We have reached the end of our first workamping gig, and tomorrow we depart Michigan. Its taken me a few days to reflect upon the past 5 1/2 months, and I'm still not really sure what to say :-).
Our first five weeks on the road was spent traveling and visiting with relatives along the way. I have never in my life had that long of a period go by without working. It was a bit strange, but the excitement of settling into the trailer, the sheer exhaustion from the work involved in settling out the sale of the business and packing up our things, and the nervousness about what we were actually doing pretty much over-rode any other feelings during those weeks. I was also a bit un-nerved about starting my first workamping job, and what it would entail. After all, I hadn't worked for someone else in a very long time! Would I enjoy it? Would other workampers like us? Would we find Michigan an interesting place to live and work?
We covered quite a bit of territory from March 27 to April 28: Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio. We visited family and friends, made new friends at the RV Dreams Rally, visited several state parks, Mammoth Caves National Park, and the Smoky Mountains National Park. We began to develop a rhythm to our travel days, and gained road sense about places to stop to refuel and eat. It isn't as easy as traveling by car :-). The dogs added another layer of things to think about, how long to stop at rest areas, finding areas where we could take a short walk to stretch everyones legs. It started to fall in place, even with our newbie mistakes. You know, not having everything latched down inside securely, almost ripping off a cabinet door with the slide (saved it!) a minor (thank goodness!!) drop of the trailer onto the truck ( no damage to the truck or trailer whew!), scraping a sign on the way out of a tight turn in a campground. Nothing major, and pretty happy to get the "accidents" out of the way early, knowing full well there will be more stupid stunts in the future :-).
Workamping here at Waldenwoods was actually a lot of fun. Yes, I worked hard, and had pretty long hours, which my co-workers kept telling me "was not normal workamping hours". But I knew what I was getting into, we both had asked for full-time jobs, and we totally enjoyed it. Would we come back? Absolutely! And we hope to do so one day down the road. The people we worked with were great, and the full-time staff and management were very nice. I enjoyed getting to know so many of the members (this is a membership campground, so you tend to see the same people quite often), and the challenge of getting the park store up and running efficiently was invigorating.
The workampers we met here were great folks. Most of them have been doing this for some time, either just for the summer seasons, or working both summer and then winters down south somewhere. Many who come back here like working here as they have family and roots in the area. Pretty much what we'll be doing each winter, in Florida. Finding work near our families. We heard many stories, and had a few get-togethers here at the campground that were a lot of fun. We received much advice and stories of where to go. Everyone says we're going to love being out in Colorado :-). We're hoping to meet up with Lorraine and Doug ( winter in Arizona) and Shirley and Bill (winter in Las Vegas) as they head east in April and we head west. So I keep saying, its not good-bye, its until we meet again. And Dave and Kathy (of the spider bite) are going to be working with us at Amazon, so we'll see them even sooner!
Michigan has more than met our expectations. We have done and seen so much here. When we first arrived here, we purchased an annual pass to the state parks. It was $8.00 for a day, $28.00 for the annual pass. We figured we would be going several times, and it would be worth it. Were we ever right! I listed all the parks we spent time in here:
Highland Recreation Area
Seven Lakes State Park
Bay City Recreation Area
Brighton Recreation Area
Brimley State Park
Colonial Michillimackinac Historic State Park
Hart-Montague State Trail Park
Hartwick Pines State Park
Holland State Park
Island Lake Recreation Area
Leelanau State Park
Ludington State Park
Mackinac Island and Fort Mackinac Historic Park
Mitchell State park
Pinckney Recreation Area
Proud Lake Recreation Area
Silver Lake State Park
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Tawas Point State Park
Wilderness State Park
I'd say we got our money's worth out of that pass :-).
We also went to the Holland Tulip Festival, drove the Scenic Byways of the AuSable River Road and Whitefish Bay, saw the Sault St. Marie locks, visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, visited the Old Mission Peninsula at Traverse City, visited the Henry Ford ( Museum, Greenfield Village and the Rouge Factory Tour), saw the final Harry Potter movie in 3D Imax (really cool!), visited the Roscommon Fireman's Memorial, drove a jeep through the dunes of Silver Lake at sunset, walked "the ledges" at Grand Ledge, saw our first bald eagles and otters in the wild, and added the scarlet tanager to our "life bird" list, along with the trumpeter swans. We visited the Germanic town of Frankenmuth, shopped at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland (largest Christmas store in the world), and had a famous chicken dinner (very very tasty).
Tomorrow we leave, and I have found the hard part of this lifestyle is saying good bye to people who have become good friends. Some will come by to see us off, and we wish everyone traveling these next few weeks a bon voyage and safe travels. We are grateful to our boss David, for taking a chance on us newbie workampers and giving us these jobs, and we are taking great experience and memories away with us. We hope that all of our future jobs are as much fun and enjoyable as this one has been.
We are headed back east to New York, stopping at Niagara Falls, Watkins Glen and Cooperstown along the way. We are scheduled to pull into our driveway September 18, where we'll be for almost a month. Its time to get the house finalized in packing and ready for the November 1 closing date. We leave there October 14, spend a few days with family in Virginia Beach, and then on to our jobs at Amazon until Christmas.
Speaking of Amazon, we have news on that front. I am still working in the distribution center, but Al will now be working at their medical facility. It seems that they need EMT trained personnel on staff, and after reviewing his medical resume, they asked him if his New York certification could be reciprocated to Kentucky, and he would work there as an EMT. He has spent the last few days doing the paperwork for that, and was officially given the job today! So he will be using his skills once again. That's so cool :-).
We will be offline until Sunday night, while we are in Canada. I'm not taking the chance of a huge cell phone bill, so hopefully next week I will have some nice pictures of the awesome falls at Niagara...if the rain decides to stop!We are really looking forward to seeing everyone back in the Harbor :-). Have a safe few days, and remember the memorials this Sunday for 9/11.