Saturday, September 20, 2014

Get SMART about Camp Hosting--not STUNG

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 WorkampingReviews.com Provides a Needed Resource for the Workamping Community

A Voice for the Thousands of U.S. Workampers


On the road, Wyoming – September 18, 2014

A new website has been launched giving workampers and traveling volunteers a voice. WorkampingReviews.com is an easy-to-use free website that allows workampers to share their experiences.  Users will help their fellows to avoid possible bad situations, and encourage the organizations that provide positive employment and service opportunities.  This website equips workampers and volunteers with information so they can determine which opportunities are best for them.

Each year, thousands of workampers and volunteers cris-cross the country filling vital roles in short term and seasonal positions. By all accounts, full-time RVing and workamping is a growing lifestyle.  “A website like this has been needed for sometime,” said Christian Dunn of WorkampingReviews.com. Who, along with his wife, is a full-time RVer and workamper.  “Most workamping and volunteer experiences are positive, but when a situation is bad, it can be a tremendous drain on time, money and emotions,” said Dunn.  “Prior to developing this website I had often wished there was such a resource.  A situation this past year prompted me and my wife to do it ourselves, in the spirit of community.”

The website relies on users to review and share their experiences.  “We wanted the website to be free, easy to use and allow users to post reviews anonymously.  Hopefully, people will come to the website regularly, and share honestly without concern of employer blow-back,” said Alayne Dunn of WorkampingReviews.com.  “So far there is not much in between, people either really enjoy their experiences or not,” said Dunn.  WorkampingReviews.com is the only website of its kind and is solely dedicated to the workamper with no other interests.  It is free, requires no registration, and users can begin posting and searching immediately.   

Christian & Alayne Dunn, also known as the TheRVNomads.com, are non-retired aged full-time RVers that have been traveling around the US with their two cats since March 2013. 

Contact:
Alayne Dunn
TheRVNomads.com

Monday, May 19, 2014

FREE Camping in Florida


Ready to find out about camp hosting and other recreation positions?
We need host couples immediately at Juniper Springs Recreation Area near Ocala, Florida. The positions pay wages plus a host site and utilities. We particularly need someone either with security training or willing to take security training to help with weekend security patrols. Ideally, candidates would be able to start by May 29. You can find pictures and information here.
Please contact Samantha and Daryl Rolando by email at RRMJobs@camprrm.com with your resume or background if you are interested. Make sure to include your contact information. Please do not respond unless you are interested in this specific location and have the relevant experience. If you have responded to past job postings, you need to email your information again if interested in this position.
 
Personal Note:  This is our own personal favorite campground at a natural spring.  Just gorgeous.  We've posted our own pictures on this blog.  It's simply a magical place.  Better than Disney could come up with!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BOONDOCKING...vs. CAMP HOST JOBS

Honestly...it takes a LOT of faith to get a great camp host job or to otherwise find  your perfect "free spot".  We lucked onto a terrific ebook on free camping sites at:  www. frugal-rv-travel.com, "A Frugal Shunpiker's Guide" by Marianne Edwards.  It cost a few dollars, but was so worth it.  [Click on our Amazon link at the top-right and get your own boondocking books.]  True to Marianne's word, she sends detailed updates and/or corrections.  We have also tried our luck by "surfing the web" for free spots...and the truth is, even web pages where the author seemed quite knowledgeable and the information very detailed, we'd be off on a wild goose chase most often.  BLM camping spots would have new development, if they were close to "civilization"; and roads to some destinations were mere figments of some one's imagination (or poor memory).  We learned the hard way its best to talk with someone who has camped-4-free very recently and can give you reliable information.  Let's give you a recent example of one of our "goofs":
First, we went on internet info on a road west of Tucson that went from rough to sandy dirt and then to desolation.  We felt we needed "protection", especially after reading the "welcome" sign below.  Bob had never fired his bit of a gun, so he decided to see if it actually worked.  It did, and I took a bit of film to prove it.  Then check out the last photo of our actual camp site.  Seriously...what is there to do at this spot?  It was coming into focus:  These spots are free because that's what they are worth.  We locked ourselves into the RV and waited for first light.  It was the very next day, in the nearby Arizona Sonora-Desert Museum, we happened to run into an officer who did border patrol in the area.  He told us we were crazy to have camped where we did....that there were regular shootings in the area as it's a hotly contested drug trafficking route.  The sign with the bullet holes was not even close to being a sufficient warning for the risks involved in being alone at night (anywhere) in the area.  Ahhhh.....crap!


The above shadows belong to two lonely, nervous campers.

So....what about free camping as a camp host?  We got a job offer at St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park, a preserve for open grassy forests of longleaf pine that were once commonplace throughout Florida. Their brochure reads, "The pine flatwoods form a backdrop for other biological communities, including cypress domes, scrubby flatwoods, sandhills, a beautiful strand swamp, and over 50 protected species.  Photographers, bird-watchers, and nature enthusiasts can explore miles of trails on foot, bicycle, or horseback. Canoeing, boating, and fishing on the St. Sebastian River are popular activities. "

The job offer came with the following attachment explaining the cost of a "free" camping spot.
Responsibilities of camp Volunteers
In exchange for a free campsite, volunteers are expected to perform 20 hours of service every week per Camp site [that's 20 hours for each of us, 40 hours total]
Duties include:
  • Open gate every day at 8am. (Rotational with other volunteers as available)
  • Close gate every night at sunset, check trash at spillway.
  • Respond to visitor questions regarding the preserve.
  • Work the Visitor Center as per scheduling (Fri – Sat, 10 to 4:30, Sun 12 to 4:30)
  • Clean Visitor Center and North office each week   (take trash to dumpster)
  • Clean bunkhouse    
  • Check shop (sweep and take out trash)
  • Check camp sites     (clean out fire pits and pick up trash)
  • Pick up trash along roadways.
  • Mow and weed eat: Parking lots, shop compounds, camp sites and camp host areas.
  • Trail maintenance (may require operation of heavy machinery)
  • Miscellaneous projects to be assigned
We came close to taking this job, as the preserve was not far from Miami beaches, but isolated and "wild"...actually too wild, as we couldn't get the internet there...and there was no church or grocery store close by.  As much as we love camp hosting, there is no such thing as a FREE SITE.  Nope...you pay, but almost to a person we hosts love the work and would do it for free.

If you have your mind made up you must have a free site, then just park on the road in front of a good friend's house.  That's just what we're doing in the following pictures:

Now...because I need the money, please notice my gorgeous stone necklace and then get curious enough to look me up on ebay.  Just click "Advanced" to the right of the search box and then go almost to the bottom of the page and type in my seller name:  RunningHorse48 ... and then you can see all of my astoundingly gorgeous diamond polished stones set in hand-crocheted adjustable necklace bands.  I'll give you a 20% discount if you mention you visited my blog.  Appreciate you!....and thanks, sincerely.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

GEMS, Necklaces and My Best Buddy!

YES, I am selling these on ebay...for a fraction of their value. Do I need the cash?  Yes.  Appearing on the left is old-stock Tiger's Eye Agate with mesmerizing heliotrope chatoyancy. It also goes by the name of Iron Stone, and this particular chunk was formed in Australia.  Fascinating as its ever-changing bands are, it's over shadowed by the crystals in the Ocean Wave Jasper  and the finely colored spiderweb turquoise teardrops.  I offered my best-ever childhood friend any of my hundreds of necklaces she wanted...and she shunned these two stunning creations and went for a dozen of my simplest treasures.  She deliberated for quite a while.  She's modeling one of her choices below, a "Dragon's Blood" agate.



It was hard work deciding. Can you see how my Buddy struggled? See if it's easier for you to decide which is the nicest. Just look me up on ebay using the "Advanced Search" and type in my Seller Name: RunningHorse48...and see what's currently offered. (It changes all of the time.) 
Both my Buddy and I have a long history of admiring, collecting and now wearing beautiful stones. I had to part with my gem, fossil and rock collection to move into the RV. The hardest to give up were the geodes, particularly the Thunderegg collection. Having so many Thunderegg Slice Necklaces helped me survive the separation crisis. So how did we get our energy back from our decision making? ...by going to The Olive Garden, where the menu asked us for much simpler choices.
 I had my own hard choices to make.  I would love to stay with my Best Buddy in Arizona forever, but it was time to fly to Salt Lake City to visit my children and the growing-up-to-fast grandkids.  The views during my flight almost overwhelmed me with their intriguing geology.  The one above is of an area in a protection battle right now.
 This view from the plane is THE GOAL:  Hike Mountain Timpanogos with as many of the family who can stand the all-day hike.  I signed up at Gold's Gym as soon as the plane landed to get closer to this goal!
 The grandkids look so grown-up compared to my last personal assessment.  And they seemed more interested in the big screen than their grandma...except baby Zeke.  He's made of love!
Can you read the words on this cake?  Maybe they did miss me after all.  They still like chocolate cake, I do know that.  Look at the picture below to see how little chocolate missed their mouths.

The grandbaby who changed the most while I was off camphosting was baby Izzy.  She was now bigger than her baby dolls!
So...It's wonderful to be among my extra-darling family again...but there's still the hard matter of making a living.   As a grandma, it's so important to buy toys, and more toys.  Please remember to look me up on ebay using the "Advanced Search",  type in my Seller Name: RunningHorse48...and see if there's something that interests you.  Thank you!....sincerely.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The AMAZING Desert Museum - Tucson's BEST attraction

We heard the Desert Museum is the best in the west, which makes you curious; but experiencing it makes you want to bring the world here... especially kids!  Clearly any child would learn beyond measure, without even knowing it amidst their fun.  It's a huge adventure with garden after garden, a zoo with natural habitats, and many inviting interactive exhibits.  You can dig for fossils, go underground to see how critters live there, or go underwater to visit beaver, otters and fish. 
I couldn't get myself out of the Earth Science section, with minerals that had me drooling and mystified by their local history. It's the first time I saw big chunks of minerals displayed as they might have looked when discovered in the country rock.  Pictured are Wulfenite and Mimetite (the yellow crystals) and Vanadanite (reddish).
The blue of course is Malachite (found near Bisbee, Arizona).  The Vanadinite was found in the  Superstition Mountains.  It's part of one of the finest collections of regional minerals and gemstones found anywhere!  But the limestone cave trumped them all with its running water, pools full of crayfish, and inviting exhibits that explain the formation of caves and the earth itself.  They made the speleothems out of a foam base, and then carved and painted it.  Most people think they are in a real cave with real decorations when they enter.  Fun.
I was excited to see how many of the cacti I could now name in the cactus garden (after my fine walk with Ed the Naturalist).  I was just admiring the displays when sure enough... despite my precautions, a cactus got me again!  By now I had even more tricks for dealing with the pointy hitchhikers (click here).  People who harvest cacti or hike around cactus plants are bound to get stung from time to time, but I still felt pricked on.
It was time to look at safer exhibits, like the giant ram that kept eyeing me.
The exhibits re-create the natural landscape of the Sonoran Desert Region so realistically you find yourself eye-to-eye with mountain lions, prairie dogs, Gila monsters, and rattle snakes. Within the Museum grounds, you get to see more than 300 animal species and 1,200 kinds of plants. There are almost 2 miles of paths traversing 21 acres of beautifully alive desert.  I lost Bob in the maze.  Maybe the mountain lions got him!  The video clip shows just how vicious this pair of cougars could be.
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My guess is this is a Guilded Flicker, or maybe the state bird...a cactus wren...not a woodpecker.  But then the only bird I actually know is the robin.  I need more lessons from Naturalist Ed.
If you visit this fine museum give yourself some hours to take it in and you'll be rewarded with some insight into the abundant, complex, and varied life in the area.  A careful exploration helps put this special and rich environment in a much better context... beyond consumption tourism. Photo ops are tremendous.

Read more: http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/United_States_of_America/Arizona/Tucson-750502/Things_To_Do-Tucson-Arizona_Sonora_Desert_Museum-BR-1.html#ixzz1kR8oxTL6


Monday, January 30, 2012

You gotta know when to hold 'em...know when to fold 'em...

Know when to walk away, and know when to run!  That's our RV in the photo, parked right by the covered hot tub we just enjoyed.  The latest information on our Colossal job [from an employee of the park]:  The maintenance manager is supposedly an alcoholic, along with his wife and brother, who are also on the payroll.  There is not a penny for improvement, due to mismanagement, it would seem, but we were told the manager has been tucking money into his own pocket.  Were any of these allegations true?  [Stay tuned.]  Martie kept saying there was no money, but we'd seen all kinds of people taking the cave tour and buying things in the park.  We believe Martie.  She is a kind, gracious, noble person...completely dedicated to the park.  So why is there no money for maintenance?
We needed to get away.  A week had gone by and our host site was still not accessible, so we needed to go somewhere to empty our tanks and fill up with water.   We decided to explore Benson, Arizona.  We checked out our competition, Kartchner Caverns State Park.  Then we checked out RV parks, thinking we might need to live in one if we didn't have a hosting job.  These pictures are of Chochise Terrace RV Resort from our site, #256.  We parked next to the camp host.  They usually make the best neighbors.  Below is our host, and his dutiful dog.
Business had seriously dropped off.  Competition is huge among the parks,  We paid $33.41 for the night...but there were less expensive places down the road.  But this is the only park far enough away from the railroad tracks to sleep undisturbed.
We thoroughly checked out a co-op with very individualized lots, like the one above (which is for sale).  We heard hosts complaining in this park--that either the management liked you or not.  If not, it was a tough haul. 

The co-op is considered boondocking because it's only $5 to dry camp on the above section.  It's like a Walmart parking lot...except you can join in on the planned activities.  Check this place out at SKP Saguaro.  You do have to join Escapees to get this price, though... we discovered after parking and starting to enjoy the park.   Ah, well.  We found out some fellow RVers settled in at Benson on 5 fenced acres with a like-new 2,000+ sf home with a wrap-around porch and a garage complete with workshop....for...get ready.... $111,000. 
No S&Bs, please.... I just want to be FREE....to run like a wild horse.     Thank you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our Job at Colossal Cave Mountain Park

We are still excited about our new job, even though they aren't ready for us...after a month??  So we were left waiting...and adrift.   Justin and Li (the doctor friends) fed us a delightful dinner, including the most flavorful and varied salad I'd ever had.  Since I think of a vegetable salad as dessert...it was the best treat possible for me.  They had about 5 acres that came with their gorgeous mountaintop home, and they invited us to park there overnight.
Their home is next to a preserve, and protective zoning has changed, so they will remain the only home at the top.  There were javelina and deer tracks among the cacti, so I hoped for visitors.
This is the sunrise the next morning.  Do Arizona skies behave like this often?
The Schmidt's home is steel frame with hay bale insulation--brilliant considering the climate... with no heating or air conditioning required.  The side of the home facing Tucson has a glass-walled family room with a grand piano and large, peaceful spaces that invite meditation.  The "official" family portrait is shown below...a fascinating holographic image.  It's the actual family that anyone would find ultimately fascinating...and gracious.  Tucson is so fortunate to have them!
Justin and Li told us the story of how they met in China and eventually married (in Tucson).  It was clear they should write a book.  We were so spellbound we missed church!
Can you tell we love Li and Justin?  We could stay forever, but on Monday we had an appointment with Martie and the park maintenance manager to figure out just what our duties would be.  This pic of the host site can be enlarged to see the nature of the road.  This is the only good section.  We learned in our meeting there were 3 maintenance people, but no work had been done.  The person who was to bring a grader in was "busy" and he'd need Martie to buy him a new blade, anyway  ???  Why would you have to buy a blade before renting equipment??

We had to wait some more, so I decided to unwrap this great gift of nature.  The canyon we were parked in led up to a wild campground called La Selvilla.  The road to it had been washed out, but instead of fixing it, they had posted signs directing you to drive up the dry river bed.  I picked up trash as I walked and threw bigger rocks out of the "road" just to feel useful.  I discovered the Arizona Trail crossing the campground and followed it for a while, delighting in the rock formations and plants it led me to. 

The next day we found La Posta Quemade Ranch, which is run separately, but Martie gets a percentage.  We saw two full wagons departing the ranch in the rain with the happiest passengers you'd could imagine.  They were all older, but as giddy as little kids getting a pony for a birthday.
I think I'm giddy, too, having always been horse crazy.  Living in a park with a real, working ranch was going to be great!  But what about getting busy with camp hosting?  There's signs posted (BIG ones) saying you can only camp one night.  Martie was not aware of that.  The bathrooms needed cleaning, but one of the maintenance people, Skip, said the boss told him there wasn't any money for cleaner.  ??

What me worry?  No, we just went on a tour of this dry maze cave they call Colossal.  I had already read so much about the cave that I'm sure I could have given the tour myself.  In fact I was so enamored by the Indian and robber history of the area as well as the flora and fauna that I was consuming information wholesale.
Meanwhile...no likelihood of the roads being fixed...and Bill, an arachnid researcher working in the cave, informed us of many things that were less than satisfactory in the operation of the cave...including a maintenance team "that did nothing".  I said I'd start working on the road if I could get a shovel and a wheel barrow, as I'd found a pile of road base...but that just brought chuckles.  We may be dry camping for quite a while, just dreaming of FHUs on those cold Arizona desert nights. 

P.S.  Dr. Bill Savary is not only the wild cave tour guide, but a good friend of Justin Schmidt (Bob's friend).  As a herpetologist, he has been allowed to go into the park's pristine caves and has discovered new species of critters.  These caves are so delicate they are even closed to researchers now.  You may contact Bill through tucsonherpsociety.org or if you'd like to know more about reptiles, email him at:  bsavary@mindspring.com