We are closing in on finishing up our 3rd year of living the full-time RV lifestyle.
The road has been a good one to us. Not that it’s been all fun, frolic, and laughs but it has brought us closer together – not only physically but emotionally as well.
Kathy and I just celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary with an Amtrak trip to Glacier National Park. During our lifetime together, a lot of that time was “alone” time. In one of my early career positions I was gone “on the road” nearly every weekday, sleeping in motels Sunday through Thursday nights somewhere in my multi-state territory.
Even when I was at home, my time was consumed with working on the “work” business from home involved in conference calls and drafting of sales proposal letters along with being active in the only real hobby I ever had … local ham radio clubs and events.
Kathy had a handful of different jobs over the years (most importantly raising the kids and keeping the house together) with most of the time working in the school system so she could be off work and at home when the kids were at home. We were fortunate because with her job schedule we didn’t need to hire child care.
But now our lives are a polar opposite of that earlier time. We are together ALL THE TIME. We travel side by side, we share meals, we do the mundane tasks of grocery shopping, house cleaning and laundry together, and we sleep next to each other. I think we have both come to appreciate each other far more than earlier in our marriage. We’ve always had a lot of mutual love and respect for each other – rarely raising our voices to the other. But before … we had other things to occupy our time. If we felt the urge for some “space”, we could easily separate ourselves from the other. Now on the other hand – it’s not so easy. After all, we live in a 300 sf box with a little bit of green space around us.
Our three years together in our “Green Machine” Airstream motorhome has given us the luxury at this stage in our lives of … in a way … becoming one.
When we started this lifestyle three years ago, we realized that in order to travel from place to place and enjoy the local life, we needed to have some assistance with the household budget. We sold our house, paid off what little remaining debt we had and decided we would live off our social security income and a small pension Kathy had from working at the school system. We decided we would keep the retirement nest egg (IRA’s, investments) alone for future use when (if) we get off the road. Oh sure, it’ll happen sometime. We will either run out of good health or run out of our love for the road, but by leaving our investments alone so they can continue to grow, at least we won’t HAVE to come off the road because we’ve run out of money.
Although I had no employer monthly pension income (I was self employed the last 20 years) we had purchased an annuity years ago that could now provide a supplement to our Social Security along with Kathy’s small pension.
Yes we could “make it” on those income sources alone, it was going to be tight. We’d have to always be scrutinizing the budget each month and we’d have little room if any for any emergency expense or extravagance.
Somewhere, somehow … we discovered Workamping/Hosting/Volunteering and the opportunities it can provide. These experiences have given us the opportunity to travel and have rent-free sites and utilities. In addition, these opportunities have given us something else that we never really expected … new and lasting friendships.
Workamping/Camp Hosting/Volunteering opportunities are generally long-term commitments. What I mean by that is that most often (but not always) your “employer” would like to have their “staff” on board for the season or even year-round.
Starting out, our first gig was 6 months long – the winter season in Arizona.
Although our owner/managers (George & Sigrid) were wonderful to us, treated us so well – like family … we ultimately decided when making arrangements for future opportunities we would look for more “short term” commitments. We’ve since been working one-month to 3-month gigs.
This way we can continue to travel around the country and have more new experiences and make more new and lasting friendships. If we worked for 6 months in each location, we’d be 130 years old and still not have completed our Bucket List!
Here’s a U.S. map showing where we’ve AT LEAST stayed overnight in the last three years. You can see we’ve still got a long way to go … we need to spend more time along both the east and west coasts.
Oh yeah, earlier I mentioned this part about friendships but then I got off track – excuse me. We have discovered that working (volunteering) as we travel allows us to meet, get to know, and build lasting relationships with lots of wonderful people from all over the country.
Right now as an example, we are acting as tour guides at DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives in Spearfish, South Dakota (Black Hills and Badlands area)
There are 10 couples here, all living in our rigs side-by-side in Volunteer Village at the Spearfish City Campground right across the street from the hatchery.
We work side-by-side, share most nights of the week around the campfire cooking smores and enjoying each other’s stories and even have monthly pot luck meals along with weekly free music festivals in the city park just a few hundred feet away.
When we have to say goodbye and hit the road again, we stay in touch with our new friends as we travel using both Facebook (groups) and a Facebook-like app made just for RV’ers called RVillage.com. Both of these are great resources to keep up with our buddies and see what their next adventure is and maybe where we might apply to work/volunteer in the future.
We’ve already had at least a dozen experiences over the last three years where we have volunteered with folks in say, Livingston Texas and met up with them again in Burlington Vermont or Ludington Michigan (or somewhere like that). Sometimes it’s planned, but more often it’s serendipitous!
But what about our family and “old” friends? Do we miss our kids and grandchildren? You bet! It would be great if we could do what we are doing AND fly back home to Ohio at least once or twice a year to spend time with the family. But, fact is we just can’t afford to that. Life is often about sacrifices (and opportunities!)
It really depends on where we are working and how long the commitment is and where the next commitment will be. We don’t plan our work locations based on traveling back home once or twice each year. We plan our work locations on where we have NOT been, what we might like to see, and how appealing the location and job description/compensation package is.
We were last in Ohio April of 2018 for a month and we will be back there summer of 2020 so we’ll have plenty of time to catch up. The photos below of the kids, grand-kids, in-laws and old neighbors might be a couple or a few years old, but they’re some of our favorites.
And of course, we post LOTS of info and pictures on Facebook, videos on You Tube and posts here on the blog for family and friends to see what we’re up to.
So yes, it’s great to travel the country and see all the great exciting new places, but we’ve found that the wonderful personal relationships we’ve developed with all our new friends as we travel and volunteer are the larger perk of the RV lifestyle that we embrace.
If you are interested in finding out more about our Workamping and volunteering experiences, just scroll on up to the top right hand side of this post and enter either “volunteer” or “workamp” in the search box and hit “enter”.
If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you can easily do so by scrolling up to the top of any page and entering your email address in the block on the right side.
You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (herbnkathyrv) on You Tube.
If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.
We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.
13 thoughts on “Is It The Places or The People ?”
Glad life is treating you good. Miss you… Linda
Thanks for riding along. We’re enjoying life and look forward to seeing you guys when we come back up to Michigan in late summer 2020, unless of course we see you in AZ b4 then!
Our best to Mike and the kids and say hi to Kipp and Jean for us too!
I have found this lifestyle has provided deeper friendships and enriched our relationship, also. We’ve encountered so many people (Kathy and you included) who have touched our hearts. It’s also become quite clear how small this world is, because we run into people in the least expected places. I’ve no regrets and can’t wait until we see Kathy and you again. Happy trails! Dawn
Love seeing your pictures and how happy you guys look! I work for a non profit now. We’re bringing a new program to Delaware called Sages & Seekers. Matches a older adult with a high school student for once a week conversation! 8 week program with so many benefits to the kid and the adult! Keep living the good life and sharing those stories 😎
Colleen, so sorry I didnt reply when I first saw your comment. Was probably reading it on my phone and then got distracted .. my bad.
Good to hear about your new gig .. sounds like a program and I know you are good for them, they’re lucky to have you on their team.
Thanks for riding along with us every once in a while .. take care .. have a wonderful rest of the summer!
So great to follow you on the road. Allen said just a couple days ago,- I wonder if Kathy is enjoying this, or if it’s all Herb. So someday hope to hear a word or two from Kathy! Happy anniversary and Happy Trails!! Alberta & Allen
So good to hear from you two! We miss all our friends back home, so we’ll be there next summer for a month or so to get reacquainted! Yes, Kathy is enjoying it as much as I am, but she’s more one to stand in the background than me. I’ve managed to coax her into being in one or two videos over the years, but she’d really rather stay in the shadows. She HAS opened up however when we are in a small group of friends and for that I’m thankful.
Take Care and thanks so much for riding along and commenting!
I think of your friendship and camaraderie we experienced working in Real Estate. (One of my favorite stories is the day we visited Arby’s and you saw a guy you thought you knew…”Red”, but he nor you really didn’t know each other, but still had an exchange..lol). I miss those simpler times) You & Kathy made a wise decision to fulfill your dreams, and satisfy your bucket list. I really enjoy your talents in writing / bringing your lifestyle to the surface. I am embarking on a business venture we hope to have up and running by late October. Be well my friends, and stay safe! Eric
Hi Eric! So good to know you’re riding along with us! I miss our times together as well, but things change and we move into different “zones” in our lives. We’re having fun and I need to call you to find out about your new venture .. you always had great ideas and I know you always did/do your due diligence. Best of luck and say HI to Deb and the kids for us. We will be back in Ohio for a month or so next summer, so i hope we can hook up for lunch or a beer!!
Take Care my Friend ..
Hello Kathy hello Herb we’ve been following your adventures across the US and a happy anniversary to you both this is Donna and William Ireland we are at PM oaks in Michigan again this year happy trails to you and enjoy your togetherness which sounds like it’s doing magnificently
Hi there Donna and Will! So good to hear from you and glad you are up at that wonderful park again! We miss you all and although we wont be there this year, we already have alerted Sue that we are coming up for a brief visit next (2020) late summer so she’ll save us a spot. It’ll be gr8 to see everyone again and hope you might be there too.
We just started work for the day and I am in the rail fish car waiting for the first days visitor to arrive. Later this week we will head on down to the big Sturgis Bike Week so follow the blog or our FB page for pictures. Hugs to you both
Herb & Kathy
Thank you, Herb, for speaking from the heart. It’s refreshing. Guess there’s a little poet in the Ohio boy, eh?? 🙂
Yea, decided to get a little more personal and let some of my inner thoughts come through. Thanks for reading and the note.