure!
Before reading this blog, I was thinking today of taking my RV on a long extended trip, leaving next Spring. This video and your perspective on this lifestyle really triggered many thoughts of seriously thinking about and has put a smile on my face.
Thank you so much, both of you, for your inspiration!
Oh my, Chris, how truly wonderful!! The RV life is a beautiful one and there is so much to see on this continent. Those were such special days with Groovy and Beverly J, and your plane/hotel travels to Mexico after that were actually part of our inspiration to check out Thailand! Gotta do something creative in the cold winters!! Have fun with your RV. I hope you do a long trip next spring, summer and fall. You’ll have so much fun!!!
Love the video! Buddy is a great addition to your family, as well!
Thank you, Chris!! We are really grateful to have had this opportunity. And we sure love Buddy to pieces. Who knew a little puppy could enrich our lives so much?!
So fun to get the ” behind the scenes ” perspective, who knew how much hard work goes into a short video like that!! I am so happy you were picked for this video, you are always so articulate in your writings, and give So much to all of us in the RV community, so it’s wonderful that Camping World chose you as ambassadors for the RV lifestyle 😊
And Buddy was amazing, it’s hard to believe he had only been with you for such a short time, but behaved as though he had been living the RV life for years!
As soon as we knew we would be in a professionally produced video shoot, I thought it would be fun to show how something like this got put together. So it means a lot to know this little peek behind the curtain was appreciated! Thank you very much for your compliments. We’ve had a little practice over the years telling people what RVing is like and why we love it, so when they asked us the interview questions the words just flowed. Buddy amazed us all with his calmness and composure, and it was particularly wonderful that everyone in the crew was a dog lover!
How fun! As I watched the video I was thinking about your behind the scenes story and it all came to life. Ron and I are semi-stationary but we are progressing toward full time travel before the end of the summer. We have a cross country trip planned for June and may not come back… Exciting times!
All the fun and good times of full-time RVing are out there waiting for you whenever you are ready. Your summertime cross country trip will be a blast, I’m sure, and who knows, perhaps it will be the start of a new phase of life!! Thanks for watching the video!
Hi Emily and Mark,
How cool is that! Your website is the site that inspired me to consider the Full-time RV lifestyle and here you are being featured in a Camping World Video. You both epitomize spontaneity and freedom. I hope that when I finally hit the road I am able to be so spontaneous.
Thank you for all your good advise and love your articles.
We are going to be in Utah for a couple weeks in May. If you are anywhere near Canyonlands or Bryce let me know. I would love to meet Buddy. I would love to meet Mark and Emily as well. LOL!
Wow! How wonderful it is to be the spark that ignites a really big and exciting dream! I am very happy to know that our articles have given you good info and good food for thought, and I know that once you are free of familiar day-to-day routines you’ll discover your own spontaneity. We are indeed fortunate that the folks at Camping World found us online and thought we would be good ambassadors for the RV lifestyle in their video series. I don’t think our itinerary will take us to Utah in May this year, so meeting us and Buddy will have to come sometime down the road. But you will have a blast at Canyonlands and Bryce, two of America’s most dramatic and beloved National Parks. Have a great time!
oh, well. I tried..see ya down the road! stay between the lines.
Happy trails, Rick. I’m sure we’ll meet up somewhere!
What fun for you! I am wondering if you would still travel to Florida up the east coast to Maine and Canada without reservations? Reservations really don’t fit into our lives well, but I’ve read so much lately about people making reservations over a year in advance! We do well in the west, but we’ve never ventured to New England.
Yes, it is the way we travel, and we did that in 2015, but it isn’t easy to do east of the Mississippi. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time hunting for places to stay after you get there, definitely make reservations in advance, especially for the highly coveted places during peak season.
I just saw you guys (at least Mark) in a Camping World commercial during the NASCAR race at Pocono today! I guess you’ve finally hit the big time!
Really??!! Was it a clip from this video they made? OMG!!
Not sure how I missed this post before but I just saw it. What a neat thing to happen to a really neat couple!! Uh, excuse me….trio! Loved the “making of the movie” as much as I enjoyed the professional video. The crew did a great job and y’all did too! If we didn’t already have an RV, I believe we’d go out and buy one!!
Well, I’m so glad you found it now, Janet!! It was quite an experience for all of us and has gone down as one of the true highlights of our travels. Hopefully we’ve inspired a few folks to give RVing a try!!