Workamping Dawwwg: No Bones About It

Mom and I are keeping real busy with our workamping jobs, no bones about it.  Did you know that expression is hundreds of years old?  It means that you are being straightforward, honest, and clear.  It comes from the olden days, when it was a good thing to be able to have your soup and not find any bones in it.  I don’t know about that.  I think soup is better if it does have bones in it.  At least a few.  For flavor, you know.

Anyways, Mom’s job is to work as part of a team running the campground, keeping it a great place for everybody.  In human terms, that means lots of rules.  Advertising the rules, enforcing the rules, and bending some rules when bending makes sense.  Mom likes rules.  They keep life nice and organized.  She has a whole long list of them that she expects me to follow.  She’s a very straightforward kind of girl.

My job is to tend to Mom.  In doggie terms, that means loads of love.  My top priority practically goes without saying:  Protect her and our little house.  My favorite duty, though, is to get her to curl up with me for as many naps as possible.  It helps her unwind from some of her crazy dealings with people, especially the boneheaded ones.

And believe you me, that girl needs to unwind.

Like the other night.  We were sound asleep when a soft knock came on the door.  Leaping into Workamping Dawwwg mode, I sounded the alarm (Mom would never have heard those tiny knocks without me).  It was after midnight, and a lady stood outside our door to file a complaint about some noisy, drunken neighbors.  Well, I made so much noise–enough to strike terror into the hearts of the entire campground–I scared the noisiest noisemaker off.  Before Mom could even get dressed, they had driven away.  Unfortunately, Mom felt it necessary to stay up even longer to make sure things remained quiet.  Thank goodness the next day she let me put her down for a good nap!

Then there was cigarette lady and her tiny terror.  Mom needed to take me for a quick walk while on a work break.  New neighbors had pulled in next to us and when Mom approached our door she saw they had a little dog tied up to a tree on a very long leash that would let the dog go all the way to our house and beyond.  She asked the lady real nice to please tie the dog farther away so it wouldn’t reach our house, but the lady was too busy smoking a cigarette to bother.  When we came out of our door, the tiny terror charged us, nipping at our feet.  Flashing into Workamping Dawwwg mode, I was ready to chew the little fur ball’s head off, but Mom pulled me up and out to the road.  Mom and the lady yelled at each other until the lady’s husband arrived on the scene, took care of the stupid dog, and shut the woman up.

Mom talks wistfully about going back to a workamping job that involves little to no contact with campers…  like the one in Virginia where she cleans bathrooms and cabins and fire pits.  But I know her.  I can tell there is something special about this place that makes all the craziness worthwhile.

You see, if jobs were soup, this one has a whole lot of flavor.  The tastiest bits are the friends we have made.  Mom couldn’t deal with what she has to deal with if it weren’t for her friends on the workamping team and a whole lot of other really good people she has met here.  And me?  I’ve made a wonderful new doggie friend on our morning walks.  I even let her sniff my tail the other day!

So I think we’ll stay a while longer.  Bones and all.  Don’t worry about us.  We’re a team.  I’ll chew ’em up.  She’ll spit ’em out.

(The picture at the top of this post is of me, beautiful me, sitting in the EZ-Go golf cart that Mom and her friends use to ride around the campground.  When it’s not real busy, she lets me ride with her.  I’m hoping to learn to drive real soon!)

Another Day, Another Night

Is that old expression, “Another day, another dollar,” used much anymore?  It seems to me that inflation exploded it decades ago or at least has made it wistfully ridiculous.  Here is an expression that stands the test of time and is appropriate for workampers:  “Another day, another night.”

For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, workampers exchange their labor for a free camping site and, usually, hookups to electric, water, and sewer.  The beauty of a barter type of arrangement like this is that the value for what each of the parties gives corresponds directly to what they receive.  It is wonderfully simple.  Other benefits are sometimes offered, as well, such as free use of laundry machines and other campground amenities.  For me, the primary benefit (actually, more of a thrill than a benefit) has been access to campground golf-cart style work vehicles.  I adore riding around in those things.

So far, I’ve seen labor hours required range from 14 to 25 per week.  The 25 hours/week (at Texas state parks) seems really high to me.  That’s well over half of a full-time job in exchange for site rental and utilities.  Twenty hours/week seems to be a typical requirement.  That’s not too bad when you are a couple and can split the hours.  One place I work simply requires you (alone or as part of a couple, it doesn’t matter) to work two days on, then you get four days off.  That’s my favorite arrangement so far, as it gives me ample time to do personal errands and chores and allows me to take some overnight camping trips so that I don’t start growing roots!

Workamper duties vary widely.  In my five stints up to this point (at three different places), I have cleaned bathrooms, cabins, fire pits and grills; handled reservations and check-in/check-out services; and worked in a retirement community for RV’ers.  Physical labor and outdoor work is nice for keeping you in shape.  Indoor and office work is a wonderful treat and can keep you alive when the weather is challenging (cleaning fire pits and grills in 95 degree, humid weather is killer).  In any case, workamping is a great way to really get to know your campground and its staff and to meet other campers.

I found all three of my workamping jobs while visiting the campgrounds first, in person.  That is a nice way to do it.  You can sample the things that are most important to you before committing to working there for months at a time.  For me, those things include a good place for dog walks, safe and pretty surroundings, decent TV signals, and good Verizon reception.  Criteria that others might rank more important could include items such as on-site laundry machines, structured activities, campground-supplied Wi-Fi, and proximity to a city.  Oh, and distance to the nearest Walmart…  That’s not on my official list, but it sure helps.

You can also find workamping jobs online.  Workers on Wheels has a great website (www.work-for-rvers-and-campers.com) that lists jobs in exchange for camping sites, as well as paying jobs from employers who appreciate a flexible, mobile workforce (such as Amazon, Christmas tree lots, and some farms during harvest season).  The website contains a wealth of valuable information, including help-wanted ads, work-wanted ads, home business ideas, help building a resume, and on and on and on.  Check them out!

Any readers who would like to share their workamping tips or experiences, feel free to use the comments section.  Just please be patient, as each comment comes through me before it is posted.  Thanks, and if I don’t post again before the end of the month, have a happy and safe Memorial Day.

(Photo at top of post:  The mountain laurels are back in bloom here in Virginia, making our daily dog walks some of the most pleasant in all of our travels.)

Firsts

See in the photo?  Smack in the middle.  Can you see him?  I know I know I know.  It’s nearly impossible to make out, but there he is… a new born fawn, wobbling along through the woods, his mother just out of the picture frame, beckoning him to come along come along come along!

When Dawny and I first spied him, he was on the road, struggling to get up on his scrawny legs from a rest to follow his mother into the woods.  His poor little legs would fold back up on themselves every 20 steps or so and the struggle would repeat itself.  He must have been less than a day old, maybe born the previous night.  Maybe born that very morning!

Another first happened last week when I saw an eagle fishing.  He was HUGE!  I was in a truck with one of the park rangers and we saw him flying over the boat launch area.  Soon he landed on the dock.  He looked to be the size of a kindergartner–yes, an exaggeration, but only a slight one.  He took off again, then quickly dipped down into the water and came up with a gigantic fish.  What a thrill!

I had a wonderful visit with a dear friend recently and she commented that I am looking younger.  It of course has a lot to do with the amount of weight I have lost (that dog walker’s revolving door hasn’t slowed), but I think an awful lot has to do with the pure joy that comes from experiencing new things.  It’s pretty neat to have spent all this time on this beautiful earth and still stumble upon something fascinating and fresh.

I used to think that people who wanted to live a really, really long time (or forever!) had their heads in the clouds and their feet nowhere near the nice, practical, down-to-earth lifestyle I’ve always admired–or at least adhered to–for most of my life.  I didn’t even mind the idea of dying before I got very old.  Make room for the youngsters and all that.

But now…  Move on over youngsters!  Dawny and I have too much to look forward to.  I think we shall both live to be 100!