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. 

Back To The Grand Canyon For Me

 

While I was sitting here suffering through this crud of a cold, and freezing in my robe, I got my much anticipated email from my boss at the North Rim, asking me if I am planning to return for another season. Well, Heck yah! I am.

He said they haven’t had much snow up there this winter, and the road was still being cleared, so they didn’t have much need for snowmobiles yet. I’m hoping they don’t get a lot of late season snow, so we can get our trailer into our campsite without having to tromp around in mud like we did last spring.

Just knowing that I have a job to go back to is very comforting, since we bought the house. Someone has to make those payments!

Just Another Day On The Job

Today was my first day of work for the season. We did the usual stuff–saying hello to everyone that came back from last year, meeting the new people, telling what we did on vacation. (or in this case, over the winter). The weather up here at the North Rim has been sunny and gorgeous every day since FabGrandpa and I arrived back on April 25. But today? It snowed!

Snow at the North Rim

Can’t tell much from that photo, but it did snow, off and on, all day. It was cold out there, too. Walking back and forth from the RV to the fee office was a brisk adventure.

I got mail today, too. Lots of it.  Bills, magazines, and Mother’s Day cards from the girls and Seth. And these loverly socks that Becca knitted just for me:

My loverly new socks

Does that girl take after her mama or what? Look at that cabling–she is one smart cookie!

In the afternoon, one of my co-workers and I walked over to the emergency services building to pick up the golf carts that belong in the campground. They weren’t charged up, so we plugged them in and walked back. While it was sort of chilly out, and snowing, I really need to get out and walk more. Don’t know that I will do that again tomorrow, but for today, yeah.

Tonight, I made some home made gluten free banana muffins to take to class in the morning. There are two of us who can’t eat wheat. Today, someone brought biscotti to eat with the coffee, which we couldn’t have. So, tomorrow, we’ll have something, too.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

You know, when something like that happens, the person who brought the goodies always feels like they need to apologize to me (and others) because I can’t eat whatever they brought. The way I see it, is that I am the one with the special diet, so it is up to ME to make sure I have something to eat at times like that.  It is MY responsibility to make something to take. I always share whatever I have, because most times it is good, even if it IS gluten free, and I can let my friends and co-workers see that I am not being deprived because I have to eat something different. Something that is not doughnuts or biscotti.  And this recipe is so easy and quick to make.

Pamela’s Muffins

1  1/4 cup Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

1 banana, mashed.

1/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients well, spoon into a muffin pan, bake for 22 minutes at 350 degrees. Done, and it makes 6 muffins.

Tomorrow, we’ll have a goodie too, to go along with that B.O.R.I.N.G training.

Ah, The Perks Of Volunteering!

Payne Lake

This is our second season volunteering at Payne Lake Campground. Payne Lake is in the Talledega National Forest, south of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We liked it so much last year that we decided to come back. The forest service really knows how to make us volunteers feel welcome and appreciated!

Our campsite at Payne Lake

Our duties here include staffing the entrance station on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There are two camphost spots, one on each side of the lake, so we agreed with the other couple that we would staff the booth all day every other weekend. During the week, we drive around the campground a couple of times a day, doing the site checks, and checking the bathrooms to make sure they are stocked with toilet paper, and that the heaters are working.

Payne Lake is gorgeous!

We also pick up litter and clean out the fire rings on the campsites. Theyask for a total of 32 hours a week of work. We don’t have to do anything that is really hard, and we don’t have to clean any bathrooms. It really is a good volunteer gig.

Me, Fabgrandpa, and Joe, the resource manager (our boss)

In exchange for the work that we do, we are given a full hook up campsite, propane, and satellite internet service. (Verizon Mi-fi also gets a good signal here) They have also put a washer and dryer and a small freezer in the maintenance shop on the property for us to use. AND, several times during the winter, someone comes by and puts venison in the freezer for us to eat. Last year, they gave us some very nice jackets with a “Forest Service Volunteer” patch on them.   Then when it was time to leave last year, they had a cook out and gave us more presents!

Forest Service Christmas Luncheon

Today they had a Christmas luncheon at the work center. It was a very nice party with lots of food, and time to talk and get to know many of the forest service employees. They were all so nice!

Our forest service truck

Oh, and did I mention that they give us this nice truck to drive while we are on forest service business? Classy! There is a golf cart, too.  Because we have business we need to take care of next winter in Georgia, we have already confirmed our volunteer job at a Georgia State Park.  That means that Joe is looking for someone to replace us next winter. So, if anyone is interested in taking this spot, we’ll be leaving around April 10 to head back west for the summer. He needs someone during the summer, too.

beautiful

Payne Lake Recreation Area has two campgrounds–one on the west side (which is the one we ae assigned to) and one on the east side. The West Side Campground has 18 campsites, 8 of which have electric and water, and 10 that have just water connections. The East Side Campground has 35 primitive sites. There is a day use area, a nature trail, a boat ramp, and a dump station. There aren’t many campers during the week, but on weekends during hunting season, it is full much of the time. You don’t take any money–the visitors fill out their own passes and drop the money in a pipe safe. We are here pretty much to prevent theft and vandalism in the area.

East Side Camphost site

If you’d like more info, you can email me at fabgrandma @ gmail.com and I can send you Joe’s phone number and email address.

Just Another Day At The North Rim

Yesterday was my project day, and since there was nothing to do in the office, I took a drive up to Point Imperial and Cape Royal.  The drive up was gorgeous, as usual.

 

The road to Point Imperial

The fork in the road: turn right to get to Cape Royal, turn left to get to Point Imperial.

Still on the way to Point Imperial.

When I got there, my objective was to walk around and talk to the visitors there. They always have questions, and if I can answer them, I do. Yesterday, everyone wanted to know about the fire in Flagstaff.  Point Imperial is one of the most visited viewpoints at the North Rim. I can see why:

 

Ooooooooo!

Ahhhhhhhhh!

After about an hour or so, I left, and headed out towards Cape Royal. I wanted to go to the geology talk given by the Interpretive Ranger up there–it started at 2:30.  I had enough time to stop by Greenland Lake. Greenland Lake is the only “lake” here. It is created by melting snow. By August, it will be dried up until next spring.

 

Greenland Lake

Flower bud.

Make a wish and blow!

While I was at Greenland Lake, the battery in my camera died, so I was not able to take any more pictures. But I continued on to Cape Royal, and met up with Ranger Gaelyn. Even though this is my third season working here, I have not ever made it to the geology talk. I usually have other duties and don’t have time to go. She did a fabulous job of explaining how the Grand Canyon was formed.  Next time you got to a national park, make a point of going to the Ranger Programs.

 

A Day In Kanab, Utah

Remember this? Well, today we added more to it. We got  up very early to go to Kanab, Utah. It’s an 85 mile drive, with a one hour time difference once you cross the Utah border. We wanted to get there by 8:00 a.m. Utah time  because we were having work done on the truck. So, we left about 5:50 (Arizona time), went to pick up Gaelyn of Geogypsy, and took off.

Gorgeous sky in the Kaibab National Forest

Early morning in the Kaibab National Forest, just outside the gates of the Grand Canyon National Park, is always interesting. You might see deer, turkeys, a coyote, or a buffalo out there. Today we saw this beautiful sky.

We got to the auto shop just at 8:00, and dropped off the truck. They gave us a loaner vehicle so we wouldn’t have to sit around there all day. We went to Houston’s Trails End Restaurant for breakfast, then headed about a mile or so north of town to the private campground where our friends, Marcie and Jim, and Chris, are staying while they are workamping in Kanab.  I didn’t think about taking pictures while I was there, but that campground has some wonderful scenery around it.

Marcie and Chris are going to be staffing a booth at The Kane County Farmers Market, which will be held every Saturday from the last weekend in May through the middle of October, beginning at 9:00 am to 11:30 am. Chris makes some really cute “tea bag wallets”, which are big enough to hold 4-6 tea bags for hot tea. What a great idea! Marcie makes crocheted items, which I unfortunately did not see. But, if you find yourself in Kanab on a Saturday morning this summer, go on over and check out our stuff. They are going to be selling some of my things, too. Thank you so much, girls! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

When we left their place, we went over to the Family Dollar store, where I picked up some packing tape and another cute dress for Amelia. (yeah, I know, I have it bad, hehehe).  There just happened to be a thrift shop next door, so we went in to see what they had. I picked up a luggage carrier for a good price to use to take my laundry to the laundry room. By then, it was almost time for my hair appointment.

Since the post office is right behind the hair salon, we parked there and I finished packing up the things I had to mail out. Heads up to all my kids, I sent gifts out to all the grandkids today. They should get them soon. Got the hair cut and made an appointment for a pedicure in two weeks, and another hair cut in 5 weeks. Yay!

We went to another thrift shop, the one for the hospital auxiliary, where they had these cute fabrics for 50 cents a piece, for 1/2 yards!

Lots of inexpensive fabric. Yes!

I also picked up all this lace trim, for practically nothing!

Almost a hundred yards of laces, for less than $5.00!

The best bargain of the day, though, was this fabulous thread bin, full of thread, for $15! Some of that thread is silk. And all of the spools are wooden, which I haven’t seen in years. OH, I am just loving this!

Some of this thread is silk! a great bargain here.

And last, here is a lovely piece of fabric, all pink and flowery. It is actually an 84″ X 26″ curtain panel, that I picked up for $4.00 in Deja Vu Antiques. I am planning to use it to make a fluffy dress for Amelia. Yes, like Scarlett O’Hara, she will be wearing the drapes before she is old enough to walk.  Hahahaha. But, don’t you think that is just soooo pretty?

Soon to be a fluffy baby dress!

Somewhere in there, we went grocery shopping, and ate some lunch at Escobar’s. Finally, around 4:00 p.m, they got finished with the truck.  They added a Banks Intercooler under the hood. See all those new manly pipes! FabGrandpa is in “guy heaven”.

Those gray pipes were added to increase the flow of air to the turbo.

And FabGrandpa finally got to add the Banks sticker to our truck. One on each side. He says they only cost $1100, each.

Love that new sticker!