Off The Road During Covid

Well, it’s November 2020 and we continue to lay low in Ohio during this Covid 19 pandemic.

You might remember that we sold the house in Ohio and hit the road full-time in September of 2016 and up until a few months ago, we had no thoughts of stopping our travel and volunteering lifestyle anytime soon.

In early 2020 we had just finished our 2 week February trip to Mexico with the Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 and then made it back to our RV lot in Casa Grande, Arizona. We stayed there at the park for just a few days before rolling out and heading east through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and on into central Florida for a couple weeks where we enjoyed hooking up with our good friends from our school days along with a stop to visit my sister in Jacksonville.

Our intention was to head north out of Florida by the end of March to fulfill our commitment to serve as campground hosts at a beautiful little campground nestled in the forest near Waynesville, North Carolina. We were scheduled to be there for April, May, and June through the July 4th weekend. Then we would come back to Ohio for July and August to spend time with family and in September we would head up into Michigan (including the U.P.) and take all of late September and all of October to travel down through Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and on to our RV lot in Arizona by November 1st. We would be visiting friends along the way. It was a good plan. But it was just a plan ….

And then the Covid pandemic seemed to really “hit” and become a reality to us while we were in Florida. Frankly, we got a little nervous about what the future was to bring. There was talk of closures to include restaurants, gas stations, campgrounds, state borders, and even highway rest areas! Little was really KNOWN about what was to come and it seemed that every state was making up its own rules as the days passed. It seemed we couldn’t count on anything anymore.

Would we be able to make it to North Carolina? SHOULD we proceed to fulfill our commitment to serve as hosts at all? What about the dangers of coming in contact with so many strangers traveling from all over the country? How safe would Kathy be working in the office? How safe would I be cleaning the bathrooms? Or should we just hunker down and stay in Florida until this all “blows over”? But how long might that be? And would we even be able to find a spot to rent given that there were so many state parks and campgrounds that were closing?

There was so much unknown … we decided the best thing to do was cancel out on our 3 month working stint in North Carolina and just head right on up to Ohio while keeping our heads down. Along the way we spent evenings either in highway rest areas, local village Elks Lodge parking lots, or anywhere we might find a parking lot where we could park and spend the night without having to be in a situation where we would have to interact with others. We are fully self-contained with plenty of onboard water and ample solar-powered electricity so a night or even a couple weeks without hookups was not a problem for us.

You might remember that when we started our new lifestyle that we had sold our Ohio home to our daughter and son-in-law. But years before we had finished off what had been a 2nd floor workshop above the garage. Our intent was to provide a private apartment for a guest visit, to add value to the property, or possibly provide for rental income. We never had any idea that WE would be the guests!

But we’re blessed that Sara and Stu welcomed us back to the area and it’s great that although we are “close” physically, we’re not TOO close. As it’s turned out, we prepare and share dinner over here in the bunkhouse for the four of us and then we have the rest of the evening to ourselves!

Panoramic view of the inside of the bunkhouse

Well, here it is November. We’ve been here seven months now. The beauty of fall in Ohio is pretty much gone. The red and gold leaves that drenched the roadsides with glorious bright color have fallen and winter is starting to settle in. Since the Covid situation hasn’t improved any (we’re now in the 3rd wave), our earlier logic used to get us to stay low still commands that we not travel and come in contact with a lot of other people.

The coach is in heated storage for the winter – and it’s just a 1/4 mile away!

I’ve taken a part-time job (about 30 hours/week) driving a small bus for the local Morrow County Transit Service. We transport folks to local shopping and medical appointments. All drivers and riders are required to wear masks and the vehicles are disinfected daily to protect us all.

Kathy’s been keeping busy preparing dinners for the four of us along with helping out Sara by keeping her home as well as ours clean and all the laundry done.

I have to admit, we have had some level of “hitch-itch” while here and we’ve taken just a handful of short camping trips with only our closest friends that we feel comfortable being around. And even at that we’ve avoided any hand shakes, hugging, or even sitting in close proximity to each other in an effort to do our part in keeping the spread of Covid at bay.

We’ve also had the opportunity to visit my sister Betsy and Brother-In-Law Bob at their new home in Owosso Michigan.

Another real pleasant surprise was the opportunity to meet up with one of my old bosses. Ken and his wife Jan were traveling through Ohio from Michigan and stopped to spend a couple days in our area! I worked for Ken from about 1980 to 1990 (I think). We by chance connected on Facebook and Kathy and I ran over to the KOA just a few minutes from our home and spent the afternoon with them and their Great Dane “Magnum”. It was great to see them again after so many years.

We’ve decided that we’ll stay the winter. Although we miss all our friends at Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, Arizona this year, we will look forward to seeing them next winter – when hopefully things will be much better. Just today on the news Pfizer has announced that one of their vaccine products is showing a 90% success rate in 45,000 study participants.

Along with Eli Lilly and other manufacturers working on a vaccine, and new leadership in Washington making the fight against Covid a priority, maybe we will be able to resume in spring of ’21 our life of RV travel and volunteering. We certainly hope so.

Speaking of 2021, here’s our tentative plan and more details will follow in future posts as the date gets closer.

We are going to be campground hosts at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park in Burkesville, KY for April, May, and June through the July 4th weekend.

Then we’ll head on up to Baldwin, Michigan to spend a couple days at Pere Marquette Oaks Resort so we can spend some time visiting with great friends we made when we worked there as host couple during the summers of 2017 and 2018.

By mid-July we will hook up with Matt and Sherry who are fellow full-time RV’ers that we first met in Livingston Texas. We’ve since worked with them in South Dakota and met up with them in other areas of the country. This time we are planning our own little caravan (of two rigs) to motor across the Mackinac Bridge and over into Canada via Sault St. Marie.

Matt and Sherry

Assuming the Canadian border is open by then, we’ll all head SLOWLY west through the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and on into British Columbia with arrival in Vancouver BC by September 1st. Matt and Sherry will “peel off” at Creston BC (just north of Idaho) so they can zip on down to visit their son at Missoula, Montana.

Kathy and I hope to take a couple ferries across from Vancouver area to Port Angeles Washington where we’ll get on Route 101 down the Pacific coast on through Oregon and into northern California.

At some point, we’ll work our way over toward Reno, Nevada and then on down (and around) Las Vegas and back to Rover’s Roost by November 1st, 2021.

That’s it for now .. we wanted to bring you up to date on what little is going on in our lives and our plans for the future.

We wish you well and happiness – we’re doin’ fine and still enjoying life – even as it is.

What about you? How are you handling the situation we find ourselves in? What are you doing to occupy your time if you’re quarantined? Are you still able to work either from home or at your work location? If you’re working away from home what are you doing to stay safe?

That’s the main thing – stay safe by staying home if you can. Use a mask if you go out in public while maintaining the 6′ distance from others and then wash your hands as soon as you get home. Use hand sanitizer as soon as you get back in the car so you are not transferring anything from your hands to your steering wheel and ultimately back to your face.

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

Workamping Near The River Fun

On this particular Workamping gig, we work Thursday through Wednesday .. 7 days on duty and 7 days off duty.  At least one of us needs to be here at the park all 7 days, while the other can run into town for grocery shopping, a visit to the barber or other needs as they arise.

But on the 8th day … we’re free to take off and do as we please.  And this has been a wonderful benefit of Workamping.  We work about 3 hours each of the 7 days we’re on duty in exchange for our RV site, electricity, wifi, cable TV, heated pool and hot tub.

We have 2 weeks every month to come and go as we please and see the sights … and since we grew up here in Michigan and lived in Ohio the last 35 years before we hit the road, we’re fortunate enough to have friends and family visit.

Our first visitors were our daughter Sara and son in law Stu (along with Dulaney and Arlo)

Herb, Kathy, Dulaney, Sara, Stu, and of course .. Arlo

More recently we had a visit from my sister Betsy and brother in law Bob.  They live in the Virgin Islands and were up in the Detroit area visiting their sons and were able to take a couple days to come up to Pere Marquette RV Resort to visit us.

Herb, Kathy, Bob and Betsy

My other sister Marilynn lives in Jacksonville and it’s always great to hook up with family and our visits are too far and few between.

Marilynn’s husband Rick was at work

 

 

 

This time we took a rafting trip down the famous Pere Marquette River.  The river is 65 miles long and runs from Baldwin to Ludington and on out to Lake Michigan.  We traveled only about a half mile as the crow flies, but it took us just about two hours to go from the landing at Green Cottage to Gleason’s Landing.

The Pere Marquette River is know far and wide for it’s excellent Trout and Steelhead fishing and since much of the river is in the Manistee National Forest, there’s a lot of wildlife throughout the area.  The video below illustrates our relaxing ride.

So if you ever find an opportunity to visit northern Michigan, make a stop in Baldwin and take a great ride down the Pere Marquette River.  Baldwin Canoe Rental is the ONLY canoe rental on the PERMITTED portion of the river and they know what customer service is.  They’ll spot your car down the river so it’ll be there ready and waiting for you when you get to your appointed stop.

Tell ’em Herb & Kathy BALDWIN sent you … see if they’ll give you a discount (yea right)

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

WOW! What a Blast – Friends We’ve Seen Along The Way

The reason (or so we thought) that we embarked on our full-time RV lifestyle on Labor Day of 2016 was to fulfill our desire to travel and see as much of this beautiful country of ours that we could.

We’ve seen a lot of sites since then, but there’s still so much more to go and we could spend a lot more time in any specific area to allow us to explore more deeply, so it’s very likely we’ll be going back again to many places in future years to do so.

A HIDDEN BENEFIT

But what has really turned out to be a wonderful benefit of traveling and not being on a “vacation” type schedule (running from place to place) is that we’ve been able to meet up with and spend time with family and “old” friends (not to say they are OLD by any means!).

This blog post features some pictures of those we’ve met up with along the way. Some are “NEW” friends and some are our “OLD” friends.

Unfortunately, although I had every intention of taking a “selfie” of us altogether at every meetup, we occasionally parted company without remembering to shoot a pix, so I’m listing those folks as well.  If I’ve missed you in this post, I apologize.  If you’re reading this and you can send me a picture of yourself, I’d really appreciate it.  My email address is herbsells@gmail.com

I know many of you won’t know any of these folks, but I also know it’ll be fun for those that are in the pictures to see some of the others and remember times past along with the brief time we spent together in the last year or so.

I’m going to post the pictures into a collage, you will be able to click on any individual photo to enlarge that particular picture to see a “zoomed in” view.  The zoomed-in view will also let you see a brief description of who they are and our relationship.

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

Merry Christmas from Herb & Kathy

Here’s a little video to bring a smile to your face and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and Happy New Year.

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

Baldwin Family Niagara Falls Trip August, 2012

Here’s some pix of our Baldwin Family trip to Niagara Falls in August of 2012. Some pix are better than others.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

94th Annual Gymanfu Ganu @ Homer, Ohio

Kathy, David, and I had the pleasure of attending the 94th Annual Gymanfu Ganu in Gomer, Ohio on Sunday evening, October 2nd, 2011. Gomer is a Welsh settlement founded in 1833 by Mr.’s Watkins, Roberts, and Nicholas. Click on the arrow in the center of the YouTube video below:

The Welsh Congregational Church, founded in 1873, in Gomer hosted the songfest and we had an oppotunity to visit the Welsh Heritage Museum across the street from the church.

Here is a slideshow of some of the pix I took before and during the Gymanfu Ganu (songfest). Just click on the picture and then you’ll be taken to an online Picasa photo album. You can then click on individual pictures or on “slide show”

Gymanfu Ganu, 94th Annual
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
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