Fun For All Ages @ Spearfish

We’ve had a wonderful time here in the Black Hills of South Dakota this summer and early fall. We continue to enjoy working at DC Booth Historic National Hatchery, along with taking in all the other attractions that the Black Hills area has to offer, and spending lots of leisure time with all our new friends we’ve made here at the hatchery.

We sit around the campfire nearly every night to share stories and learn about each other

Besides all that, you’ve probably seen my post about the Sturgis Bike Rally that took place here in early August and now this month (Labor Day weekend) the happening things here include the 18th annual “Dakota Five O” bicycle race/ride/tour AND the 8th annual Spearfish City Campground Boat Race (down the Spearfish Creek) for the little ones.

We had a great time taking in both this past weekend and I shot some video to share with you. Check it out below,

The daily visitor count at the hatchery has really slowed down now that the Labor Day weekend has passed and now we can actually stand out in front of our rig at the campground and see clear through the aisles to two or three streets over! There are maybe 15 or so other campers besides the 10 of us volunteer rigs parked in Volunteer Village along the north edge of the campground. The leaves on the trees are JUST started to turn and it’s evident that fall is quickly approaching.

The weather man this morning said it’ll be in the 60’s next week. Brrrr!

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.

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

Is It The Places or The People ?

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.

Me in my ham radio “shack” in the early ’80’s

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.

45 years and still “Livin’ & Lovin'”

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.

Kathy at the registration desk at Rancho Verde RV Park in Camp Verde, AZ

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.

One of our pot luck meals at Volunteer Village
Brooksie entertaining us with one of her stories while Matt prepares his Smore
Enjoying one of the weekly free “Canyon Accoustics” concerts
Sometimes it’s a smaller group out to share a meal together

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.

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 Visit to Deadwood and Lead

Just want to let you know, it’s pronounced “Leed” not like pencil lead, but to “lead” a horse to water. The reason the town is called Lead is that there are quartz-like veins in the rock that “lead” the miner to the gold in the mines. Back in the day these were sometimes called Lodes .. as in “We hit the mother lode”.

We are so glad that we had the opportunity to visit and volunteer in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We have heard so much about the beauty that abounds in this area of the country and when we found out about the possibility of volunteering at D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives … well … we jumped at the chance!

A view of part of the hatchery grounds looking down from the trail

We are camped in “Volunteer Village” which is a separate area of the Spearfish City Campground. The entire campground is set along side Spearfish Creek that starts up in Spearfish Canyon and travels down through the City of Spearfish and travels north to eventually become the Redwater River and then ultimately into Belle Fourche Resevoir.

Our site along with the 9 other couples in Volunteer Village at the city campground
A group of boys enjoying Spearfish Creek right in back of our RV sites

Since we work 3 half days on duty / 3 days off) as volunteers at the hatchery, we have plenty of time to see the sights. Add to that the fact that one of our additional benefits of working here is that we are given VIP passes from the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association.

This card gives us the opportunity to visit 50+ area attractions for free or deep discounted pricing. The purpose is to familiarize us volunteers with everything that the Black Hills & Badlands area has to offer and be eager to share the information about the attractions with visitors to the hatchery as we serve as tour guides in the venues here.

The list of free and discounted attractions offered by BH & Badlands Tourism Assoc

One of the first places we just had to check out when we got here was the City of Deadwood, just about 20 miles south of Spearfish. We also visited the City of Lead.

As you can see by the map below, the downtown areas are only about 3.5 miles apart … it’s like one larger community now but back in the day there was quite the rivalry between the towns … so much so that when the wealthy W.E. Adams at age 71 married his second wife of only 28 years, the gossip and shame cast upon him by other upstanding citizens of the community was NOT the fact that he was marrying a MUCH younger woman, but that he was from Deadwood and she was from Lead!

(The following was taken from blackhillsknowledgenetwork.org) ” Lead was founded in April 1876 by brothers Fred and Moses Manuel who had ventured out from the booming gold town of Deadwood in search of gold. The brothers discovered a promising vein of ore near current-day Lead. Such veins were called leads. The brothers staked their claim, built a mill and in the spring of 1876 mined $5,000 worth of gold from what would eventually become Homestake Gold Mine. “

Kathy wanted a coffee, so we stopped in to this cute little former gas station in Deadwood that now serves as a coffee shop and a glass-blowing studio! Customers can buy the finished product, or make their own at the direction of the owner.

After the coffee stop, we moved on to the Homestake Mine / Sanford Lab Visitor Center just down the road in Lead where we were treated to a trolley tour of the town and the history of the gold mine and the impact it had on the town. The mine was closed in 1983, but is being used today as a research facility at over 5000′ below ground level (under the open pit portion). When the mine was in operation, it had over 350 miles of tunnels down as deep at 8500 feet!

A Google Maps shot of the open pit mine at Homestake (over 1.5 miles wide)

They dug the open pit as deep as they could and ultimately started digging and blasting tunnels down as deep as 8500′ below ground level!

This was a fascinating tour and you can find out more about the history of the Homestake Mine and it’s impact on the area around towns of Lead and Deadwood along with the current neutrino research work going on underground at the 5000′ level by following this link.

While in Deadwood we toured the historic Adams House, the Adams Museum, the Days of ’76 Museum, the Homestake Opera House, and the Silverado Casino.

We drove to the top of Mount Roosevelt located just northwest of Deadwood in the Black Hills National Forest where we parked and then took a trail and walked up about 3/4 mile to the site of the “Friendship Tower” that was built by Teddy Roosevelt’s good friend Seth Bullock. We just happened to be there on the 100th anniversary of the completion of the tower July 4, 1919.

Built in memory of Teddy Roosevelt by his friend Seth Bullock
Sherry, Matt, Kathy, and me at the overlook on Mt Roosevelt

After Mount Roosevelt we drove on up to Mount Moriah – the highest point in Deadwood and the home to Deadwood Cemetery. We drove up through the narrow old streets to the parking lot, paid our $2 entry fee and then continued to climb up through the grounds stopping to look at well worn stone monuments of those early pioneers we didn’t know and we saw the burial spot of some of the more famous Black Hills pioneers as well.

Entrance to the Deadwood Cemetery on Mt. Moriah (Kathy, Sherry & Matt up ahead)
Looking over one of the hills of burial plots in the cemetery
Plaques memorializing Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane
The Burial Site and Grave Monument of Wild Bill Hickok
Calamity Jane’s Burial Site & Monument

Continuing our walk up the streets of the cemetery to the top, we then turned off to a trail that took us up another 750 feet to the burial site of Roosevelt’s good friend Seth Bullock. Seth wanted to be buried at this spot so that he could look across the valley to the Friendship Tower on the top of Mount Roosevelt. You can read all about Seth Bullock, his influence on Deadwood and the Black Hills along with his close friendship with Teddy Roosevelt by reading this Wikipedia article.

Our 750′ climb up from the top of the cemetery to Seth Bullocks burial site
Seth Bullock’s Grave Site
A lot of folks leave stones as a sign of remembrance and respect

There’s still much more to see and do in the Deadwood / Lead area and you can find out more by following this link.

We’re having a wonderful time volunteering here in the Black Hills at DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery and we have a lot more to share with you. We’ll continue to send along updates as we visit new and interesting places in the area.

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.

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

Volunteering at D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery

Really? We don’t fish … we don’t cook or even eat ENOUGH fish (according to the health experts) and we don’t really have any desire to handle fish or even SMELL fish! Why on earth would we consider working at a fish hatchery as one of our Workamping / Volunteering gigs?

Our good friends Phil and Cheryl volunteered here in 2016 and other good friends Matt and Sherry volunteered here in 2018 and they ALL highly recommended that we get on the list to volunteer here. Matt and Sherry were coming back again this year (’19) and so we submitted our application and resume’ back in August of 2018 and were accepted as volunteers.

D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives is not your normal production fish hatchery. There are 90 national U.S. Fish & Wildlife fish hatcheries throughout the nation along with many other state-managed hatcheries that are still in full-time operation.

This hatchery was an active production facility from it’s completion of construction in 1899 until 1983. At that time it was closed as a major production facility and turned into the national hatchery education site and archives.

Volunteering here has given both Kathy and I a new appreciation for serving as “tour guides” doing interpretive work. We were both a little nervous about this new role in our lives as volunteers. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that most of our volunteer experiences have been working in private or public RV parks or campgrounds as hosts, cleaning crew, or office duties. Although all of these positions have involved working with the public and have given us the opportunity to meet and talk with a lot of new people, we’ve not been put in the position of “tour guide” doing interpretive work.

Would we be able to learn the script? Would we be able to smile all day? Would we be able to be on our feet for four and a half hours at a time? We were not concerned about the camp site, the area, or the management. We were confident that would all be great … thanks to our friends who’d worked here before.

We have to say that as of this writing … we’ve only been here about 3 weeks now … it’s been a wonderful experience and we’re quite comfortable with doing the interpretive work (tour guides) and we’re really enjoying our interactions with the other volunteers and being able to see the many sights that the Black Hills of South Dakota have to offer.

There are basically four different venues here where the volunteers are scheduled to work. Our venue assignments are rotated each shift. Spouses work the same shifts. We work 3 half-days on duty, then 3 full days off duty.

We might work in; the Museum, the Fish Car, the Booth House, or the Gift Shop.

The original hatchery building, constructed in 1899

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

Fish Car #3 and the Ice House

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

The Booth House – where hatchery Superintendents and their families lived

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

The “Pond Shop” gift shop overlooking pond #1
Inside the gift shop we sell hatchery merchandise and LOTS of fish food!
The “Pond Gift Shop” and restrooms with Pond #1 at the left

There are 10 RV sites in “Volunteer Village” which is a separate area of the beautiful Spearfish City Campground that is dedicated to use by volunteers at D.C. Booth Hatchery. We are supplied the Full Hookup site, 45 channel cable, free wi-fi and a community fire pit area where we often gather each night for a campfire with smores and stories. Sometimes we have pot luck meals there too!

Our sites back up to Spearfish Creek and a walking trail
Boys having fun floating down Spearfish Creek right behind our rigs

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

Another special perk of this position is that the volunteers all get a “VIP” card to carry in their wallet. This card is issued by the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association and it entitles us to free admission to about 40 area attractions and discounts in area gift shops and restaurants.

The idea is that as tour guides at D.C. Booth we have the opportunity to meet and interact with hundreds of visitors daily and we should take the opportunity to talk with them about other attractions in the area. We’re kind of a “mini marketing” team for other things to see and do nearby.

This is the list of all the attractions free to tourism VIP’s

Some of these benefits are valued at just a few dollars while others are over $100 per ticket. It’s a great idea to promote the are wonderful benefit for us too!

While we are here at Spearfish (through Sept 2019) I’ll be writing other short blog posts about our excursion trips that we take using the VIP cards so you can get a better feel for a lot of what there is to offer here in the beautiful Black Hills!

If you think you might be interested in volunteering at D.C. Booth Historic Fish Hatchery and Archives, visit their web site at https://dcboothfishhatchery.org/volunteer-programs/

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.

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

Camp Hosting at Fort Peck, Montana

Kathy and I spent early spring 2019 as Camp Hosts at the Fort Peck Downstream Campground – Fort Peck Montana. This is a U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) Project and our campground is just one of the recreation areas at the project which includes Fort Peck Reservoir, Fort Peck Dam and spillway, the Interpretive & Visitor Center and about a dozen other outlying recreation centers that are along the shores of the 135 mile long reservoir where visitors can use the boat ramps, picnic shelters, and camping areas.

Fort Peck Lake Montana

Campground hosts volunteer 24 hours per week to the park in exchange for their camp site and utilities. There are paid Gate Attendants to handle camper fee collection and the park has contractors who; cut the grass, clean out fire pits, and keep the restrooms and bath houses clean.

Our job as hosts are to be another set of eyes on the park when the ranger can’t be here. There are four rangers here at Fort Peck Project who are responsible for about a dozen outlying recreation areas and the Interpretive Center, so they’ve got plenty to keep them busy.

I’ve gathered some pictures to help illustrate what sorts of things we get involved in. Some of these are things we’ve been asked to do while many of these are things we’ve volunteered to do just to help out and to keep us busy.

There’s lots to do here, and lots of “pieces parts” and equipment to do it with. The challenge is having enough staff to get it all done before the onslaught of visitors each spring. That’s where volunteers can help out. We can do the “little jobs” that might otherwise require time from the (4) rangers and (2) maintenance personnel on staff here at the project. That way these folks can utilize their time more wisely doing the types of jobs that their specialized training allows them to do.

One example of the specialized training I mentioned is shown in the photos below. Last year the campground received a new comfort station. The staff here at the project performed the complete operation. They poured the concrete pad for the comfort station to sit on, they did all the trenching and back fill for the supply lines, they did all the rough in plumbing and electrical, they’ll be doing all the final connections, and they will set forms and pour all the concrete curtain and approach walks.

We enjoyed our time at Fort Peck. The folks we worked with and for were very kind, professional, and courteous and they appreciated everything we did to help out.

We also made some great new friends. Dan and Bev came in early May and were contracted as the paid Gate Attendants. They’ve been full time RV’ers for 21 years!

Our new friends Dan and Bev Foster

If you have any interest in working as a volunteer in exchange for your RV site and utilities, go to www.volunteer.gov where you can search by; state, agency, and position type.

Thanks for following along and remember to visit our You Tube channel herbnkathyrv to see some of the videos we’ve published lately.

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 Fort Peck?

Fort Peck – It’s a small town (about 250 residents) and it’s an Army Corp of Engineers “Project” that includes a dam, a campground, an Interpretive Center, and multiple fishing/boating/hunting recreation areas.

Oh, and I almost forgot … the reason all of the above is here … the Fort Peck Reservoir. The reservoir (man made lake) was formed from the Missouri River, is 135 miles long and has over 1500 miles of shoreline. It was formed in the 30’s when 10,000+ men built the world’s largest earthen dam to provide flood control for lands downstream.

The dam and the history of how families came from all over the country to work there and the engineering that went into the planning and building … well that’s a story in itself and will require a blog post dedicated to that subject alone. But you can learn all about that right now by following this link to PBS Montana.

For now, we want to share with you a little about why we are here, how we came to find this job in particular, and take you on a tour of the park and show you some of our duties here.

Kathy and I are volunteers … well, kind of. We travel the country volunteering our time at campgrounds and RV parks in exchange for the rent and utilities on our site. We generally provide the park 12-15 hours a week and they give us a full hook-up (elec, water, sewer) site along with utilities. Sometimes we also receive; laundry money, free WiFi and cable TV hook-up, and discounts on purchases from the camp store or nearby attractions.

This arrangement offers us an opportunity to travel and see the country, meet all kinds of wonderful new people and experience new situations in all kinds of environments that we otherwise would not be able to see and do on our limited budget.

It offers the campground owner/operator free part-time employees for no cash outlay, only the loss of rental income for a couple RV sites that might often be vacant anyway. Another benefit: typically there is no employment contract or agreement to sign – only a handshake agreement. It’s called bartering. And it works well for us and the campground owner.

How we came to show up here ..

We knew that part of our “Bucket List” included a lot of the national parks and monuments out west, so we decided we’d search for jobs in that area.

Although we subscribe, either for a small annual fee or sometimes for free, to many of the Workamping web sites and have our resume’ published on a lot of them, there is also another great source for finding government related jobs and volunteer positions. I logged on to Volunteer.gov and followed the easy instructions to search for Campground Host (volunteer) positions available in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. I filled out the online application and with just a few mouse clicks submitted our app to probably 40 or so parks in that five state area.

Within a week or two we started getting emails and phone calls from campground managers and rangers throughout the 5 state area. We chose to come to Fort Peck because we were already committed to South Dakota for July, August, and September and Ranger Scott here at Fort Peck was willing to work with our schedule. We left our leased RV lot in Casa Grande Arizona on April 1st and showed up at Fort Peck on April 15 just after the snow melted.

It’s been fascinating to learn about the local history. The town of Fort Peck was built by the corp to support the nearly 50,000 people that would come here to work on the building of the dam over the 10+ year period of 1930 to 1941. There were as many as 11,000 men working on the dam at any one time during that period and eight men lost their lives during “the Big Slide” of 1938 and are permanently entombed in the dam to this day.

To learn more about the dam building and how the town and local area and people from far and wide prospered during the depression, I encourage you to follow this link to visit the PBS web site with some great pictures from the era and a video about the building of the dam.

Our Camp Host Site on day one – April 15th
The theatre operated 24/7 during construction of the dam with newsreels, movies and live plays to entertain the workers and their families and still offers summer plays to locals and visitors to the area.
The Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial Park in the center of town
The world’s largest earthen dam, 4 miles long, 3/4 mile wide at the base, and 250′ tall.
The Spillway located 3 miles east of the dam. Yes, that’s ice on the downstream side
The Interpretive Center contains displays information on the dam, local paleontology, and local fish and wildlife along with an educational movie theatre

There was a T-Rex discovered here (now on display at the Smithsonian) with a full-size replica here in the Interpretive Center.

The Fort Peck T-Rex in the Interpretive Center

Here’s a video that gives a tour of the campground and some of the surrounding area along with a little bit of what we’ve been doing at the park these first couple of weeks.

10 minute video on the Downstream Campground – Fort Peck Montana

Thanks for riding along and visiting. We’re having fun and intend to keep posting to share a little of our time here. Please leave any comments below and be sure to subscribe to our You Tube channel so you always get the latest videos as soon as they are published. I usually try to make the videos available here via the blog as well.

Until next time, best wishes to you and yours from HerbnKathy

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

Where We’re Heading To Next

It’s March 18, 2019 and we are currently parked at the Pima County (Tucson, AZ) Fairgrounds with about 2000 other Escapee RV Club members enjoying the annual Escapade national gathering.

One of the evening entertainment sessions at 59th Escapade – Tucson, AZ

Since we “hit the road” and started our full-time RV lifestyle in late 2016, we had been Workamping our way around the country. We work at campgrounds or RV parks offering about 15-20 hours per week in exchange for rent-free living at the park and it typically includes all our utilities, cable TV, wifi, laundry and sometimes discounts at the park store or nearby attractions.

But being members of the Escapees RV Club, we were able to take advantage of getting on a “Wait List” for any of their parks. We put our names on the Wait List for the parks in; Wauchula FL, Hondo TX, Casa Grande AZ, Benson AZ, and Pahrump NV. We figured whichever park had our name at the top of the list first (waiting lists are often many years long), that’s the park we’d call “home” for the winter.

In addition to having a place to winter regularly, the “home base” would provide us a place to go at very little additional cost (only electric and propane) to be should we need a lengthy stay for say, recovery from a medical procedure – planned or otherwise.

As it turned out, we rose to the top of the list at Rover’s Roost in late 2017, accepted the lifetime lease agreement, continued our Workamping commitments for spring, summer, and fall of 2018, and then arrived here November 1st to be “on vacation” for the winter months.

We’ve spent a very relaxing and enjoyable winter at our leased lot at the Escapees Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, AZ. I’ll share more with you in later posts about our time here at “The Roost” both having fun with our new friends along with some of the projects we’ve completed to our “home on the road”.

Our winter home at Rover’s Roost RV Park at Casa Grande, AZ

But now it’s early spring and it’s time to leave “The Roost” for the summer season (it gets WAY too hot here) and head north to cooler climates.

This year, we are heading to Montana to work at an Army Corp of Engineers campground as Park Hosts. We’ll be at Ft. Peck Dam Downstream Campground for 3 months (April, May, and June) and then we will move a little east to our next Workamping commitment at DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery in Spearfish South Dakota working as visitor center and museum employees. We’ll be there July, August, and September.

Here’s a map of our trip north next month. This is subject to change as we have over 120 places on our Bucket List and we’ll try to hit many of them along the way, even if it takes us off track a hundred miles or so. We’re not in any big hurry to get north, we’ll hopefully just follow the spring thaw!

If you’d like to check up on us as we travel and see where we are at any given moment in time, you can just go to www.aprs.fi and type my ham radio license number WB8BHK-9 into the Search box and it’ll return a Google map with our exact location at that moment. We’d love for you to follow along!

I admit I’ve been a bit lax the last few months and haven’t posted blog entries as often as I would have liked to. I’ll work to improve my postings as we travel north and we appreciate you following along.

Oh, by the way …. we’ve designed a new logo to market our brand. Whatta ‘ya think?

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

A Great Time in Quartzsite (Mostly)

We just returned to our winter home at Rover’s Roost SKP RV Park in Casa Grande, AZ after spending a “mostly” wonderful 10 days or so at Quartzsite.

What’s Quartzsite you ask? Quartzsite is a small town in the western Arizona desert, only about 15 miles or so from Blythe, California. Quartzsite (during the summer) is a sleepy little town of about 3000 people. But WATCH OUT! Because when winter arrives, the town and surrounding desert lands explode with RV’ers and Van Campers and all sorts of folks from all over the country.

The red balloon is Quartzsite. The blue balloons are places on our bucket list

The population in the winter goes from about 3000 up to 300,000 or more as folks show up to attend one or more of the many shows that take place. You have the Big Tent RV Show, Gem show, Rock Show, Jewelry Show, and on-going Flea Market(s) over the winter months.

It’s a boom town in the winter

We went to attend the big RV, Sports, and Vacation Show and we worked at the Escapees RV Club booth selling club memberships to show attendees.

The show officially started on Saturday January 19th although we arrived early on Tuesday the 15th to an area in the desert about 6 miles north of Quartzsite known as “Boomerville”. Boomerville is an unofficial area off the north side of Plamosa Road where about 500-600 Escapee (baby boomers) meet each year at Q to renew old friendships.

It was a crappy cold and rainy day and our good friends Paul and Chris arrived from Yuma with a flat tire on their motorhome.

Replacing the tire in the rain and mud of the desert

Thankfully, Paul & Chris had subscribed to the Escapee Roadside Assistance program and the repairman (with a trailer full of tools) was out to the site within about an hour or so.

While the repairmen were working on replacing the tire, the rest of us gathered in Walter & Rebecca’s rig. We had all met for the first time in Livingston, TX back in December of 2017 and it was great to spend time together again.

Waiting for the tire repair in the warm comfort of Walter & Rebecca’s rig

The following morning we (the 5 couples working together in the club booth) moved on down the road to the site of the “Big Tent” where we would be working over the next 10 days or so.

In line waiting to get escorted to our parking spot at the Big Tent
We got a prime spot right in front of the Big Tent (that’s our green rig in the middle)

The parking area filled up quickly with vendor’s rigs. There were nearly 500 vendor booths inside the tent along with dozens more outside selling everything from new and used RV’s to generators, cell phones, satellite TV systems, RV park spaces, accessories, personal health and beauty aids, leather goods, jewelry, and TONS more.

Here’s a shot of one of the 3 rows inside the tent before most of the vendors arrived
A shot of one of the vendor rows outside the tent during a weekday, the weekends were busier
(L to R) Lisa, Rob, Jim, and Dennis setting up the booth ready for the crowds
Jim and Chris (background) talking with a prospective member along with Paul and Lisa (foreground) signing up a couple of new members
Here’s a quick look video inside the Big Tent

We were fortunate to have 5 couples working the booth and we all had a great time getting to know one another. We had at least 3 pot luck dinners.

Robyn and Larry live in New Mexico and will be retiring and transitioning to full time RV life in May while Dennis and Connie from the Cincinnati area along with Rob and Laura from Indianapolis and Kathy and me (from Ohio) are full timers. Paul and Chris still live on the family farm in Iowa during the summers and travel extensively during the winters. Our fearless leaders Jim and Lisa are both retired but working again for the club as leaders of the RV Show Teams and of the club Head Out Programs (Caravans/Cruises/Bus Tours). Believe me, with their hectic schedule, they are FAR from being retired!

Our crew at the booth near the end of the show. Unfortunately, Lisa didn’t make it into the picture this day

Click on any of the images in the gallery below to see a larger view

As we’ve said before … traveling the country and seeing all the beautiful landscape is rewarding enough, but the big reward is meeting all the new folks and developing such great new friendships. We so look forward to our next opportunity to meet up on down the road.

We worked the booth selling new memberships, we walked the tent looking at all the many vendors had to offer, we spent too much money buying “stuff” (which we can talk about later), and we had a great time over numerous dinners laughing and sharing stories.

All in all, it was a GREAT trip and a wonderful experience. Only the first day was a bummer due to the bad weather and Paul & Chris’ flat tire.

If you’re an Escapee RV Club member and you’d like to work one of the RV shows across the country, reach out to Lisa (you know who she is). If you’re an RV’er and you’re NOT an Escapee … come on along and join us! Here’s the link – it’s a great RV club … and so much more. It’ll be the best $39.95 you’ve spent in a LONG time! (psss – tell ’em Herb n Kathy sent you)

Thanks for following along on the ride .. more to come about our other adventures later and we look forward to meeting up with you somewhere along the way!

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

Volunteering at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF)

UPDATE: It’s October 30th, 2018.  We left Albuquerque on Oct 9th, attended the RV Nomads Rally in Wellington, TX followed by the Texas Country Air(stream) Rally in Brownwood, TX then to Lake Colorado City State Park (TX) and now we are at Bottomless Lake State Park at Roswell, NM for a couple nights.  We are on our way to our winter home at Rover’s Roost RV Park (Casa Grande, AZ)

We just crossed the two year mark as full-time RV’ers. We’ve sold our Sticks n Bricks house in Ohio and lived virtually rent-free by Workamping our way around the country.

As Workampers, we stay at RV parks, campgrounds, and other places for free in exchange for (generally) about 12-20 hours per week working at the park or campground.

Very often parks and campgrounds want to bring on Workampers for the entire season .. usually 5 or 6 month stints.

We started the full-time RV lifestyle to see the country and soon realized that if we only move twice a year … or go back to the same place twice … then we’ll be about 130 years old by the time we see all the places we want to go!

As a result, we’ve been looking for shorter term gigs. That’s how we came to volunteer at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF). We met our new good friends Matt and Sherry last winter at the Escapees RV Club “Rainbows End” park in Livingston, TX while we were all Workamping there.

Matt & Sherry Hylbom “Get Out The Map”

Matt and Sherry shared with us their experiences the previous fall working at the AIBF and it sounded exciting to us, so we reached out to the contact they gave us and here we are!

We arrived a full 3 weeks before the start of Fiesta, and we spent that time; chalking boundaries of all the 1600 RV parking spaces, stringing flag lines around the perimeter lines of each of the 40 or so parking areas, setting up the volunteer break tent with tables, chairs, fridge and freezer, and getting the check-in booth all ready to greet and register the soon- to-be arriving RV’ers.

Early on, before the show begins … stormy weather can be seen obscuring the Sandia Mountains – See the rainbow just over the bed of the pickup?

Of the 1600 spaces, about 400 had water and 30 amp electric. Electricians ran all the electric, but volunteers ran all the water lines

As one of the 1100 Navigators (Volunteers), we both got these snappy jackets!

Most of the south lot is dirt, some gravel and even some old asphalt. Dusty week for sure with all those rigs coming and going!

And then the fun begins!

Kathy worked 6 hour shifts at the check-in booth as RV’s pulled in to the lot (room for 1600 rigs). There are 3 windows at the booth so she worked with two other ladies each shift. They checked in the arrivals and gave them their parking passes and each rig also received a “goody bag” with some small gifts and lots of printed information about the event and the grounds.

The Check-In booth where Kathy and the other ladies worked

 

My primary responsibility was to stand at the head of the line and greet RV’ers pulling up, ask them to check-in at the booth, and then once they had their parking credentials, point them in the direction of a “parker” driving a golf cart who would then take them to their spot.

Pix published in the Albuquerque Journal

 

Our work day started at 7:30 am when we all met in the volunteer tent and had a short meeting about what size crowd we could expect that day.  Since everyone had reservations, we knew what groups were coming in and which ones were leaving on any given day.

Although some stayed for the entire 10 day event, many came just for one or the other of the weekends.

Rigs would be lined up in the drive from the night before and we parked all day until closing at 7:00 pm.  Any arrivals after that time dry camped in the entrance drive until the next morning.

Although we worked a LOT of hours during the 10 day Fiesta, we did have an opportunity (3 times) to take the shuttle bus across Alameda Avenue to the launch field to see the balloons.  We went once in the morning to see the daily “Mass Ascension” and twice in the evening to see the “Glowdeo”.  It was also great to be able to see the balloons land right in our RV parking lot occasionally!

Here’s a slide show of some of the pictures I took.  If you want to see ALL of the pictures, then go ahead and follow this link to a Google Photo Album I put together.

All in all, it was a great event and a once in a lifetime experience.  Kathy and I spent just about a month from mid-September to mid-October and although we worked long hours many days, it was great making new friends, seeing new sights, tasting new/different foods, and being part of the AIBF experience.

They always need volunteers (Navigators) and if you think you would like to volunteer and in turn receive; free RV site, free utilities, free food, tickets to all events, and a really nice jacket … then early in the year, go to this link.  Don’t be discouraged if the web site still shows last years info, just wait a few weeks and try again.  In 2018 the volunteer web application didn’t start until May.

There you can fill out the application.  They need about 1100 volunteers to make this event work.  Some volunteers are golf cart shuttle drivers, some are guest info folks, some work on the launch field, and a host of other volunteer positions are available.  If you have an RV and you know you want to be a “parker” then indicate that on the application.  They need and should have about 35-50 volunteer parkers.

Although we had a great time, we won’t be going back.  Kathy and I made the decision to live the full-time RV lifestyle so that we could “see the country” and we’re working toward that goal.  If we go back to the same place twice, it’s just gonna take that much longer to see all that there is to see … and there’s a LOT out there!

Thanks for reading.  C’mon along by subscribing to this blog (www.herbnkathyrv.com) or subscribe to our You Tube channel herbnkathyrv and visit us on Facebook.com/herbnkathyrv.  We look forward to seeing you down the road.

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

Where We’re Headed Next …

Many of you have been following this blog and/or our You Tube channel at herbnkathyrv and for that we say “Thank You“.  It’s gratifying for us to know that you care enough to “c’mon along” for the ride and even better when you leave a comment either here at the bottom of any of our blog posts or in the comments area on You Tube (just below the video).

So many of you are curious as to where we’re going next and what we’ll be up to, so here’s the scoop;

Here is the link to Google Maps showing our route with overnight stops along the way from Baldwin, Michigan to Balloon Fiesta grounds at Albuquerque, NM. (We’ll be there from Sept 17th through Oct 14th when the Fiesta ends.)
We’ll be leaving here (Michigan) on Wed Sept 12th, staying in the driveways of friends we haven’t met yet on 3 nights (thanks to BoondockersWelcome.com), one night in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, and the final night at a “regular” campground at Amarillo, TX.  By staying in a “regular” campground the final night, we’ll be able to dump our waste tanks and take on 70 gallons of fresh water before we move on the next day to the Fiesta grounds.
If you care to, you can track our progress on the road real-time by following this link at any time.  This web page is linked to our GPS and tracks our location every 5 minutes or so.  You can plug in a recent start date and end date if you like so you don’t see everything that’s been recorded over the past few months.
Here’s our ITINERARY
Sept 17th to Oct 14th – Working at ABQ Balloon Fiesta
Oct 18th to Oct 22nd – EPIC Nomads Movie Premiere Rally – Wellington, TX
Oct 25th to Oct 28th – Airstream “Texas Air” Rally – Brownwood, TX
Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb – We’ll have Rover’s Roost RV Park at Casa Grande, AZ as our home base, but we’ll be traveling;
Nov 18th to Nov 24th – Escapees Club Boomers Group Thanksgiving Rally at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA.
Jan 13th to Jan 18th – Boomerville Rally at Quartzite, AZ
Jan 19th to Jan 27th – Working at the Quartzite RV Show
Mar 17th to Mar 22nd – Working at Tucson Escapade Show
We’ll also take other excursion trips from Rover’s Roost as time and weather permits to see points of interest, museums, parks, hilltops and valleys.
Follow us on Facebook or www.herbnkathyrv.com and please subscribe to our You Tube channel herbnkathyrv.  By subscribing, you’ll be notified any time we publish a new blog post or upload a new video to You Tube.
Hope you can “c’mon along” for the ride!
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.