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”.

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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

Great Time at Escapade ’19

As members of the Escapees RV Club, Kathy and I attended our 2nd “Escapade” this past week. The first one we attended was in Essex Junction (Burlington area), Vermont back in summer of 2016. This year’s Escapade was in Tucson at the Pima County Fairgrounds.

Aerial View of The RV Park at Pima County Fairgrounds

The annual Escapade is held in different locations around the country. 2018 was in Sedalia, Missouri while next year’s event will be held in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Holding the rally in different locations allows club members in different areas of the country to attend without having to travel extreme distances.

The rally is an opportunity to; renew friendships with other travelers you haven’t seen in a long while, enjoy some great regional food, attend as many as 10 or 15 informational seminars scheduled over a 4 day period, visit the Marketplace where vendors of RV equipment and supplies display and sell their products, take a tour of nearly 100 new and used RV’s on the lot, and attendees can even volunteer as shuttle cart drivers, hospitality hosts, parking attendants, morning coffee crew members, and lots of other opportunities.

Here are some pictures of various parts of the event. We took over the Pima County Fairgrounds with 830 recreational vehicles (RV’s) and just about 2500 attendees.

As usual, if you click on any of the individual pictures below, it will open into a larger image so you can see more detail.

Here’s a couple videos of the evening entertainment. This evening’s video features “The American Rogues” (Sorry the audio is not nearly as impressive as it was at the live presentation). You could feel the drums beating and the rafters shaking.

The American Rogues

Here’s a video of the “Redhead Express” – and 5 of these 6 band members are siblings!

The Redhead Express

Thanks for coming along. We are blessed to be able to live the full-time RV lifestyle and we hope you enjoy riding along with us on our adventures.

So long for now!

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

How Do They Make Those?

Once or twice each month we (folks here at Rover’s Roost RV Park) have what we call a “Tag Along”. We just hop in our car (or someone else’s) and head out on a road trip.

This month about 10 or 12 of us went up to the Dwarf Car Museum just southwest of Maricopa, about 30 minutes west of our park.

Quick trip out I-8 to the museum

A lot of us really didn’t know what to expect .. and boy were we impressed!

Ernie and his helpers have, over the years built from scratch little 5/8 scale automobiles. These are real beauties as the pictures below illustrate. But what is really fascinating is that they are all made from flat sheet stock! They make their own roofs, fenders, door panels along with all the stainless (looks like chrome) grills, trim, headlight rings, window frames …. and more.

They will take a stock steering wheel from a junkyard and cut it down (taking sections of the diameter out) so that it becomes a smaller version of itself. On the dashboard, even though the actual dash is scratch made from sheet steel and stainless … what about the gauges? They use stock gauges but cut out part of the dial (or scale) to make it smaller and then hand paint the markings back on the face plate before cutting down the glass and reinstalling. Painstaking work.

The museum is really more of a shop – Out in the middle of nowhere
How it came to be …

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

Ernie and his buddies were there the day we visited – there were probably about 35 or 40 of us altogether. I asked one of them what their day is like. He said “we start work at the shop about 7am but then slow down (or quit altogether) when the visitors start to come in.” “Then we start up again late afternoon and work until 8 or 9 at night.” When asked how many hours it takes to make one of these beauties he answered “about 3000” or so.

I commented on how dedicated they are to spend those kinds of hours each day toward achieving the finished product. One of them piped up and said “but only for 6 months – then I go home to Minnesota”. My reaction was one of relief and I commented “that’s good that you get a vacation from this” and he replied “yeah, I go back home to my shop in Minnesota and work on my projects there.”

There is no fee to visit the “museum” but they do accept donations. There is an endless loop video playing in a little theater that shows how these cars are made from the ground up. Seeing this video really gave me an appreciation for all the talent, imagination, and effort that goes into producing these masterpieces. These guys are truly artisans.

If you find yourself in the Phoenix or Tucson take a drive to the Dwarf Car Museum at Maricopa. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll see and even more so when you talk with the fellas that make these little wonders.

To see all the pix from our time there, you can follow this Google Photo Album link

Ernie’s Video
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

The Magnificent Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro Cactus (pronounced Sawarro) is the largest of the cactus family and can live to be 150-200 years old. These are found in The Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico and occasionally in southern California.

These cactus have one tap root that only goes down about 2 feet or so and other roots that spread out just below the surface and spread out as far as the plant is tall. Although a 10 year old plant might only be about 1″-2″ tall, they can grow to be 40-60 feet tall and sprout their first “arm” at about 150 years old.

The Saguaro get most of their moisture during the summer rainy season and can end up weighing between 3000-5000 pounds. Arizona has strict regulations about harvesting or collecting Saguaro.

Once a Saguaro dies, the woody ribs can be used to build furniture, roofs, or fences.

A healthy Saguaro about 40′ tall in the National Forest

We hopped in the car and took a day trip down from our winter home at Rover’s Roost RV Park to visit the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, the Saguaro National Forest and maybe the International Wildlife Museum.

The blue dot just to the left of Casa Grande shows our home and the red balloon about an hour southeast is the Saguaro National Forest where we spent most of the day

We headed down I-10 and entered the Saguaro National Forest from the north. Although the visitor center was closed due to the federal government shutdown, the park/forest was open and we could wander all we wanted.

As usual, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged view and then you can scroll right or left to see the next picture.

There’s so much to see … even though we’re not hikers. And there’s many other types of cactus growing in this region besides the Saguaro. Some of it is even flowering now in the midst of winter when generally this happens in the spring.

We then drove on down the road a bit to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. But as it turned out, the entrance fee was $25 each and we were already half way through the day. We decided that for that price we had better come back another day to be able to take advantage of all the museum has to offer. We’ve heard lots of great comments from friends who have been there and want to be able to get our money’s worth.

But if you just can’t wait for our post about the museum, here’s a link to their web site to find out more.

Lunch is always a highlight of my day and this one was no exception. At the south end of the park trail is a nice little cafe called “Coyote Pause Cafe”.

After a late lunch we moved on down the road a little further to the International Wildlife Museum on Gates Pass Road. Although this museum costs only $7 each to get in, it was getting into mid-afternoon and we wanted to hit the road (I-10) before the Tucson rush hour traffic.

We’ll come back another day here too. But at least now we know what we want to see and where it is.

Thanks for coming along and be sure to sign up to get our future blog posts automatically by entering your email address in the little box on the left side where it says “Sign Up To Follow Our Blog”.

You can check out all our RV full-time travel videos at herbnkathyrv on You Tube and click SUBSCRIBE down in the lower right corner of any of our videos.

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

Another Great Climb .. er, Drive up the Mountain

We met Rob & Michelle when we were working up in Michigan last summer at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park. They were pretty new to the full-time RV lifestyle themselves having retired from work, selling their home and buying the truck and the 5th wheel to live in as they traveled the country.

We were glad to find that Rob & Michelle had made their way from Michigan to Arizona and were staying at an RV park near Tucson for the month of December.

We reached out to them through Facebook and then spent the day together driving up to Mt. Lemmon (about 9000′). It was a beautiful day with temps down in Tucson at about 70+ degrees and the sun was shining brightly. We knew the temperature up on the mountain would be 20-30 degrees cooler.

Mt. Lemmon has a summit at 9159′ and is located in the Santa Catalina Mountain Range of the Coronado National Forest. The Catalina Highway is a two lane paved road that heads north from Tucson and winds it’s way on up to Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley and the little town of Summerhaven that sports a couple restaurants, a general store, and a few other small businesses.

The white squiggly line you see going up from Tanque Verde is the Catalina Highway that takes you to the summit

Summerhaven, although home to a few full-time residents, is mostly inhabited by folks who come up from the hot desert climate to escape from the heat of the summers.

One of the restaurants in Summerhaven on Mt. Lemmon

We stopped at most every wide spot in the road to be able to get out and marvel at the sites as we looked at the oddly shaped rock formations and the view of the expanse of Tucson down below.

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged view and then you can scroll right or left to see the next picture.

One of the really cool things we found before heading out on our trip was an app called “Mt. Lemon Science Tour“. This app can be downloaded from your device app store (free) and it is an approximately 1 hour narrated tour of the ride to the top. It tells you when to pull over, pause the app and goes on to explain what you’re looking at! It’s a really great idea … but we ended up having too much fun talking about what we’ve all been up to since the last time we were together. Kathy and I decided we’ll go back up sometime and use the app to learn more about what we’re seeing.

As we pulled over at one of the larger roadside parking areas we noticed about a half dozen U.S. Border Patrol vehicles. It seemed odd that they would be chasing after some bad guys all the way up here.

The parking area with Border Patrol vehicles

But as we moved closer to the overlook at the wall we could then see what all the activity was about. They were practicing their rescue techniques having installed hardware to perform a repelling operation. They actually had one of their members in a basket and were preparing to lower him over the edge into about a 100 foot drop to safety. We stayed and watched a while before we moved on.

This first video shows them getting ready to drop him over the edge – head first!
Part 2 video of the repelling operation – he’s about halfway down the cliff

All in all, it was another beautiful day in paradise and it was especially great that we were able to share it with two of our full-time RV buddies Rob and Michelle.

We look forward to maybe hooking up with Rob & Michelle (and many others) when we’re at the Big Tent RV Show in Quartzite the last week of January.

Thanks for coming along and be sure to sign up to get our future blog posts automatically by entering your email address in the little box on the left side where it says “Sign Up To Follow Our Blog”.

You can check out all our RV full-time travel videos at herbnkathyrv on You Tube and click SUBSCRIBE down in the lower right corner of any of our videos.

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.