Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Workamping Seniors

Published in WorKamper News, Jan/Feb 2015, Page 58

In 2010 Michelle and I took an extended vacation across the US pulling a pop-up. After 80 days and 11,000 miles, we did not want to go home. That was the realization that we wanted to become full-time RVers. I was 73 years old; she was 62.

Financially we are OK but sure not rich; so roaming the country and paying commercial camping rates every night is out of the question. While we want to “roam”, we do not want to travel every day or even every week. We want to go to new places and stay there long enough to explore the area, see the sights, and meet the local people. Workamping is the natural answer and it quickly became part of our planning.

It took a couple years to make it happen. We had a house to sell, a lot of stuff to get rid of, and personal affairs to put in order. We also had to move up from a pop-up to something more substantial. Finally, we had a lot to learn about RVing and Workamping.

We chose a Fifth Wheel as our RVing vehicle. I am still satisfied with that choice. However, I wish I had bought a bigger truck. We bought the truck first, with no RV experience. Then we had to fit the 5er to the truck. If I could do it over, I would buy a 250 or 2500 diesel with 4WD.

Attending the Workamper Rendezvous was a very positive learning experience. I should have done that at least one year earlier. If you are reading this and contemplating attending – just do it!

We have been workamping for about four years; volunteering with non-profit organizations, serving as Camp Hosts at a National Park, doing campground work for a private campground. We seek out the unusual. So far that has been dry camping for a week in an industrial parking lot while decorating a Rose Parade float as volunteers.

I think we have succeeded as Workampers. We have gotten every situation we sought. Frankly, I don’t know how we could have done it without the internet. There is so much information within easy reach. Almost every workamping opportunity has a website. There are more websites on RVing than you can count and there are an increasing number of sites on Workamping. Workamper News is the best but not the only one. I do extensive research or “data mining” for opportunities.

I will claim an almost perfect resume. It has been refined over and over. It is packed tight with relevant information. There are no superfluous words, and no spelling or grammar errors. The font is clearly readable. No superlatives and no back slapping about how great we are. I update it frequently to keep it at the top of the pile.

While our resume tells who we are, the cover letter tells what we can do for the employer. I restrict it to one page and pack it as tight as the resume. I concentrate on the cover letter, tailoring each one to the situation. Again – no spelling or grammar errors and a clearly readable font.

I believe our age is a positive factor in workamping. Our behavior and attitude is tempered with maturity and an abundance of life experience. We’ve had our careers. We are comfortable with ourselves – no longer striving to prove something, or to climb the corporate ladder, or get that next promotion. We have achieved some level of financial independence, so we don’t have to chase the almighty dollar. Kids are grown and gone and so are all those obligations.

Our motto is: “Don’t do the same thing twice until you have done everything once”. RVing and Workamping has made that possible beyond our wildest dreams. We love the travel and variety of experiences and people. When “Hitch Itch” strikes we move on.

The one down side to the lifestyle is lack of “hobby space”. Michelle is a quilter and I am a flytyer. Both hobbies require space and equipment that is hard to fit into the RV lifestyle.

We’ll continue our roaming as long as health permits or until our rig gives out. We winter in Florida and roam the country during the rest of the year. I do not expect to replace our current rig and I do expect to have another stix and brix house at the end of this adventure. Right now, I don’t want to think about that.

Daily Chores at Panhandle Pioneer Settlement

Dressed for Pioneer Day at Panhandle Pioneer Settlement

Feeding Wild(?) Horses at Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

Dry Camping at Fiesta Parade Floats

Decorating a Rose Parade Float

Michelle and Park Manager Becky at Yogi at Shangri-La Campground

Dressed for work on The Haunted Trail at Yogi at Shangri-La Campground