We left Atlanta in April of 2015 for a life on the road. Over the past nearly 2 years, we have enjoyed lots of great sights, met lots of fun people and experienced living in a 400 square foot “tiny home” with 2 dogs and one bathroom.
And this is just the beginning!
We get asked a lot if we will ever settle down again in a regular home. At this point in time, we have no plans for that. We have absolutely no regrets. We love our new roaming lifestyle and the fact that as we work-camp across the country, we get to actually experience each area as the locals do.
With the year 2017 on the horizon, I wanted to do a review of the past year on the road along with some of the trials and tribulations that went along with it.
Many ask about our financials, so I will go into that a bit, along with a few things we have learned and experienced as we traveled this year.
As full time RVers and work campers, we find ourselves moving with the seasons. Most campgrounds hire for a six month long season. You can work longer if you’d like as long as the campground is open all year. Unfortunately, in the wintertime, most of the campgrounds in the northern section of the United States close due to inclement weather.
And not to mention, our coach has issues with below freezing temperatures. In the future, we have learned that when buying a coach, you need to get what they call a “Polar Package”. This includes not only heated floors, but extra insulation and a heated undercarriage. These were things we didn’t think about at the time, and as usual, we learn the hard way.
With that said, we move to warmer weather just as the snowbirds do. In fact, I guess that makes us snowbirds too! LOL!
We find the majority of our work camping jobs on the internet and in May, we ran across an opening at the Lazy Days Tucson KOA for kitchen staff. After several seasons of working the front desk, reservations and check ins, we decided we would love to have a small break. So we applied. I figured we would either love it or hate it, but either way- we only will be there through the winter.
Why stay in Arizona? Northern Arizona was absolutely beautiful with its pine forests and high mountains. We wanted to also experience the desert of Arizona. Tucson is located in southern Arizona very near the Mexico border. Here we can experience the local desert, beautiful Saguaro forests, local Indian and Mexican influences, and much more.
We arrived here in the middle of November and enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving celebration with everyone on the campground.
Tucson KOA is a huge campground with around 500 sites. Every site is gravel, with a poured concrete patio and and a small asphalt driveway for your vehicle. And every single site has at least one fruit tree.
Our contract at the Williams Circle Pines KOA ended on Oct 31, and our new job at the KOA in Tucson began on Nov 15. That gave us about 2 weeks to take a break as we make our way down to Tucson.
Bet you wondered what happened to us. I’m a bit behind on my posting!
Over the summer, many of our guests had come from southern Nevada, Laughlin and Lake Havasu. They had come to Williams to get a break from the heat as that area of the country sees triple digits all summer. We decided that we would check out that area of the country in a round about way to Tucson.
Our first stop was the Laughlin Avi Casino KOA in Laughlin, Nevada. Laughlin is located on the southernmost tip of Nevada along the Colorado river where Nevada, California and Arizona meet. The town is known as a fun casino town.
It is about a half day drive from Williams. And all down hill. We went from over 7000 feet above sea level in Williams to about 500 feet above sea level in Laughlin.
While we missed the heat of the summer, it was still nice and warm there. I enjoyed sitting under the palm trees and working on my laptop in my beautiful new back yard.
On our second day there, we took the London Bridge Jet Boat tour down the Colorado River from Laughlin to the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.
This is a great way to see the area from the water. The trip takes about 2 hours to get to Lake Havasu City, you get a 2 hour break there to check out the bridge and grab a lunch, and then take the 2 hour ride back up the river.
And best of all, it was very affordable at about $70 a person.
We really enjoyed the boat tour and our tour guide was incredibly informative. Check out the green tint of the water behind Dave. It was really that green! Apparently from minerals in the water.
Life on the road is everything we thought it would be.
We often are asked how we can support ourselves on the road and I have to say that fortunately for us, we are able to handle most of our bills with income from my websites.
However, we do need a buffer. And that is where KOA has come in. We are doing seasonal work at various campgrounds in order to supplement our income while we see the country.
Last week we left Circle Pines KOA in Williams, AZ and I have to say that it was a sad farewell. We not only loved this surprisingly beautiful area of the country, but made a bunch of new friends in the process that we definitely will miss.
And we absolutely loved working for Bruce and Lori. They made campground work an adventure.
Our cool shady spot underneath the tall pines is now just a memory. I would have loved to stay through the winter, but our coach does not love cold weather. So it is onto to warmer regions.
We we planned our move to Arizona for the summer, the last thing I was expecting was to see beautiful leaves in the fall! It’s a desert, right?
Depending upon the altitude, Northern Arizona is a mix of tall pines and hardwoods such as Aspens. So with Fall in full bloom, we took advantage of a few days off and checked out the local foliage at the San Francisco Peaks.
A perfect way to say goodbye to this beautiful part of the country.
You see, we will be heading out of Williams this week and on to our next destination. Time flies when you are having fun, right?
And there appears to be bears in the vicinity! Who knew?
All this time we have been here, the only wildlife that we have come across besides those animals at Bearizona and the petting zoo was the occasional Abert Squirrel!
Luck was with us and we actually got photo bombed!
But seriously. It has been an amazing experience here.
Lot’s of things are happening at the Circle Pines KOA as we finish out the season. They erected a new huge sign for the entranceway. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?
We spent this past week telling all of our friends and coworkers goodbye. Starting a season can be exciting, but finishing one out can be sad. We may run into some of our friends again along the road. It is a small world after all.
But part of being a seasonal worker is making new friends along the way.
So what have we been doing these past few weeks besides checking out leaves and saying goodbye to our friends?
Well, there were plumbing issues. Seems that we should have named our coach “Always Something”. Fortunately, Dave and Ralph had it handled in no time.
And speaking of Ralph. His diabetes has not been under control. About 3 months ago, he suddenly lost his vision. The local vet recommended a specialist down in Phoenix. We had to mull it over a bit as the cost was pretty high.
One of Ralph’s favorite past times is sitting in the window watching the squirrels. When his eyesight deteriorated, not only was he running into things, but his demeanor changed. He became depressed and not his normal self.
We were told that we had to get the diabetes in check before they could do anything about his eyes. So, we spent the last few months keeping him on a strict prescription diet and having his glucose levels checked weekly.
On October 5, we finally were able to get the surgery done. Ralph had two new lenses put in his eyes.
Yep. We bit the bullet and spent the money. Ralph is one of the family after all.
Recovery from the surgery takes about 6 weeks total. And for many of those weeks, we had to keep him in the “cone of shame” full time. This meant that I had to hand feed him. And he had to learn how to get around with that huge cone on his head.
A few weeks ago, we finally got to see his big brown eyes again. I think he is really enjoying the fact that he can see his old nemesis the Abert Squirrel.
He has a few more weeks of recovery, but he can already see better than I can.
So that has been our last month in Williams. Saying goodbye, fixing problems with the coach and helping Ralph recover from surgery. Oh, and I’m putting together a video of our season here. I should have it ready this week. So stay tuned.
We will be leaving the area this week and heading onto Laughlin, NV and Lake Havasu City for a short break before we go to our next job in Tucson, AZ. I have to say that we will both miss the Williams area.
And who knows, maybe we will come back one day! It totally could happen.
When we originally decided that we wanted to become full time RVers, we weren’t exactly sure how to go about it financially. You see, we were both working for huge corporations in Atlanta, making good money, living in a big house with lots of big bills.
We knew what we wanted to do, but it looked like it would take years of saving to get there.
Then one day I ran across information on work camping on the internet. Apparently, you could work for a campground, making an hourly wage and even get a free spot to stay while you are there! It seemed like the answer.
With the income from my websites, and the campground supplying a spot to stay and spending money too, it made it possible for our dreams to come true even earlier than we expected.
We sold our home and most everything we owned last April and hit the road in our RV.
Our expenses at the start included a RV payment, health insurance, vehicle insurance, phone/internet bill, approximately $500 per month in overhead for my websites, and of course food and spending money.
We have been on the road for nearly a year and a half now, and we are successfully living on the income from my websites and the income from the campgrounds that we have worked at.
So, let’s take a look at this phenomenon called work camping.
As an insider, I would love to share with you some of the truths about this way to make a living.
We have been settled in St. Petersburg, Florida for about a month now. I am still behind on posting, but wanted to take some time to catch you up on our travels. In the past month we have visited our favorite place, Tybee Island, GA, attended my daughter’s wedding in Atlanta, and even endured some RV problems.
I have to tell you that I miss the snow. As pretty as Florida is, I would prefer to be trekking through several feet of pure white snow. But the RV and Dave both would like to have a warmer winter.
We arrived to 95 degree weather with nearly 100% humidity. Looks like the RV and Dave both got their wish.
Our new spot is quite beautiful and the campground is like a little resort, so I really do not have a lot to complain about. They tucked us in with the snowbirds who all seem very nice. And we even have grass!
Ralph and Faith like it too. They both have lots of things to keep their interest. In fact, there are so many lizards running around here that it is hard to get Ralph to take a poop without getting distracted.
And Faith has an issue with herons (those tall legged white birds with the long necks), so there is always plenty of excitement when I take them outside.
We are working at the campground here. I am in the office and Dave is working on the grounds. And…we are getting the place spiffied up for Christmas!
Dave put up all the blow up decorations this week, and then spent quite a bit of time freaking Ralph out over this outhouse Santa.
Ralph is not a fan of Santas exiting an outhouse. Just saying.
The streets are decorated too! What do you do when there are no fir trees around?
We felt the need to decorate the coach too. Since we had no nearby fir trees to decorate, Dave and I picked out a tiny tree at a local Christmas tree stand.
Charlie Brown would be proud.
Our tree turned out great! We ended up with just enough room in the living room for it. The little table is actually my printer box covered in blankets. (I’m the master of multi- purpose!)
Oh. Did I mention there is a beach nearby? It is 2.5 miles from the campground to Madeira Beach. There will be plenty of beach photos in the next few months.
We have yet to located any great eating places to share with you, but I’m sure we will have a top 10 list before we leave the area.
Since ice cream is my second hobby, I do feel the need to mention this fun soft serve stand, Twistee Treat. There are actually a few of them in the area, all shaped like giant ice cream cones.
And apparently, I have my new challenge for this leg of the trip. Trying each and everyone of those awesome flavors!
Oh, and by the way. That is a medium size cone there. Can’t even imagine what the large one might look like. I think I’m going to like Florida.
On the beach there are snowmen. This will probably be as close as I get to snow this winter. I’ll take what I can get.
And the sunsets here are beautiful too. Christmas in Florida can be quite beautiful!
If you squint a bit, that white sand could be snow. Right?
It is so hard to accurately describe how beautiful it is here in Bar Harbor, Maine. Over the past five and a half months, I’ve done my best to document some of the sights and sounds of the area. We have made so many wonderful friends here at the Bar Harbor KOA and will miss every one of them.
Here is a compilation of some of the highlights of our time here along with my friends and coworkers who made the time that much more enjoyable.
We have been in Bar Harbor for two months now, working on the campgrounds. The weather has been very different from what we are used to, with many blustery, windy days. At one point, I wondered when it would actually green up!
And then suddenly the trees grew leaves and summer happened. Well, at least Maine’s version of summer. It is still chilly at night, but we now are having beautiful days in the 70’s . Apparently the trees need to work fast because they only have a few months to be green!
With a few nice days of warm sun, we emerged from our work schedule and RV to create a nice front yard to enjoy. It is truly beautiful here and we wanted a nice place to sit and enjoy it!
This is work camper row. We all have designated spots behind the cabins. They aren’t as green and scenic as the rest of the park, but we made do with what we had to work with and really do like our neighbors.
The work camping thing? Well, it has definitely gotten more intense. We are now working close to 40 hours a week and have gotten to the point where we definitely look forward to our days off.
We’ve had a few coworkers quit and move on already. Seems that work camping is not for everyone. Dealing with customer service and often physical labor can be difficult at times. We have our bad days too, but fortunately for us, the good days outweigh the bad. We have met lots of fun campers in the past few weeks- many from Georgia!
And now that the weather seems to be cooperating, we are spending more time outside in the evening, enjoying our newly decorated front yard and the beautiful park.
I put together a fun project last week. This one involves a wooden plaque, sharpie pens and chalkboard paint! Inspired by the area, I drew up of the local sea life and created a fun chalkboard. You can find the free pattern here!
On the tourist level, we’ve been to Cadillac Mountain several times now. Cadillac Mountain is located in the nearby Acadia National Park and at 1,530 feet, it is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard.
You can travel to the top of Cadillac Mountain several different ways. You can drive to the top in your vehicle, take several different hiking trails, or enjoy a trolley tour of the mountain.
We checked out Oli’s Trolley simply because they not only take you around the area, but offer a fully narrated tour about the area’s history, historic sites, mansions, and the summit of Cadillac Mountain.
This area has an interesting history behind it, and we definitely recommend a ride on the trolley to learn more about it. Amongst many other things, we learned about the great fire of 1947 that nearly destroyed all of Bar Harbor. You can still see stone foundations of mansions that used to be amongst the trees on the hillsides of the town.
The area is also the home of the Rockefellers and Martha Stewart! We are told that you can take boat tours into the harbor where you can see their homes.
As for Cadillac Mountain, there are various hiking trails to the summit, some more challenging than others. There is also a paved road to the top.
From the summit, you can see most of Mount Desert Island. On a clear day, it is a beautiful site to see! The photo above shows the town of Bar Harbor in the distance below.
In this photo you can see Bar Island. When this photo was taken, the tide was out and you can see a sand bar that goes from the island to the town of Bar Harbor. Folks like to hike or even drive their cars across that bar of sand during low tide to explore the island.
Timing is crucial as it is not unusual for folks to find themselves stranded on the island during high tide. For a tidy sum, boaters will rescue those that do not want to wait another 8 hours for low tide.
Oh, and the little guy in the photo? That is a very ingenious seagull. He figured out that if he stands there looking all sweet, folks will feed him snack food. He waited patiently for us to find something in the car for him, and then went to the car behind us to see what they had.
An interesting fact about Cadillac Mountain is that it is the first place to view the sunrise in the United States from October 7 through March 6.
Want to view a sunrise from Cadillac Mountain?
You have to get up mighty early. The sun is up by 4:00 AM right now! Check the time for sunrise and give yourself plenty of time to get up the mountain. It takes about 20 minutes from the village of Bar Harbor or 30 minutes from the KOA campground.
Dress warm! It is always windy on top of Cadillac and particularly chilly even in the middle of summer.
For more comfort, consider bringing blankets and chairs.
Bring some coffee or tea in a thermos to keep warm. Or plan for a nice breakfast in downtown Bar Harbor afterwards.
Us? Well we do not do mornings well. We may decide before the summer is out to check out a sunrise. I mean, we need to try everything, right? But in the meantime, we did drive up to the top last week to see a sunset. The sun sets about 8:00 PM right now and that worked out well for us.
My camera doesn’t do it justice, but here is a brief look at that beautiful sunset.
Sunsets are beautiful here both on Cadillac Mountain and at the campgrounds. I think that they will be one of the many things I will look back on fondly when we do eventually move on.