Another Chapter Closes

Labor Day weekend.  Full campground.  Cooler nights and families desperate for s’mores whittled our firewood supply down three times over.  Maintenance hauled it in by the tractor load, and we delivered it by the golf cart load–my favorite job.  🙂

Aside from some unavoidable old-lady peevishness–brought on by campers who can’t walk on the roads but insist on the shortest path to wherever they are aiming even if it takes them within inches of my window–I have to admit it has been a wonderful weekend closing to this summer in Tennessee.  We didn’t have any trouble.  Not even one complaint, as far as I know.  Just kids flying around on their bikes, playing in the sandbox, tossing a football with dad; campers playing horseshoes, walking dogs, enjoying the pool; water lovers fishing and kayaking in the river that flows along the length of the park.  Families making memories.

Nevertheless, Dawny and I eagerly anticipate tomorrow, when 73 campers will pull out in a long, winding train back to their homes, their lives, their normalcy.  For then we will once again be free to walk the campground loop without fear of an off-leash or too-long-of-a leashed dog rushing us from between the endless rows of campers.  Dawny likes to walk through the park area just fine, but her true joy is keeping track of our immediate neighborhood in the campground, smelling all the news that is fit to piddle.  Boy, she is going to get a nose-full tomorrow!

Meanwhile, the signs of autumn hover over our heads in browning, slowly falling leaves.  In spots they crunch underfoot, announcing the coming season of quickening nightfalls and lazy-rising morns.  The promise of cozy, delectable holiday feasting wafts from the next fluttering page.

Soon enough, we will move on, too.  Close this little chapter and open another.  Until then, I look forward to enjoying the peace and quiet, as well as the vibrancy and color, that comes with early autumn in Tennessee.  It is a beautiful place and we are blessed to be here.

My hope for you is that your next season is as lovely and you are just as blessed.





I am happy to report that I have written and published a second ebook.

Billy:  A Campground Chronicles Short Story” is now available on Amazon’s ebooks for $1.49.  Here is a direct link to the story on Amazon’s ebooks site if you are interested:

Anyone who has been following this blog recently knows that it has been a bit of a struggle workamping for such a long stretch at the same place and, as an introvert, dealing with so many people–a few of them quite difficult–as part of the job.  Well, the bright side to all of that is that it has given me time and material for this short story.  I have also gained fresh appreciation for the connections that tie us together.

Despite the challenges of the job, there are so many things I love about my stay here in Tennessee.  I have grown especially fond of the people.  You see, I am a city girl for the most part.  To sit for a spell in the countryside where people visit with a stranger until they discover just when and how they know each other’s people was quite foreign to me.  Heck, even though no one here is likely to ever discover a link with “my people,” I have been accepted and loved.  I suppose that makes me the first of my people in this neck of the woods.

But let’s get back to Billy.  Billy and his family also came to this campground without having local roots and branches.  They came with a very large family to camp for a couple of weeks while the parents went off during the day to… well, I don’t know for certain, but I always guessed it was to look for a livelihood somewhere in the surrounding community.  Perhaps they were looking to plant some roots in this rich soil.

Billy himself was a delight and a challenge, a devil and an angel.  As a camp host, I did my best to deal with him directly, as well as with the campers with whom he made contact.  It wasn’t always easy, but in the end it was totally worthwhile.

This short story is an attempt to convey to the reader how we connect with one another in our daily lives.  It is also a reminder to take care.  Take care how we treat each other, take care with our assumptions and our judgements, and take care of our own little worlds and those in our orbit.  Finally, take care to be open to precious gifts when and where you least expect to find them.

I hope some of you will give this story a try and, if you enjoy it, please consider giving it a review on Amazon’s ebooks site.  Positive reviews are very helpful to an aspiring author’s endeavors and enable future readers to find the book more easily.

Thanks, and happy reading!

(Link to my Amazon author page:

Junior …

Junior assistant ranger helper-person… chief toilet washer-gardener-cabin cleaner… odd-job doer, workamper, volunteer…  That’s my new title!

Before setting out to full-time RV, I certainly had plenty of trepidation over the economic challenges that would accompany my prospective new lifestyle.  The largest line item in my budget was nightly camping fees.  Even estimating $25 per night (a seemingly reasonable amount), the cost of a safe place to park my house each night would soar to about $9,000 per year.  An amount like that would eat through my retirement nest egg faster than I could lay another.

While researching the economics of living and traveling full-time in an RV, I found lots of sources that, bottom line, said not to worry.  That things turn up once you get out there.  Most mentioned workamping as a viable way to defray the cost of nightly rental fees, for example.  Basically, you volunteer a certain amount of time helping around the campground and you get a camping site at no cost.

And wallah, here I am.  I stayed at this campground last Fall and when I was checking out, the camp supervisor mentioned that they were going to start a workamp program in the Spring.  Talk about wonderful timing!

After I am finished here, I will head to Texas to volunteer for two months at the CARE Center (Continued Assistance for Retired Escapees) associated with my mail service/RV club, the Escapees.  Again, a rent-free site is part of the deal.  Although Texas in the Summer is not particularly attractive (unless you are an armadillo or scorpion), that is when they are in real need of volunteers.  So when I told them I could work either July or August, they quickly signed me up for both.  That’s all right.  I’m really looking forward to the work there, and I’ll get the added benefit of little-to-no competition for the campground’s laundry and shower facilities.

I’m not sure yet what my duties will be at the CARE Center, but at this campground, I am mostly doing cleaning chores so that the rangers can do more important things.  And boy am I building up some muscles.

I do have to be careful of my back, though, and remember that I am well beyond those tender years when I was mighty and invincible.  When I walked the corridors of a large government agency (in beautiful high heeled shoes!), feeling like I owned the world.  Proud of my degree and my position that I had worked so hard to attain.

It’s funny, but as I scrub toilets and hose down the showers, pull weeds and spread mulch, I keep thinking of some of the immigrants who have come to this country for a better life.  Maybe they fled war, persecution, or some man-made or natural disaster.  Many of them were highly respected professionals back in their home countries.  Doctors, professors, business owners.  And the only work many of them found here were often jobs like the one I am doing now.  Janitors, taxi drivers, temporary or seasonal workers.

And through those jobs–sometimes two or three at a time–they built new lives.  For themselves and for their families.  Often when you hear stories like that, pride in a job well done, no matter what that job entails, is a central theme.  That’s a good book from which to borrow a page.  For me, now.  For anyone, ever.

The people here have been terrific.  A couple of the campers have even made a point of saying how wonderfully clean the bathrooms are.  Kids look at me with envy if I’m lucky enough to be able to drive the Work Horse (a golf cart-type of work vehicle)–oh my gosh, it’s so much fun!

So I shall follow this stream where it leads.  Save money so that Dawny and I can continue to enjoy life in the manner to which we have become accustomed (staying in decent campgrounds rather than Walmart parking lots).  Gather good work experiences to keep life and breath in my resume, in case it is ever again needed.  And enjoy the heck out of this incredible lifestyle.

For although no one is ever truly invincible, might, it turns out, is a state of mind.

(Re photo:  Dawny has loads of pride, and she will sacrifice every bit of it for the promise of a good cookie!)