My Most Frequently Asked Question: How Did You Get Started WorkCamping?

Our first campsite at Arrowhead Campground in Altanta.

Our first campsite at Arrowhead Campground in Altanta. Our first RV was a 2000 Starcraft Travel Trailer. 

Fabgrandpa and I lived in our RV for more than 13 years. Over the years, I have had many people email me or private message me on Facebook, asking me how we got started or how we prepared for our life on the road. So, because so many people want to know, I am going to try to answer that question today. 

Way back in 1995 or 96, I came across a news group online that was all about camping. In that newsgroup, there was a thread that came up about full time living in an RV. Before I saw that thread, it had never occurred to me that people actually did that. I was hooked immediately. I wanted to sell the house that day and go out to see the world. Well, at least the US. It took me a couple of years to convince my husband that we wouldn’t starve or go broke by doing that. 

Fabgrandpa and friends working in the campground at Stone Mountain, Georgia in 2005

Fabgrandpa and friends working in the campground at Stone Mountain, Georgia in 2005

So, in 1999, Fabgrandpa and I had an estate sale, and sold almost all of our “stuff”. That included furniture, household goods, yard equipment, and our pop-up camper. And then we just sat in the empty house for another year or so. In July of 2000, I was talking about just doing it again, and Fabgrandpa told me to shit or get off the pot. So, I called a real estate agent and put the house up for sale. I thought I would have a couple of months to get ready to go. Ten days after I put the house on the market, I was sitting at the closing table.

It happened so fast! When we got a contract signed on the house, we called the RV dealer we had been talking to for over a year, and told him we were ready to buy the Starcraft travel trailer we had been looking at. He said he had sold it. It would take sixty days to get another one in. I started calling Starcraft dealers around the southeast, looking for another one. We found one in Sylacaugha Alabama, about 90 miles from our house. We drover over there and put down our earnest money on that one. The day after we closed on our house, we drove back over to Sylacaugha to pick up our trailer. 

Camping in Flagstaff, Arizona on our way to our job at the North Rim Grand Canyon in 2008.

Camping in Flagstaff, Arizona on our way to our job at the North Rim Grand Canyon in 2008. We bought a Jayco Eagle with 2 slides in 2007.

While it all sounds so quick and spur of the moment, it really did take some planning to get there. We had talked about how to get rid of our things for over a year. When we finally decided to actually do it, we called an estate sale company to handle selling the things in our house. They said we were their first “live” customers. The estate sale people had us put the things we wanted to keep in one room of our house, so that they wouldn’t be sold. We had to go through all the closets, drawers, and storage places in the house to pull those things out. Going through family photos and Christmas ornaments took the longest time. It was so sentimental, and hard to do. 

On the day before the sale started, the estate sale people came to our house. They set up lots of folding tables and put all of our things on them throughout the house. On the day of the sale, they asked us to leave, because it would be easier on us if we did. I think they were right, too. The sale went on for two or three days. At the end of the sale, the estate sale company kept a percentage of all the sales, and gave us the rest. 

Stopped in Marble Canyon Arizona leaving the Grand Canyon in 2010

Stopped in Marble Canyon Arizona leaving the Grand Canyon in 2010

Even though the estate sale got rid of a lot of things, there was still a lot left in the house. We had two moving sales after that. And then were there was still stuff left in the house. We called The Kidney Foundation, who came out and picked up everything except an upright piano. I called several churches in the area, offering the piano as a donation, but no one would come to get it. I finally decided to just leave it in the house, and told the buyer if they did not want it, they could roll it outside and burn it. Finally, everything was gone that needed to be gone. 

Before we put the house up for sale, we went to visit a campground that was ten miles from the house. We asked if they had a monthly rent plan, and if they ever used workcampers. They told us how much the rent would be by the month, and said that they did use workcampers. They hired Fabgrandpa, and he started to work there the day after we moved in. They paid him an hourly salary, and comped the rent for us as well. It was a pretty good start to our workcamping career. 

We stayed at that first campground for about eleven months. I had a job in Atlanta, so I just continued to work at that job until I was laid off. 

If you are thinking of living full time in an RV, I know you must have questions. You can leave them in comments, and I will answer them in the next How to Get Started Workcamping post. Do you see yourself living in an RV fulltime? When do you want to do it? Do you have a plan yet?

I am participating in theProBlogger  Challenge – 7 Days to Getting Your Blogging Groove Back. Go check out the podcast if you would like to participate. 

Campground Review: Grants, New Mexico KOA

Easy access off I-40

We stayed at the Grants/Cibola Sands KOA in Grants, New Mexico for two nights on our recent roadtrip. The campground was well marked with signs and was an easy access off of I-40. The first thing that grabbed our attention was how nice the owner was. She got us registered and on our site very quickly, and even gave Fabgrandpa a couple of fresh chocolate chip cookies.

the office

The office building also contains a camp store, a game room, a small diner type restaurant, and a laundry room.The management offers a free continental breakfast, and you can buy dinner meals from their menu. We ordered dinner on our second night, and it was delivered to our door. Fabgrandpa had the turkey and dressing and I had “Suzanne’s Favorite Plate” which was a boneless chiclen filet baked to order with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. The person working the desk was very familiar with the needs of a gluten free diet and was able to suggest several choices on the menu that would be gluten free.

the store and diner

Most of the sites at this campground are long pull throughs, and are very level. There aren’t many trees on the property, but it is New Mexico and in this part of the state there aren’t many trees anywhere. It is a nice campground, though, if you are passing through on I-40 to somewhere else, or if you are planning a stay in Grants to see the many unique sites the area has to offer.

our site

There weren’t many campers staying at this campground this time of year, but it was still cold out, with temperatures dropping below freezing at night. There were several units that pulled in in the evening both nights, though. The campground offers tent sites, and has two Kamping Kabins as well. There was a nice playground for the children.

Kamping Kabins

the playground

The campground, laundry room, and showers were very clean and well cared for. They provide free wi-fi access, which worked very well for us. There is a dump station on the property and they sell propane on site.  There are several interesting local attractions that would be well worth staying an extra night, such as Bandera Volcano and Ice Caves; the New Mexico Mining Museum (call ahead to make sure they are open); and Acoma Pueblo.

As with most campgrounds, the camping fees vary according to what type of site you require. We had a long pull through site with full hook ups and 30 amp electricity. The charge per night for our site was $44.50 plus tax, making a two night stay cost $94.95. If you have a KOA Value Kard, you get a 10% discount.

Campground Review: Mountain Road RV Park, Tucumcari, New Mexico

Mountain Road RV Park, Tucucmari, New Mexico

Mountain Road RV Park is at exit 333 on I-40 in Tucumcari, New Mexico, less than a half mile from the Flying J Travel Plaza. We decided to stay there because it was convenient to Flying J and easy access back onto I-40 in the morning, but we won’t stay there again because it IS so close to Flying J. We listened to the rumble of the trucks coming into and leaving the truck stop all night. It was a constant drone of diesel engines.

That's Flying J over there

The campground is nice enough for an overnight stay, though. Sites are long and mostly level. We only had to put a 1 X 6 under the tires on one side to get leveled up.

Our rig parked for the night.

There is no grass and not many trees, so if it were a hot summer day this could be a miserable place. In April, though, it was not bad.

more of the campground

Full hook-ups cost $26 per night. We received a $2.00 discount for paying cash, but they do take credit cards. Other discounts are available for Good Sam and AARP members. There is a nice clean laundry room. The showers were locked and since I didn’t ask for a key I wasn’t able to get a picture of them.

Laundry room

The office sells ice and ice cream bars, and few RV supplies. We didn’t have a reservation but we got there early. The campground filled up later in the day. If you’re in need of a place to get off the road for the night, and won’t be bothered by the noise from the trucks, I’d say go for it.

entrance to the campground

Campground Review: West 40 RV Park, Shamrock, Texas

We chose to stop at West 40 RV Park in Shamrock because it is a nice level campground, just off I-40 about four miles west of town. The long enough to accommodate the largest RV out there. Full hook-ups go for $26 a night. They don’t take credit cards but do take a check or cash.

They have 30 amp and 50 amp electric hook-ups and are putting in some new sites. They also have some tent sites. Even though this campground is on the side of I-40 you don’t notice much noise from the road.

Our campsite had a great view

The view out the window is of rolling hills and ranch land. If you have children with you, there is lots of room for them to run and play here. There is a laundry facility, and showers, but I forgot to take pictures (imagine that!) but you can see one more here along with more reasons to stop in Shamrock on your trip. West 40 RV Park is a nice little campground, in a nice little town, and well worth the camping fee they charge.

 

Campground Review: Oklahoma City East KOA

the office building

We decided to stay at the Oklahoma City East KOA, which was about half way between Russellville, where we stayed last night, and Shamrock, Texas, where we want to be tomorrow. This KOA is easy to get to off of I-40 exit 166, but it is not right on the highway like a lot of KOA’s we have stayed in.

Julie registered me for a site

The people working behind the counter and in the yard of the campground were both so nice and friendly, and offered lots of information about points of interest in the area and, more important to us, information about the condition of the roads in Oklahoma City. Last fall when we came through Oklahoma City, that road just about beat us to death. Kevin gave me a map and showed us how to get around the city without having to get on that rough part of I-40 in town, which to us was worth gold!

Our site

This campground is really beautiful. I think it is the most beautiful KOA we have ever stayed in, and we have stayed in a lot of them. There are lots of trees so the sites are shady, and lots of grassy spaces in between the campsites. We did have to put a 2 X 6 and a 1 X 6 under the trailer tires on one side to get level, but that is not unusual. We have had to do that in other campgrounds we have stayed in. The site was plenty long enough for us to not have to unhook the trailer from the truck, too. I had a voucher for a free stay for one night, but if I had had to pay it would have cost us $41 plus change.Rates change from season to season and also depend on what type of site you get, and whether you have 50 or 30 amp electric service available. You can check rates on their website.

The laundry room

In addition to the store that sells some food and camping supplies, there is a laundry room, showers, and a swimming pool. The pool was not open while we were here, but it is only April. The laundry room had 4 washing machines and 4 dryers, and I did see an ironing board in there. It was very clean.

Showers

The showers were in individual rooms, which I liked because it affords more privacy than just a shower curtain in a bathhouse. They looked and smelled very clean, too.

the pool

It looked like they were filling the swimming pool to get it ready for the season.

Children’s playground

The children’s playground looked like it had a lot of fun things for kids to play on.From their website:

Connect with the city’s cowboy legacy at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum or Stockyards City. While in town, take a canal barge ride in Bricktown, pay your respects at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, stop at Bass Pro Shops or visit any of the other exciting museums and shops the city has to offer. Or you can just spend a few quiet days at the campground. Ride the hay wagon, roast marshmallows, let your pet run free in our Kamp K-9 Park, stroll the 1-mile nature trail or enjoy a home-cooked meal at the café (open weekends seasonally).

Oklahoma City East KOA Kamping Kabins

If you don’t have an RV, and really don’t want to tent camp, you can try one of the Kamping Kabins. These cabins are primitive–just a step up from sleeping in a tent, but offer a way to go camping without having to buy a tent.

Kabin 1 had bunks with a large one on the bottom and a small one on the top

They have bunks with mattresses, some have a restroom with a toilet, and a sink where you can wash your hands and face without having to go to the bathhouse.

Kabin 1 also had a toilet and sink

Each one at this campground had a fire pit with a grill, and a picnic table where you can prepare meals. You’ll have to bring all your supplies, just like if you were camping in a tent, but have a more secure feeling of being in a building with a door.

Each Kabin has a fire pit with a grill and picnic table

For some families that can be important, especially if you have small children who have never been camping before.

This campground has about 50 campsites; 9 tent sites; 6 Kamping Kabins and 1 lodge type cabin. They can accomodate groups, and have a clubhouse, and do have overflow camping when all the sites are full. They can accommodate even the largest RV.

We liked this campground very much, and will probably stay here again sometime.

Campground Review: Mission RV Park, Russellville, Arkansas

Mission RV Park

We stopped for the night at Mission RV Park in Russellville, Arkansas. It was a very short drive off exit 78 on I-40. The campground is run by the owners, who live on the property. They have quite a few permanent residents here, but they don’t allow residents to accumulate a lot of junk on their sites, so the campground looks very nice.

The entrance road to Mission RV Park in Russellville

The campground has 45 RV sites, with about a third of them being pull through. The sites that back up to the lake are for campers who stay for more than one night. Rates for a 30 amp site are $27 per night plus tax, making it $29.43 for up to four people on the site.

Our site was quite level on the pad

The site we stayed on had a concrete pad that was very level, but but the concrete pad was very short and probably wouldn’t accommodate a longer RV. While the site itself is long enough for larger RVs, it gets out of level off of the concrete pad.

View of Lake Dardanelle from the activity building

While there is a view of Lake Dardanelle from the campground, there is no boat access or easy fishing access from the campsites. There is a Corp of Engineers boat ramp nearby.

The laundry room

The laundry room has two washers and two dryers, and an iron and ironing board for use by campers. The showers are also in this building.

The ladies shower room

You are only two miles from Arkansas Nuclear One, a power generation plant on Lake Dardanelle, and they even tell you that on their website:

Arkansas Nuclear One

What they don’t tell you about is the train tracks that run along side of the campground. The trains run on a very regular schedule and can be quite loud as they rumble by. I would however, recommend this park to anyone who is traveling thru the area on I-40.