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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Why Workamping?

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7:07 am - Saturday - August 12th - 43º F, humidity 72%, wind 2 mph out of the south southeast........no clouds, but still hazy from local fires.  Forecast high for Gardiner, MT today is 81º F, and 77º F for Mammoth Hot Springs, WY.

Some might wonder why we are willing to work 5 days a week with only two days off to explore Yellowstone National Park when we are retired.  Even though we are retired we still like to work an interesting job at least once a year.  I guess we just don't like being retired 12 months out of each year.  The added bonus is extra dinero flowing into our checking account to cover things like maintenance on our vehicles......we have 14 tires between the VW, trailer and Newell that need replacing periodically, the occasional mechanical issues, and periodic preventative maintenance.  It's nice to pay for those necessities outside our normal monthly budget and workamping once per year allows us to do that and maintain a very comfortable lifestyle.  Finding jobs in interesting locations were we can spend a few months at a time getting to really explore a given area in depth with no time constraints is what we love the most.

Our first year living full time in the Newell we were camphosts at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park in Riverside, CA until we began to travel full time.  The first year we were on the road we did our first workamping job.....Amazon in Campbellsville, KY  (October to December 2012.....about 11 weeks) and then the INDY 500 in, of course, Indianapolis, IN (May of 2013).  After that we did the Beet Harvest in Sydney, MT (October 2013).  Both of these jobs were extremely short term......INDY 500 was 16 consecutive days, and the Beet Harvest was 22 consecutive days.....good paying jobs for just a few weeks at a time which pay well.  After that we worked 3 consecutive summers at Tahoe Valley Campground (2014, 2015 and 2016) which were 3-5 month jobs.  In the winter of 2014 we returned to Amazon, but this time in Fernley, NV for 7 weeks.  As you all know we had returned for a 4th summer at Tahoe Valley Campground in April of 2017, but soon realized a complete 4th season in our beloved Lake Tahoe was not in the cards.  This change forced us to re-evaluate our fulltime lifestyle, and refocus us on what is really important to us, and what really makes us happy.

We both retired at age 62.....a little earlier than we had originally planned.  After witnessing the early passing of numerous friends in their late 50's and early 60's we decided that since we were both in very good health we should retire earlier and begin traveling.  It was a stretch economically for us those first couple of years, but fortunately we owned our car and Newell out right, but still had the monthly mortgage on our home.  While we did lease the home for the first 5 years the rent did not cover all our expenses (mortgage, taxes & occasional maintenance issue).  We had a few other debts which we have been able to retire over the past few years and as we have done that our finances have improved significantly, but we still need the extra income to take care of the maintenance things.  Once we sold our home things improved even more!  

Our current goal is to spend this summer, winter, and then next summer working one workamping job after another to build up or savings, and emergency funds, and also set some aside for some international travel (Ireland, Maritime Provinces in Canada).  Then there is the summer trip to Alaska that we have dreamed about for years.  Being able to work in interesting places (YNP this summer, Grand Canyon this winter, and a yet to be named summer of 2018 job).

There are workamping jobs that only require 12-20 hours a week in exchange for a full hookup site, laundry, etc., but there is no pay.  A good example of these jobs is the Cape Blanco Lighthouse job we did two years in succession. We worked about 12 hours each per week in exchange for a full hookup site on the ocean.  Others require more hours per week, but pay for all hours worked in exchange for a full hookup site.  Then there are the National Park jobs like we have now that require you to pay a subsidized rate for your full hookup site, but pay you for all hours worked.  In Wyoming, where we work each day, the minimum wage is $7.25/hour.....Delaware North pays $8.25-$10.05/hour (depending on the position) plus a bonus if you complete your contract.  At the Grand Canyon we will be paid $10.15/hour this winter, and if we get the California summer job we are looking for the minimum wage will be $11/hour.  

We are also planning to spend a summer in Maine in the future doing a workamping job so we can explore the New England states........so our near future workamping plate is full!  We are both still healthy....neither of us is on any maintenance medication.  Most people we work with think we are in our mid 50's, not late 60's.  We both love the satisfaction which comes from doing a job well, and we both love meeting new people and acquiring new job skills.

Friday at the General Store was a typical Friday....we had the 'CLOSE' shift so we did not have to be at work until 1:30 pm.  I decided to take a quick bike ride to burn a few calories, and get a little exercise, so just before 11 am I got out my Cannondale Bad Boy to get in a quick 30+ minute ride before work........


Garmin 'zeroed out' and ready to record this day's ride

 Ear buds in for tunes, safety vest on and ready to go!

......I rode into Gardiner, over the the high school, up toward the North Gate, back through town and out to the Gardiner Airport where I made the turn around reaching home once again about 34 minutes after I began having covered around 8.5 miles......

Gardiner Airport

.....burned a little over 500 caloric units, and averaged about 14.3 mph.  By the time I returned it was 11:45, and time to take a shower, eat lunch and get ready for another day in paradise!

Things were relatively slow in the General Store overall, and very slow at the 'Fountain', but the time seemed to pass quickly, nevertheless.  We were fully staffed Friday, so cleaning the 'Fountain' area when we closed when quite fast.  I pulled my cash drawer so I could break Nancy while she went to lunch at 5 pm for 30 minutes, and that was the extent of my cashiering for Friday.  We were home by 10 pm, and in bed by 11:30.

Thanks for stopping by!

When you need to buy something from Amazon, think of us.......we will appreciate every purchase you make using our Amazon Affiliate link, and  remember, using our link will not add one penny to your purchase, plus we will receive a small commission.

1 comment:

  1. We had thought about work camping and is so much easier in the States and have been offered a few, but Canadians cannot legally do that there. Not much here in Canada though. With us being retired at 56 and 49 yrs old, we had to sell the house to do this and live quite comfortably . You do have so good plans for the future home everything works out for you.

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