Workamping at Pere Marquette RV Park – Baldwin Mich

We’re coming to the end of our first year as full-time RV’ers and Kathy and I have taken stock of the decision we made to leave the stix-n-bricks world of home ownership and hit the road as Workampers.

We left our family and friends back in Ohio on Labor Day 2016 and headed west to Arizona for our first Workamping experience.  This position was for Sept 15th to March 15th, 2017.  I’ve written many posts about our experiences while working in Arizona, you can find them elsewhere on this blog.  Here’s a link to a post on our workamping experience there.

We had a great time and made some great new friendships there and we’d like to go back to Arizona again in the near future.  If you’re contemplating visiting Arizona, we highly recommend the central portion of the state near cities like Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Sedona, & Jerome.

Central Arizona – Not too hot in the summer, not too cold in the winter

These spots are far enough north of Phoenix to be a little cooler and less looking like desert, but in the winter you’re far enough south of cities like Flagstaff so the chances of snow are pretty slim.

Our 2nd and most recent gig is where we’re presently working and about to depart from (Sept 15th).  We’ve had the pleasure of working at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort in (of all places) BALDWIN, Michigan.

Baldwin, MI

This video below takes you on a bicycle tour of the park.  It’s a beautiful lush green RV park full of towering oak trees, an in-ground heated pool, hot tub, picnic pavilion, laundry room, and club house.

We don’t have to park new arrivals, answer the phone, or take reservations.  There is a rental manager for that.  Kathy and I are responsible for maintaining the rest rooms, showers, pool, hot tub, club house and laundry areas.

Take the tour and find out a little more.

Although it’s only been a year, we’ve come to realize that we are really enjoying this lifestyle change.  We have sold our home in Ohio (to our daughter and son-in-law), and will be registering as Texas residents this winter when we are there for our next (winter) workamping position.  Texas is viewed by “those in the know” as one of the 3 best states to domicile in for full-time RV’ers.

We hope to continue this lifestyle as long as our health allows and recommend to anyone considering some sort of lifestyle change to think about hitting the road in an RV and workamping along the way, both to help keep active and contribute to the household budget.  We look for employers/positions that ask for about 10-20 hours per week in exchange for a full hook-up site along with water, sewer, electric, cable, wifi, and laundry allowance.  We don’t want to work 40 hours+, we’ve been there / done that.

Thanks for reading … don’t be afraid to ask questions …we’d love to hear from you.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our First “official” Week On The Job

It’s been a few days since I’ve written … we’ve been keeping busy here at the park.  Our new workamper partners, Russ & Mary arrived on Sunday the 14th and our first official day of work was the 15th.  The first few days of that week we all worked together to get the place “open” for the season.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park is a beautiful park.  There are about 115 RV sites here.  All the lots are individually owned and each property owner is responsible for all the upkeep of their lot with the exception of the grass mowing and trimming which is paid for by the association from the annual association fees.  They hire the crew from the golf course across the street to take care of the turf and those guys come over every Tuesday morning to mow and trim and blow off all the edges.

This first full week the guys pressure washed all the concrete surfaces around the pool deck, the sidewalks, and the picnic pavilion.  We used a pretty slick tool that I wasn’t familiar with called a “PowerFit Surface Cleaner“.  This attaches to the gas powered pressure washer and helps to easily clean the concrete surfaces.

The ladies did the initial “deep cleaning” of the bathrooms to make them spic ‘n span for the season.  We brought out all the tables, chairs, and umbrellas to arrange around the pool … washing everything down as we set them up.  We installed the sand volleyball and badminton nets.  We worked to stabilize the pool and hot tub chemicals so that the water would be clean, balanced, and safe for everyone to use this Memorial Day weekend.

Our site here at the park is close to the main entrance so Kathy and I get to see everyone as they come and go.  Part of our responsibilities include “cruising” the park 3 or 4 times daily in the golf cart and just being aware of anything looking out of the ordinary on residents sites.

Although there are 15-20 folks that are here all summer, many of the sites are unoccupied during the week while their owners are downstate working and then they come “up north” on the weekend, so our weekends are often going to be “full house”, especially on holiday weekends like this Memorial Day weekend.

Kathy and I will be taking some day trips around northern Michigan and we’ll share some of that with you as time goes on.  Thanks for stopping by and we’d love it if you’d leave a note with your thoughts …

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Fisherman’s Paradise at Pere Marquette

Since we’ve been here just a few days in the “up north” area of Michigan, we’ve been able to do a little exploring.  We arrived at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park on Sunday the 7th of May and our official work start date is not until the 15th.

Right after we arrived Sunday night, we noticed a leak in the kitchen sink area.  First thing Monday, a trip to the local ACE Hardware in Baldwin.  WOW!  What a store.

Baldwin ACE Hardware

Large store with ample supply of what seemed to be anything anyone might need or want without the need to drive to Big Rapids or Ludington for one of the big box stores.

Just a small length of plastic pipe strap fixed the problem in a jiffy. The slip joint on the “p” trap had come loose from the jiggling as we travel down the road.

While we were in town we decided to check out some of the Pere Marquette River boat launch sites AND OF COURSE one of the local restaurants for a late morning breakfast.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After breakfast we walked across the street to see the famous JONES Ice Cream Shop.  They have been making their private recipe ice cream in the back room for 75 years.  The parlor’s walls are lined with hundreds of black and white photos showing Lake County history from the mid 1800’s forward.  Take a look at the photos below and see the old time ice cream parlor chairs and stools at the counter.

After breakfast we decided we wanted to look around town a bit check out the river that this area is so famous for.  I’ve put together a video (below) showing some of the different walk-in sites and boat launch sites to the river and some of the lakes in the nearby area.

So far, we are impressed by the beauty of the water and the quiet that abounds.  It’s so peaceful and calming.  Our next post will be a little about the park we’re living at for the summer.  Stay tuned for more.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Goodbye Arizona

Goodbye Arizona

This morning we’ll be heading out, leaving all our new-found friends at Rancho Verde RV Park at Camp Verde, AZ.

This park was our first workamping experience and we came here full of excitement but also a little anxiety not really knowing what to expect.

We’ve been blessed.  We were very quickly accepted as part of the “family” here at the park.  The owners and managers have been wonderful to work for and we’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone here.

Some are full-time residents, while we’ve had a fair amount of those that come and go every few days.  We’ve tried to make a point of meeting as many as we can because in life, it’s the people that make the difference.

So now it’s on to Florida to visit friends and family, then back up to Ohio by the 1st of April where we’ll spend a few weeks with the kids and grandkids, and then up to Michigan in May where we’ll be workamping for the summer near Ludington.

I’ll try to post more as we travel east and north, but it’s often more difficult because of some limited wifi and less time to sit at the keyboard – more driving and sightseeing stops.

 

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Speaking of WORKamping …

Looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us for the next 2-3 weeks.  This park is a nice size, only 40 spaces with green grass and TREES in between each site.  This makes it a real attractive place to stay and live for a while.

Kathy and I are here for six months, workamping 2 days/week in exchange for our site and utilities.

Normally, the workload is pretty light; cutting some grass, helping new arrivals getting parked in their site, delivering mail to the long-term renters, minor repairs of water lines or electrical pedestals, and cleaning of the laundry and bathrooms.

However, yesterday morning after a below freezing night and when the sun came up and hit the trees, it seemed like it was snowing leaves!  It was really kind of funny to watch them all come down all over the park at once.

We’ll use leaf blowers and rakes to get the leaves into piles, then we vacuum them up with the leaf vacuum and dump them down below in our HUGE compost pile.  Check out the videos below to see what workampers do in the fall at Rancho Verde RV Park in Camp Verde, Arizona.

This 2nd short video shows how we vacuum and then dump the leaves into the compost pile down below.  We’ve been doing this 6-8 times each day ’cause that wagon gets filled up pretty quick!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

So Just What Is “Workamping” Anyway?

Kathy and I retired (from full time work) at the end of August 2016 and started our full time RV’ing lifestyle with the intention of “workamping” our way across the country and seeing as much as we can, making new friends, and experiencing things we wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience had we stayed at “home”.

The reason we chose to workamp was two-fold.  First of all, we are not independently wealthy so we couldn’t just travel full time.  Diesel fuel and the nightly rate at most camprounds and RV parks can really hurt a budget quickly if you go from place to place to place.

But relying on our retirement pension and social security and secondly, working along the way seemed a great way to be able to travel and meet new folks.  Workamping supplements our income, allows us to travel, and meet new friends.

We are currently one of 3 workamper couples in this RV park in Arizona.  We are here for a six month commitment (Sept 15 – March 15) and we work 2 days each week.  In exchange for our two (6 hour) days we receive; lot rent, electricity, propane gas, wifi, & laundry.  And we then have 5 days each week to ourselves to goof off and do some sight-seeing around the area.  Last week we went to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and early December will find us at Zion and Brice National Parks.  Our next position will be in northern Michigan for the summer of 2017 and we’re hoping to land a workamping position in central Florida the following winter.

But what does a workamper do?  Workampers typically (and this may vary from one place to another); work in the office greeting and registering new campers, cut grass, clean the laundry and bathrooms, perform light maintenance, help park new campers, act as goodwill ambassadors, and be available to help campers and answer questions.  Some get their sites in exchange for their work while others get paid (typically minimum wage) but may have to pay for some or all of their site and services.

I shot this video to show you what one of my typical days consists of.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Keeping busy learning the ropes (video)

An update on our workamping experience at Rancho Verde RV Park in Camp Verde, AZ

Kathy’s been working in the office learning from Cindy taking phone calls reserving sites and answering callers questions, then she registers the guests when they arrive.  We then guide the newcomer to their site, help them back in, and offer to help hook up their utilities for them.

I’ve been out cutting grass today, helping George replace the thermocouple on the laundry hot water heater, and yesterday George showed us how to do the “flood irrigation” of the grounds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m going to load this video (below) of the flood irrigation in action.  It’s really cool to see it in action.  First we go down below to the creek-side and fire up the pump.  The large silver galvanized pipe (around 12″ diameter) then pumps a tremendous amount of water up to the stone cistern up topside in the campground.  George shows us in the video how the cistern fills very quickly and water pours out one side to flood the grounds all around the office.  When that side has been flooded for an hour or so, then he closes the gate and the water continues to come into the cistern and floods over the top and on down to the other side of the park.

There are valves around the park where we can connect hoses and/or turn on valves to operate sprinkling systems.  Different parts of the park are operated on different days.  This keeps the park nice and verde (green)

The reason that this water cistern is even here is because this park (before the mid 90’s) and much of the surrounding area was all farm land and this irrigation system was installed years ago to help keep the valley fertile.

And it’s still serving a useful purpose today.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
NOTE: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.